Monday, 30 November 2015

A Special Day

Today as you all realise is a special day, St Andrews Day!  Now I will not wax lyrical about Scots superiority as I don't wish for you to feel inferior, even though as non Scots you are, so Iwill pass this day in a simple manner.  
The ticket above celebrates the first ever football international which was played in Glasgow in 1872. This date is so long ago even our friend Mike Smith was not in attendance!  The score between the Scots heroes and the imperialist upper class twits was 0-0.  This shows how good their goalkeeper had been during the game.  Such internationals between the only two nations playing in such organised football matches became an annual event, one year in England the next in the land of the free.  This continued until during the 1970's the glory of the encounter wore off and Scotland began to look at the wider football world and saw meetings with then 'Auld enemy' of little meaning.  Of course some wish to bring back this game but with the wider scope of football today Scots would be better playing European sides and developing young players, especially in what were once called 'B' internationals.  
In spite of much weeping and gnashing of teeth I only managed to attend  two of these games, both at Hampden Park, Glasgow.  The first finished in a 1-1 draw and I was placed high in what we term the 'Rangers End' under cover from the rain and surrounded by drunken wee Glasgow neds.  The result meant we failed to qualify for the European Championships that year and we were somewhat surprised by the wee neds bursting into drunken tears at the end.  The result meant a lot to drunken Rangers fans in those days.  
We left, I say 'we' but I have no memory of whom I attended the game alongside, we left and made our way down the dangerous slippery slopes and turned to our right heading for the bus.  The one little difficulty here was the stream of thousands from the other end who were making their way to the left.  We crossed though this far from merry throng and followed the right crowd in the right direction.  As we got halfway down we passed one of the common sights in Glasgow at the time, one somewhat imbued individual standing facing the masses heading in the direction directly opposite to he himself.  naturally you and I would move to the correct crowd and follow their movement this joker stayed where he was and by swinging his arms and misusing industrial language requested the thousands to move and let him past.  He may still be there, trampled into the tarmac!    
The next time I managed to get a ten shilling ticket was two years later in 1972, the price had not gone up much in one hundred years you notice so I suspect the early one shilling fee was intended to put off the rougher element.  1972 gave us the second only 0-0 draw in one hundred years of football.  I was there - in 1972 that is.  It was not a great game, the loudest cheer came when the Ayrshire Drum Majorettes (aged between 8 and 80) appeared at half time, short skirts and swinging long sticks, marched in time to the music to the far end of the ground, faced the crowd and went down on one knee.  I believe seven at least had heart attacks at that moment.  There was little else to consider.  Of course I was with three others, one, with an English accent that came from being brought up down south, one with an Edinburgh accent wishing England would score and two of us trying to make sure these two did not get too close to Rob Roy MacGregor wearing the 'See You Jimmy' cap and confused drunken expression just in case he lashed out.  The other joy of Hampden in those days was ensuring you stood between the crush barriers.  These tended to collapse with age and with 137,500 tickets handed in (only 135,000 had been printed by the organisers) and you stood where you would survive if one or other went.  
We avoided the crush afterwards by heading into town, amongst the crush.  This meant waiting next to a police horse slavering at both ends with one of Glasgow's finest psychpathic polis sitting upon it.  The joys of football crowds!  Today all has changed.  The slippery slopes have been replaced, seating is compulsory for safety reasons and only 50,000 or so attend.  Some wish to bring back standing at football matches because of a rose tinted view of the past, I say no, not for any crowd over 5000, it is just to dangerous.
So we celebrate St Andrew in the usual Scots way, we mention it and just get on with life.  Not like the drunken Irish who celebrate St Patrick ( a Welshman) who they care little about nor the English who's imperialism wishes to bring back a celebration of St George, a man born in Armenia!  I wonder if they would let him in as a migrant?
Happy St Andrews Day anyway.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Nothing to Say

