Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Hogmanay 2013



The year endeth as it most probably began, with rain lashing the town.  A close look will reveal in the far distance the ebbing sun, thus indicating the last vestiges of the rain cloud that arrived at four this morning and has drenched its way slowly past ever since.  That far end has still not reached me!  When I came here this was described as the 'driest county in England,' and several houses round about had workmen employed strengthening the subsidence as the foundations were under threat.  That was seventeen years ago and it has not stopped raining since!  I could have gone back to Edinburgh instead of coming here if I wanted rain!  Rain is expected there, it is supposed to be dry here, what went wrong? Good job I am not the complaining kind.

Tonight is 'Hogmanay' the Scots celebration of the New Year, the proper time for a booze up mid winter festival.  This activity is not what it was in past days in my humble opinion, and my opinion as so many have helpfully indicated is indeed humble.  In my late teens we went door to door 'first-footing,' even though others had been through the door first, where drinking lots in a controlled manner joined with singing, talk of a humerous manner, dancing in some places, and a night to remember, usually. The delight of asking certain souls if they were ready for bacon and eggs early the next morning was a delight!  Today it appears to my little mind that just getting drunk is more important and the old enjoyable get together appears to have gone. Living in this wilderness of sin amongst English folks who have never worked out how to celebrate Hogmanay properly this is understandable, however I think a new attitude is around in Scotia itself.  Time moves on I suppose and maybe it's just me?
Oh listen, I can hear the kiddies out there already, 'Buckfast Wine' anybody?

Again we have the strange phenomena of parts of the world now into 2014 while other areas are still in 2013's yesterday!  A few of those well in the lead may well wish by now they had stayed back in yesterday I bet.  Just wait until the pictures appear! Fireworks have been seen in far away skies and even if the rain returns some bombardier will spend an hour or more attempting to emulate their colossal effort by bombarding the area with his left overs from November.  I will look forward to that from my bed I can tell you!
  
Shall we do what many do and look back across the past year?   No!

Good things may lie ahead, Scots Independence, Heart of Midlothian's survival, more delightful, intelligent bloggers arriving here to join the crowd that gathers, a few days sunshine, and maybe me doing what I ought.  Things can only get better, mind you that's what Tony Blair said before he copied Thatcher!

Today we hear that John Fortune has died.  he became famous as a satirist in the 60's and more famous still when operating alongside John Bird.  The two John's spoof of the world around them was always hard hitting and usually unscripted!  Here he plays an adviser to then Prim Minister Gordon Brown.

 


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Monday, 30 December 2013

National Ponderings




I was listening to an old radio programme on an old tape recorder and got pondering about something that was said.  The people of Iran see themselves as one of Asia's two great nations, themselves and China.  Everything else is regarded as the leavings of imperialism.  Quite what the Indians think about this I am not sure.  The fact is both China and Iran go back a long way, much further than Scotland, much further than most nations.  Iran dates itself right back to Cyrus the Great, the man who toppled Babylon two and a half thousand years ago.  He did this, creating one huge empire, while the Greeks were still fighting among themselves, the Egyptians had had it, and the great Europeans civilisations were still living in mud huts.  Iranians are proud of this long heritage, making ours look insignificant in return.
It is this pride in the history that stuck in my mind.  What is it about land? These folk were proud of the land they came from and it brought to mind Stone Age man and his need to place standing stones, not always in circles, as if attempting to find someplace he could 'belong' to. The standing stones commemorated the dead some say, giving him roots to his life, and we all need a root to come from. We have a need to belong to an area, a district a town, someplace we call home, the centre of our life and meaning.  Stone Age man found this in his circles and their ceremonials, possibly in the barrows he built throughout northern Europe, and Iranians look back to Cyrus and claim they have a heritage to be proud off, something politicians have not understood in recent years.  
Now as a Scot I have a history, a heritage to be proud off, not that I have ever mentioned this before or indicated Scots superiority over the rest of you as like all Scots I am too humble to do that.  I am proud of this humility!  This need to belong to a bit of land is strange as it leads to pride, the pride that considers itself better than others and demands all it can get form others. Such attitudes lead only to disaster.  In the end we all come from the same place, we are all 'Jock Tamson's Bairns,' in the end.  I am often amazed at how boastfully proud some Americans can be of their nation, especially when Soviet citizens were just as proud of theirs.  Pakistanis are proud of their nation, or at least happy to defend it if anyone, especially India, attacks it.  'Pride,' or 'belonging,' a group to be part off, a place to say 'this is mine?'   
I attempt to stand on Jesus, he told me to get off his foot the other day, and this lifts me above the nationality problem to a great degree, and it gives me a place to stand and face the world. This was not my intention but he turned up one day and changed everything.  Am I right in thinking people need a place to belong to, a street, a town, a nation a group within those based on age, sex, colour or employment?   Do we really need each other, and if so why is it so easy to dislike others who disagree? 
It's a funny old world saint, as some puppet once remarked.



