Sunday, 30 November 2014

Highs & Lows

This morning took me down to the lower end of town to the lovely, but not architecturally grand, St Paul's Church.  The Church of England has some strange people manifest within its borders but this church is not one of them. Here we find a warm atmosphere and people who know what they are talking about.  I looked forward to shuffling down the road as I enjoy this place.  I was as I expected not disappointed.  With talk of a light coming into the darkness, it was what Anglicans call 'the first Sunday of advent,' and with kids lighting a candle, appropriate songs, a laugh, cheery talk, and the presence of Jesus it was an enjoyable morning.  The friendly people are the reason to be here.  The church died for a while but under a female vicar (Tsk Heresy!) it has revived.

When I left the sun was shining the sky was blue, even the temperature was almost bearable, and my heart was light.  I even smiled at the passing kiddies rather than kick them into the bushes.  Home for dinner that today I did not grill.  Yes indeed yesterday I placed two items into the oven I had previously switched on and left it.  Some time later I began to notice a strange odour in the room.  "Dearie me," I thought, "The lass next door is burning something." It took me a few minutes longer to notice it was my smoke alarm that was beginning to yell out!   Bah!
Today the lunch was not burnt, just rubbish!

The joy of the morning received a shock just after three in the afternoon.  At that time I realised we were playing the best team in Scotland and Gollum was refereeing!  Now Gollum has refereed the last six Celtic games at Tynecastle I hear and managed to send off three Hearts players while doing so, he even gave them a very soft penalty while not giving a glaring one to us!  Thus I was in a great deal of fear and trepidation while I watched.
I need not worry, within ten minutes he had sent off our captain, just after half time he gave them a non penalty and cautioned anyone including the manager who dared to ask how he got his job when he DID NOT KNOW WHAT HE WAS DOING! 
My spiritual high sank.
Teeth gnashed together, and this is not wise at my age, passions arose and spilled out, loving my neighbour does include informing them of their faults, and I confess I did this in a full and hearty manner!  
What had looked like being a tight hard fought game died within ten minutes, the Hearts players gave up as they knew whatever happened the ref would work against them so what was the point?
If only the club had the guts to stand up to this.  

I now sit here in the dark, the candle has gone out, fuming gently, wishing the dinner had been better, struggling to find anything worth commenting on as there is no news.  I noticed the BBC World Service man Menendez was asking people to send tweets of any news out there, somewhat tongue in cheek. The news folks do not see news around them only wars, fights, bad news and terror, nothing else sells it appears.  The weekend, especially Sunday, is a poor day for news.  The media need a war to erupt, a disaster to occur before they think it worth reporting.  They will not find much to talk about on this site today will they....?

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Bugged by Yahoo with a Beard?

As I headed for the land of Nod late last night I realised I had been bugged! One last item required checking so I highlighted the words and right clicked and was presented with a 'dialogue box'  which amongst other things offered me the chance to 'Search Yahoo for .....'  I stopped.  This was Google, why was I being asked about 'Yahoo?'  A baddie had infiltrated the Laptop.
I ran the Malawares, Spybot and Windows Defender this morning yet they claimed I was clean (and I have not yet had my Sunday bath). Something was still amiss.  However the query intrigued more as I discovered later.
You need to know, quite why I am not sure, that I use three Browsers.  Firefox, Chrome and a Commodo Chrome browser.  On each I place differing things as there are so many links they slow the brute down otherwise, or so I think anyway.  This bug did not affect Firefox of Commodo and only lay on Chrome. Nothing would reveal it yet when I clicked it led to what appeared to be a normal list of Yahoo listings.  I took it no further as I was not sure what was going on.
What to do?  I removed any links on the bad Chrome to the Commodo quite easily, uninstalled Chrome, and downloaded a new Chrome.  This worked and the baddie has gone away, not reappearing on Chrome.  

Earlier this week I received an email form a man claiming to be in Manilla airport, trapped there as his plane was leaving yet he had many problems.  For one his wallet, passport and money had been stolen. He had lost all but the Embassy had given him a replacement passport to allow him to travel he just needed cash to pay his bills so he could leave.
For a moment I was surprised and a wee bit worried.  Was this true?  
Some logic had to be used here.  For one thing I hardly know this man, I only met him through researching his invisible dad and it is unlikely he would contact me in such a situation.  He has a family somewhere who he surely would approach first, and on top of this he is well old, trapped in a wheelchair, and unlikely to be running around the Philippines as he can hardly get around this town! 
Clearly a scam using my address book.  Such a shame they used the wrong name eh?

What is it with footballers and beards?  All over the place there are beards everywhere, why?  Is it something to do with 'Movember?'  This being a charitable activity where men grow moustaches for the month in support of testicular Cancer.  These are beards, not moustaches, do they not know the difference?   Once upon a time a player with a beard was highly unusual, I doubt there were any in Scotland in the sixties.  Today however they are seen everywhere, possibly as a fashion statement from groovy young men puling the birds, surely not with the faces behind the beard I hear you say? What is worse are the guys who shave their heads and grow beards Taliban style.  Could they be terrorists, or just daft?  How daft is it to shave off the hair on the head and cover you chin with it instead, I ask you?  
It will end in tears, mark my words.

