Sunday, 30 June 2013

And the Band Played....




One of the features of the Public Gardens is an occasional Summer outing for the brass band.  These enthusiasts play a selection of gentle well known tunes while all around people relax in the sun listening, kids kick dad around while others eat ice cream that appears from who knows where.  I sat amongst this, mostly ageing, crowd happily burning in the sunshine.  It was so warm, and I foolishly sat for fort minutes, that when the sun moved behind the treetops I was quite content to dwell in the shade.  Goodness gracious, that's twice this year the sun has been hot, has someone paid the bill?  A very gentile way off life this Sunday treat.  I read my book, small kids raced their bikes back and forth, people dozed and the music swung along.  A large crowd disposed itself in a huge arc around the green, many bringing their own seats, picnics and reading materials, well used to attending these events.   The band appear to be amateur but well used to their instruments and needed little encouragement from the conductor.  This I think was just as well as when I passed to take the picture he was merely moving the baton up, then down, across, then back, all to keep the beat rather than anything else.  I doubt this lot required any more guidance they appeared proficient and happy in their work.  Of course there is one empty seat at the back, has the triangle player gone home perhaps?



One of my favourite, but usually busy, parts of the old railway is this bit.  Something about the size of the trees, the leaves and the general greenery always makes me stop and look.  You may also hear the sounds of birds chirping just loud enough to be heard above the noise from the ever busy by-pass.  I took several short clips at 6.30 this morning, only two others about and that because the dog forced them out, the weather warm, the sun rising fast.  Sadly the cheap video does not catch the brightness of the sun properly, I am still attempting to work the buttons on it so this is a bit duller than reality.  

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Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Height of Excitement!



Look, a bridge made out of bricks!  Not only does that reveal the height my excitement reached today it also shows how far I cycled.  Not far and watching the 'Tour de France this afternoon I noted my four miles fade somewhat when they said they had only another 122 kilometers to go!  That, as you will have worked out, is just under 76 miles.  The riders had been on the bikes for three hours and more when I turned it on.  My knees could not stand any more so I went out and sat in the park.


The park was filled with people having fun.  A Muslim group had organised a fun day and kids were bouncing off castles, stalls were offering sweets and meat, not together, and people in general were having a real good time in the sunshine.  Naturally that was not for me so I went back indoors and sulked.
Bah!

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Friday, 28 June 2013

Junk!



My heart knows no joy to equal the arrival of the weekly Free Paper!  Week in, week out, in sun rain or snow the free paper drops through the letterbox and spreads itself carelessly all over the floor.  As the present delivery operative (e.g. a snotty, uncaring 13 year old forced to deliver such to learn the meaning of life) insists on delivering three, one for each disinterested apartment, we needs gather an ever increasing pile of junk that accompanies this periodical.  I say 'we,' but in this place I mean 'me!'  I am the one who tidies up, I am the one who changes lightbulbs, I am the one who hoovered the communal stairs this morning.   Good job I'm not one to complain I say.  

This weeks delightful offerings inform me that I can refreshing deals for summer at a store that exists miles from here.  There is a small version of the Co-op somewhere down that way there but in no way can it compete with the major supermarkets.  The offer prices almost always remain higher than the cost of 'own store' brand merchandise that is just as good and sometimes better! Still the fattening products on offer are the ones folks buy.  Still this glossy leaflet arrives weekly without fail and rushes to join the recycling campaign.  Off more interest is the 'BIG Unbeatable Sale' from the electrical dealer offering prices for TV's, radios, fridges, cameras and laptops that I can buy at similar 'unbeatable' prices at Tesco.  It surprises me not that is guy went bust a year ago and was taken over for a small fee by a man who I reckon is on a loser.  Austerity hits home with items such as these!  These delights are bought only when old ones need replacing today,  no more rushing out to purchase just because the woman next door has got a new one.  The money is just not there to be spent.  

My favourite junk today is the nationwide chemist offering to make me young forever if I plaster my face with £14.99 worth of cream.  'Anti-wrinkle- cream it says, yet we all know these make not the slightest difference to wrinkles, just ask Anne Robinson!  Women will buy this stuff and the latest con is to advertise this stuff for men, and some men buy it!  I bet their boyfriends buy it also!  I am reminded of the cartoon comparing the few toiletries a man uses, one tube of toothpaste, one soap, one shampoo against those a woman would require, an entire row from a supermarket!  All that to make you attractive and at great cost!  Just give him a bottle of beer and it will have the same effect and save hundreds of pounds for you each year.  

This junk comes at three items a week from Royal Mail also these days.  people complain and grumble about it but for every ten thousand sent out one person buys something, and these leaflets pay!  There is no doubt these much maligned leaflets sell goods.  When I used to deliver I often had objections from customers concerning the junk mail, yet I noticed they all checked out what had arrived just the same, few just dumped them.  They also pay for Royal Mail that is why they wish the postie to deliver eighteen a week!  This was then reduced to nine but strong objections from the workforce kept this to three.  You can tell the managers today did not start as postmen can't you?  On top of these we are lucky enough here to have several Pizza Parlours, Chick-a-Lick takeaways, and chip shops, selling Mediterranean cuisine (That's Kebabs to you).  How lucky we are to be such a haven for cuisine!  Cuisine that delivers to your door and never appears to have any change, or so I'm told, I would always get it myself and save a few bob if I could ever afford such luxury.   Folks offering to cut our grass (which is covered with stones anyway) clean our windows or do our accounts (accounts?) also periodically dumped cards on us.  If these people think this building consists of potential customers it indicates the rest of their operation will not have been thought through properly.  I would avoid them!

