Thursday, 30 January 2014

Curry



I have been listening to Mark Steels in Town tonight, a programme where he visits places and laughs at the people.  This edition finds him in Southall, once a boring a suburb in south west London, now known as 'Little India.'   Here masses of 'Asians,' have settled and filled the hall to here themselves ridiculed. This series is a good one, Steel visits many out of the way places and brings some attention to them.
It was the talk of curry that got me thinking.  In the days of long ago when I was a sweet, blonde haired, skinny child, yes that long ago, we had never heard of curry!  It may well be we in fact had, dad served two years in Poona so must have mentioned it, but we never ate it.  The diet, cooked by mum as we had little money, used a slot of corned beef, mince, spam fritters, home cooked chips, far too many sweets, potatoes and lots of salad stuff in summer.  Dads hobby was the garden and he grew a great deal of veg for us, his potatoes were indeed the best we ever had. Mum made potato soup that kept us alive, brilliant stuff, so good she was forced to continue making this until she died for the younger ones!  Sticks of rhubarb and a wee jar of sugar were used to keep us on the run, and fish came from the wee van that arrived from Port Seton regularly, fish straight from the North Sea!  The cat enjoyed this van more than anyone. Sadly an outbreak of Typhus in Aberdeen in the early sixties was traced back to Fray Bentos in Uruguay if I remember correctly, this resulted in a massive clean up back at base and corned beef, the 'bully beef' beloved of the troops, suddenly rose sharply in price and was soon out of our league.  
One day a new exciting foreign food was made available for us, 'Vesta Curry!' We took absurd delight in the arrival of such exotic foreign foods!  This was the early sixties remember!  We got excited by a lemon in those days, that was alien enough for us.  Only the 'best' shops had anything other than oranges and apples, bananas and grapes in those days, Edinburgh people would not see a 'pepper' on show until the Asians arrived in the 70's!  How we lived then, no wonder folks considered 'chips' to be 'salad!'  Today such foreign delights once found only in the shops frequented by the rich are daily obtained in Tesco's, where dates were once seen only at Christmas they lie, overpriced, next to mango's and yams.  Potatoes however take up much more space, rhubarb is found only in tins.  
The influx of immigrants has been so powerful that many probably believe that curry, Britain's favourite dish, was actually a home grown meal.  Not that I suspect the UK population to be that stupid in reality......hold on!  In the eighties I delivered around Southall with a typical English driver.  Long past any desire to work while retirement approached we drove slowly through the streets while he muttered about the immigrants.  I mentioned my mate was supposed to bring me down to Southall for a proper curry but the promise had not borne fruit so far.  
"Grnnn, I had an Indian once," he growled, "I was sick for days."  
"What did you have," I asked innocently.
"Chilli con carne," he said.
"Isn't that Mexican?" I ventured.
"Grnnnn it's all foreign muck," said he.

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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Nothing Day Again




I have nothing to say!  The day has been filled with torrents of rain hindering my attempts to walk the streets looking for lost coins so instead I did the washing.  Now how do you make that sound interesting?  You shove it all in the machine, and leave it for an age while it whirs round, remove the sodden pile and hang it up somewhere.  There it remains until dry, or kind of damp I find, and gets ironed (ha!) later.  There, that's interesting innit?  I paid a debt, bought milk and cheap cheese from Tesco, froze while crossing the park, and warmed my feet on the heater.  
Can you take much more of this?  I can't.
There is a pile of things to do noted on the recycled pad beside me.  In fact I just remembered I did one of those.  Mince!  I made mince, with veg, and it sits cooling on the hob.  The taste will be interesting when I get round to it.  Not quite sure what it will taste like, cooking is not so much a boring necessity, it is an experiment!  Who knows what that brown mush will actually be flavoured by?  
The rest of the 'to do' note glares at me.  Rather in the way women often glare when I say things. It is not an unusual glare, at least I often come across it, like that time I used the word 'fat' to a group of women awaiting the arrival of the woman from 'Weight Watchers.'  Man glaring in unison!  They had reason to use that diet organisation however.  
Indeed I was so lacking enthusiasm for anything today I looked up the 'Daily Mail' to see if the world had changed, it had not.  No news of anything important but lots of terror, death, outrage and fear, usual stuff then.  The real world had little news either, repeats of floods, Syria and the like but nothing new to excite pressmen.  The fact that Liverpool easily defeated Everton last night, that Manchester United also won and that the Heart of Midlothian play tonight was all pushed into second place in the 'Sport' section of the 'Today' programme on Radio 4 this morning.  Why?  An England team had won something!  It was merely cricket, and worse just a bunch of lassies winning, but to Rob whatsisname et al this was important news!  Tsk!  Some folks have no understanding of reality I say.
Possibly my feeling a bit light headed today may have helped my lack of interest, it certainly has resulted in two burnt hamburgers, mash spuds and beans for tea, and possibly an early night is called for, after I have listened to the Hearts game on the radio that is.  

Right, let's clean up this dinner....