Friday, 28 November 2014

The Desire for Shiny Things

The US 'Black Friday,' an opportunity for greedy shopkeepers to line their pockets by selling treasure seekers imaginary bargains, has landed in the UK. This had led to police being called to many stores to separate fighting bargain hunters in many towns.  Remember this nation is wealthy, but we still have two million unemployed!  This nation is wealthy but we allow billions to be lost to tax dodging while the NHS is leaking billions through bad management daily. Millions are on the breadline yet crowds flock to the shops for these so called 'offers.'
Having moved from pauperism to poverty I know what it is like to be broke.  For far too long I suffered the indignity of having only sufficient to survive and no more.  This allowed the clothes I wore to wear out, not that I noticed, and many Christmases to be avoided as the money was not there. This was not the first time I have struggled, we all have at times and I can recall in 1982 deciding to buy a cheap tin of beans because I could not afford the one that was a halfpenny more expensive! This at a time when the Thatcher world was lining its pockets and quenching champagne at expensive lunches.
The problems mount when you have no money.  Others consider daily life a struggle yet manage to enjoy themselves aplenty.  Nights out, holidays, always able to obtain whatever they require, and fail to understand the poor man who has to make ends meet by careful budget and not going out.  Loss of friends you cannot afford to be with, or even worse those who insist on charitable aid embarrassing the poor and heaping coals on their heads leading to a desire to avoid them rather be fed by them. Family can be worse.  They understand both the position and the person however their care can be hurtful also.  One of my worst experiences was sending money to one of my great nieces, then about nine or ten years old, and having it returned "because you need it."  I should be providing for her yet she sent this to me!  That hurt so badly and still does.  I passed it on to her gran to ensure she got it somehow.
The best charity for the unemployed is a proper job of work, and one that pays sufficient to survive. For many men over fifty today this is unlikely and they too will endure what I endured to some extent.  A man's pride in bringing home a wage is dented badly when unemployed.  They may enjoy avoiding the daily grind but they do not enjoy the embarrassment, the inability to pay for others and the lack of cash to give to others.  Being unable to provide for his family is an awful emotion.
Having such a situation is made worse when half the world is found fighting over shiny things in shops.  'Black Friday' is encouraged by the media and the businesses that line their pockets this way and they care little about the hassle customers or staff endure while they struggle over items.  The sight of people fighting to obtain a TV that is £50 less than last week does not encourage me into stores, the opposite is true.  Quite what motivates the grab at such times  I know not.  is it just the desire to have the latest item?  Could it be the neighbours have one and we MUST have one also, even if it is only a super telly or computer or hoover or whatever?  What is this desire?  What part of our life is so empty that we need that shiny thing and are willing to fight to obtain one?  
We have all done it haven't we?  On at least one occasion we have gone out of our way for one such item, an item that now sits forlorn in a cupboard perhaps, an item that is not the reason for life after all.  There are things that we want around, for me a computer and a camera are the shiny things that matter, but would I trail to a superstore and fight over them?  I doubt it.  One will arrive eventually, probably cheaper, and I will keep all my teeth.  
The poor man must look on and wonder at the sights off Black Friday.  He struggles to buy bread, they struggle for a TV, he misses out luxuries such as a bottle of beer, they take home cases of whisky!  No wonder people are tempted into crime, no wonder resentment builds, and in such a society of hours the ones with shiny things ignore the poor man sitting there watching it pass by. No one will care.  Shiny things don't lead to happiness but they are good and enjoyable.  Better however is the contentment that comes from not seeking treasures but enjoying what we have.
Could anyone lend me a fiver.....?


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Gey Dreich, and so is Royal Mail.

Another gey dreich day for the citizens of the 'driest county in England.'  If I wished to live under a perpetual cloud with added rain I would have stayed in Edinburgh.  In fact yesterday was one of the frequent bright sunshine days with a bitter cold wind meaning any use of the fridge was unnecessary. 
Later the normal conditions returned.  
However the rain bringing down the leaves, stimulating the earth and drenching the flora around us does bring out a rich mixture of aromas not all being unpleasant.  Indeed a walk across the park enriches the mind and stimulates the brain as the fruits of creation, even those turning overnight into compost, release their contents.  
The light changes with the clouds above and the colour of fallen leaves below, even though this camera could not replicate this here.  A wee stab of light from the hidden sun was called upon but refused to show, it appears ten thousand feet of cloud blot out the sun.  The distant mist is not unpleasant to look at, though the woman who puts out her washing may disagree, and while the rain stays out of the holes in my shoes it was not disagreeable to walk amongst miserable dogwalkers with happy dogs and occasional Blackbirds seeking a late breakfast.

After the rain decided to cease to some extent I hobbled off to the Post Office.  I had to resend one  of my books to another part of Essex as someone had nicked one from the envelope!  The poor lass called me to say she received the envelope and letter but the book was missing, the envelope ripped down the side.  My work is so precious postmen are stealing it!  The problem it appears from my experience is the main sorting offices.  Here as many as 400 are employed, some of who's backgrounds are not always checked very well, and opportunities for self enrichment do occur.  Local offices suffer this also, our local recently lost one man who had been at it for years, a man I knew and like everyone else trusted totally!  He is now serving 16 months!  Missing mail is usually nothing to do with your local postie, almost all goes from the main sorting office.  Someone there is at least learning something, that I do not enclose money in envelopes.  
However on the way back I met a postwoman doing the round she has had for years.  I have done this and it is a difficult walk, on a steep hill, with houses placed in awkward positions, lots of small slopes which weary the legs, and a finish that is most despairing to those who have to do it.  Not the worst I have done but this lass is not as young as she was and deserves something better.  
The thing is she was pushing one of these appalling trolleys.  For reasons difficult to comprehend Royal mail, now sold off on the cheap to the private sector (Did you know that this government enabled some friends to buy many shares on the promise to keep them for a while to stabalise the shares. George Osbornes 'Best man' at his wedding was one such.  He took many shares and sold them the next day for £35 Million! ), decided to take away the postmen's bikes and replace them with these trolleys. An absurd idea for many and this lass suffers from it.  It is now impossible for her to do her work in the time allotted.  On a bike it took five minutes to reach the first drop, it also took about five to return to the depot at the end, both journeys pushing the trolley take around ten to fifteen minutes for the same journey, that's thirty minutes lost from the start!  Between drops there are open spaces, walking between these is slower than using a bike, especially going downhill, and I guess this change of equipment has added an hour to a round. How stupid is that?
The claim from Royal Mail that this method avoids posties carrying heavy bags and suffering back pain is rubbish as they suffer pushing trolleys uphill, through busy pavements also.  Cycle accidents are avoided this way, but trolley ones are not?  In short it was a gimmick,  the bikes have been rounded up and sent to Africa as a piece of corporate charity.  This sounds good but not at all like Royal Mail.  I suspect someone there is now selling them at high price and lining his pockets.  
The mail delivery is slower, the posties unhappy, (in spite of the good for nothing union agreeing to these trolleys nobody wanted them) and with Christmas upon us we will soon see them struggle through the rain, sleet and snow all the while expecting a tip!  
Royal Mail, like all privatised companies, is a mess and it will only get worse. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

To See the Sea!

