Thursday, 31 December 2015

Hogmany 2015

With the winds dropping and the rain passing over into the North Sea I considered it my duty to once more attempt the Matterhorn like slope up the old railway. You can imagine my rejoicing as within seconds of heading west the wind increased and my knees started to scream.  Most of the way I was considering turning back but young ladies walking dogs appeared and I refused to allow myself to prove what a wimp I am.  However once at the top of the slope and past the station itself and with no viewers to be seen I turned back sharpish!  The beauty of struggling up a slope is the joy of rolling back down again.  How lovely it is to be able to look at the world around, the dogs and their owners, enjoy the scenery and instead of puffing like the old engines that once ran along this line ponder on the good life I have now.
I did give thanks that I could ride a bike, after the accident there was a strong likelihood that the leg would be forever straight and never bend!  I gave thanks for sunshine and sky, birds twittering and rabbits hiding, dogs tail wagging and smiling young lassies - which continued to smile as long as I didn't stop!  
Simple things around us are so wonderful yet we ignore them or in this country fail to see them for the rain.  
I pondered the friends around the world - none here but many around the world - how lucky I am to have them, the good things stuffed in the cupboard, the lack of need for anything as I have all I require and enough health to get around.  So many people have lost all their health totally and we think we are in a bad way?  
Today a visitor left me with more gifts, although he forgot the money part, it was a delight to see him.  This interrupted my siesta work researching family history but I can leave all that to next year now.  Indeed all things will be left to next year now - bar the washing up!  At the moment people are looking to the new year except in Queensland where sleeping off the refreshment is more important at the moment therefore as always there is time to review the past year and look forward to the next so we ought to do that now!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Rickety Ride

The rickety bike carried my rickety bones up the rickety old railway line this morning and left my rickety muscles more rickety than before.  I suppose this is called 'health.'  The sun shone and the people taking the week off took advantage to walk out with the dogs alongside the regulars.  This is fine as the dogs are happy, tails wagging and full of enjoyment at the aromas around them, some not always pleasant I fear.  For the first time in ages I made it all the way to Rayne, a full two miles of uphill slope and stopped just afterwards at this memorial to a deceased person.  Look closely and you note it is shaped as a crocodile, something which we have lots of in the pond nearby, and made out of one tree trunk.  Very well made I must say.

The plan to build hundreds of houses along here has met with much abuse and you can see why.  I understand why a farmer would willingly sell his land but this is a chance to escape the town and walk in a small bit of countryside, thousands of newcomers would not ensure a happy world here.
Note the old chapel now turned into a house.

The horses in this field never appear full of life.  I wonder if they are bored, tired or just not quite awake yet.  They always appear to be different horses, I wonder if he rustles them from somewhere?
They glanced up as my brakes squealed and quickly ignored me.

I cared not for their indifference as I was just happy to have reached this far and not had a heart attack.  The sun shone, people appeared friendly for the most part and I avoided all the dogs and got two children in one go!  A good day! 
The world appears happier when the sun shines and I had to make the effort this morning as another of those storms arrives tomorrow bringing wind and rain across the sodden parts of the country.  I feel for those soaked through yet again and join their despair as more rain arrives.  There is hope that this will be the last but all that water has to be dispersed yet.  
Now, where is the number for that lithe blonde lassie masseur...or is it masseuse?