I have nothing to say so here is a picture of a fishing boat at Dunbar I took back in the 80's.  These wee craft were out in the Firth of Forth collecting lobster nets, just to the right there were lots newly landed.  Fishing in the Forth or out into the North Sea has been going on for millenia but it has always been a dodgy business.  The weather and sea together are bad enough but now the dying stocks and the various rules have killed the fleets.  Not that I would eat lobster, the cruel manner of cooking is disgusting and anyway shellfish are not for me, give me fins and scales. Not that I was offered anything but dirty looks by the local natives, their appreciation of tourists was not great.
Dunbar has been around for some time, the small castle ruins has seen some excitement with various Kings and Queens passing through, none were there to greet my travels I must say.  Since the Votadini came down from the hills above and settled in this spot the town has seen two major battles, lots of small ones, the castle slighted and folks killed left right and centre.  The population today is a few thousand, there might have been more if they did not keep getting caught in fights!
It is thought St Cuthbert was born here or in this area and worked as a shepherd until joining the monastery at Melrose.      

This is a picture of the sea.
I post this for those of you who live inland miles fro the sea as you may not be aware of its existence. One thing to note is that it is wet, very wet, and walking upon it is not advised.  It does take up a vast proprotion of the palnet however and is full of fish, sea creatures, boats and plastic rubbish we threw awayand now floats around as a danger to sea life, shipping and us.  Most of the fish is probably poisoned with something or other, these lobsters also. These creatures like all shelfishw ere intended to scavenge and clean up the sea that is why folks were not supposed to eat them, pigs and the like were doing the same on land.  I suspect no amount of shellfish could save the sea today.

However this guy appears happy with his lot, how about you?

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Nature Day

After a refreshing and very long sleep I awoke bleary eyed too late to rush in early to help prepare the day at the museum.  So I slowly trudged down the road shivering in the cold air and took my place as far from the hard work as possible.  The tables were laid out as several local peoples were displaying their wares.  This table was run by a couple who deal in fossils and such like.  Very interesting but sadly too few people arrived today.  This table had a tin full of very old sharks teeth the kids were encouraged to fiddle with, they like it!  

This young lady ran a stall on behalf of 'Guide dogs for the Blind.'  She was escorted by two dogs, one retired from duty and a four month old Labrador who is undergoing training.  Both were popular!

The dogs were happy enough and keen on attention, a bit like the lassies I meet here!
The weather meant the town was quieter than normal today and with several other events on their way elsewhere it hit our numbers but enough came to keep us busy.  Several groups who support local Gardens or Wildlife efforts were in attendance and there were four talks by people on John Ray the naturalist who led the world in understanding plants.  he lived just outside town in Black Notley and The John Ray Society were also there to talk about his life.  I never met him as he lived in the 1600s and I was not here then.

I need not explain that muggins was the one who spent much time washing cups after this lot left!
I will have 'washday hands' soon.  Some very nice and enthusiastic people were there with a lot of knowledge of their subject.  Hopefully a similar event will occur but preferably in the Spring which would be better for all.  Now we just have the run up to Christmas, oops no we don't, there is an event tomorrow as the town switches its Christmas lights on and we and most others will be open and offering something or other.
With all this festive jollity, happy faces, laughter and pleasantness I can assure you I will be at home looking out my 'Bah Humbug' hat!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Tired & Weary Day.

Tired & weary I plodded home from the museum, my bones less pained than my muscles.  Weariness began last night when a knock came on the door around ten o'clock. Two friendly members of the constabulary were enquiring about my neighbour, who has not been seen since, he and her have been up to something somewhere.  Half dressed, I was watching football in bed, and a I explained to them I was on a football planet not one concerning neighbours.  I missed the last two minutes of the game because of them!
I also failed to sleep for ages and woke at eight this morning with a sponge for a brain, at work they said this was not unusual.  Not only was I kept busy I had to buy my lunch rather than eat at home because of staff shortages.  However the day was profitable and we took a decent amount of cash and the girls have been preparing for tomorrows 'John Ray Day.'

This ought to be a good day as many are interested in this nature lover however the wee pony seen above, used as therapy for injured kids and others will not make it, some thieving rat stole their truck and trailer!  I suspect however the stall holders who arrive and those who drop in will have a decent time.  I will be even more weary by the finish.