One of the things I miss most about living here is the closeness of the sea.  It is possible to reach it if I jump on a train or bus and endure the other passengers all the way to the coast but in Edinburgh we had the Firth of Forth stretch right in front of us.  Here we could see the sea and taste its aroma as the Forth made its way out to the North Sea.  In days past warships based at Rosyth would make their way out to join the rest of the fleet based in Scapa Flow.  I myself saw a nuclear submarine slip past one day some time back, just a large conning tower and the beginning of the huge volume of the vessel showing. When aged around four or five I was down there with my dad when  a man pointed out to the middle of the water, there we saw a large whale blowing away.  What kind of whale I cannot say but whale it was, the memory remains in my mind of him blowing water.  Neither sub or whale are seen today, one has been removed by London based governments and the other eaten by Japanese or Norwegians. Today not far from this point just before the Forth Bridge large vessels stop to collect the ethylene refined at the Fife Mossmorran plant for shipment to Antwerp and further along similar ships deal with the products of the Grangemouth refinery thus making the Forth a still busy shipway.  

In days of yore just along from this spot Newhaven  Harbour lay.  This small fishing village was once at a distance from both Edinburgh and Leith and has long since been swallowed up.  While many houses have been rebuilt in an old style the people are no longer distinct from those around them. Here the men in their 'pea-jacket' would fish throughout the night, a very dangerous occupation, and on returning to land the wives in their pink or yellow striped dresses would sell the catch to the girls with the 'Hurly' a basket for the fish carried on their backs.  These lassies in the mid 19th century were often Irish rather than Scots and the potato famine brought many more Irish to the city where around 25,000 soon had their abode. According to Detective James McLevy, himself of Irish extraction, the men stood around while their wives did the bartering avoiding any part in the process.  I suppose a near death experience or two at the edge of the North Sea gave them the right to expect the women to do some work, and with the lassies buying it was probably a good idea at that. 

On the far side of the Forth the Fife villages of Crail, Pittenweem and others also so small craft enter the waters to seek for fish, a process that had endured for centuries and ended only in the last fifty years. While the boats developed the danger remained the same and as the fish stocks failed and a type of industrial fishing ruined the breeding grounds the trade died.  Newhaven has developed in other ways and the Fife villages now fill with Edinburgh people too poor to buy a local house, thus leaving Fife folks with even less money less choice of housing. Commuting to work over such a vista may be enjoyable but as always someone suffers.  

The pictures of the Newhaven folks were taken by Edinburgh's two Photographic pioneers Hill and Adamson!   Using a calotype process they subjected the fishing folk to long static poses while they developed their picture.  Quite what the locals thought of this I know not.  They did pose however, in their best, or possibly their only clothes, and must have been happy, and paid, to do so again and again. The pictures taken at Cramond were examples of my brothers talent on a Nikon from a few years ago.  I found them on a disc and decided to put them to use. He wandered out very early one morning before the world had risen and took pics of places we all once knew.  Ah the aroma from the sea is with me still, or possibly I need to put some stuff down the drains again. 


Saturday, 22 November 2014

Friday, 21 November 2014

Busy Friday

It’s not long after nine on Friday morning.  This is the day I do the women’s work, hoovering, dusting, rubbish removal and the like.  So far I have failed to get off my seat and this is an excuse to remain here. Through the condensation steeped window I can just make out the light gray sky above, something that reminds me of an Edinburgh summers day, and in the leaf strewn park occasional passers by pass by, some late for work others keen on enriching Mr Tesco or Mr Sainsbury.  This does not incite me into following them.
The dullness of the sky is reflected in the dullness of the living quarters.  I switch on the light and watch the room get darker.  Books and papers lie askew around the desk, the sofa, and the floor.  Cables and plugs lie dust grained in corners, and green oranges are noted at the bottom of the fruit bowl.  I puzzle as to quite what that lump in between the fridge and the cupboard is, I am not too sure but it has been there for some time....

The women's work has been done, the air is filled with flying debris as choking and spluttering I wonder if it is time to empty that vacuum?  This dusting business is a laugh.  As I write the dust removed from the bookcases replaces the dust removed from the desk.  I suggest the dust from the desk now deposits itself happily on the books.  Thus the world turns.  The so called years of evolution that shaped the earth are nothing more than dust particles moving from one place to another, like sand dunes shifting the Sahara south.  No wonder the world has never run out of cleaners.  
I have looked at the 'to do' list once again, hopefully tomorrow I will look at it again.  If it were not for the football at midday I might even do one of the items on the list.  For today, as the weather is not attempting to change its ways, I will merely go back to updating that never ending website.  This is slowly taking shape but each name requires at least half an hour and sometimes it takes longer.  On two occasions I have discovered I was listing the wrong man and that has had to be changed. Hopefully nobody has copied the details.  The thing about the First World War information is the need to check everything.  So many details are incorrect, understandable in the circumstances, but the backroom staff at the time have actually done a marvellous job considering the difficulties of detailing so much as accurately as possible.  I hope I am reasonably accurate.

Much later.