The free paper itself is a wonder of the past forty years.  There was a time no self respecting newspaper would ever consider something free.  The lure of personal ads however has enticed them.  Who has not been attracted to 'Sweet Knight sought for young fifty something. GSOH. Likes Dancing, pubs, snakes and arc welding. No weirdos.'  Just who writes these things, and who falls for them?  Yet each week the back page is full of people desperate for love.  True adverts here are very poignant and some sad desperate people may be seeking an end to a lonely life.  Others may not be quite so honest however.   No, no-one ever answered mine thanks for asking.  In amongst the adverts, Double glazing, Solar heating, weddings and 'Are you deaf?' headlines we find snatches of last weeks news as if it mattered.  A week old, long forgotten, but cheap, anything to fill the spaces.  Spaces often filled with adverts for adverts by the publisher!  These papers arrive week by week without fail, no matter your situation.  You may recall the episode of One Foot in the Grave' where they return from a Spanish holiday to find the house burnt down.  He pushes open the front door, the only part of the building still standing, and finds a fresh, newly delivered copy of the free paper behind it!  That rang a bell throughout the nation.   

All this is now in the recycled box as I have not been impressed to buy, not even the reduced price ice cream from the shop or the £89.99 camera that would at least be useful.  The papers will either be reused to make fresh newsprint, magazines full of emptiness or, more likely, be dumped somewhere in the Philippines or the backside of Africa as this is cheaper than actually reusing the stuff.  It makes you proud that doesn't it?


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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Ichabod and I



Ichabod, the bike that is, and I struggled up the old railway early this morning before my mind was wide enough awake to realise what I was doing.  My knees are now well able to explain the short trip, and loudly at that!  A chap I know belongs to one of those cycling groups, you know the type, helmets, shorts, bright tight jerseys and riding bikes costing several hundred pounds, well he was commenting on their 'run' of just over a hundred miles.  They had done a bit more the day before!  These imitation Tour de France types sometimes come past here, and if on telly I will watch it myself.  Men like the idea of being tough or strong enough to ride up hills and speed along straight rods, always comparing the time between your past time and some other superstars.  Incidentally I watched a programme featuring Clare Balding, a lass referred to by one man as 'Dyke on a Bike,' cycling around the hill of Devon in one of those excellent short travel programmes.  Indeed I like this type of thing and Balding does present herself well here.  However she mentions the small point that she was on a 'short run,' of just 30 miles!  I considered this during my ride up the slope and calculated that by turning back I would get home after completing 3 miles.  My knees agreed that was far enough today!


Farmer Jones will be happy that in spite of the rain his crop is succeeding this year.  I am claiming this is wheat but I expect you experts will tell me it is something completely different, like mango or the like.  His wide field looks in quite good nick in spite of the refusal of the council to allow him to sell some fields to a builder who wants to create 500 homes there.  Luckily even our Councillors are too busy planting said 500 houses on a different farm to care for him.  I am glad as this would spoil the old railway for many of us.


It seems like years since I have been up here and the rain has developed the vegetation somewhat!   This stuff lined the path all the way up, in spite of being curtailed by the Rangers who have stopped it encroaching the entire path.  There is something refreshing about breathing in such an atmosphere (unless you have Hay Fever or Asthma I suppose), listening to the birds singing, beasties rummaging through the undergrowth and cheerily allowing occasional cyclists to rush past as they must get to work before eight.  How I love not having to do that these days.  I miss the good bits, the people, the routine but not the hassle, office politics, grumpy folks, and of course the public!  

  
How much better this looks when greenery is everywhere, also when the way home is downhill!


Occasional remnants of the old railway.  A sign to indicate the rise and fall of the track ahead.  Just ride a bike pal and you soon find how far the track rises and falls!  

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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Mick Aston, Sad Loss



Quite sad to hear of the passing of Mick Aston from the Channel 4 'Time Team' programme.  Professor Mick has been a stalwart since the beginning of the show, indeed he was the instigator when he declared it was possible to evaluate a site in three days!

Time Team began in 1994 attempting to bring archaeology to the masses.  It did this superbly!  The format was simple enough, Mick Aston led the 'dig,' Phil Harding, the one with the west country accent, silly hat and scraggy hair was usually the one in the muddy trench, Frances Pryor also leading on prehistory digs, and Tony Robinson with the job of explaining the experts findings to the layman.

The format was simple.  The scene was set by Robinson, Mick, following discussions with the rest would decide on what lay before them and where to dig.  Usually this depended on the results of the geophysics team led by John Gator.  This revealed the many layers under the surface, indicating what possibilities lay there.  Phil Harding and his fellow 'diggers' would then dig down, carefully noting the lie of the land and changes in soil colour.  Sometimes they would dig deep before finding anything, if indeed anything was to be found, on occasions much was close to the surface thanks to regular farmers plowing.  Tony would offer to the viewers an enthusiastic description of what was found, the experts would argue as to what this meant, discussions would continue as day ended, usually for this team, in a pub.