 
   
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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Tiring Tuesday



Having spent a tiring morning in the museum rushing hither and thither, searching for pictures for one while searching for a card for another, watching the next job(s) piling up on the desk and failing after all this to finish my tea I was glad to escape after lunch for a walk in the sunshine filled park.  Naturally by the time I got there this was the scene.  As I settled in to open the windows and clear the fug that fills the dwelling the rain began teeming down.  The cold attempts to cover my fingers in frostbite, my toes have fallen off inside my socks and the electric people have happily told me they will check my meter, aint that kind of them?

After the day I had, non stop, so busy that I never realised the boiler was off!  Others noticed but I didn't as I was doing all the work.  However.....

Hold on, Liverpool are playing Everton, must dash......


Monday, 27 January 2014

Sorting Out files


Trieris, a replica of an Athenian ship.

Computers are wonderful machines, this wee laptop I use these days can be quite slow but it does the job.  I should say it may be slow but that is because I am listening to the radio at the same time and some things go slow.  One reason it is slow may well be the amount of stuff on it, therefore I have spent the entire day wandering through the files deleting things in preparation for downloading onto disc the items I wish to keep or don't require often.  I discovered the other day my pictures were somewhat messed up.  That is I had doubles and trebles of some, others had moved to other files by themselves, honest, and many left me completely baffled as to why they were put there in the first place.  

   Oxford Street 1897

Some of the pics were quite interesting, this one appeared from somewhere, who knows where, but shows a different view of Oxford Street than that seen today.  You will note some obvious similarities, rain, crowded pavements, shops, and generally dreary appearance overall.  The main difference I suppose it that the photographer can stand in the middle of the road and remain alive....if indeed he did remain alive!

Flitch Way

Some pictures reminded me that Spring sunshine is not far away, well in theory anyway.  I am also reminded that I used to cycle every day, now hardly ever. The weather is against it, icy cold today and looking likely to stay that way all week, the energy appears lacking and the desire also. As the mornings get lighter my desire will return.  Then I rise from beneath the duvet and seek the bright lights outside, unless it rains of course!  The cycling early in the morning, before dog walkers and folks heading for work arise, is enjoyable.  If I go out earlier all sorts of people block the way, hinder my progress and selfishly consider themselves entitled to be there, as if!  

   
This is a self portrait by Lady Clementina something or other, a lass who took to photography in the middle of the nineteenth century.  If I could remember more I would tell you what it is but my dim mind tells me she took pictures of her friends, and women dressed like that make very good photographs, but from her Kensington home she made the most of her hobby.  You had to be amongst the wealthy to be a photographer in those days.  The cost of the camera, the glass negatives, the time and staff required to develop the pictures all combined to make photography very expensive indeed.  George Eastman, and those like him, did the world a huge service by developing his 'Box Brownie' and other cheap cameras. The delight of seeing a successful photograph, no matter how inept to a professional, is just that a delight!


Most of my time however was spent amending the huge amount of Great War pictures that somehow got split into a variety of places.  So many duplicates, so many I canny mind obtaining.  The laptop is not the easiest machine for a hamfisted eejit to operate and the files kept disappearing into one another. This led to more confusion as I fought to get them back where they belonged only to find I had confused two similar files.  Like hitting your head on a brick wall it was so good when it was all over, at least I hope it is now.



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Sunday, 26 January 2014

A Question....



 My best looking and most intelligent niece contacted me tonight asking:- 

'Who are you writing for when you are writing your Blog?'

It appears she is doing one of those college courses we do to keep the brain alive, or possibly make herself some money.  So I sat down and answered her as well as I could.  

"Today I try to write what I think about the world and its doings.
That is, something crosses my mind and hopefully I can get something out of it. 
I find an appropriate picture and blether away, usually from the top of my head, as most must realise. Sometimes I have something I consider important to say therefore I may make more effort to make this readable.
 
I have found several friends blogging worldwide this way, very different from me in many ways, but we get on well chiding one another rudely but decently.  There is an ever present temptation to write towards them rather than write for myself.  On the other hand maybe that makes me look at a wider variety of subjects?  I tell others to write for themselves, not for the reader.  If you write for the reader you do not say what you wish, you say what they wish to hear or what you wish them to hear.  Neither is truly honest.  I attempt to say what I think, which loses readers on occasion, but maybe gains them otherwise, others remain even if they disagree.  This is good.
 
I find sometimes I am writing just so people will read, that is I am not writing for myself when I write what I think,  I am writing to be paid some attention!  Is this good I wonder?  It can be fun, but is it truly honest?  With such friends however you get away with a lot, bad grammer for instance.... 
 
The blog began because I wanted my voice heard, how selfish and arrogant! Before the internet the small man might be able to vote, write a complaint or two, possibly make his voice heard by not using some facility or going on strike, but today with what is referred to as ‘social  media,’ and this can be unsocial also, the small man can be heard.  By blogging his thoughts, or lack of them, he can throw out his voice to the world, by e-mail he can remind his MP that ‘UKIP are doing well round this way’ and make him take notice, by using forums he can keep in touch with a variety of peoples, in short his voice goes further, and sometimes they listen.  Even dictatorships can be shaken this way!"