I stumbled out this afternoon to get some deep breaths of vehicle pollution and made my way across the dim gray park towards the shops.  As I shuffled by I watched a boy, aged about 8 years, throwing his dogs lead for the beast to catch.  He and the golden retriever were having a ball, without a ball.  His mum enjoyed the sight of them pulling at either end of the lead, especially when the lad stood on the lead and the dog happily pulled him over the damp grass as he stood on the thing.  An enjoyable encounter in which passing strangers had to laugh, especially as they all knew what strange happiness a young lad playing with a dog can obtain.
There were no signs of happiness in the store however, just suspicious glances and surly looks.  There I obtained the bottle of beer I see as being ideal for yuletide, 'Bah Humbug!'  What it tastes like I as yet know not but if acceptable more will be purchased and used as gifts.  It seems right, but maybe I am being too satirical for some.  I will no doubt find out.  Too much of Christmas requires satire in my mind.

It has become the norm for these 'Continental Markets' to spring up in the town centre every so often. While they are popular enough for the stallholders to return it was pretty slack as I passed.  The varieties of foodstuffs appeals, the prices do not.  Neither does the ability of women to stand in the middle of the passageway blocking everybody while contemplating with dull eyes the good on show they then do not buy!  Paella, vegetable curry and the banned cheeses looked good but would cost around a fiver a time.  Even the bread I did fancy was far too dear, Tesco sell similar at half the cost, but maybe tomorrow if they have some of the fancy bread I occasionally buy I may splash out and ruin what is left of my diet, maybe.  

Now all I have to do is write the blog...hold on.  I must have missed something out today, I should be filling this page last thing at night when half asleep.  Oh well, early bed....   

Thursday, 20 November 2014


As I hobbled through the park this afternoon weighed down by thought and a bag of Tesco special offers I was struck by how bright the sky could be when the air temperature was so low.  In my little world if the sky is blue the sun ought to be burning our skin beetroot shade but today it was slowly slipping down behind the old water towers, though what is wants to do there I fail to understand. The populace is now wrapped up, not counting half dressed young ladies and workmen who think it's warm because the sun is shining, scarves fly off the shelves, heavy coats are in use and the heating everywhere is struggling into life.  
However when I see pictures from North America and folks cars lie under a foot of snow I can tell you how glad I am to be here and not there.  Their snow problems will continue until the weekend when I suspect it will thaw and flood everyone.  I suppose such folks as Canadians can cope better than we having all the right tools for heavy snowfall but even so it is a trial.  
The changing climate indicates the end is near and we do nothing but  talk about it. This 'art work' in Berlin is called 'Politicians discussing climate change, ' I think it makes a point.


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Tea &Talk!

I spent the day in a drowsy dream today.  Nothing got done.  However in the afternoon I went to the 'Tea & Talks' at the museum and listened to a chap discuss ancient places.  Greece, Herculaneum, Rome, Crete and the like.  It was an enjoyable way to spend an hour.  
The picture from Herculaneum revealing the old buildings and the height of the ash that had covered them for hundreds of years was worth seeing alone. These buildings were at least two if not three stories tall and the ash had covered them by almost two stories on top of them.  Thousands died because of the volcano and they remained in the town believing they were safe.  Interestingly Naples, which stands underneath the same smoking volcano, contains two million people.  The centre is full of tourists and the locals live all around the city.  Guess who gets away first when she blows next time?  Italians are not daft!  
I would have liked to visit Crete also, the pictures from there are interesting. Why I am not made able to live in the sun, surrounded by blue sea, is a mystery to me.  As long as a Tesco is nearby and football on the telly I think I could cope.  The large expanse of the ancient cities surprise some folks. I canny see why these guys could build better than us.  Some places the chaps showed featured tunnels, either rough cut, twenty feet wide, or as in Egypt similarly wide by plastered and lavishly painted so you could identify the one buried there.  
So, making my way home through the mire, I considered the bright blue sea, the dazzling sun and the dim lights from the rear of the Town Hall.  It doesn't seem fair does it......?


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Ain't Life Grand

A very quiet morning at the museum today.  I sold one book (signed) to a staff member and took £1:50 from and older lass  This is not paying the way I say! Typically as I left people wandered in.  Hmmm. The sad thing was the lass who came to visit was doing so because her husband cannot. She wished to get some idea of what his great uncle went through but sadly he himself has both Parkinson's and dementia. The lass was almost in tears as she left as her long time husband does not know her.  One of the worst situations in this world is being helpless when someone genuinely suffers.  She did not wait long and soon went off home.  I felt rotten, poor lass.

The rest of my day was filled with nothing.  Indeed I sit here wondering what I have done since I came home.  Apart from managing to eat I appear to have sat watching the paint on the wall decaying slowly. It could of course have been that I actually had the TV on the wrong channel, there is little difference. Judging by the mess all around I have cleaned nothing, but that is not new. However I think it a cheek of the council to send a man in a dustbin lorry to ask if I wanted the house cleared. Tsk!
Nothing for it but to watch the football now.  I suppose I must....


Monday, 17 November 2014


That sums up my day.  A few household chores, some exercise (well five minutes) some cleaning, some research, some yawning and that is my day.  A walk round town leaving my knee aching, a dinner of fishcakes to make my stomach feel the same!  It's a good job I am not one to complain!

I searched for news in the papers and found none.  Celebs pictured, politicians lying, pressmen lying, murderers caught while lying, sex on every page, health tips from the 'Daily Mail' now that's trustworthy innit!  Nothing to watch on telly, BBC iplayer would not start in the morning, rubbish available when it did, and now I have found a wee football game somewhere in the English wilderness. Actually that could be next door......

Oh sleep, to sleep perchance to dream etc..... 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Friday Night at St Mick's, oh and a Camel!

Time was when I could not stay in on a Friday night.  The world was out there and the world was happening all around and I had to be near it if not actually in it.  Today however I find sitting in my bed on a cold Friday night watching football far more appealing than strolling the dark streets.  Yet last night I was forced by a woman, isn't it always, to venture out to St Michaels to their little remembrance evening.  Quite why all this did not happen on Saturday I know not but not being one to question or complain I ensured my bits remained attached by arriving just after seven on the clock.
The idea was to show a few of their items and some of ours, and sell the book also.  This we did but mostly I wished to meet the grandchildren of the men on the memorial.