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Sunday, 29 December 2013

Jack Frost Arrives



Late last night I spent some time attempting to identify a high pitched whistle. Being late, cold and dark I wondered what sort of bird would be hanging around at that late hour.  Imagine my surprise when I realised it was no bird, it was my wheezing chest!  Therefore this morning I restarted the failing exercise regime, the last one having failed after a few days you will recall.  So bright and early, well just after eight, I was found creaking my way up the old railway heading for Rayne Station.  It is several months since I got that distance, a whole two miles, and my knees let me know about it as we reached the top of the slope.  How those old engines steamed their way up here I do not know!  The sun shone brightly, the fields were white with the first real frost of winter and the scenery was wonderful!  Smiling dogs led their well wrapped owners a merry dance as they raced about their favourite haunts.  A jogger or two passed in ridiculously loud clothing seemingly under the impression this made them either faster or more 'with it.'  In both cases they are clearly mistaken.  

   
At the station the Rangers (not that kind) who run the line (now called the 'Flitch Way) have installed an old railway coach.  It appears the plan is to use it as a museum or an enlarged tearoom, thus enabling the station itself to be a better museum.  I hope whatever they decide works for them.  This is the first time since the late 70's that rails have been seen on this line.  Oh to see a proper train, one with steam at the front and compartment coaches once again! How romantic and atmospheric a steam train can be, something the more efficient diesel and electric machines cannot match.  These may well be better in every way but in spite of this they have less romance about them.


This coach never saw a steam engine pulling it that is for sure, and it is far from the aged wooden coaches used until 1952, the date the last passenger train ran on this line.  The charabancs that abounded after the Great War, plus the vast number of ex-army lorries that came available at the time led to a drop in numbers both of people and goods.  It was only the presence of the huge sugar beet factory half way along that kept the line working and even they turned to lorries by the 70's.  Soon after it had all gone.  Our station survives and many commute to the pleasure dome that is London for a means of earning their high wages.  Most of which goes on the fares to get them to work.  I came home that way one night and feel sure the crowded train would do my head in if I used it five nights a week. One derailment, accident, jammed door, body on line and the hour and five minute journey could take a week!  Interestingly the Transport Minister is based in Chelmsford, just down the road.  He was caught out using his chauffeured car to drive him to work rather than the train.  So for a short while he was made to rise in time for the 6:00 and he was not pleased! He may well be back in the car but he has announced he will not stand at the next election, retiring to a directorship or two I suspect, probably concerning railways!    


Naturally I decided to get up on the platform, in spite of my weakened hulk having strained its way up here, and so I placed my toe in that little step used by railway men to onto the platform.  I did this, got almost up, my knees gave way and I went splat on my face.  No-one amongst the handful in the vicinity around appeared either to notice or be surprised.  The coach had been used as a money making idea Santa Claus den just before Christmas and the windows were decorated appropriately, well according to them anyway.  Nothing exciting was seen bar this angel, possibly this is the one that enabled me to get down without falling flat on my face twice!  You may well be bored of this coach by Summertime. 


Home Jeeves, down that slope, and don't spare the horses dogs.  The sun shining through the trees as I cantered homewards could well have done me damage if I were epileptic.  Bright sun then dark shadow, it was like a thousand flashbulbs one after another.  Flashbulbs?  We are not old enough to remember flashbulbs are we?  Home at a degree of speed not imagined earlier, shaking of the attentions of the dogs I rejoiced in the bright morning, always the best part of the day, and breathed fresh cold air to remove the whistling noise.  Home in my mind meant hot bath, a continuation of the sleep I disturbed when this daft idea entered my head, breakfast and a hot massage.  I still await the hot massage!  I will ache all day tomorrow, to be honest I ache now! Bah!


Friday, 27 December 2013

Diet Friday




I call this 'Diet Friday,' but not in referring to myself.  My slim, malnourished, eight stone body needs no diet that I am aware of except a large turkey or side of beef.  That not appearing I will once again return to thieving from the neighbours mouse traps and find some nourishment that way.  The diet I refer to is the one now being experienced by millions who have stuffed themselves for two days and then stupidly stepped upon their weighing machine.  I can see many women looking in the mirror muttering, "I'm fat, I'm ugly, my hair is a mess," then turning to the man of the house and demanding "You need to give me a compliment!"  "OK," says he all too willingly, "Your eyesight is good."     

He too soon joins the diet.




I have yet to confirm this but I am led to believe that the 'Times' has decided that George Osborne, the mathematically challenged Chancellor of the Exchequer is their 'Man of the Year!' Yes George Osborne! The man who considers two and a half million unemployed acceptable, the man who sees no problem with ever growing Food Banks, the man who does nothing for million pound bonus's for bankers including those the nation still owns! 'Man of the Year?'  Goodness Gracious!  It appears Rupert Murdoch has decided the Tories will win the election and George will oust Dave from the leadership.  Dearie dearie me, if that does not add a million vote to the Scottish Nationalists I don't know what will!


  


Life does not get easier for the Heart of Midlothian.  Severely hampered because of previous money problems the side consists basically of the Under 20 side with one or two older players added.  Sadly injury and those yellow cards referees use against us in a biased manner are not helping the team. Mentally and physically tired the younger lads are giving their all as they know there is no alternative. The manager has no other option and several lads are playing at a level just a wee bit above them at present. The wolves are circling, the dreaded drop must be faced, and no rich man is available to hand in a couple of million to Scotland's biggest club.  The SFA have their hands tied, although they stretch for Rangers funnily enough, and the club must face the fact that the future may be a drop down.  Ah well, the commemoration of the 14 year old Tynecastle F.C. player who dropped dead on the field a few days before Christmas puts all this in context, especially as an 18 year old Hibernian player died in his sleep the same night!  If the Heart of Midlothian goes down then down we go.  The club must survive and return in due course, however long this takes.  At least we can be happy we did not deliberately avoid taxes like some I could mention.