Monday, 28 December 2015

A Day of Rest

I got up slowly today and sloth like entered the world.  When the daylight finally began to show I suddenly took it into myself to get on the bike.  This thought tired me somewhat so I pushed it aside.  However later, when the need for fresh things from Tesco arose, I ventured instead onto the bike in spite of my weak and complaining knees.  After twenty or so minutes travelling at speeds exceeding three miles an hour I made it home and then went to Tesco.  
The rest of the day has been spent in bed!
My siesta was forced upon me to make up for the early rise and soon after I woke much later I noticed it was time for Rangers v Hibs so I stayed in bed and watched Hibernian crumple under the bigot boys from Ibrox.  A sair fecht indeed that the Hibs were just not good enough on the day.  It looks like the play offs are their only hope.
However luck was in, not long after this Manchester United played Chelsea so I decided to remain in the filthy gray sheets (I must change them sometime in the new year) and watch this game.  In the few minutes in between I managed to make my tea (how good is the microwave?) and settle back before the start.
Two enthralling games to follow on from the one yesterday when the Heart of Midlothian took on the other bigot side and were held to a draw.  Scottish football is in a good state, only certain power brokers in the SFA/SPLF could disagree (and Mr Milne of course).
Now I note the last game today is not being covered by an online stream so I have time to scribble and then try to get my miniature quadcoptor to work.  Quite what I am supposed to do with this thing (about two inches in length and with no camera) I know not.  Just flying it around might be fun however.  Hmmm maybe I should try this at the, I had better not.
Back to bed I think.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Dreich Again

The rain thought it funny to start when I attempted to go out this morning.  I waited until it subsided somewhat and wended my way down the road attempting to avid the puddles lying everywhere.  Naturally one individual in a very expensive black Jaguar car managed to go through a puddle at the side of the road, intentionally or otherwise, just as I passed.  I was somewhat displeased and informed the individual of my concern, not that they stopped or noticed, and then had to sort myself out before entering the church.  How easy to talk about forgiving people and how hard to forgive slight injuries!  I managed however but it took a few minutes.  The incongruity of going to a communion where forgiveness is sought and yet not wishing to offer it to another did sit in my mind for a while.  How easily we take forgiveness and how slowly we pass it on.
Being Sunday nothing has happened and the news has only the terrible floods up in the north west of England to talk about.  How those all day news people love a major disaster at Christmas!  If this did not occur they would have nothing but Christmas celebrations to bore us and them with.  I do feel for the folks who suffer up their, hopefully the worst is past for them.  The Prime Minister is sending troops but will he do something in a years time to ensure insurance is paid, defences strengthened and people safeguarded or will he just make a PR visit and vanish like he did at the Somerset floods last year? 

Another day off tomorrow for the masses.  However many will be working and I am not one of them.  This whole week is mine to do with what I wish, unless it rains, the money runs out or I fall down the stairs.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Boxing Day Wander

As you can see Boxing Day brought out the crowds!  
Actually this was about 9:30 in the morning and the shops that were open did so at 10 am.  Up at the shopping centre one did open an hour and a half early as people were queueing outside for the so called bargains. I took the free bus up there but saw some crowds but few bargains.  One or two were on offer but far fewer than the advertisements loudly proclaim. 

At the Christmas morning service I did manage to be kissed by several women (not by those under 30 I noticed) and came home fair drookit with the rain that started while I was inside there.  The lunch was waiting almost ready for me and surprisingly not burned as it usually turns out.  The girls at work presented the other volunteers with a bottle of wine but I got two splendid bottles of beer.  It was only as I allowed the nectar like fluid go down easily I noticed it was Belgian beer!  OOPS I thought and checked the bottle, as I thought this stuff is much, much stronger than the usual stuff, good job I didn't start on the second, I had already begun a cheaper type earlier.  However it made watching yet more reruns of 'Top Gear' watchable!  Surprisingly in consideration of what I shoved down my gullet I appear to have lost a couple of pounds.  I think I may need to obtain a new set of scales as the old one may have had enough.  Still the day was satisfactory.

The rain on Christmas Day encouraged me to stay in and simper but early this morning, after nine anyway, I had to get out and get some air.  Wandering around the Sunday quiet streets I managed to take some pictures of things often seen but difficult to capture.  One was the bird that has been placed above the door in the shadow of an overpowering tree.  (It may be some sort of shrub I know not)  This hides the bird and makes it look real to those who just glance as they pass.  Very clever placing.  

The quiet day fools me into thinking it is Sunday when it is actually Saturday, only the football enables me to know the difference.  However with another Sunday tomorrow (the vicar Will be tired by the evening) and a holiday for many on Monday (bar those working in shops or those spending cash) this means yet another quiet day.  I might need to go outside and talk to somebody soon if this continues!  
I was hoping to get on the bike to remove some calories but the weather has made this impossible.  The rain is accompanied by high winds and further north terrible destruction is following on as for the third time huge rainfall is hitting those already suffering from floods.  Five inches of rain expected in 24 hours for them, makes our weather appear pleasant.  However with a week off I might yet get on the bike.  Might...