Being Anglicans they are into candles and while not quite me i did think they had presented things well. I spent lots of time talking to relatives of men who served, around five of them were long conversations which ended with them buying one of my books funnily enough, and all taught me a great deal.  The lady who stood out was one who had ventured to Bosnia during the war there a few years ago to deliver aid.  Snipers, customs, unhappy drivers and other problems left me full of admiration for her and her husband (who received the MBE for his efforts in controlling things) for their willingness to dare such an adventure.  That was a few years ago and they are retired now so it was not sweet young things, they were folks who had lots to lose.  

Then it was home through the dark mist, with the camera set at the wrong position for pictures all night, to arrive exhausted and struggle to sleep as I was so tired.  I also managed to miss the Scotland v Ireland game, but I canny complain, as the boss would hit me if I did!!!  

Tired or not I was forced to shop today and was somewhat surprised to be confronted by three camels in the centre of town, not a usual experience to me. There they were giving rides to brats kiddies and stinking the place down.  A wonderful idea for Christmas and I wish they had been at the museum! However I am glad I did not have to clean up afterwards!


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Taking the Tablets

The insides as well as the brain have been slightly affected by this weeks germ and my eating has not been according to good health magazines liking.  Last night I was beset by a lack of sweet things in the house and dug out a recipe for tablet, not unsimilar to this All Recipes one, and proceeded to spend a short eternity making a small amount of not very good tablet, too much marge I think. What would nurse say?  
This stuff is what we used to get from my mum after she attended the churches 'bring and buy' sales. These were once regular occurances but died out with the needless imposition of 'Health & Safety.' For offering goods for sale legal frameworks regarding health and compensation for outbreaks of ecoli etc (which never happened) were imposed by the Gestapo.  The many 'fairy cakes' and bars of 'tablet' that once rotted the teeth of such as I were no longer on offer unless provided by properly protected shops. Children however are sleekit souls and have continued to destroy their teeth with an abundance of other sugar filled nasties, nasties which I must say we all like now and again.  
This brown sludge that now lies in the plastic container, not actually that healthy either I suppose, has begun the work of destroying my remaining unholed teeth. As too flavour, well it would never be offered by the women in that churches 'Women's Guild' that's for sure!  

Note also that because of feminist bull the Church of Scotland long since has allowed men to join the 'Women's Guild.'  Quite why that august organisation allowed itself to be cowed by ungodly laws I know not, however it is a broken Kirk today.  I note this gender bending however has not happened to the 'Women's Institute,' could it be some are above the law, e.g. women's organisations, or just that no man in his right mind wishes to be surrounded by the pack of middle class harridans that predominate there? Answers on a postcard and send them to Sheila, instead of me so make it an attractive one.

It has been a quiet few days, I have actually began to attend to the 'To Do' list from way back.  My broken glasses have been glued back together, sort off, the DVDs put in a rack, the books sorted into order and the top shelf of my 'in tray' has been sorted and filed away!  Goodness gracious, I then defragmented the hard drive and I even sorted out the sock drawer!  Then I had to pop into the museum to buy the last Christmas gifts, which I managed, while planning to undertake an expedition into the middle tray of my 'in tray.'  However at the museum I was given two pieces of paper containing work! That finished the afternoon and postponed the second layer for a while.  Ah well there is always tomorrow.... 


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Memory, Why Doesn't it Work?

This aged picture of a London Trotters cart was taken around the 50's/60's, I forget exactly.  I came across it sorting through things tonight.  The Trotters were rag & bone men, an early type of recycling that has long gone out of fashion.  'Steptoe & Son'  is a famous TV sitcom based on one family somewhere in Shepherds Bush trying to make a living.  There is a little emblem on the cart, could it be a council one?  I wish I had time to search through the RBK site now.  This site is full of old pictures and tales from the libraries of Kensington & Chelsea.  Well worth a look.
The use of horse and carts is rarely seen today although some breweries still use them occasionally.  My dad used one to deliver milk in the early 50's and Dunfermline Co-op were still using them until the mid sixties.  I rarely saw them in London when I lived there however one horse, bored with waiting for the boss to come out of the pub, straddled the pavement to ensure he got attention from someone on one occasion.  The St Cuthberts Co-op in Edinburgh not only used horse deliveries into the late 60's they also looked after the queens horses when she bothered to use the Scottish Royal Coach.  I suspect some London based civil servant will have sold it now.  
How good memory is in making such sights appear enjoyable, a light relief from the cares of the day. However for the man working them there was no relief until he had got back to the depot, settled the horse in a stall, cleaned up and made his way home.  It's easier to switch off an engine that deal with a horse. The pay then was poor, nothing for being sick, and sacked for anything almost. Still the sun shone more then, maybe.

Memory is useful when retracing your steps as I had to today.  I noticed the battery in the camera was running low and I mused as to whether it would work if I went out then and now.  No time to ponder, I got ready and made my way out before the rain began.  As I crossed the road the rain began.  I walked through the drizzle gardens, replacing a wreath or two blown by the wind from the memorial, and headed into town.  As I left the 'Poundshop' clutching my three for two bottles of cheap bleach, oh how I live in luxury, I noticed the camera was not in my pocket, a pocket usually kept shut by a zip. Oh dear thought I, someone has pinched it or I dropped it when replacing that wreath. How could I live without the camera?  Bad enough waiting to get it repaired let alone lose it.  What if it had been nicked, how, when, oh dear!  I splashed my way, faster somewhat, through the glistening trail, down the road, through the gardens, back home.  No sign, if dropped it was lifted and gone, no chance of that returning. Naturally as I got home I found it on the desk where I had left it after checking the battery.  The stupid old fool had forgotten to put it in the pocket.  Memory you see, I need one!


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Poppies are Packed Away Now.