So I blethered on and wonder what she will make of this.  Indeed why do any of us blog?  Some have something to say, some blog from political or religious reasons, some for money others to keep in touch with a widespread family. Why do you blog?  Do you find it worthwhile?  You must if you keep it up. Some give up and sneak back again, what is it that drives them back? It would be interesting to know, would it not?  
 
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Saturday, 25 January 2014

Media, Man U, Haggis and Aussies





For over  a week now I have ignored the news for the most part.  Instead of rummaging through the papers each morning I listen to the headlines and have occasionally pursued one or two interesting items only.  This means I am no longer fearful of a million south east Europeans, possibly Muslim, stampeding into the UK stealing our jobs and living off the dole.  Nor do I worry that the apple I eat may give me cancer nor do I rejoice that the coffee I drink seven times a day will cure that illness.  The screaming headlines have not made it difficult to sleep at night through such fear simply by my choice to ignore them, life outside I notice mournfully  however has continued despite my absence.  
I have been tempted occasionally to turn on the radio desperate for a fix of the news but have manfully directed my attention elsewhere and survived.  The world did neither miss me nor change in any way.  I am oblivious to what she from the telly is doing with whom, not upset about the tree cut down by a neighbour, care little for the lies poured forth from Westminster and worry not about a court case featuring the high and mighty who have fallen on hard times.  I remain in the real world quite happily, the week has been quite good, and placing life's priorities before the screaming of the world has made me gentler, more considerate and relaxed enough to walk the streets without my chainsaw in hand.  I merely carry the small axe instead.


One thing that never changes about English newspapermen is their desperate desire to destroy someone.  The present target is David Moyes the incoming manager of Manchester United, a football team you may have heard off.  The previous incumbent, one Sir Alex Ferguson, managed to keep the job for 25 years, something unheard of today.  During his time he won the English title about a dozen time, the English Cup, the UEFA Cup and the Champions League Cup (the top trophy) and has now retired to travel the world and annoy the wife.  Interestingly when he began the job the media attacked him relentlessly as his first three years were far from a success. However once he began to win the media changed their tune and became scared to upset him, losing contact with Manchester United could lose them their job after all!  The attack on Moyes is less from a football perspective and merely the desire to knock someone down when he is down, also to use the Manchester United name to sell their papers and programmes. 
There is no doubt Moyes has a hard job on his hand.  many of the players at the club are past their best, one or two others are not 'top four' players and some players he wanted at the beginning of the season failed to appear.  On top of this Wayne Rooney and Van Persie are both missing through injury. These two men could win games by themselves, missing both is a huge loss for any club.  
In my mind Man U would possibly finish around seventh or eighth this season although is Rooney and Van Persie return in time they may yet finish in the top four, I suspect that is a real possibility myself. The manager has a tremendously difficult job ahead of him but I believe he will succeed and succeed well.  The naysayers will fill pages of uneducated pap to make money but the football fan knows this club is not dead and has too much going for it to fail now.



The wise amongst you will realise that this is Burns night, the night the great Rabbie is celebrated with Haggis, mash potatoes and mashed turnips (neeps to you!), washed down with a wee dram of whisky. Large gatherings are taking place tonight, the Haggis is carried in behind a piper, the 'address' is made and tales told, poems read and whisky imbibed.
I am poor and merely had a cheese sandwich myself.

     A Red, Red Rose

O my Luve's like a red, red rose, 
That's newly sprung in June: 
O my Luve's like the melodie, 
That's sweetly play'd in tune. 

As fair art thou, my bonie lass, 
So deep in luve am I; 
And I will luve thee still, my dear, 
Till a' the seas gang dry. 

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear, 
And the rocks melt wi' the sun; 
And I will luve thee still, my dear, 
While the sands o' life shall run. 

And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve! 
And fare-thee-weel, a while! 
And I will come again, my Luve, 
Tho' 'twere ten thousand mile!

Rabbie Burns 1794


Tomorrow, or today if you are in Australia, is 'Australia Day!'  This is the day Aussies celebrate being, er Aussies.  Much celebration is happening as I write, lager is being swallowed (they do not appear to drink proper beer), 'Barbies' everywhere are burning lamb, chicken and sausage, all run by men naturally and the sun shines, the sky remains blue and people are eaten by great white sharks in Botany Bay. Today we celebrate their tomorrow unless you are in the US where yesterday has yet to finish while the Aussie tomorrow, which is their today, is almost over, and we share their delight in being Australian, a very good thing to be.
Even if they are all descended from English convicts.....  