The programme would follow through the three days with expert analysis, many intriguing finds discovered and at the end Tony would narrate the results as a computer image gave a very real impression of what lay in a long barren field many years ago.  All this was done in a cheery enthusiastic manner, the indications being that for the most part the team enjoyed making the programme and being together.  Arguments there were but the impression was of a genuinely happy team.

The team investigated many parts of the British Isles, claiming also to have written more academic papers on their finds than all others put together, revealed to us what lies under our feet sometimes inches from our doors, in both town and countryside.  Occasional use has been made of reenactment groups, with Matt Williams often participating as a slave, Roman soldier or railway navvy.  This gave real insight into how the past was lived, revealing how hard life was for many in the past.  How lucky are we today!

Although one or two specials have yet to come the series ended this year after a disagreement regarding the experts involved.  The TV company, Channel 4, wished to 'liven up' the failing viewer ratings by bringing in 'experts' who were there for their looks, not their knowledge.  Mick rightly opposed this and refused to participate.  How right he was!  The girls brought in did not convey any worthwhile information and were only there for their looks, and possibly they were keen to show them off.  One even had the audacity to criticise 'sexism' in TV history programmes claiming men were preferred to women, yet she has already had series of her own.  Mick was indeed correct in his approach, he left the programme.  'Time Team' concentrated on the story, not the personalities, even allowing for the mixture of genuine personalities found therein!

Mick Aston was famous for wearing multi-coloured jumpers and his flowing untidy white hair, his quiet thoughtful approach to the dig, his commanding knowledge, especially of the medieval period which was his subject after all, and a confident quiet manner with which he explained the setting that lay before the viewer.  It is indeed people like him we need presenting history programmes, not those who present themselves.  All university types are a  wee bit 'liberal.' Mick was indeed like that.  His own man, thoughtful, charitable yet a bit of a loner he did not relish being so much of a TV celebrity, who can blame him for that?  He will be much missed by many both within his profession and those couch potatoes digging up the past at home.

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Monday, 24 June 2013

Ah! Harp Music!




This is all Soubs fault!  His latest post features a lassie singing a song in Welsh (or Welch if you prefer) and she is ably accompanied by a Harpist.  I like harp music and had forgotten all about it for a while.  So I am glad he has reminded me.  It is something gentle and quiet to soothe the soul and enable the mind to refresh itself, well sometimes anyway.  I think you will like this.  The Harpist here may well be Irish rather than Welsh but that matters not in music.


Wimbledon has begun.  Once more the BBC is filled from morning to night with tennis!  You know tennis, that game where a ball is hit with a bat over a net and then returned by hitting it with a bat over the net and it is returned and on and on and on and oh so much on, except when the ball hits the net or a player hits the ground with his bat and uses rude words.  This game for girlies, and thousands of them go to south west London, queue all night in the rain, pay stupid money to get in and plonk themselves down on a hill to watch a TV screen!  Why not stay at home and make your mans tea?  It's what you are there for!  

This middle class game has many asking "Why so few British players?"  Well it is middle class, to be the tops requires great determination and money, clubs are few, support limited and the chairman if the Lawn Tennis folks gets paid over £600,000 a year.  I can see one way of raising cash to encourage new players of this drab, repetitive, mind numbing game, but the LTA will not approve my idea.  This fortnight of boredom, endlessly spouted on TV, radio and newsprint, happens year in year out to the eternal question, "Will he win it?"  This time Andy is once again the man most likely to become an anti climax and thence return to being a 'Scot' rather than 'British!'  Of course he will not win it, at least three others are miles ahead of him (and one, Nadal, has already gone out) and the trophy will go to them.  After a Sunday afternoon is wasted come Monday and tennis has already been forgotten!  Hooray I say, bring it on!


p.s. Can I point out that 57 people have looked at my Saturday post and the majority have refused to comment. That tells you something!
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Friday, 21 June 2013

The Longest Day Once More



The middle of the year comes round again and all that was missing was the sun.  The mist so deep and cloud cover all day until now meant it spoiled the day somewhat.  That will not please these Italian chaps who have been set in the town centre in what the council call a 'Solstice Special.'  Usually there are more stall like these but I suspect there are many such events this weekend.


Items like this grab my attention until I notice the price!  I know Italy is a long way but I'm not paying for your petrol mate!  Still I could eat those quite easily.  I wonder if any fall off during the night?


Kids are well catered for, although they appear in short supply at the moment.  I suspect tonight there will be more action, certainly tomorrow this man will make some money.  The one at the back ties the kids in and bounces them up to a height.  She would not let me on claiming I was to big even though I am merely 8 stone.


How I wanted that Candy Floss, sadly no-one was in the stall and my money was in the bank.  Several folks were attempting to Hook-a-Duck and at least one brat had himself a prize.


The usual things abounded here, Bouncy Castles who also banned me, Puppet Theatre, A man on stilts with a small bike, and a Town Crier who I heard but luckily avoided.  There was also a man with balloons.  He was twisting a Poodle around until it became a balloon and sold it to the children.  I hope it doesn't burst!