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Thursday, 26 December 2013

Let Joy Commence...



On Christmas morning it is the silence that is most noticeable.  The ebb and flow of daily traffic ceases, chattering passersby fail to appear, even the distant rumble from the bypass is missing. A passing car, heading for gran's or aunties, disturbs the peace.  A dog barks cheerily while chasing a ball thrown by a walker forced away from gifts and wrapping paper.  High above cruising at 35,000 feet an aircraft glints in the morning sun as it makes its way to the Americas.  No other sound is heard.  A wretched, badly dressed man urges his aged bicycle along the road.  A miserable looking creature, the man not the bike, creaking along, his bones not the bike, breaking the peace.  There are none to see me as I pass.  The torrents of rain that fell on Christmas Eve have moved on, the air is clear, aided by the absence of cars and planes, damp streets glisten, but the streets remain unusually silent.  Church doors were opening after ten, a car here and there arrived, many walked slowly, dressed for church.  Fewer than in times past but usually, if not always, aware of what the day means.  Behind the doors many have been awake for hours!  A mound of discarded paper litters many a floor, dad's struggle to fit batteries into machinery far to complicated for one their age, give it to the child and it will work in minutes!  Mum's fuss with their hair, the kids, the dinner and the booze she wants to open early, but not in that order.  Lonely people stare at mind sapping TV, made worse at Christmas by sentimental claptrap or blonde brainless bimbos excited by nothing at all.  

Four hundred miles to the north my family, well some of them, gather for their dinner.  Presents will open, dinner will be eaten, drink will be guzzled, by the men certainly, and much laughter will ensue.  I myself had prepared well in advance rather than leave things to the last minute. The main part of my Indian Christmas dinner was put in the freezer, the rest in the fridge.  Cake and puddings were placed in appropriate places and all was ready.  Naturally I forgot until the 25th to remove said dinner from freezer and had to make do and mend like I normally do!  Bah!  Still I am now stuffed full of nan and chicken something or other with lashes of rice, and cheesecake, which contains no cheese I note.  
The loss of the dinner was made worse when certain important internet connections failed. Even worse I had become once again hooked on the intellectually challenged game 'Bouncing Balls,' and the entire 'MindJolt' site was down!  No football occurred and TV was dire.  The last Christmas I spent with friends on the coast and pangs of desire for such company grew as each new disaster fell upon me.  However some golden moments appeared to brighten the day.  BBC 2's 'Music of the Monarchy,' with the outstandingly arrogant David Starkey is one!  Brilliant TV from the racist Englishman!  Super music and listening to him is so interesting but really you just want to slap him don't you?  However late that night I searched for Radio 4 Excelling itself with an hour of 'With Great Pleasure,' where John Lloyd, the man who has brought some of the great comedies to us, gives us an hour of his favourite stuff, huge fun and laughter I say!  This is a must listen!  

Life will return to normal tomorrow.  'Argos,' was shut on Christmas Day, something that was so unusual I stopped and stared as I passed.  How did such a commercial enterprise become named after a long gone Greek city anyway? One or two other opened today but not many.  The supermarkets did a 'Sunday service' for those starving after yesterdays feasting.  Tomorrow the streets return to near normality and households everywhere pile up the paper for recycling.  I will go back to soup and bread with leftover cake...... 

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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The 24th December




'Twas Christmas eve in the workhouse
And all was quiet and still...'

So I took myself off out for a break.  I need to see the daylight every so often and I trotted out to smirk at those late Christmas shoppers as they despaired of buying the right thing.  Naturally as the day was bright and the sun had been around all day the minute I went through the door it rained!  It indeed poured down for just as long as it took me to wander about.  As I squelched my way home the cloud, a thick black brute covering the entire planet, decided to end and began to make its way eastwards to give Colchester a good clean.  You get some impression of the thing as it departed over the Fish & Chip shop.  A dark brooding cloud heading east leaving behind a warm sun beginning to reflect off the houses.  Bah Humbug!!  My shoes might be dry by Hogmany!


Not long after the rain the sky was like this!  Tsk! 

Christmas Eve and throughout the land kids are alert for a big fat man in a red outfit clambering down their chimney, leaving his reindeer on the rootop, or maybe they are rummaging about the house attempting to find the things the folks have hidden away.  (Did you know Santa was originally dressed in Green?) Young children's faces are a wonder to behold at this time, but not so wonderful as mum and dad when the kids wake at three in the morning to search for parcels!  Evening descends and the frantic scramble ebbs away, panic rises in hearts that some major item has been forgotten, even if its importance is widely exaggerated.  A great many items considered important for tomorrow will actually be not that important after all.  Relax and enjoy, worse things happen at sea. 