At eleven this morning many in the nation stood to remember once again.  Large crowds attended ceremonies around the country as the commemoration of the beginning of the Great War came to an end.  Exhibitions and events will continue, I may have one on Friday night if I stay awake long enough, and throughout the country folks are now researching their war dead and discovering surprising news about their families.
I myself did not attend anything today, I made it to the museum, realised my head was spinning from some bug and made my way back home until it ran its course and passed me by.  This did mean nothing got done but hey, that's not unusual in here is it?

We move on from the remembrance ceremonies now, soon the poppies will disappear from the jackets and volunteers will begin counting the cash collected, most likely a bumper years for the British Legion.  I leave it with this poem by Joe Lee, a forgotten yet great poet from Dundee.  He had travelled a bit, worked for John Leng & Co who published the 'Peoples Journal,' a paper he would later edit. and enlisting at 4 years of age spent most of the war with the 4th Black Watch, later commissioned into the Kings Royal Rifle Corps.  A friend of the leading literary figures of the day between the wars he worked in London as sub editor for the 'News Chronicle' and mixed with the great poets of the day.  His work was acclaimed as equal to Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sasson's war poetry yet he never achieved, if indeed he sought it, literary fame.  He has many poems, I liked this one. 

German Prisoners

When first I saw you in the curious street
Like some platoon of soldier ghosts in grey,
My mad impulse was all to smite and slay,
To spit upon you—tread you 'neath my feet.
But when I saw how each sad soul did greet
My gaze with no sign of defiant frown,
How from tired eyes looked spirits broken down,
How each face showed the pale flag of defeat,
And doubt, despair, and disillusionment,
And how were grievous wounds on many a head.
And on your garb red-faced was other red;
And how you stooped as men whose strength was spent,
I knew that we had suffered each as other,
And could have grasped your hand and cried, "My brother!"

Joe Lee.

Joseph Lee


Monday, 10 November 2014


I found myself writing Christmas cards today.  Not that I write many, you need friends for that, but I had the list of requirements in front of me, selected appropriate cards, cheap ones for them, a couple of good ones for the others, and began to slug it out.  Luckily I soon realised there was one or two things to buy before I could complete the job so dumped it back in the cupboard. 
Some years ago I was sending a lot of cards and realised many folks returned them simply because I sent them one, this did not indicate they wished to know me.  So one year I only sent cards to those who may well have expected one or wished to keep in touch.  Amongst these for some years was an aunt who I always wrote a wee note to around this time reminding her of my need of Christmas presents, I never received any!  She expected something from me mind! having curtailed the cards I sent the next year those who offered cards 'just because' fell away, both saved time and money.  We have family and close friends, we then have friends and acquaintances we know well, around them lies a third ring as it were, these represent people we may meet often, get on well with but do not need to supply with gifts, cards or anything but a greeting and a handshake. Today of course all can be dealt with by internet cards or email greetings, cheap, more efficient than post, and for those who feel the need to describe the past years activities to the world a far better thing all round.  
My biggest expenses  have been paid, only one or two things to think about, one or two funny cards maybe, and then prepare to send them at the beginning of December.  I always post early as I understand what the post is like, this also of course reminds others to get their cards sorted and then send me one.  


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Remembrance Sunday Centenary

The Great War began on August 4th 1914, the armistice coming four long years later on November 11th 1918.  To remember the fallen of this and other conflicts we met before the war memorial this afternoon.  A very large crowd attended, possibly slightly larger than last years, and correct observation was performed.  The procedure followed routine, a loud voice, hidden by the crowds, called the uniformed ones to attention. Standards were raised, the 'last post' blown then a 'stand at ease' ordered.  The vicar said a few prayers, a few words were said, then wreaths were laid, first by the dignitaries then by others in order.  All in all the usual short gathering.  However I was feeling a bit let down as I realised that this type of meeting misses one thing only - the names of the fallen! Possibly because I have lived with them for a while I find a gap, an emptiness where each individual ought to be.  No need for all names just one or two and a word on their deeds to enlighten the people. This brings the individual home to us not just a name.

The gathering of men in uniform used to be common when I were a lad today it is something unusual. Unless you live in a 'Barrack' town you rarely see uniformed men.  National service and of course war itself meant such sights were part of daily life not any more.  Terrorist threats have meant some units are not allowed to wear their uniform in the the streets in some areas!  I am quite surprised some of the uniformed organisations still manage to enroll so many as the costs must be high however the Air Training Corps members seen here have always been popular, possibly because they might get into an airplane occasionally.  

The police (well PCSO's) were in attendance to control the traffic for the march past, much smaller crowd than last year when several full police officers were in control.  However the local football team were playing a major cup tie at the same time, and losing 0-3 last time I heard, so that is where the constabulary would have operated.  Rarely do remembrance crowds get out of hand.  

From the rear you do not get much of a view of the dignitaries but at least the sound system is good. However I wonder about the names on the memorial and their connection to the people in the gardens.  Many will be there because their child is in the scouts/guides or whatever, others because a relative, whom they may have just discovered is named thereon.  I just wish I could have spoken to some but I recognised only two people in the throng.  

So we have remembered, poppies have been worn, memorials attended, research begun, bands have played, men have marched, and life will return to normal now.  For those in 1926 who attended the unveiling of the memorial the thoughts may have been different.  The names were of sons, husbands, friends, and family.  They left a gap, sometimes a huge gap that was never to be filled again.  Many women struggled to raise the family afterwards, many a heart mourned until their dying day, many a child had their life dented by loss, but the individual just had to 'get on with it,' there was no other choice.  The s'stiff upper lip' and many others being in similar troubles gave no opening for self pity or depression, life had to go on.  
At least here was a place to remember, many knew only the name of the memorial somewhere in France or Belgium where their loved one was commemorated, usually they could not afford to visit. At least if he lay in a cemetery the relative  felt he was taken care off but just a name among the thousands on a memorial is so cold and somewhat inhuman, a soldiers relatives require more.  Some on the memorial lie far off in Gallipoli or Jerusalem, during the second war some fell further away in Asia, others fell from the skies lost for ever.  
For us today who did not know them personally we can move on easily, only the old remember them, they cannot forget. However they too have had their life, they too have seen younger folks suffer in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan, let alone the many 'small' and 'forgotten' wars since 1945. Do you realise that so many people today do not know what the 'Cold Was' was like?  To them it is a History lesson, to us it was always in the background.  Life moves on indeed!