Still, might as well be happy anyway what sayest thou?

Friday, 25 December 2015

Thursday, 24 December 2015

End of the Working Year

The doors shut at twelve noon, or just after as a woman entered as we were locking the door, and I will not reopen them until January.  How nice to be free form it for a while.  How nice for them all to forget work and enjoy life once again.  Family gatherings, holidays in the sun, short periods in jail, all these are ahead of us during the next few days.  My fridge is full of everything I need except that one thing I will be missing when I find what one important missing thing is, then there will be trouble.   Folks were filling the shops late into the afternoon, many men only now beginning to realise that they have a wife at home and no present and they have to leave the pub and go get her whatever it is she wanted whatever that was.  
Passing down the High Street I noticed a lot of bright yellow jackets hanging around.  The sight of one young man making off and haring down an alleyway pursued by one bright yellow jacket indicated something was amiss.  The yelling, screaming lassie, hands waving foul mouth in action, indicated others were involved, as indeed was drink!  For some time the populace forgot their worries and watched as these lower orders, and lower orders indeed they were, assisted the security staff with their work.  As I passed on two ambulance vehicles and a two police vehicles arrived.  They are never there when you want them and when they turn up there are loads of them  arresting you, well that's what I find anyway.
Now here's a thing, in Australia soon enough kids will be up early tearing open overpriced presents and still demanding more.  In the UK folks have still to get home from work, the shops, the pub, to wrap said presents, and in parts of the USA people are reaching for coffee to aid their entrance into the world yet again.  If Santa existed how would he overcome that I ask?   
Anyway it's teatime here, I can tell by the burning smell from the cooker, so I leave you while I go and hang my largest football sock up and await developments.

Christmas by John Betjeman
The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
'The church looks nice' on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says 'Merry Christmas to you all'.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children's hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say 'Come!'
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Xmas Shop

Christmas Shopping  
    Poem by Jim Yerman

This year getting in the Christmas spirit might have seemed a little quirky
As some people headed out to shop before finishing Thanksgiving turkey.

Stores tried luring in customers, (it’s a strategy that worked, I must say) .
By extending Black Friday from Thursday morning until well into Saturday.

Perhaps they didn’t understand to our initial confusion and eventual laughter
That Friday cannot start the day before itself or extend till the day after.

I know they did this to spawn interest and generate humongous lines
I wonder if it’s the same concept as happy hour from 5 to 9?

Why I even saw a story about a woman who missed Thanksgiving not because she was poor
Or stranded in an because she was camped out in front of a store!

She decided giving up time with her family, enjoying the turkey, the togetherness, the quaff
Was worth it if she could buy Christmas presents at 50 to 70 percent off!

The doors spring open and the crowd rushes in, hordes of people determined not to fail
The biggest drawback to their success...there are only 5 Big Screen TV’s up for sale.

So they elbow one another aside, they push and they shove and deceive
In order to share some Christmas spirit...with their family on Christmas Eve.

We stand in awe as these Christmas shoppers attack, they kick, they hit and they bite
We’re not witnessing a Christmas miracle, we’re ringside at a Christmas fight.

I imagine those who won the fight for the TV’s (after all isn’t that what Christmas is all about?)
Can go home, plug them in and watch reruns on the news of one another duking it out.

Why, there are even reports of people shooting each other in the stores and out on the street
Who would have thought besides your purse or your wallet you need to be packing heat!

I harbor a false hope every year that this fighting will come to a stop
When they realize their children are watching and they’re teaching them how to shop.

I hope these people are church goers because as this Christmas season begins
If they can’t rationalize their behavior...they can at least be forgiven for their sins.

And if you think this Christmas embarrassment is the worst one you’ve ever seen
Just wait till Black Friday welcomes in next Christmas season...the day after Halloween.