What's the point of it all?  Family gatherings maybe?  Good indeed, if you have a happy family.  Giving and receiving gifts?  Also a good thing, but possible all year of course.  A celebration that winter will end as we now head into the new year, well next week we do, and look forward to Spring returning (hooray!). Yes indeed, and for thousands of years that has been the real reason for the feasting and revelry.  At some time in the past the church, most likely the ecclesiastical organisation based in Rome, took the great Bacchanalian debauchery and clothed it as a 'Christian' festival.  Quite right too I say! They however made a mistake here in referring to this as Jesus' entry into the world, that probably happened about May or June or thereabouts in 5 BC, and we should be celebrating his birth around those months I say.  For one thing it will be warmer and for another the shops will be less busy. 
As always the Scots almost have it right.  New Year is the time for the jollity and not Christmas, the Christ Mass as it were.  Calvinism ensured Scotland regarded their religion properly, except when they didn't of course.  Christmas was a normal day until the late 50's in Scotland.  My dad went to work at Christmas until at least 1960, although how much actual work was done by then I would not like to say. I suspect an early finish and a trip to the 'Anchor Inn' was on the horizon for many.  Ah well, in the bleak midwinter we require the hope of sunshine to come, unless you live in the southern hemisphere obviously!  At this time of year those peoples look forward to er, more sunshine, bah!  I hope we all enjoy the day, and of course start jogging soon afterwards.




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Monday, 23 December 2013

Monday's Unusual Things.



In days of yore, before they were grown in tins, pineapples were extremely expensive and found only in the dwellings of the rich.  To proclaim to the world their wealth many placed such items, in stone, on their buildings.  Here John Murray, the fourth Earl of Dunmore, presented his wife Charlotte this pavilion from which to peruse their land.  The giant pineapple allowed the world to know their wealth, power and position.  She must have been pleased!  Today she would have to pose half naked in the 'Daily Mail' or 'Hello' magazine to get such fame.


Pleeeeeeaaasssee tell me this is real and not a spoof!  Please be a car used by a UK police force somewhere for some reasonable purpose, please!  Somehow I doubt it however.... 


In Dublin, for reasons of their own, otherwise sane people indulge in what they refer to as the 'Redneck Games.'  'Mud Flop,' is clearly popular, though I would not be as close as this lot as that lass lands face down in there.  A Tsunami may sweep through the fair city after her landing!  'Big Hair,' 'Seed Spitting,' and 'Armpit Serenade,'  are apparently among the other, er, attractions.


This one is the best of the lot!  Search through until you find a gravestone that suits you, not that I want you to leave mind!  Hanging around a bit more would be good in my opinion.  This fellow failed to hang about, or rather his time expired.  Maybe he should not have waited so long, or possibly moved elsewhere?  I know not!   

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Saturday, 21 December 2013

Saturday Cinema!




Jerry, who is going through another second childhood, 
insists on posting cartoons.
This would be fine if it were cartoons I enjoy, like Bugs and Daffy and Coyote,
but he insists on cartoons of inferior quality (but the latest post is OK).
So here is a Saturday night for all adults to enjoy!

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Friday, 20 December 2013

Sunset



As the sun went down in the west, one goes down there each night there must be loads of them lying about there, I wandered abroad attempting to find a photograph.  Why?  I was bored of sitting inside and wanted to be with people. The only difficulty taking pictures this late afternoon?  People, they kept getting in the way!  Bah!  Who needs people after all?  There is something about the sky at twilight.  It is different every night yet almost the same, but not quite. You can take a picture from the same spot 365 days of the year and each would be different, except of course in Edinburgh where it would show rain two days out of three!  


Stained glass windows are quite attractive if seen in the right light.  From outside this one in the old town hall looks attractive but is hard to picture with the lights behind.  From inside with the sun shining on the window it looks magnificent as you ascend the great stairway.  Built in 1926 the old town hall was indeed a prestigious building and much money was thrown at it!  Used for events now and the council are housed elsewhere. 


It is interesting to see PR in action.  The BBC news appears to be helping Nigella get her life sorted by offering several people who inform us how much she suffered through the recent court case.  The prosecutions tale that she used drugs and allowed the accused PA's to spend £685,000 on themselves with her credit cards to avoid publicity harming her chances in the USA has resulted in the accused being freed and Nigella being seen as , well herself!  So instead of this slapper cook we have instead a woman as false as we all thought she was. How some will be happy with this!  Myself I am just glad we might lose a cook from the screen, there are FAR TOO MANY OF THEM on TV!  I also feel unsurprised that her now ex-husband Satchi, the man famed for advertising Thatcher in the 70's and bad art ever since, turns out to be a bit of a bully and difficult to live with!  I doubt she was any easier myself. Personally I don't wish to hear their private lives, especially as they fall apart, and it is very sad that those with so much have so little to live for.  They appear to have no idea of a happy life.  How do they get together?  Money? Celebrity?  Using the other as a trophy wife/husband?  However the PR has sprung into action claiming the case centered on her drug abuse, not the accusations against the PA's, even though the appearance is that she allowed this fiddling to keep the drugs news quiet. The desperation for the US contract will bring us many stories I feel.  Will it bring happiness to anyone involved in this sad case I wonder?


This picture from the Shorpy site features a Friday pre Christmas office party in 1925.  My how they employees are having fun!  There again if we were able to see the happy scene after the illicit booze had been downed we might come across a very differing picture.  Just who would be informing the boss, soon to be ex-boss, of her opinions, which lass would have scratched the eyes out of which lad, and just who's feet are sticking out from under that desk....?