On my way back I was fascinated by the wee plants growing on this wall.  Sadly I could not get a proper picture of them.  Nice mind.

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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Would Ya Believe it?



Yesterday I wandered around for a short while in the heat!  Yes I know this sounds crazy but yesterday was HOT!  I passed the Angel Inn and tried to picture the design found under the eaves.  The Magpie did what Magpies do and flew off as I stopped.  However by the time I got the picture home I notice he, or his mate, was back again.  How nice.  I am still not sure what the motif is meant to imply, sunshine possibly.  The Angel has stood here since the 1600's and I suspect the magpies relatives were found here at that time also, although not on TV aerials.
I took my book to the gardens and attempted to read it but the glare of the light of the page was too bright.  Not only but for the first time in years, or if ever, I found the sun too hot, I was indeed burning as I sat there.  After thirty or so minutes I headed home already red blotches appearing on my skinny muscle bound arms.  Goodness me, summer is here!

Today when I attempted to heat the water for a bath, it's almost the end of the month, it would not work.  I had to take the temperature gauge to the top before the gas would light.  At 8 in the morning the room was 70 %, or 20 if you are foreign!  

Today however was misty, and rain teemed down this afternoon.

On a serious note I see that Alaska was bathed in sunshine and some were grumbling about the heat.  It appears to me this is because that Jet Stream has indeed moved south and gives us rain and cold while high up the warmth appears.  The weather experts have met together and said. "We don't know nothing mate!"  Personally I would rather the jet stream moved back north and I got global warming, much better than cold.


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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Bike, Ambulance, Australia, Heart of Midlothian, Sunshine,



As I perambulated about this morning on my bike, that is if perambulate is the word, I passed this man.  Interestingly he is parked opposite the actual ambulance station where a young woman prepared her vehicle for the day.  I preferred this one.  It gives the impression of being a one time army vehicle, used in desert warfare, and has a sign for 'Camel Trophy' above the door. As that is a type of cigarette made from camels it appears a bit unhealthy to me.  I could of course be mistaken, it has happened before, at least once.  It is often parked there and as it has also the St Johns Ambulance badge on it (the St Johns Ambulance are volunteers who do first aid work at various events) I suspect it may be used at one of the vehicle get together's that abound around here during the summer.   This lot have a base next door to us, on occasion they like to use their proper ambulance and show off the siren.  One driver at least now understand Edinburgh words.  Treatment from St Johns is excellent I suspect.  They begin with young kids and many volunteers have been connected with them for years.  They used to attend football matches but I think changes to the law has required professional ambulance staff in attendance at such games.  However accidents at car rally's and carnival events will always have good quality treatment for first aid from these folk.


Look, almost home from my bike ride and the town is still akip!  Of course Australia is still at lunch and the USA is still dumbing down the brain watching TV.  Now Australia home of the sunshine, played Iraq in a World Cup qualifier today and through the medium of the laptop I was able to watch the players in windy, wet Sydney struggle through the game.  The Aussies won against a very young Iraq and while the ageing Australians will once again find themselves at the World Cup finals in Brazil the Iraq side have every reason to look to the future.  Their players were mostly under 21 and look to have good prospects.  The Diggers on the other hand at mostly around the 30 mark and will be facing their last major event.  The young talented Ryan McGowan  who was sitting on the bench today learned all he knows at Tynecastle Park, home of the Heart of Midlothian.  He is already more than a great prospect, as the aged players move on he will be one of those moving in!     


Sadly financial trouble at Tynecastle has left a deep black cloud over Edinburgh.  This time it does not emanate from all those second hand storms the Americans dump on us when they are finished with them, this one arises from bad counting of the cash and this is serious.  
When Vladimir Romanov took over the club the Hearts were £20 million or so in debt.  Since then, by hard work, investment in players and managers that has gone down to a mere £30 million or so, depending on who is cooking the books.  The financial situation has caught up with the club at last.  Yesterday it was announced the club will move into administration, begin next season minus 15 points, and possibly lose what decent prospects are left, the ground, and be in a right old pickle.
Naturally had I been a billionaire none of this would happen.  I would rescue the club and sit in the stand drinking brandy and smoking cigars like they used to do.  Well without the cigars actually.  And without the brandy as it is not allowed during the game.  However my £2:34 will not stretch that far and several hopefuls are lining up to control the club on the cheap.  I am not sure I fancy any of them.  The situation is in abeyance at the moment as administrators in Lithuania, from where Vlad ruled the club, and Scotland sit down to work something out.  It is important to remember your history here and the Hearts song with the line, 'Though we sometimes go down we can aye go back up.'  I am positive that will indeed be the case, whatever happens. 
I note however the media support for Rangers when they fiddled £100 million in taxes has not been on offer for the Heart of Midlothian.  I am surprised to find that that club gets support Edinburgh's top side does not receive, I wonder why?
And Vlad?  Since the Lithuanian authorities asked him to explain some 23 million Litas that were 'embezzled' he has moved to Moscow and apparently suffered a heart attack.  he has gone to ground, as has his bank, his cash and he is hiding behind his east European 'friends.'  Hmmmm.



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Monday, 17 June 2013

What's the Time?