Jim Yerman

Poem Hunter

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Tuesday Tattle

The morning was spent watching people browse the shop with little idea of what they were looking for.  The worst were men, they have to buy for her and have absolutely no idea what they want, or what she wants that is.  I suspect the clever woman, and most are, have already made it clear to him what she really wants but he has not noticed, the football might have been on or something important like that, so he is now desperately trying to remember all those few (cough) words she has used concerning the Christmas present she requires.  It is harder as she started mentioning this back in January!  At least some folks found something useful, and a few pounds fell into the till.  

There is of course a way round the problem if the gift bought does not come up to expectations, a bottle or two of her favourite tipple.  It may also keep her quiet for much of the Boxing Day football he will be watching.  The thoughtful man thinks of all things.

Seen from such a distance it does make you wonder as to why we are the only inhabited planet.  On the other hand the many stars we see, and especially the for more distant one 'Hubble' and other fancy telescopes have seen are so far away in light years it is a strong possibility that they may not exist any longer anyway.  'The stars will fall from the sky' it says somewhere and maybe this is a reference to that.  Space is so big and so vast it is fascinating to just stare at some photographs and wonder about what is out there.   
However I suspect most peoples image of space is based on 'Star Wars' or 'Star Trek' rather than actual science or astronomy.  My early days were influenced by 'Dan Dare' from the 'Eagle' comic and his exciting adventures amongst the planets. The stuff I read was full of space travel in craft that looked very different from the things that are used today, these disappoint as they do not use fancy speeds to travel great distances, are shaped completely differently from the bulbous take off and land craft drawn by so many experts and more than this they claimed that by 2000 we would travel often to the moon you and I.  Experts eh?

Advent 1955
John Betjeman

The Advent wind begins to stir
With sea-like sounds in our Scotch fir,
It's dark at breakfast, dark at tea,
And in between we only see
Clouds hurrying across the sky
And rain-wet roads the wind blows dry
And branches bending to the gale
Against great skies all silver pale
The world seems travelling into space,
And travelling at a faster pace
Than in the leisured summer weather
When we and it sit out together,
For now we feel the world spin round
On some momentous journey bound -
Journey to what? to whom? to where?
The Advent bells call out 'Prepare,
Your world is journeying to the birth
Of God made Man for us on earth.'

And how, in fact, do we prepare
The great day that waits us there -
For the twenty-fifth day of December,
The birth of Christ? For some it means
An interchange of hunting scenes
On coloured cards, And I remember
Last year I sent out twenty yards,
Laid end to end, of Christmas cards
To people that I scarcely know -
They'd sent a card to me, and so
I had to send one back. Oh dear!
Is this a form of Christmas cheer?
Or is it, which is less surprising,
My pride gone in for advertising?
The only cards that really count
Are that extremely small amount
From real friends who keep in touch
And are not rich but love us much
Some ways indeed are very odd
By which we hail the birth of God.

We raise the price of things in shops,
We give plain boxes fancy tops
And lines which traders cannot sell
Thus parcell'd go extremely well
We dole out bribes we call a present
To those to whom we must be pleasant
For business reasons. Our defence is
These bribes are charged against expenses
And bring relief in Income Tax
Enough of these unworthy cracks!
'The time draws near the birth of Christ'.
A present that cannot be priced
Given two thousand years ago
Yet if God had not given so
He still would be a distant stranger
And not the Baby in the manger.

Monday, 21 December 2015

At Last

At last the shortest day of the year has arrived.  From today the nights get shorter and the days longer.  No more staring into the dark longing for sunshine, from today we stare into clouds full of rain awaiting sunshine.  This morning I caught the sun low down struggling to rise, at least he will not get any lower now. This was long after 8:30 and the chill in the air revealed December was still winter even if it has been mild by comparison.  
Spring is a coming.
Nothing else happened.
Again I ventured through the supermarkets for things forgotten, again I forgot things.
That sums up the day.
I looked for exciting happenings but none were seen.
Christmas shoppers with worried looks passed by, I smugly smiled and mentioned mine was all done and got a smack in the face or two from those who were not there yet.
The afternoon gale blew in, the rain swept down, I closed down and ironed some shirts.