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Thursday, 19 December 2013

Grumble Whine Moan....



Now I am not one to complain.  Moaning, whining, getting ratty about the world are things far from my kind, forgiving nature as you know.  However when Mike Tyson appeared on the screen tonight to tell us about 'Being on drugs when boxing,' or 'How he overcame his drink problem,' I begin to think "SHUTTUP!"  I am sick to the teeth hearing celebs or the 'famous' tell us how they overcame being so stupid as to become hooked on drugs when the entire world has known for years that they are dangerous.  I am fed up hearing yet another celeb telling us their problems, at a huge price of course. Yet day by day they appear, contrite, sober and full of their story, until possibly the next time and the next payday.  
Now I am happy folks get away from such stuff.  Nothing better to see a man overcome a problem, happy indeed when the real world arrives and a celebrity finds a happy life.  However the tale of woe they offer often follows after they have been warned by many they are hurting themselves, or worse being led that way by those on the make and all celebs have someone attempting to use them.  There are Christian books like this where the individual offers nine chapters of 'How I was a witch,' followed by one where 'Jesus saved me.'  Much better to have one about the previous life and nine about the better one!   Let us spend less time on peoples failings and more on the good side of life.  Sadly that however would not sell papers, fill TV time and suit the public voyeurism. 



Had I been in a mind to complain I could comment on waiting in for Parcelforce to deliver this morning, filling in my time doing the women's work while listening for the doorbell, but I am not of a mind to grumble.  However I rose in the dark once again especially to be ready for his knock, waited till eleven and then gave up and wandered the streets.  When I returned he had still not yet shown up although the postman had, he went out of his way to make a special effort to bend the two Christmas Cards while shoving them through the door. Postmen don't like this door.  Usually the worst letterboxes are those three inches of the ground, and they ought to be banned!  However our main door is actually upside down and the letter box is therefore quite high for wee folks. The Landlord has reused a door simply by turning a battered one upside down leaving the box just too high for wee posties!  
After a foul lentil soup and stale bread lunch, a quick sleep and a bad coffee I guessed the parcel was not going to arrive today.  At this time of year it is inevitable they will be busy, and at three in the afternoon he would avoid the traffic polluting the street outside my door.  So I wandered abroad again, picturing the sun dropping behind the buildings, very glad that Saturday is the shortest day because from then on we head towards a glorious Spring!  I need not tell you that the weathermen inform us high winds and belting rain will obscure the shortest day, and last well into the longest night!  Bah!  
Anyway when I arrived back having avoided spending any money I do not possess I found the neighbour had taken the parcel in.  A box of goodies from my sister!  As my mother aged she ate less and less so I took to sending daft small things she might eat, tins of anchovies, small packets of chocolate milk etc, in what I called Red Cross Parcels in a vain hope she might attempt them while she and the neighbour gossiped during the dreadful soaps they watched. Nora was sent through by her man whenever the football was on, to give him opeace and to allow them to natter.  Later, when I was unemployed my sister began to send them to me at Christmas!  Using her womanly instinct she managed never to send me anything I ever used!  Mind you when mum died some of the stuff I sent remained unused also.  We ate it however!



      
A man brings his best buddy home for dinner 
unannounced at 5:30 pm after work. 
 His wife begins screaming at him 
and his friend just sits and listens in.
"My hair and makeup are not done, 
the house is a mess, the dishes are not done,
 I'm still in my pyjamas and I can't be bothered with cooking tonight! 
 What the hell did you bring him home for?"

 "Because he's thinking of getting married."    



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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Waiting, Waiting.....



On Tuesday morning as I ventured out to my museum duties I found a card from 'Parcelforce' informing me he had attempted to deliver on Monday at '16:12' and had ticked the 'We will endevour to deliver tomorrow' box.  Why I missed him I know not, maybe I was engrossed in a book or listening to something cultural on the wireless?  As it was Tuesday and shortly before 10 am I was unable to wait his return and left hoping he may not arrive until I got home.  Today I was awake by 5:30, in the morning that is, and shortly afterwards rose and shone in my usual style, if that is what that is called.  I decided to wait around for the man delivering today, just in case he did, but after a while i got fed up and went to Tesco's instead.  If I knew what was being delivered I would be happier but this is a Christmas surprise, probably a bundle of legal documents from someone suing me for something said on here!  He never showed today, and I contacted them through the website and now expect to wait for hours tomorrow until he shoves a card through my door and vanishes.  I know these people work at Christmas, I've been there, but always nicely.....


Having used all the Tesco vouchers I came home clutching a bag of reduced items and stuffed a cupboard with them.  I now have more food than an entire Syrian refugee camp!  Isn't it difficult to eat another slice of cheap cake when the telly shows pictures of starving children wearing thin clothes while snow falls around them and dinner is unavailable.  I canny look!  There again I get annoyed that the UK sends aid but I find myself asking how much aid comes from the rich Arab nations, especially Saudi and Quatar who started this war? If it were possible to send £5 now to feed a family I could do it, but how much gets through, why do others not send more, and will the starving children be fed or some Islamic Extremist?  Now I distrust so many charities and I suspect many others do also which means these kids will see less aid not more.  For myself I think I will once again support Tear Fund, I used to do this for years, a fiver a week when poor and more if I had it, as they work on the ground and I believe most gets through.  I must look into it again as I stopped when unemployed.  