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Thursday, 23 January 2014

Another Book Review



Some people are born soldiers.  They consider any other lifestyle a waste of time.  It matters not who they fight for, where they fight, and often what the cause may be, but if there is a bit of bother they wish to be involved.  This does not necessarily indicate callousness or brutality, in fact the best soldier takes good care of his men and not just for the sake of their efficiency.  The subject of this book was a man born for soldiering.
His war involvement is impressive.  He ran away from Oxford and a boring Law Degree to get shot in the Boer War, after recovering he returned to action and later spent a few years in India hunting pigs! Physical fitness after he was shot became his life's priority, he hunted, rode, played Polo and any other sport, exercising at every opportunity.  Like many who had been to the 'right schools' and universities, even if they failed, he met friends and influential people who arose at various intervals in his life.  The 'old school tie' always helps, though not if it was mine I can tell you!  His eagerness for action saw him head to Somaliland to put down a rebellion and then find himself disgusted that the Great War had broken out as he was half way there!  He helped put down the 'Mad Mullah,' (funny how Islamic fights affected Britain so often then) and lost an eye and a bit if ear while doing so.  He managed to rise through the ranks while serving on the Western Front in spite of having one eye.  He passed the medical, which he hated, by promising to wear a glass eye, an eye he chucked out of the taxi on his way home and wore an eye patch ever since.  
During 1915 he was wounded in the hand, pulling his fingers off after the doctor refused to remove them, at the Somme he was shot in the ankle and also the back of the head, at Passchendaele he got one in the hip, one through the leg at Cambrai and one in the ear at Arras. He was a regular at a Park lane nursing home where I suspect he was almost one of the staff! 

All this time De Wiart was not British!  His father was Belgian, his mother Irish and it was King George who insisted he became British!  

During the attack on La Boiselle as part of the Somme 'push,' he commanded the 8th Gloucester's.  This attack on the night of the 2/3rd July met with fierce resistance.  During this he met a man cowering and he requested the reason, the soldier indicated he had been hit four times before and couldn't face any more, De Wiart pointed out he had been hit more often and they both continued the advance!  In this book the author mentions almost casually the situation pointing out they took the village, a mere jumble of rubble, after others had failed, The author mentions heavy casualties but fails to mention that he was the highest surviving officer from three battalions and his work, in the open under heavy fire, directed the operation and resulted in his receiving a Victoria Cross.  This he omits from the book.
At the end of the war De Wiart admits he had 'enjoyed the war,' and sounded rather sad that it was over.   

In between the wars the now high ranking officer liaised with the Polish government, distrusted by London, as it fought five wars at once.  His attempts at providing aid via London against Lloyd Georges wishes brought him friends in Poland and once he resigned his army duties he lived an idyllic life in a free house in the Pripet Marshes.  Had 1939 not brought another war he may well have remained there happily shooting wildfowl and anything else that passed by!  

1940 saw the Acting Major General De Wiart given command of the failed Norway expedition. Too far for air support, badly equipped, lacking support, even the French troops prepared for winter fighting had no straps for their skis, the whole sad operation was doomed from the start.   Quickly they returned home under heavy fire and much criticism.  Because of this Winston Churchill became Prime Minister, and the war was, eventually, won.
However while acting as liaison with Yugoslav forces De Wiart travelled to Cairo by Wellington Bomber, one of the more successful aircraft.   Before they left Malta where they stopped to refuel a mechanic claimed to have checked the engines personally, was he a spy wondered our author as later he swan for shore as the plane crashed a mile of Libya.   For the next two and a half years De Wiart spent his time as a prisoner of the Italians.  While treated well it was an embarrassment to him and his fellow captives.  One escape plan did work for them and he spent eight days on the run before returning to his prison and friends.  In August 1943 however the hero of our tale was transferred to Rome.  The Italians wished to seek an armistice and he accompanied, dressed in an excellent Italian suit, a General Zanussi to Lisbon from where he made his way home.

The importance of De Wiart to the British government was seen in when he was sent to represent Churchill in China with General Chiang Kai Shek.  He became effective in his new role although most of the time he was ready to rush to any war zone and enquire as to the situation.  He would have joined in even in he was older than me!  By 1947, aged 66 and in spite of an offer from Chiang to stay his time was up and retirement neared.  However he managed to fall down stairs while visiting in Rangoon and broke his back and other bits also!  Back in London he recovered but surgeons operating on him found many metal bits from previous wars while they removed!  He then retired to Ireland, hunting and fishing.

The book is written more as a diary than a racy narration.  He constantly refers to people who he met, most likely by use of his diaries, if that is he kept one, and the whole appears almost cursory when regarding the dangers he faced.  It appears to me this was how he lived his life.  He faced danger, and was not keen to be hurt or indeed killed, but that was what his job was. Understanding the dangers he was not a man to become obviously emotional about them, the 'stiff upper lip,' writ large.  His ability to get on with people, especially in Poland and China must have existed while in charge of Battalion, Brigade or army.  I suspect his men regarded him well, but possibly not in Norway!  Hi character is revealed in that neither his Victoria Cross nor his wife appears in the book, such things are either taken for granted or not relevant. I suspect there would be much to like about this man if we met him in real life, unless be objected to shooting animals of course!

He died in 1963 and is buried in Ireland.  His wealth was a few thousand pounds, money meaning less than his 'sport,' which is typical of the man.    