Time is a funny thing.  The ten minutes spent standing in the rain awaiting a bus might feel like an hour.  The ten minutes awaiting a dentist dealing with your toothache might feel even longer.  An ice cream or box of chocolates disappears in seconds I find however, at least it does in this house.  The conception of time is a wonder and it is worth contemplating how it operates around the world.

Late Sunday evening around 7 O'clock, I read the latest post from young Grace  and discovered she was heading off into Monday!  Monday?  We had not finished Sunday yet!  It's the same tonight, here it is 7:44 pm, in Perth it is 2:42 am according to The World Clock.  Yet our Lee over in Queensland is watching the sun rise at 4:42!  Actually now I think about it I doubt she is watching the sun rise.  The time gap is an amazing thing to contemplate as is the time gap across that continent itself!  Two whole hours between the west coast and the east!
As I type I am interrupted by watching the Confederations Cup football on TV. This takes place in Brazil where the game kicked of at 4 pm. It's now ten minutes past eight here and we have that strange phenomena of the world turning.  As it turns some Texans are earning huge amounts of dollars returning to work at 2:pm, after a lunch that ought to have been longer.  That smile may be forced while the obnoxious customers/staff are dealt with.  In Missouri however it is still 1864!

The world is a smaller place today.  When I was a lad Brazil was on the other side of the world.  To get there meant ten days or more aboard a boat, weather permitting.  The USA could be reached much quicker, five days as long as no icebergs intervened.  Today however people spend a weekend in New York shopping!  Plane travel is so fast it enables women to visit shops worldwide to waste their mans money.  To visit the football in Brazil a plane can take you there in a dozen hours, how small the world is today.
Did peoples in times past appreciate that it was night time over in Australia while they ate supper?  Did the Mid West know we were putting lights on while they finished long lunches?  Could they comprehend the time differences without the internet?  I am amazed daily that I can watch live football from Brazil on TV yet by using the laptop I can talk to someone in New Zealand (a somewhat grumpy someone I expect!) is this not marvellous?  We can overcome time in a way previous generations may never have imagined.  Unless we fall asleep of course....  

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Sunday, 16 June 2013

The New Man



The new man in Iran is one Hassan Rouhani, a Muslim cleric and now President of Iran.  He replaces the renowned rabblerouser Ahmadinejad.  This will please many but will it really make any difference I wonder?  The world appeared to believe every word spoken by Ahmadinejad, or at least the worlds media believed this, but he was, like the new man, merely a front.  The real power lies with the Mullahs and Ayatollah Khameni makes the decisions, not the President.  While demanding an end to Israel filled the press the words lacked substance, there was no movement within Iran to do this merely eye catching words that pleased the general Arab population but not their leaders.  Talk like that allied to building nuclear weapons, no matter how many scientists Mossad bump off, does not make for peaceful co-existence.

Rouhani already talks well.  He has convinced the leadership, with whom he has worked for many years, that he is a conservative, he has convinced the populace that he is a reformer, and now he will no doubt spend time making the West feel he is a man with whom they 'could do business.'

We fail to understand Iran.  There are many who see this proud nation as just another Arab block.  Mad Islamic types who threaten the world while controlling the oil.  Whether this lot are mad I will leave you to ponder but one thing is sure, they are not Arabs.  Iran, or Persia if you prefer, sees itself as one of the two big nations in Asia, China being the other.  Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the rest are less than a hundred years old, Persia goes back all the way to Cyrus the Great two thousand five hundred years ago!  This is one small but pertinent attitude far too many fail to grasp.  Persians are not Arabs and are more than willing to indicate the difference.



In Persian minds Cyrus was the first leader, in spite of the arrival of Christianity and then Islam and all those passing years this belief is still found in their psyche.  The West gives the impression this nation can just be kicked around, but as Saddam found, even though aided by the US and others, that is not so.  The fear caused by the arrival of the late Khomani in 1979 has not departed some minds.  While they fear a radical Islam arriving on their territory it has come in the back door through straight forward immigration policies allied to inept handling of the Middle East and later George W's needless Iraq invasion.  Persia is not Iraq.  While both were well educated nations Iran does not suffer from major sectarian rifts, all are Shia here, any attack by the West in any form will turn the entire nation against it, a land war here would be worse than Iraq! The Ayatollahs men died in their millions during Saddams war, yet they still came on.  The young well educated who strongly oppose much of the present leadership will suddenly become loyal if attacked.

Rouhani talks of moderation, Rouhani has been around a long time and is no fool (he was part-educated in Glasgow, so he must have learnt something about the real world there!), Rouhani knows that he will have to offer something different to the people and to the world, but in the end the Ayatollah holds all the keys and he remains the front man, nothing more.  He will also know how Rafsanji, a one time president, talked of change and now is banned from standing and has been roughly pushed aside.  He may well be the 'right' man from both sides point of view but he will always have to be the Ayatollahs man or he will be removed.



At 11:40 this morning the house shook with what I later discovered was a sonic boom!  I thought at the time it was either the neighbours dancing or thunder but would never have guessed at a sonic boom here.  It just does not happen over the UK and RAF pilots, this one flying the Typhoon, are only given permission for breaking the sound barrier in emergency situations.  One happened last year way 'up north' when a helicopter transmitted on the wrong frequency and caused an emergency situation response.  Essex police and the MOD have claimed this incident was 'routine!'  With hundreds of flights over our head or in fifty miles of us daily they refer to Typhoons going supersonic as routine?  Aye right!