Putting 'Agitprop' aside I ventured out again to Tesco this time to browse the non food items upstairs.  I was not buying just checking the prices for when the sale items appear!  In fact some were reduced already.  Since Woolworths went bust Tesco have taken their place as the shop that has the odds and ends you need.  Of course one or two Asian types run similar, and in some ways better, such shops where almost everything required once in a lifetime can be found, a 'Poundland' impersonator also operates but is rubbish really.  Where would we be without a place that sells cocktail sticks and cheap pots?  I had forgotten this was market day.  Every Wednesday the stalls arrive, spend hours erecting themselves, proffer their goods, then spend hours dismantling the shop, a lot of needless work if you ask me!  Why not do what one man has done and use a van? He has a large van which he has turned into a mobile barbers shop.  Not really sure why he comes here as there as plenty of those already, 'Chris & Jim's' at the 'Manor Street Barbers' being the best.  A large van as used by the fishmonger is easier to lay out, shows the goods and saves effort.  Admittedly some goods would not fit but my laziness would make them!  

  
As always at this time of year several dafties spend thousands covering their houses with fairy lights.  Some huge displays brighten the streets to the delight of the kiddies and more so the energy companies.  Me, I think their daft!  That is not what Christmas is about.  However it gives them a laugh, a wee bit of public attention, and money goes to a charity somewhere.  I still don't think much of it, especially after the 25th!  They say that one street around here has every house lit up, mine would stand out if I moved in, just a black sign reading 'Bah! Humbug!' would show. This couple do it right.  One or two wee things to add a splash of cheer but not too much.  Now I am going to blow out the candle as it is too bright in here, almost Christmassy, and we don't want that do we?

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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Happy Shop Assistant?



I spent a very long morning in the museum, dealing with the occasional shopper, a few visitors and then a school from Southend who came to the Victorian school.  The kids all like the school but do not wish to go through that every day, the teachers, eyeing the cane and rows of quiet obedient children I suspect, appear more willing to go though this daily.  A well behaved crowd today happily spending their £5 on the kind of things we would wish to buy for ourselves but will not admit it.  The slates sold well again, I tell them to ask the folks at home if they remember using them and many children appear keen to do this.  Just as many buy the plastic insects to offer to mum when they get back.  They appear keen to do this.  Today several bought the attractive gem stones for mum instead, Christmas must be ahead!  

   
The day had started well, the heat was off, the boiler was not working and I looked forward to a dreary time.  Eventually I realised what had occurred, fixed it, but by then time had passed and I rushed out unprepared and arriving in time to discover we were all in similar boats with things holding us up.  All that is bar the first paying customer who arrived before we did.  Bah!  Dealing with the kids took time and the lass who takes over from me at on o'clock did not show so I was still there by the time the kids left at 2:30.  It was quiet then, the silence could be heard!   This means I have little time to catch up on the real world and the real world is so much less interesting by the time I return.  What has happened out there?  Murder and mayhem, lies and deceit?  Usual stuff I reckon.  I looked through the usual blogs, commented on one or two and will do on one or two others once I have read all the words.  The blogs are so good, taking me all over the world, into lives I would never know otherwise.  People in different worlds than mine with very different lifestyles (I have a 'lifestyle?) and differing views educate, inform and entertain better than the so called professionals do.  They of necessity are limited to what pays, blogs reveal the heart!  That is why they are good.  At least the ones I choose to look at are.  
Now I am off to read through the longer ones and sleep the sleep of the er, sleepy.....
    


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Monday, 16 December 2013

Dreich Day All Round



What a dreich day!  The sky remained gray, often filled with rain, and I wondered about between showers avoiding puddles in case the shoes leaked, they still managed it mind.  The highlight was jumping on the free bus to Freeport and buying two T-shirts that might fit!  I have had enormous trouble finding such garments that not only fit but do not shrink after the first wash. The charity shop is pleased with my buying so far this year.  These items are all made in the far east, usually China or Bangladesh these days, and the Chinese, mostly wee folk about 5 foot 3 inches tall appear fooled into thinking that what they call 'XL' is actually large.  Sadly to me it is more like what we call 'M' and that is before it is washed and shrinks to just above 'S.'  Just who decided asking Lilliputians to make clothing for fat folks better built people was a good idea I ask?  Tsk! These two T-shirts have been made by underpaid employees in a Sri Lankan sweatshop and at first sight fit well.  This means they will be down to 'L' by the first wash and probably 'M' by the second! Grrrrrrr!  Good job they were at a reduced price....
Now I think of it I buy jeans from Tesco, I no longer buy their shrinking T-shirts, and even though I buy the same size jeans each time each pair is slightly different!  The Rupees the Bangladeshi makes from this sale (£6) will not do much for her I guess.  