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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Fotos



Sloth and apathy have joined together to stop me offering a review of a book received at Christmas. You may cry 'Boo! Hiss,' at this point if you wish, what?.....oh!  It will turn up one day I tell thee!  So as the football is about to start I find I have no time to write and instead offer a foto of Edinburgh.  This was taken yonks ago and I find the conjunction of a Zebra grazing with the wild Pentlands looming (faintly) in the background somewhat incongruous myself.   You will know Scotias capital has lots of Zebras running around. People are always crossing them.  You will understand that I spent a wee while going through the old albums this afternoon.  This saved prevented me from working on the seven projects I ought to have been working on but allowed me to remember just how many poor fotos I have hidden away.  It is now unusual to finger actual prints, especially Matt ones, and as they have been encased in plastic for so long many show signs of wear, a wee bit like me.  Not that I have ever been encased in plastic....


So many fotos taken who knows when!  I think I took this up the Highlands some years ago but it may indeed be the Ochil Hills as seen from Edinburgh.  I asked the sheep to pose for me, I know I shouted "Hey ewe, over here," but they ignored me and kept chomping.  I suppose one hill looks like another to a 'townie.'   I canny mind taking it but in those days I dwelt in the centre of London and wide open spaces were a strange delight, indeed a few days of such views remain delightful, not many hills round here. 



The Thames about twenty five years ago.  I think that is Wapping over there and all those warehouses are high priced flats.  You can guess how much they cost!  Not very exciting but I like this sort of view. That afternoon was spent wandering along the south bank far from the tourist spots, finding those rough back streets which often contain historical treasures and one or two strange people.  Pleasure boats awaiting tourists and the occasional barge awaiting use. Just forty years ago all this was crowded with boats from across the globe carrying cargo one way or the other. Hundreds of 'lighters,' also and thousands of men nicking things as fast as they can assisting the economic development of the nation. The river is vastly cleaner than it was in those far off days, a huge effort to clean it, the loss of shipping leaving oil all help the improvement.  Had I been less lazy I could have kicked stones around the banks of the river and discovered odds and ends going back years, possibly to and beyond the Romans. If you know what you are looking for artifacts are constantly being dug up by man and tide, all you need is a wee bit knowledge and history is yours.  Of course you might just find sewage!   

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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Yawn!



A hard day at the museum today, very tired, so here is a picture of a bus!   Sorting cards and books, dealing with a visitor or two, answering queries from the people from the 'Friends,' and ensuring I have enough tea to keep me going is very difficult.  A typical situation was the workman who came looking for the ladder.  He was sent to me, who knew nothing, I sent for Jenny who knew nothing, she ask Julie who had sent him to me as she knew nothing!!  His lorry blocked the yard so I ran to the old Town Hall, who we work alongside, and discovered it there.  Such simple things give me exercise and waste many minutes running around when my tea was getting cold.  A 'Do' was under way in the big hall, featuring music and fish and chips, for older folks.  Most would enjoy their day out and it enabled me to get a free dinner as extra were ordered!  By the time I left, two hours or more late, knees aching and mind warped, I had collected another left over one from the leftovers.  Two fish suppers in one day, that's eating!  However now I am asleep on my feet.  The difficulty of keeping my eyes open make it...zzzzzzzz  



Monday, 20 January 2014

A Day Out



The museum took all the volunteers for a day out today, a trip up the road to the Finchingfield Guildhall.  Finchingfield is described by some as the 'prettiest village in England,' and the description is indeed fitting.  The village, or at least a settlement of some sort has existed here since at least the days of the Normans and evidence of a Roman villa lies nearby.  Agriculture was the main occupation and ancillary occupations provided for the needs of the village.  The Guildhall was erected in 1470, not for wealthy merchants but as a religious order, the 'Guild of the Holy Trinity.'  Here a priest was employed, the black marks from his tapers are preserved on some of the beams, the members met, with due ceremony to pray for one another along with other activities.  


The rooms downstairs held what are thought to have been shops to pay for the running of the building, and later the building housed almshouses for the poor. A school for boys run by the priest was one of only four in Essex at the time. All this in a village that was not the richest, the beams used are not the best and indicate cost cutting during erection.  The west end of the building dipped at one point, water running of from the church behind possibly the cause, but while shored up the dip was never mended, it remains still.  


Glass would not have been used in days gone past, large wooden shutters would keep out the cold but no evidence for heating the original building has been found.  In 1548 the guilds were abolished and the hall went on a seemingly downward spiral.  In 1627 the main landowner, Sir Robert Kemp bought the building adding a wing and a huge fireplace at the far end, later he sold it for £50 to the village.  He then used that money to set aside three fields to support the running of the hall and provide for the education needs.  


The entrance to the church is through the Guildhall doorway, shops on either side would happily greet those passing through, and no doubt pay a higher rent! One part of this acted as a lock up for the drunks and baddies of the day.    


The church of St John the Baptist stands behind the Guildhall and appears to have originated in the 13th century.  It has been developed somewhat since! Today rich folks flaunting their wealth and position buy fancy cars, houses, football teams and newspapers, in the past the people gave to the church, for their souls protection and local pride.  