Saturday, 8 November 2014

Football Commemorations

Football clubs throughout the country have been remembering the men who fell in days of yore.  The Heart of Midlothian today play Raith Rovers both of whom sent men to the 16th Royal Scots in late 1914.  At the beginning the piper played 'The Flowers of the Forest,' a minutes silence was observed by the large crowd, many Raith fans attending on this day also, both clubs wore strips representing the men of 1914.  Other clubs will have held similar events to commemorate their players as the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the war is noted.
Scott of Raith and Ellis of Hearts seen here in this picture both were killed in action.  Paddy Crossan died aged 40 some years after the war, his early death the result of his wounds, especially gas.  The others also suffered, some never playing football again.  Some commemorations of the war are good, this was one of them.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Is This the Worst Big Shop in the High Street?

Much against my better judgement I ventured into this overcrowded mess that is W.H.Smiths and sought Christmas cards.  Usually I buy cards from the St Columba's Hospice in Edinburgh where my sister died but there are one or two folks I like to send specific cards to.  These are usually less than serious cards, the sentimental or unbiblical Christmas ones are not for me so give them a giggle I say, if you can afford the prices!  
I chose some, wandered through the rather dim, overcrowded shelves and made my way to the checkout.  Here the girl was keen to sell me things I din't want, forget to charge the correct price, and then waited until I failed to pick up the merchandise to ask if I wanted a bag.  Several cards ought to be an automatic bag, it is in all other shops, yet for years Smiths have failed to offer them.  This is a small but mean policy disguised as saving the world but really to cut their costs down.  Of course I wished a bag as it was likely that as the yuletide approached I may be going into other shops, and one was produced but I had to pay a penny for it!  A penny?  How much does the bag cost?  Smiths use billions a year and the customer now pays a penny for it?  In some places plastic bags are now taxed at 5 pence for 'green' reasons, however with Smiths it is to increase their massive profits and rob the customer. Fifteen years ago when working nearby I often bought a paper and had to stop the dead assistant putting it in a plastic bag automatically.  Why a man requires such a bog for a paper I know not but she appeared not to care or indeed actually be alive.  Now to save cash we pay a penny for a bag we must demand! 
W.H. Smiths have for several years been regarded as one of the worst shops in the High Street, this year again it came out as the very worst and that is no surprise.  Sales in shop fell by 5 percent apparently but profits grew 5 percent also, probably because people prefer to shop online rather than visit the dump! Sadly however our last local newsagent closed down and this tragic shop remains open. What a rubbish shop, I feel for those who work there who actually care.  I wonder what Smith himself would say if he could look on at what his successful business has become?  His standards were higher than the grasping directors of today.


Thursday, 6 November 2014


Throwing aside the grubby ex-army blankets I got up from my laptop and ironed the last three shirts from that pile.  This was cheaper than turning on the heating.  I ensured the frost would not remain on the carpet by also making some luxurious lentil soup.  I say 'luxurious' because this potful actually tasted good when I finally tried some.  This I must confess is not always the case.  You will be gratified to know the rest of my cooking today was awful as normal.

Too much of today has been taken up with searching for folks relatives.  Printing them off if found and waddling all the way to the post office and the smiling Asian lass to send them off.  All good fun in one way but it takes a lot of time. Even updating the website memorial takes at least 30 minutes a go, and with the cold air just now it is not so enjoyable.  This means I take less time to read the drivel found in the papers.  By ignoring most of them I feel so much more relaxed.  I fear less the murderers, bad dentists, danger from eating apples and psycopaths who live round the corner for me, according to what the papers say anyway.  Funnily enough when the paper does not cause great fear and terror such fear and terror happens less around our way.  Ignoring the news also means I hear less from politicians preparing for the election.  The desperate promises from each, the slanted views of their opponents, and acres of newsprint slanted to suit their owners touch me not and I am glad. 

However this five nights a week football is wearing me out.  The sooner these sections are over the better for my sleep patterns.  What makes it worse is some of the games are rubbish, usually featuring English sides I must say.  By Saturday I might be worn out and unable to watch any more, but I will...  


Wednesday, 5 November 2014


The dying sun shone brightly filling the street with the glare right up till I got into position and then it faded!  The intention was good and by the time I found something without people in the way the sun had almost gone.  The sign hangs above yet another ex-public house.  This town once had vast numbers, and a 'beer shop' was almost next door!  Today this houses offices and even then they are not all filled as you can see.
The sun did shine but the north wind howled today and I am freezing!  It has got so bad I had to put the heating on, and this is not a good sign.  I remain free from jealousy concerning those in hot countries who never see temperatures below hot!  I am not jealous, nor was I yesterday when the chap in the museum spoke of his home in Portugal!  I was happy for the boastful tanned individual! 
Now, where's the brandy?  


Tuesday, 4 November 2014


Stop saying "Taking it forward."
Stop using terms like "Moving forward."
Speak properly!

If you are commentating on football do not say "Just about" when you mean "He did!"

Why say "frame of the goal" when you mean goalpost?

"Selfie?" No it's a self portrait or 'snap!'

"Awesome" Do Americans only have one word in their vocabulary!?

Language is communication, you inform people what happens, or what you mean.  You do not do this by using the wrong words or words out of contest that do not mean anything!!! 

I'm off to bed before I self destruct!


Monday, 3 November 2014

Ackers Jazz

'Stranger on the Shore' is one of those melodies that were first heard in the early 60's and remain in the head for ever afterwards.  Acker Bilk, the name 'Acker' is a term used in the South West of England meaning 'mate,' Acker Bilk made his name with this short track and he saw it as his old age pension!  It made his and his trad jazz bands name and they have been successful ever since.  This was not his only hit of course, the other is often heard even today.  He passed away the other day aged 83.  