The only other time I heard such a sound was while in Israel where it can be a daily occurrence.  I asked the Arab in the coffee shop what the artillery were firing at only to discover it was the fighter planes above.  In a small nation some discomfort is to be expected, but I could do without that one!  Today 'our boy' was right overhead having travelled across Hertfordshire and ourselves to get to wherever he was headed.  Seventy odd years ago we had B 17s, Wellingtons, Lancaster's, Spitfires and the rest over our heads daily (Well not mine you understand) and I suspect their noise was worse than an occasional 'bang' just before lunchtime.  

I wonder if we will ever discover the reason for the panic? 


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Saturday, 15 June 2013

Sodden Saturday



Thunder, lightning, rain, it's summertime and the living is easy.



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Friday, 14 June 2013

Friday Fribble



I sit here, the daylight still strong and the sun not yet totally out of sight, well apart from the trees and building s of course, enjoying what is almost warmth at this time of evening.  Some might mistake this for summer if they are not careful.  

Having worked my way through the dreariness of the papers this morning it was clear there was nothing worth noting.  Of course Cameron is hand in hand with Obama in this daft idea of sending weapons to Syrian 'rebels,' he did send our foreign minister William Hague the vague to Washington for instructions the other day, and now we can expect a nation under austerity to join a war.  Just think, bin Laden, the Wahabee Sunni Muslim, the man behind Al-Qaeda, was removed understandably by the US president.  Now the intention is to back Saudi Arabian and Qatari friends, who are all Sunni Muslim, some members of Qaeda in one form or another, and aid them fighting Shia backed Assad!  Brilliant!  A no fly zone over Syria is proposed, although Russia (remember them?) and China may well give arms to Assad.  Russia by the way has already given anti-aircraft equipment that could end a no-fly zone, but we will not mention this in the UK press.  Leadership. it's easy, especially if you have no idea what you are doing!  Oh and around 100,000 are dead, but mostly Muslims so that's OK.  Oh and by the way, we are still cutting our armed forces to save a few bob!

Nothing else of interest in the world tonight.  Another stupid girl ran off with a schoolteacher, and got caught.  Prince Phillip refuses to die and give the media something to fill the weekend papers empty space,  but they are still hopeful he will 'pop off' on a quiet day.  One bad event however is Tennis!  Once again this bore has returned to take over the TV.  This evening I was happily awaiting 'Eggheads' so I could once again discover how dumb I am to find Andy Murray once again struggling against an unknown at Queens, whatever that is.  This meant 'Eggheads was fifteen minutes late!  How dare they hold back something important for tennis!  I know that in a week or two the whole world will be desperate for Britain's number one to win Wimbledon.  As he will fail again I suspect the Scot will be catcalled by the usual types.

I managed to get several things accomplished today, I cleaned and oiled the bike in the hope I will get out on it tomorrow, and then looked for a woman!  I had to, the ironing needed done!  A huge pile of shirts, most of which have shrunk since I washed them, had to be ironed.  Would you believe that the woman in Tesco refused, in a full and frank manner, to do them for me!  "Missus," I said, "You are a woman aint you? It's what you are for!"
I canny give the reply, I didn't quite catch it as I was ducking the blunt instrument she flung at me.  Some girls are a wee bit touchy I find.

After  had done the woman's work, fixed the bike to a tolerable state, watched 'Eggheads' (5/6 for history questions tonight, a big improvement on last time) and chatted to the handyman fixing the floor in the neighbours condominium I felt entitled to sit in the sun before it runs away.  This does show the bug is not so bad at the end of this week, probably because the warm air makes life so much better.  I did waste time musing on other folks houses, how the rich live.  By using Right Move I can shove my nose into the houses my neighbours are trying to flog.  How prices suffer.  Since I last looked I see some Edinburgh homes have been reduced from well over the £400,000 mark to well under it and still no takers.  I did like one down in Newhaven Road, Edinburgh.  They only ask £495,000 and my savings account now stands at £2:34 so I may have a chance there, in a year or two.  

And now look at this!  This woman here reckons its winter where she lives!  Bah!


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Thursday, 13 June 2013

Another Book



Yes another book, however this one is different.  Written by Robert Morschel who once upon a time used to blog frequently, leaving rude comments on here, sadly put blogs aside to write stories.  Robert has a twisted and demented very interesting approach to writing and this short novella gives an example of his insight into human nature.  He is very proud of his debut in print and rightly so, certainly he often pushes the thing onto people  uses social media to enable his readership to develop.  Reviews it must be said have so far been good although I canny understand where he got the idea from myself.  Such people I avoid like the plague but clearly Robert knows this kind of man well.

The story concerns a miserable old git gentleman down on his luck who looks at the world and ruminates on life.  His ups and downs, his past and future and covered in a sympathetic manner. Morschell's family his worldwide audience have responded well to this book, all consider Roberts future bright and are already seeking a share in his will his good fortune. 

The literati among you will delight in reading this story which can be obtained here or here


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Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Slow Reader?