Nothing else happened. No news worth mentioning, no cards or presents fell through the door, no invites to parties or grub, nothing happened yet again! The kids will be off school now, standing at the windows looking for a fat man on a sleigh, not that you will see him fro the gray clouds above. The mums and dads will be looking also, at the next Credit Card bill when it arrives.  Many's a light will be turned off in those houses next month!  The media will be glad there is no real news, just the usual murder, corruption et al, and they newsrooms can relax and discuss their trips to South Africa, show the family their pictures and chat about the people they met.  The fiddling of expenses will be done later.  The football pages rejoice that they have removed the Spurs manager, one thing they have attempted since the season began, and are now looking towards West ham where the man in charge and his results will be the next to be put under the microscope, discussed (ignorantly for the most part) and his boss pressurised to sack him to give the press a story to fill their pages. Now I am not being cynical here, but they are!  
This is however the last week for a Christmas shop.  Panic buying will set in, men obtaining those frilly negligee's for their wives (returned and replaced with flannelette ones the week after Christmas), children will be demanding expensive goods not available in a any local shop, mums planning the dinner (as they ought) and some greedy shopkeepers rubbing their hands with glee while sympathising with their customers.  Soon be all over and Valentines cards will replace the Christmas ones and Easter eggs appear in the shops.
Mind you I like the eggs...
Life goes on however, whatever we fuss about.  The birds nestling in the wind shaken treetop care little for our concerns.  The face the wind as it howls towards them wishing the leaves had remained a little longer.  Our trials mean nothing up in that tree, life continues as it always has up there.

   
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Sunday, 15 December 2013


BBC 

Today the world said goodbye to Nelson Mandela.  He was as I said before a great man, the BBC and other medias coverage of him however was far from great.  The great cause of the middle class liberals was apartheid in South Africa.  For years a small group, larger at important times, stood outside the embassy in London demanding an end to the colour bar.  Once Mandela arrived they went home.  Many journalists visited the country, often being hindered by the authorities as they reported on the conditions there.  To the followers of the cause Mandela was not just a politician, he was their hero, their star, their idol and they arrived in full to worship him at Christmas.  
I suspect however that he never gave them the same degree of adulation they gave him, Mandela was no fool.  He knew what was in a man, especially middle class Brits obsessed with their ideology, and never pandered to them.  he did however respond well, and indeed played up to, the honest support many Brits did in fact offer him and his cause.  Now he has gone and his nation continues, the people not much better off and the leaders happily wasting the cash.
But what about the other causes?
Not one middle class liberal ever stood outside an embassy governed by black leaders abusing or killing their own people.  Does black killing black make it acceptable perhaps?  Journalists may occasionally visit such places and send in clear reports of abuse and murder, but the liberals are not roused, it is after all safer to promote same sex marriage, abortion or whatever this weeks cause may be.  Actually campaigning against black leaders may in fact be called 'racist!'  Much of the rest of the nation fails to get excited, 'they are all the same after all' is the approach there.
'Love,' as in 'Love your neighbour,' is not the same as 'love your neghbour if it fits in with this weeks ideology,' that's just 'loving yourself'



Now I am not one to gloat!  Indeed such an attitude is s far from me that I have often been referred to as 'Mr Generous Heart' himself.  So when I noted the English weaving their merry way to Australia to play the colonials at the cricket I humbly let the occasion pass with no comment. That a comment regarding the loud boasting from the players of the ease with which they would dispose of the marsupial eaters was possible I let slip past.  The crowing on TV and Radio from English 'experts,' as to how easy this game in the sun would be I ignored, something one often has to do regarding English attitudes.  
Imagine my surprise then at the latest news from our contacts overseas!  It would appear that this 'England,' are not the superior chaps they supposed themselves to be, indeed the opposite could well be true.  On the off chance I have overheard some of the previously loud boasters on TV now indicate questions regarding the men out there swinging those stick things they carry. It appears from their conversations that what once were referred to as 'Ace,' or 'Superior Batsman,' and even 'World beaters,' could in fact be overpaid numpties who ought never have been allowed near a cricket field ever!  Tsk! Who would have thunk it eh?

Now I must make clear my views here.  People who stand around all day on a piece of grass that ought to have been developed into a football field, throwing a ball at a man armed with a thick stick, the intention being to stop said ball hitting thin sticks behind him, clearly have not yet found the meaning of life. The majority of one team hide in the dressing room playing on their iPads, tablets or other players girlfriends while two of them fight the opposition.  I say two fight the opposition but in fact only one throws the ball at them, the others merely stand around ion what sun breaks through the clouds while they scratch themselves.  I ask you is this any way for a grown man to pass the time of day? What is the point of this?  Why do Englishmen, working men at that, get so excited over this nonsense? In Scotland we never played this game.  On the odd occasion as kids it was attempted, more as an experiment to attempt understanding of the southern neighbours folly, but it never lasted.  The idea of standing around while others work is not the Scots way, I found many Englishmen who in my experience considered this a good working method however.   
I will not gloat that the imperialist army, known as the 'barmy army,' with good reason, have headed ten thousand miles into destruction, but I could.  There will be no gloating that those who desired an open top bus trip after a lucky win against a feeble young Aussie side last year have found themselves dangling on the end of a rope.  Laughter will not cross my mind when the defeated sun burnt 'sportsmen,' drag themselves back to their bank accounts.  No smug smiles here, but I might just go out and buy a bottle of Australian wine for Christmas!

      
Before you eat, be it breakfast lunch or tea, do not click on this link.  Click nothing until you are in a healthy state, far from dangerous weapons or fragile items.  This may make you laugh or it may make you boak!



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Saturday, 14 December 2013

Another Day of Joy Passeth.