The tomb of this rich lass features several 'Beadsmen,' employed to pray for her soul.  She died while the wife of a rich man and while her name is on the tomb his was left off, as he then married another his name remains absent.  Not unusual to find this on tombs from the past. The church possesses 'Rood screens one in the chapel dating from 1350, the other in the main church from a hundred years later.  I always find myself standing in such buildings trying to imagine the people who past through during those 800 or so years.  Many had as little knowledge of scripture as people today, some priests indeed being unable to read let alone inform the people what the book said!  At least during the halls time some effort at education occurred.  


This particular church is clearly Anglo Catholic, the smell of wax hits you as you enter.  The building inside is large and today quite cold, indeed it was warmer outside where the sun shone over the frost covered fields.  They are proud of the organ, not may favourite instrument, and a selection of memorials are found there, one chapel given over the the 'Ruggles-Brise,' soldiers of fame and clearly influential in the area.  


There is always one of these chaps on the old churches!  No idea who he is nor if there was another on the other side as I was being harassed by women.  A church visit requires a certain amount of time and at least a short (free) history, it does not require females insisting we rush back to the coach!  Bah! At least it was a great way to spend a couple of hours.  Interesting buildings, good people, tea and cake, and a few pictures and a chance to get out of town into the bright countryside where the sun glinted of the frost and the mist lay in the distance at the bottom of the hill. 


Oh and there is a war memorial down there, opposite the duck pond.




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Friday, 17 January 2014

Fresh Air



Today I decided to return to a lifestyle from the past.  I had begun to wonder what difference it made whether I listened to the world or not.  That is my reading of the press, all covering the same story mostly in the same small minded manner, the radio with the questioners ignoring the answers and the interviewee lying in his or her teeth, and the TV talking about some happening on a soap opera or a Saturday night 'spectacular.'  I remember that in 1978 I got rid of the TV and went without until 1986, and then mostly for the football and news only.  During the time I read a lot, certainly the bible was the main source but other things also, and of course I sauntered of eagerly and daily to work.  To me that is fresh air from the pap that claims us daily.  So I thought let us improve my life by using only the BBC website, or short bulletins for news and spend some time working out what we are here for.  We are certainly not here just to linger over the 'fear' on offer from the 'Daily Mail,' nor the dross on offer elsewhere.  Listening to George Osborne the other morning was not doing my head any favours, the steam also covering the windows in condensation, and I can do without he or missing out on real life. Switching his nonsense off produced an opportunity to experience 'fresh air!' 
The only way we can change parliamentarians is by contacting them and expressing our views, and not expecting any change there, or by voting in an appropriate manner.  Recently I contacted our Tory MP and threw in the thought that he was 'very brave voting for the 'bedroom tax' with UKIP being so strong in this area,'  and letting the thought sink in.  Be nice but catty I say.  Will anything change?  No.  It lets him know how some feel however.  The only other changes we can make are within the areas around us and within our competences.  We cannot change 'The' world, but we can change 'the world around us.'  
The best way to change the world is by inner change within our selves.  For me this means allowing Jesus to change me, for while I assume myself to be perfect the strong desire to strangle the woman in front of me at the supermarket this morning indicates a shortfall in the patience department, though I was right!  A quick bible check indicates placing her in a trolley and sending her down the slope was the incorrect response.  I believe she was recovered just outside of Chelmsford.  Having proved I may require adjustment I feel the constant negativity of the media does not help.  Often I see the troubles of the world and look up at the sky above, the clouds continue whatever the situation, seasons roll on, time passes and our troubles are smaller than they appear, mostly. While serious situations arise contemplating eternity, and the creator thereof appears to me to be a better option than allowing the world to crush us.  He has seen it all before and knows where it is heading. He has a plan, using  a shopping trolley in an inappropriate manner apparently is not part of this plan.      

The view is from Cramond, looking over the Forth to the distant Ochil Hills.
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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Now What?




I awoke, early, and rested my tired eyes further listening to liars, the devious and the self seeking on the wireless telling us how wonderful the world is under their government, opinions, ideas and, er, art! As a bleary gray blue light crept slowly into the clouds outside I trudged unwillingly through to the East Wing for a sumptuous healthy breakfast of bacon rolls.  As the bacon burnt sizzled in the pan I started the laptop.  All went well until I attempted to login to the outside world.  No connection!  The bacon fat spat less loudly than I did at this point! "Gosh, golly," I said, "This is inconvenient at this time." So I stuffed my fat face while grease dribbled down me while I watched the mindless Breakfast TV on offer. Why do these people manage to make news so uninspiring?  BBC would rather talk about film stars and bulimic girls while Sky spends the whole time on one story, today the rather sad story of the missing three year old in Edinburgh.  Journalism wherefore art thou mush?  
After breakfast I returned to the laptop wishing I had swallowed some of those tablets women get on TV programmes.  I prayed, then began the brute once again.  Problems on a PC are bad enough, but not getting a connection was like being held incognito, I must however admit I have no idea where incognito actually lies, possibly Italy I imagine! 
According to the Laptop Windows the modem was not connecting.  After some considerable time of fiddling with things I fell back on the old remedy of turning it off and on like windows had told me to. Still no help.  Gulp!  I turned it off and waited longer, and once again (Hooray) it sprang, slowly, to life and allowed me my life back.  It was at this point I decided I must get that old PC fixed!  So now the laptop has served me through the day I make plans for rushing into town tomorrow and visiting PC World. I will find what I need there and get to work immediately, sort off.  This is indeed an emergency and nothing, absolutely nothing, will hold me back!
Late this afternoon an emergency call from the museum means I must go in at ten a.m. tomorrow morning, just when I should be on my bus.  Volunteers, you canny trust them!  At least I can now consider what I am doing on the broken PC properly rather than rush off and buy what looks the right thing.  
My life is so exciting, don't you think.....?