I am not sure I can continue with this exciting life.
My nerves cannot stand much more of the thrill.
Roll on work....

The 'World's End is an Edinburgh pub!

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Sunday Before Christmas

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago. 

Now just hold there a minute.  It is indeed winter here in the northern hemisphere but a historical minded type might wish to indicate that Jesus more likely arrived in the Springtime.  I say this because one reason I wear a 'Bah Humbug!' hat is my antipathy towards historical falsehoods and the facile jollity of the Christmas season.  Jesus came to earth indeed but what we see around us does not reveal him or his reason for coming. 
Somewhere in the past a someone thought he was being clever in deciding to 'Christianise' the midwinter festival, a time of jollity, hedonism and many booze ups, this was supposed to clean things up.  What has happened?  Christmas has become a time of jollity, hedonism and many booze ups!  Scotland at least kept the two separate leaving Christmas as a quieter time and the booze and hedonism for the New Year celebration, both just a time to rejoice that Spring was coming once again.  Some like to call this the Roman 'Saturnalia' but for those in norther climes this event goes way back into prehistory when the shortest day of the year is celebrated, and who can blame them?  Tomorrow is the 21st and the shortest day and I am glad!  However Christmas has been placed here instead of Springtime so we may as well get on with it now.
The need to attend a census in Bethlehem Josephs family home meant a long walk to the south for the Nazareth based pair.  Christmas cards may show romantic drawings of a woman on a donkey led by a caring husband but in truth if they had a donkey, which I doubt as they could only afford the cheapest sacrifice after the birth, if they had a donkey the man would have sat on it, she after all is only a woman.  
Once at the destination the pair would have arrived at the family home seeking the patriarch and somewhere to have the child, no 'Inn' as they did not exist however the region does contain rock that is porous which leaves many caves often used even today as barns or stables.  It is most likely Jesus entered the world there.  Out of the way from the family members, probably overcrowded indoors so this would have been better for Mary rather than a mob in a building.  Mary herself may well have been merely 14 years of age as that was a common age to marry, Joseph probably around the 20 years mark, just as well no politically correct social workers were around to ensure she was 'kept safe' at the time.
It is however interesting that once the child was born and wrapped as was the fashion in strips of cloth and placed in the feeding trough used by any animals around, the 'manger' it is then shepherds appear.  These rough men, carrying with them the odour of country living as well as sheep, arrive to bow down to this child.  For the parents, one visited by an angel, the other informed by dream that God was at work, this must have been quite an event.  Just what was going through their heads as these men worshipped and departed singing praise to God? 
As if this was not enough Magi make an entrance.  Forget three men on camels pointing at a star having travelled several hundred miles supplied by a pack of sandwiches and a vacuum flask of coffee, these men must have had a sizeable entourage with them, donkeys, camels, servants all hanging about outside.  This happened during the night, a time when people stayed firmly indoors, so it is no wonder no others noticed.  First shepherds bowing to the child, then gifts of Frankincense, myrrh and gold from people from the top end of society, the parents wonder must have grown.  
Then their sleep disturbed by Joseph being informed to take the child and flee to Egypt.  
What a night.  Two young people, a baby arriving is hard enough let alone when forced round the corner out of the way.  This is then followed by appearances of worshipping shepherds and Magi and the warning to run.  Egypt is a long walk from Bethlehem and these two must have been somewhat tired by it all.  
Note that at no time did yellow arcs range over their heads in the stable.  No mention is made of other animals like donkeys or cattle, however they would at least make the place warm.  No sign of 'Hollywood' lighting all around or fancy camera angles as in the picture at the top, the nearest I could find to the real thing, no crooning carols, no 'white Christmas' and definitely no 'Santa Claus!' 
This was the real world.
Today we see refugees in similar straits yet we often find the media implying they are scroungers, even if they have lost houses, possessions and family members through travel problems, war and death.  How many attend Carol services tonight yet would refuse an immigrant in need a bed?  how many love the 'magic of Christmas' yet ignore the reality of the God who entered with angel voices reflecting God's joy that salvation had arrived and would some years later be accomplished by a horrifying death on a cross for all who would believe?
The tinsel Christmas is not one for me, the real Christmas is deeper and harder and the choice it forces us to make one many run from to what they consider an easier life, one that fails ultimately.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Saturday Joy


The syncopated Christmas rhythms continued apace today as the brass played and the choirs sang.  Crowds passed by, some stood and watched occasionally joining in while others sped around elbowing towards a complete Christmas shop.  
I put my fingers in my ears and wished I had my 'Bah Humbug!' hat with me.   