I have just finished reading Keith Feilding's 'A History of England.'  I am quite pleased as I began reading the book in 1974.  In those days, long before any of my female readers were born, it was the thing to obtain books via a postal book club.  These usually offered an introductory offer of a couple of good books free or for a small sum if you took a book a month for six months or more.  At the time these were good ideas and I obtained many good books that I would never afford this way.  Where are they now I ask?  The problem of such clubs I found was the lack of choice.  On offer were good deals on rubbish books, some insisting you took the main volume, others did not, but the main offer I found was often a girly book or junk in my view, and the rest much the same.  It became difficult to find a book worth having each month the choice being so limited.  The end for such clubs arrived with Amazon of course.  

One book on offer I did take was Keith Feildings history.  Naturally I began to read at once but life was difficult for me in the 70's, the worst decade of the 20th century, and coupled with working long hours I did not get far.  Eventually I managed to bring it down to my wonderful box in London's fashionable slum area (one bedroom flats now costing £4-900,000) and began to read.  However I did not get far, beginning 'Before the Romans' as any book should I read on well into the Saxon era and even into Medieval times before putting the book down and forgetting all about it.  One day a while back I picked it up and began again from the beginning.  

At last I reached the time just before the second world war.  Neville Chamberlain is in power, Adolf is grunting overseas and the Empire is demanding independence.  I might never know what happens next as he stops there!  Our man Keith was a decent enough conservative historian, and this book covers a huge area of time yet he gives a comprehensive coverage of events.  Clearly there is a limit as to how deep he can go but I found it very interesting, especially as it is foreign history of which I was almost totally ignorant before.  Some points have arisen in the past, usually English aggressive imperialism, but so much was new to me.  

The book was written after the war, possibly during, and it was first published in 1950.  This means that some attitudes appear quaint to some, although his attitude actually quite good regarding most things I think, and it gives us a view from the past of the past.  Naturally he as an English historian includes Scotland, typical!  I'm glad I read it, I am also aware just how much of it I forget, although things come to mind when a subject rears its head and hopefully I will not be required to read this again!  I might however, or possibly another persons viewpoint, you know how historians disagree don't you.  


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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Early Morn



I shocked myself this morning by rising not long after five and being on the bike by quarter to six.  The shock being that I have not been on the bike for weeks and the sun shining compelled me to get out there before the postmen get up.  Naturally by the time I had propelled myself fifty yards the gray clouds began to gather.  However the foliage along the old railway was abundant this morning.  The picture does not give a decent shot of the colours to be found in these wild plants that lined the pathway.  The warmer weather does make life so much better!   However once I had spent half an hour on the bike, wandered around town to stop my knees stiffening I then had the joy of going back to bed!  
Nothing much else happened.
How I endure such an active life I know not.  
I did once again attempt to finish my speil on the local regiment during the Great War, once more I found myself rewriting it from the beginning.  Scrawling things on here is one thing, writing something for folks to read is hard, especially when facts honestly given turn out to be wrong!  Bah!  It's hard being illiterate, whatever that means.
From here I can glimpse the red sky in the distance, too difficult to photograph from here, and find this sky curiously satisfying.  What is it that makes the world around us so attractive and refreshing for the mind?  The greens of the vegetation, the colours of the sky, the fragrance of flowers all make the day worth having, no mater what else is occurring.  Lovely, whatever it is.
Hmmm, I seem to be in a good mood, I must read the 'Daily Mail' that will soon fix that!

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Monday, 10 June 2013

The New Old One



Around two hundred press men, I canny call them 'journalists,' from all the papers, cameramen, TV and radio folks, and a handful of other hangers on, gathered today for the first media conference of Jose Mourihno on his return to Chelsea football club.  

The media have been going nuts since it became clear Jose was returning to Chelsea.  They love him, not because of his football success, but because he flatters them.  This expert in mind games gives the hacks what they want - attention!  He is always available for them, always has a story, always a 'special' word.  Therefore they are always at his beck and call, always ready to support his every thought, always on his side.  

However football wise is he any good?  Jose has won things in England, Italy and Spain, but always leaves me thinking he would rather beat the other manager than win a football game.  His mind games during press conferences, his teams constant gamesmanship, and his friends in the media leave me feeling he cares more for the surroundings rather than the game itself.  
Now Alex Ferguson was good at these mind games but he clearly wanted to win football games.  He was a football man through and through, I remain doubtful of Jose, have I mentioned this?

Jose has money, players and talent enough to win the English Premiership.  His team contain enough experienced players to cope with any opposition in any competition.  Opposing managers will not throw them off their aim.  Can they play the game without resorting to the old tactics of pressurising referees, falling down at every tackle, or diving in the box like Colin Stein? We must wait and see.  I remain unexcited by this mans arrival, but there again I am not writing about his arrival, am I?    

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Saturday, 8 June 2013

Gala Day!