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Nothing Happened Again....




Nothing happened again!  Just as well as I felt lousy all day and ate almost nothing.  The skies were gray, occasional rain fell, the streets are damp and the above represents the brightest spot!
Bah!  
Nothing happened, except one of the tiles I put back on the wall fell off again.
The dust settled happily on everything,
The dwelling stinks so I open the window and the cold goes through, I shut the window and it stinketh.  There is a problem in such old houses with a kind of mustiness that comes from ageing timbers and things under the floorboards and in the roof, I think a small damp spot has arrived high up also.  I need to climb up inside and look around, I will know doubt fall through the ceiling when I do!  
The market was even more boring than ever as so many stall take the month off.  Some of these poor hard up stallholders disappear to Hawaii or Guam to sun themselves while we suffer.  No doubt one or two will be grumbling in Australia also.  
The papers were boring, George Osborne talking tough is boring and meaningless, PMQs a waste of time, and no-one has done my ironing yet! Where are all the women I ask?
Boring, gray, sick, weary........
What?.....oh!
  


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Now There's a Strange Thing....




My bleary eyes were not deceiving me as I struggled to keep them open this morning, the bar on Google Chrome was mixed up.  I checked on the Firefox browser and all was well there, but Chrome was very strange.
It appears that for reasons of its own links long dumped were resurrected and added to what was there now.  Several folders are on the Bookmarks Bar and one or two of these were also stuffed with long forgotten links!  Aye Aye though I, is this a virus, Malware or just Chrome doing its own thing?  I know not but have deleted the excess, except Jazz Radio as I deleted that because it was blocked by something unknown but now works!  These old inks go back at least a year, so where did they come from?  Tsk!  As I was rushing out to the museum I had no time or patience to work this out, now I am too knackered! Hopefully it has now fixed itself.  Running the usual checks produced nothing. I am putting most of my links onto Firefox, Chrome is faster but very 'thin.'
Have you noticed the strange additions to Google?  Links rush out from either side, unwelcomed by me, and irritate by offering me links I do not want or need!  Anyone know how to dump them?   I do wish they would not 'improve' things unless they are an improvement.     



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Sunday, 12 January 2014

Sunday Lunch



Friends were around today, yes I know you thought I didn't have any, and they treated me to lunch at the local 'Brewers fare,' on the edge of town.  How lovely to eat properly and not have to pay!  How lovely to listen to two old (very old) friends, my spiritual mentor and wife, my second family in fact. Sitting in the busy place scoffing food and just being with folks you see oh so rarely was a most enjoyable experience, even if I missed the Inverness v Dundee United game because of it!  Roast beef that was not burned, a vast choice of veg, huge salad bowls and an excellent Guinness made the lunch perfectly acceptable.  It does show however the cords I wore are shrinking hanging in the cupboard. Some folks don't like such places, I suppose they can afford better, but we are not choosy or rich and having had nothing can enjoy something better than nothing quite well.  It was indeed a very busy place.  This couple I owe a great deal to, so much that I could never repay, and naturally I told them I would not bother in that case.  Having known them since 1971 and watched the family grow up, we will not go into the natural bother that brats cause, it always leaves me with a warm glow inside after being with them.  They had come up to stay with an old friend of theirs who now resides in the town, he runs a small church here, and naturally wanted to ensure I was not yet dead.  I am glad they are concerned for my welfare although it may be they consider I have money hidden under my mattress of course, they are from Aberdeen after all.  Hold on while I check under the mattress.