I searched upstairs in Tesco for the item I needed urgently.  Last night while drifting off to sleep I made a note to remember this when in there this morning.  I forgot.  So there was I in Tesco scouring around upstairs searching the toys, the stationery, the handyman items all in a vain effort to remember what it was I forgot to note as I could not remember it now.  Only while searching the 'reduced price' box did it come to mind -ink for the printer! 
I had seen some the other day while in but was not sure of the number.  Did I require 300 or 301?  So I stood once again in Tesco wondering which I required.  I plumped for 300 hoping it was the right double pack of Colour and Black ink.  It was!  How glad I was while at home realising my brainw as much better than I had deduced.
As I opened the drawer where such stuff is kept I found both an unused double pack and the colour ink from the previous set!  I forgot to look in the drawer....

Friday, 18 December 2015

Friends Tire

It was the 'Friends of the museum's' Christmas Raffle Draw today so I passed by just as it occurred.  I had after all spent 50p on a ticket, that's ten shillings in real money, and I was hoping for the bottle of whisky they always have on offer at such draws.
I got nothing!
There was no whisky.
I still got nothing!
I did however do the washing up, cart the tables back from where they came and generally got bossed about.  All this on two glasses of wine and two mince pies.
As I woke at five this morning and could not lose the tendency to sleep I was struggling to keep awake at one point.  Now however I am not struggling, I am asleep.
Saturday tomorrow, the last before Christmas and hordes planning to come into town tomorrow.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

A Walk

Having got myself on the bike this morning, I had to get myself on the bike as no-one would help, and cycling around for thirty minutes, it may have been five but it felt like thirty, and finished by coming up the slope in the park and near killing myself I found climbing the stairs back home enough for the day, or so I thought.
Exercise is a good thing when you are young and fit, it is less entertaining when a short bike ride leaves the rider looking for a defibrillator!  However I made it and more will occur if I remember tomorrow and at the weekend.  I am now searching the weather forecast hoping for rain!
During the afternoon I decided my knees, now aching with stiffness required a walk.  Off we hobbled across the park as the clouds that have covered us for a week thinned out and pretended they were going to let the sun shine through, they didn't!  
There is an old picture from around 200 years ago showing this park as a field, a cow or two grazing idly and a yokel wandering about.  In the distance the new Congregational church building stands alongside one or two grand houses, the church the only remaining memory of that time.  All else has changed.  Probably owned by a wealthy type and farmed by tenant farmers the field was turned into the grounds of the large house built by one of the Courtauld family of weaving fame.  His grand large home lasted for around forty years before it passed into the hands of a school in whose possesion it remained for many years.  Near one gate there was a grass verge and one day I saw a lady of undetermined age walk across this grass quite deliberately.
"I was never allowed to do this while at the school so I am doing it now," she laughed and went on her way.  In recent times the house became flash flats with a few houses alongside owned by folks who can afford half a million, I did not apply.  
Passing the school gym which now serves as the registry office usually with a flash car dressed for a bride outside, I walked slowly past the few large houses that stand alongside the church.  The names and uses have changed with the years, one superb house is now used by the Salvation Army to rehouse people with specific difficulties, another rebuilt by a painter and decorator and the only one I can identify used by a Council 'Community' office whatever that is.  The gray brick community building was built by one John Brown, his initials in the Latin version 'IJ' and seen above the door, Latin was the trendy Victorian manner, and it is clear he did well for himself in his day.  As far as I can gather he began as a brickie and later made bricks near the railway and made his money that way.  It is clear he had talent and was seen by the later years of the nineteenth century as one of the towns more important people.  He would be shocked by the house today.  In fact several other houses have similar styles if not the same bricks and possibly he built them, or got his men to do so, and established his reputation.  He is not there now of course.
I strolled against the wind along the Roman Road called Stane Street (which also lies outside my window) heading east.  I passed the 'Horse & Groom' a pub where one Saturday lunchtime two workmates ran outside and pulled me through the door and made me join them!  Even in 1937 this pub was where people gathered if they wished goods to be taken to the villages round about.  Most pubs continued the tradition of carriers, by vehicle in the thirties no longer plodding horse and carts, delivering goods near and far, well into the big towns at least.  The 'Horse & Groom' appeared to be best placed for the villages within a ten mile radius.  UPS and a variety of others can find their beginnings in men plodding along at two miles an hour beside a pair of carthorses with loaded cart.