Sunday, 2 November 2014


Another Sunday comes near its end and my mind is empty.  I wore it out emoting today and there is little left once darkness falls and my plate of badly cooked leftovers rots inside.  It started the usual way, I spent several minutes wondering if I was awake or still dreaming.  The voices in my head turned out to be some plonker of 'Talksport' discussing fishing with a man on a mobile phone. As is normal with such calls he was either talking from inside a cardboard box or speaking Chittagonian, I know not which. Either way this did not interest and I scrambled wearily for the remote on the pillow, it being to far to reach out from under the blankets to the wireless, and changed to the early Radio 4, here the weather forecast threatened me. This ended and offered me uninteresting news so I moved to Radio 5's childish news service and quickly amended that to Radio 3.  At last something that did not prattle or irritate the early morning mind.  
'Choice' is one of those buzzwords politicians use when lying through their teeth, choice in hospitals, choice in schools, choice here there and everywhere, however the choice is limited and often unavailable. Radio and TV offer choice, you can tale what they offer or lump it!
Early morning radio is poor and I spend more time on Radio 3 with the music filling the space between my ears than the wool mill like noise that emanates from the morning news hubs.  One lying MP is up against another misinforming the nation or perhaps a supporter of Black faces a White fan and the debate gets nowhere much to some smug BBC voice's satisfaction (and £2-300,000 a year is satisfying!).  

The mind was awake during the wee talk by the minister in the Kirk at ten, or half past when he got around to speaking.  The week I had was not good, much was going wrong and this bugged me all week. The reminder of what we live for, or indeed who we live for was important.  How we respond to his call, opening ourselves to him personally and living it out all  rang bells in me.  I made a list of things to amend, it's about eight feet long, and have already added to it.  Tsk!  If I believed him whom I believe strangely enough difficulties might increase but I would cope better with them.  Life will always have problems.  He has never failed me yet, so I had better up my game I say. 

I spent some time around noon searching the fifty or so TV channels on offer for something to fill half an hour.  The set works fine, good picture, acceptable sound, colour OK.  The programmes consisted of mind blowing pap and little else!  Soaps, forty year old episodes of 'Columbo,' or comedies unwatched in the 70's. Did you watch 'On the Buses' more than once?  How come this is a favourite of so many?  Why is it repeated I ask?  PC stops some being repeated, usually those that had wit and humour, why is 'pap' allowed?  The shopping channels had more talent than that exposed elsewhere, and I do not mean the films so old their colour was fading.  Now there are millions of decent old documentaries hidden away somewhere in this world, some occasionally coming into view, but far too few for me.  Modern documentaries are too concerned to constantly keep moving, 'Locomotion' was so bad at this that to show speed Dan Snow chose to run frequently, why?  The cartoons were not allowed to be themselves, they were animated so that they too were constantly on the move! What sort of 13 year old mind produces this tripe?  Why not stand still and tell the story?
I was so glad when the football arrived!

However the Edinburgh Derby, when the Heart of Midlothian defeat Hibernian is an exciting gripping affair and this dilutes the feeble English efforts at this type of contest.  Watching Manchester City defeating weakened Manchester United was so boring I fell asleep for ten minutes in the second half.  My snoring woke me up and must have annoyed the rest of the house!  Later it was a much more interesting contest, Villa v Spurs, and while not as enjoyable as Spartans versus Clyde it kept my attention from sleep.  
However these games take away all my emotion.  The mind is worn out with stress and rest is required. You will guess that Bach is playing in the background.  Yes indeed Bach is my favourite Welsh composer. Typically the music ends as I write that, innit a game eh?  We now have Handel to use care on.  (Geddit? handle with care? oh forget it.)  
See, I told you I had nothing to say and nothing has been said.  Tomorrows list of things to do lies awaiting being ignored by my side, rain clouds gather above waiting for my early morn dash to Tesco to unleash their contents while others suffer sunburn and have the audacity to complain about the heat!  I had better go and prepare myself by having some beauty sleep, not that I require that of course....  


Saturday, 1 November 2014

A Criticism.

The Tower of London has become the scene of what is described as an 'artwork' commemorating the First World War.  This was as you will recall involved the United Kingdom from the 4th of August 1914 right up to the armistice at 11 am on the 11th day of November 1918.  Around 10 million died, possibly many more.  The UK lost 750,000 soldiers plus men at sea and in the air. Between the armistice and the beginning of the Second World War on the 3rd of September 1939 thousands more died of the effects of war through gas inhalation or wounds that never truly healed.  Guilt at actions taken, guilt at surviving while others died, stress, unbalanced minds and the difficulty of relating to those around them also caused death and suffering to the survivors.  Those who remained at home also changed, and change was in the air before the war, they too suffered even though for many life improved.  The twenties did not see a better life for the returning'heroes,' often unemployment and despair were their lot.  They had returned victorious having won the the war and found despair all too often.

To commemorate this event the museums, churches, military organisations, football clubs and others have organised a variety of events.  Most are heartfelt and represent individuals and organisations who commemorate the fallen annually.  Some however worry me. This display at the Tower has brought thousands to walk around admiring the poppies.   People travel from across the nation to see the event, and that is for me the worry, 'the event.'  For many this commemoration will be just another event, like the queens jubilee or some royals wedding.  An event in which those who participate enjoy the spectacular more than the commemoration.  
The UK has in recent years began to remember fallen troops in a manner that had passed away in the 60's.  Northern Ireland, the Falklands and the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have brought home the men who serve and the cost they pay.  However for far too many exhibitions such as that at the Tower do not commemorate, indeed they celebrate and offer something interesting to see and enjoy but takes away from what the Great War actually meant to those who were there.  

Armistice Day will dawn, the events will cease, many exhibitions close, plays run their course and then the nation will return to the daily grind and forget once again.  The 'event' has ended.