By the time I slogged wearily off towards the veg stall in the market the sun was situating itself low in the morning sky.  It brightened up the leafless trees, cheered the blue sky, warmed the air sufficiently for me to wear only one jacket, two pullovers and a thick shirt.  I went back for my jeans when I was half way across the park.  This augured well for the day.   By the time I returned, pomegranates and all, I was smugly happy that the day would be good.  
I then burnt my breakfast, these frying pans are a disgrace!  I cooked the mince, which burnt as I was watching TV, watching the Celtic v Hibernian match I rather hoped Celtic would put eight past them and instead a feeble team beat the wee team by only one  nil, this was a disappointment, but not so disappointing as watching The Heart of Midlothian being robbed 2-0 by Inverness Caley! For a moment I considered the brandy bottle.  However mindful of the cost of brandy, and that therefore there was none in the house, I drank tea instead - from reused tea bags.  Nothing could make things worse today, nothing!
Then as the rain began this arrived.....  



.What is it about Australians that makes their women spiteful?


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Friday, 13 December 2013

A Song, A Book (two books) and a Cartoon!



Carol, another sun worshiper, supplies a delightful song for Christmas - she says - in which people in shorts and Santa hats sing joyfully. Tomorrow I may go outside and do likewise - if the rain stops!  Bah! Humbug!


and she gets six weeks off for Christmas!
Bah!


I noticed Bob has begun to spout on about his book again.  For some reason that I cannot comprehend authors continue to promote their works even if the whole world has the book three times over!  When my tome is published it will fly off the shelves so well there will be no need to publicise it, word of mouth will be enough for me.  Of course I have yet to begin writing, but it will be worth the wait.  Bob's book has been round the block several times but for those comatose when first published here it is again.



For some obscure reason another author has contacted me by shouting loudly from his attic window in Leith reminding me of his latest best seller which I must remind the more discerning reader is still available after yet more reprints.  Mike Smith took considerable trouble to ignore my preferences when working on this but still made millions from his book, but don't tell him I said so!







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Thursday, 12 December 2013

Foggy Night



Having spent the foggy morning in the museum feeding mince pies to the old folks listening to the children's choir as they entertained them I was not available when the postman called to deliver yet another Christmas parcel.  So tonight I dragged my weary bulk down the long slog to the sorting office. The fog had worsened, the night had fallen, the opportunity to attempt night shots beckoned.


Overworked posties vans rested for the night, overworked posties did likewise. Whether they rush home to note the price of their free (cheap) shares, donated by H.M. Government as a bribe to keep them sweet I don't know, but most will be well aware of their value today.  How lucky these van drivers are to deliver around the rural areas, especially in summer.  No struggling along with a huge bag on a bike, or pushing one of those absurd trolleys that the management now wish to insist all postmen use thus making deliveries even slower than they are now!  Sometimes you wonder how the men in the offices get their jobs. Could it be that when you have no experience of a job you will be able to suggest a better (e.g. cheaper) way of doing it?  Could it be an office wallah is just incompetent?  Most  sorting office managers had at one time been postmen today however many have little work experience (of any kind) and those above them clearly none whatsoever.  The future of mail delivery in the UK is not good!


This building was once the social club of the major works that stood opposite. After a hundred or so years of operation the company shrank and moved on, it may even yet operate in a small way elsewhere.  The building has served many purposes since, being closed by the constabulary occasionally, and now appears to be a mere pub.  The naming of such places tells a great deal about the area and the history thereof, it reflects on the clientele as well as the owners, it speaks of the townsfolk and indicates something of the local culture.  This one is called, 'The Pub!'  No doubt it tells you all you need to know of the locals!


Can you just imagine what life was like when we used coal to heat us?  Each house, plus every factory, pumping out coal smoke drifting over the towns. Weather like this brought down the mixture of smoke and fog which we referred to as smog, a choking blinding substance that encouraged bronchial disease, blackened buildings, led to traffic accidents killed more people than cold weather does today. Dickens 'Bleak House,' begins with a vivid description of Victorian London in the rain, people slithering down one side and up the other at Holborn Viaduct, or before that was built to be more correct.  Rain, mist, smoke, people, all mixed in together.  It must have been awful when smog fell and folks were so unhealthy anyway!  
Ah well, I got my packet, a tin of toffees and struggled home while looking for pictures. My life you see is so exciting, are you envious, what?......oh!    
   

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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Very Sad....



Having spent much of the day doing this little jobs that mean so much, putting the hanging edge of the curtains back on the hook, dusting "cough," cleaning the loo ugh, and making soup, reading Jeremy Bowen's 'Arab Uprising,' and 'With the 1/5th Essex in the East,' books,  however I did not do these all at the same time, I failed to get enough time to rant about something.  This is sad.
I could have got annoyed when I noted some were desiring the removal of Gary Locke from the role as manager of the Heart of Midlothian but I controlled myself.  With no cash, no players, indeed three senior players now injured, no possibility of replacements as there is no cash these numpties cry for the manager to be removed and a 'big name' to take over!  The stupidity of the Hearts fan knows no bounds!  It's like those folk that are told there are no cakes left and say "I'll have two!" What do they do for brains?
Instead of decapitating them I went back to my work, my books, but mostly my books!  
If you want me I am either in Egypt as the revolution is stalling or half way up the ridge next to Hill 60 in Suvla, keep your head down when you call!