The rest of this side of the street contains many houses from the past including further along a row of weavers houses, the narrow homes contain windows designed to aid weavers.  It is said that once upon a time the attic roof had no divisions as long rolls of cloth would be stretched out up there.  On the other side of the street all was demolished and a new roadway capable of dealing with increased traffic established, also the new shopping centre sweeping away generations of buildings.  However the museum benefited from this as an archaeological dig must take place before building work and many items were found.  There is a Iron Age, Roman and Anglo Saxon finds from there.  A hamlet of some sort containing roundhouses was later joined by Roman dwellings.  When Rome withered and the Saxons arrived the may well have farmed much of this area although it is possible there were houses at this spot also.  Now there is a variety of modern day shops in the usual style, sometimes I wish the one time inhabitants were still around.  

I wandered about the town for a while and made my way home.   I came back via the park, the sun still striving to break through as it dipped in the west but the clouds were not relenting.  A couple of new houses are being constructed nearby right next to the road and not far from the skatepark.  How the new tenants will love those brats come summer!  Along Stane Street, but a different part my aged home stands, just.  The houses nearby go back some distance also, at least two hundred years but possibly more.  It is possible to discover something of those who lived there in the last hundred years but going further back this is harder.  When I have time I will seek more re the doctors who used this building as a surgery and the woman who made corsets in the 1920's, I wonder how she made enough for this place!  Maybe their story will always be hidden.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Yesterday's Post (I fell asleep)

Tim Peake has reached the International Space Station!
So the media are trumpeting loudly these days.  Who he you ask?  No idea I answer.  However he is 'A Brit' who has gone into space so this, according to the press, is news.  Less clearly stated is the US policy of only using Americans to visit the space station and Tim Peake has had to take US citizenship to get his free ride into space.
So what I ask?
The space station has had limited press coverage ever since it opened years ago, only the science sections have bothered with it, so why all the fuss now?  maybe I am suspicious but what news is being hidden behind this exaggerated story?  It is always wise to look at the hidden stories behind the big headlines.
Anyway who cares he has gone into space outside of his family and those interested?  This is a small thing and years ago a British woman went into space why is this considered main news?  Good luck to him travelling around the world at high speed, good luck to his experiments that are oh so important.  Good luck to him getting back in one piece.  But spare us the large headlines on a story of limited interest. 
And remember he is now a US citizen, so charge him with treason!

Quite surprised yesterday by the US state that closed all the schools because of a terrorist threat received by email.  I was doubly surprised when New York did not close anything after receiving the same threat.  I suppose having endured thrity years of IRA terrorism and attacks on the nation for other reasons many times before that the UK is not so neurotic about threats.  However it was clear even from afar that this was just an idle threat and careful checking elsewhere would have shown this surely?  Something else behind this show I feel, possibly a real scare or a lack of judgement shown by the leadership.  
Some at a distance wonder about the neurotic fear generated by the likes of Trump and the media re Islamic terrorism in the US especially when 30,000 are shot and killed by good clean all American types each year in the US.   Maybe spending less time in 'fearthought' re Islamist and more time in 'forethought' in removing the vast number of needless guns on the streets would be a better way to save US lives?