There was of course a problem!  She wished to buy boots!  Now I don't know about you but buying shoes with a woman takes a lot of time, and I have previous with this one.  However we trundled along to the Freeport Outlet Centre and headed for any, indeed all, the shoe shops.  This place is overpriced in my opinion, supposedly cheap stock yet costs more on sale than anything I would buy normally!  I decided to take my stand outside while they ventured in to shop number one.  This was advisable as I recalled the day we went into Southampton to buy her sandals one hot summers day years ago.  Her favourite shop is John Lewis, though it has a different name down there, we ventured in, me expecting a short stay and then moving on to the rest of the world, she 'just browsing,' he ready 'to help'.  There was perusing, both him and her, while I sat and waited looking at the assistants enjoying the view. After half an hour she was trying sandals on, boxes appeared, suspiciously piling up beside her.  About an hour later the room darkened as the boxes blocked the light from the windows as they continued the search.  Much later I was asleep when the security man woke me up muttering something about 'Going home time sir.' The lights were going out, staff putting their coats on and they still 'discussed' which pair to select.  A pair, I know not what, was chosen paid for and we left, much relief all round.  As the car headed for home I heard her say "You know I think I preferred the gray ones....." 
To avoid being arrested for loitering I remained outside the shop today as when I did enter the price tags hurt me badly.  "It's cheaper in Tesco," I muttered several times but no-one was listening.  Crowds mobbed the place leaving me to wonder how sad their lives were that a shopping centre was the place to go on a Sunday.  Now sometimes there are jolly good practical reasons to be there but surely, especially for those with kids, there must be better ways to spend a chilly afternoon?  The majority of us work for five days of the week, Saturdays are usually free for such activities and surely Sunday can be a day to do something different?  Maybe it's just me.  As I sat I mused about murder as adolescents screamed their way around, giggled at young parents attempts to control toddlers enjoying the chance to run in and out of doorways, I sniggered at men clearly dragged away from the football/pub/DIY/to the joy of shopping, I stared into the cloudy sky at the tree for about an hour while she entered 'Hobbits' or whatever it is called for the second time.  Once I suddenly remember, on a day long ago, I left them in M&S or C&A or similar while I wandered around their town.  Up the street, down the street, round unusual corners, back and forth, here and there and when I returned much later they still had not bought anything and were at the same spot!  

Without this couple I might not be alive.  They have had such an influence on my life.  Many others have passed through their hands in the days they ran a church and could say similar.  Their clear honest, self sacrificing 'love,' not love of the falsely sentimental kind, has resulted in the world being a better place through those who have met them.  Their retirement, such as it is, still brings benefit to people as it did to me today.  For once, including the shopping, I have no grumbles and no complaints and sleep peacefully (though I did get to watch the other football later).    


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Saturday, 11 January 2014

Squawking Saturday!



I like Blogger.  Since beginning this drivel several years ago Blogger has brought me into contact with many strange and far flung parts of the world. The system is simple, like me, easy to use, accepts pictures usually without difficulty and is easy to read.  There are a variety of templates and I find it somewhat better than the much praised 'WordPress.'  However every so often things happen, as they do with Google owned items.  Today I notice the wee line at the top, the one where you sign in, move to the 'next blog,' and all that has disappeared.  Actually I noticed this last week but thought it just Chrome playing up (Chrome also owned by Google!).  Why have they done this?  Is there a reason?  Is there a fault?  Do they think they will make money from this action?  Usually that is the only reason they do anything.  I note also that on the Google page on the browser we now have links forced upon us jumping out for no good reason whether we like it or not, and I don't!  Who suggested this? I certainly didn't!  Get back to how things were and stop annoying me will you???



Community?  What Community?  Every TV commentator, police spokesman or half wit that appears on air talks about 'Community!'  The shooting of  a black gangster has caused much resentment in the 'community,' or so we are told. Now regarding that situation I am somewhat skeptical.  A violent drug seller who gets shot by the police while possessing a gun is not a reason for rioting in my humble view. The fact that he was black is irrelevant here, many blacks would agree but will wisely not speak out. However what is the 'community?' The word first became the word to use in the early 80's.  You will recall the riots in Brixton, Liverpool and elsewhere.  You will also note no petrol bombs were thrown in Glasgow, Edinburgh or Aberdeen, at that price no-one there was going to waste petrol on a few bombs! It was in those riots that 'Black Community Leaders,' came to the fore, others soon followed.  Who elected these people?  Not me, you or indeed the 'community' they represented.  As always they were the ones on the make willing to serve the 'community.'  No-one elected or chose them.  Now the word 'community' appears everywhere as hacks are too lazy to use other words, words such as town, city, area or district. PC PC's use the word constantly as it helps them climb the constabulary ladder, TV news folks use it because they only read the prompt, written by a lazy hack, politicians use it as they do every other word, with double meaning and only to avoid repercussions upon themselves.  
There is NO community!  There are towns and villages, cities and areas where people live but don't lets pretend there is 'community' there where human beings reside!  Certainly some areas are friendlier than others, some places are a joy to reside in, some are not, some contain many friendly people but all contain miserable selfish types also, both amongst the rich and the poor.  Let us drop all the PC terminology and let us instead talk only about 'people,' they after all  matter, not an imaginary 'community!'


I'm feeling a little 'liverish' today.  I realised this when I wandered through Tesco and dumped one of the rude customers inside the 'Birds Eye' freezer compartment, used a chainsaw on a chap who attempted to pick up a five pence piece I dropped, then detached the head from a woman with a trolley when she rudely barged past me.  I was remarkably calm and patient through the Heart of Midlothian's game with Motherwell however, except for that incident with my neighbour and the cheese slicer.  Maybe my diet requires changes.....


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