Gala Days have been running for over a hundred years.  It may well be some have origins way back in the mists of time.  That Blackburn one originated in 1911 on the one day a year the local miners had off!  There was a lot of Shale dug at the time, when crushed the oil was used in lamps.  It may well be 'Fracking' might yet make use of the resources still underground in that part of Scotland.  Gala Days are very popular in Scotland and are found in many other parts of the world.  There are no miners around this part of the world yet a Gala Day is held every year.  Parading through the streets in days past was part of small towns and villages 'community' spirit.  'Community' a word much abused these days, totally meaningless in my humble view.  The towns groups and businesses would walk through the town, church groups, social clubs, etc all showing off to one another their Sunday best.  Games in the park would follow, drinks and high jinks possibly, and a good time was had by all.  


Not much has changed overall in such parades although today they are mostly child orientated and the 'community spirit' may be somewhat less depending where they occur.  Floats from various organisations, local groups (the scooter club today choking one and all with blue smoke), young girls with pom poms for reasons I don't understand, folks in animal or cartoon costumes, always someone with rotten loud music, today is was Rap at 100 decibels, long balloons bent into Star Wars weapon shapes, all surrounded by hordes of mums and dads, kids and always some eedjit who forgot this was on until walking into it by mistake - me!   I read that after the English queens coronation in 1953 each Gala decided to have their own 'Gala Queen, usually around 14 or 15 years of age.'  No doubt in today's world certain boys will now offer themselves.    


These remnants of the 'Mods and Rockers' age turn up each Sunday morning at the local 'greasy spoon' cafe for reasons I don't understand.  This are has many back roads that motorcyclists and no doubt scooter riders love, so maybe that is the origin.  Some old Mods reliving their youth I suspect.  The scooters do look good and it is easy to understand why they were popular in the early 60's.  
  
Our Gala ends in a park on the other side of town, well clear of me I am glad to say!  Games and shows  (that's 'fairs' to you English) take place, possibly goldfish are still given in prizes, although many dads will be disappointed now the local pub has been shut down.  


In spite of only being 25 I can remember walking past men repairing, possibly making, the road down our street, using a proper 'Steam Roller' to do so.  For years I thought all such engines were 'steam rollers,' but of course most, like this one, had other uses.  We often see them at this time of year, Essex hosts get togethers of such every so often.  One stopped outside my window a few years ago to steal some of the local water (do they pay for this I ask?) and was overtaken by a 'steam lorry' once quite common on Britain's roads.

I know my sister and others will be frequenting the Gala up north, it is a much bigger event in that area, and for the next three or four weeks they will follow this up by attending similar events in other local towns.  Just how many goldfish do they expect to win I ask?



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Friday, 7 June 2013

Summer, a time to read books in the sun!



Still the sun shines, still the leaves are green, reflecting the sunlight, still the sky is blue.  Naturally the wind comes from the east, over the North Sea and dampens it down a bit, still if in a windbreak it is marvellous!  I know that may not be the best picture to reflect the light, however the near naked man spoilt the picture I would have taken earlier and nothing new made itself known.  Not even a cat asleep in the sun could be found, which shows how hot things were.  

Nothing else happened except the discovery that the USA is watching us through Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc not that we ought to be surprised at this of course.  We all knew that for the sake of 'US security' none of us were safe!  The British government have shown their mettle here and said absolutely nothing, because they participate in this, no wonder Google don't pay any tax!


I've just finished a re-read of A.J.P. Taylor's History of the Great War.   I consider this an excellent, somewhat irreverent, approach to the war and well worth a read, a good starting place for anyone with no knowledge of the conflict.  Obviously it has to condense four years into a small book but Taylor was very adept at making words fit into space.  He made many TV programmes in the late 50's/60's in which he just stood there talking to the camera on his subject for 28 minutes and always finished dead on time.  A superb talker he made the subject real, he also knew his subject and was not unhappy, some would say 'keen,' to indicate places where he disagreed with everyone else.  This book contains a few examples that would upset some when it first appeared on the bookshelves, although not noticeable today.  Plenty of pictures, with sometimes irreverent comments, opinions in passing on the various leaders, none of whom come up to the mark, but a good commentary on the four years and their aftermath.
A bit dated now, he died in 1990, but well worth a read. 

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Thursday, 6 June 2013

It's STILL Summer!



Unbelievable!  The sun shone once again today, and I was too hot walking home this afternoon! Jings, crivvens, and help ma boab!  Who would have thought summer would last three days?  There are rumours it may persist further, but I will wait and see for myself on that one.   So it's time for long cold drinks, sitting in the light, feeding the birdies, and watching the girls pass by the swifts fly overhead.  Lovely Jubbly and someone once said.


I spent a couple of happy hours at an informal gathering of volunteers at the museum in the afternoon.  Much the usual kind of 'get to know you' sort of thing, with a huge slice of chocolate which fell onto my plate by mistake.  We met in the Victorian Schoolroom, used by a lass who terrifies the kids with a practical demonstration of Victorian schooling.  They usually hate it!  The desks are just like the ones we used, and probably were in use by the time the school closed in 1990.  
A jolly time was had by all and then I noticed the box full of dirty plates had been placed beside me.  Hmm I thought, I've seen this done before!  I collected said box, to aid the feeble woman by carrying box to kitchen, the woman's place.  Suddenly I found myself alone, the door closed and my hands in the bowl!  Next thing they were all saying goodbye and I was up to my neck in washed cups.  
It happens every time!


Sunshine, blue sky and occasional cloud.  Good innit?


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