What a interesting little book this is.
Usually books about Adolf concern his rantings and world domination plans but here we see another side of the man who would have ruled Europe.  
Christa Schroeder began work for the early Nazi Party years before the war, this for work as it was hard to find and not for ideological reasons she claims.  In this she might be right as it appears she comprehended or cared little for what was happening outside of the Leadership bubble in which she operated.  Once she had climbed the heights to be one of Hitlers favourite secretary's she was then unable to leave even if she wished.  Hitler and he alone decided who came or went.
Her shorthand skills were important during the early years as she took dictation, typed out his speeches ad retyped as he amended them time and again.  Surely during this period she grasped something of the intentions of the man?  Surely she realised where Germany was headed?  At the end of the war she was interrogated by the allies and one suggested that she could be regarded as 'dumb!'  It is possible she really did not comprehend what was going on even though she saw the control of Ukraine and in the end the devastation of Berlin.  It is possible her life was too close to Hitler himself and under his spell as many were to be objective about what she saw around her, maybe she shared a mental outlook that ran through Germany at the time, one that is difficult to explain.

This is not a straight forward book more a collection of typed notes that were published some years ago, later translated into English.  These notes she put together to put some stories right and others to explain her position.  Many in Germany were doing that after the war.  These contain stories about the various campaigns where the backroom staff followed the chief to his headquarters even though he rarely made use of them.  Hitler kept his office staff separate from the real business at hand and used them as a way of escape from the trials of taking others land ans killing the population.  These girls were a sort of middle class escape where he met them daily for tea and cake and talk far removed from war.  Politics and military matters were never discussed here, art, plans, architecture (Adolf saw himself as an architect not a painter), history and all sorts of subjects were given his views, views he studied by voracious reading and by memorising large amounts of detail so he could spew it back as his own.
Hitler was the centre of the life in this 'Bubble,' many wished to be there so they could stake a claim for position, few were true friends to others.  The people of the circle are mentioned by Christa with particular care for the women, is she bitchy or were the men of little interest to her?  None wanted her even though a few were kind towards her.  
This book could be seen to glamorise a man who caused millions of deaths however it fails to do so by revealing his selfish obsessions at all times.  His personality shines through in spite of the tea and cake, the kissing of ladies hands (he was Austrian after all not Prussian) and generous gifts to one and all.  Those who offended him especially by disagreeing were not invited back, even Christa was  
'blackballed' for a year for talking back, Adolfs inabilities and weaknesses and limited outlook are always on show in these pages.  His brutal attitude to opposition, his reliance on his own 'will' and his lack of real deep care are clear to see.  It is a wonder people stuck close to him, a wonder he had so many followers.  That is the thing people believed in him, his ability to convince and carry an entire nation led them to destruction.  Christa working alongside him does not appear to carry any insight into faults re his agenda, as indeed did many others.

A lesson here for us all.  The world follows all too easily the leaders it chooses, deep thought and conscience are not always brought into place.  Right and wrong are concepts that can easily be amended to suit our purposes and concern for others fades when our advantage appears.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Big Tins

I'm not getting out and about much these days.  I make it too the museum, hobble home via Tesco and flop.  A saunter around town if I must is all I can manage at the moment.  Today I unwound myself from the heater under the desk and gathered the rubbish and dumped it outside, as I did so I noticed the shop on the corner still had some tins on show, I had noticed them the other day, and raced slowly upstairs to get some cash.  
This shop was once selling only second hand furniture, he cleared houses and bought in stuff from self employed folks making bookcases and the like on the side (as far as I can see).  Now however while he still does this I notice his shop is stuffed with odds and ends, almost everything in the world can be found there somewhere!   This is something to remember, and I wished I had time to look around as I went up there for two large tins of fruit.   
I took the Pear Halves and Apricot halves today but will go back for more.  Just look at the size of the tin!  For these catering sizes he charges £1:25 and as supermarket stocks cost from 25p to £1 this is indeed a bargain.  Naturally I checked the dates, 2017 is the sell by date and having eaten some apricots I am well pleased.  I need to eat more fruit and as the Aussies are keeping most of it down there this is excellent for mean miser poverty struck me.  

Monday, 23 November 2015

Bomb Shops

The idiot PM Cameron is trying his best to get parliament to support his rash intention of bombing Syria.  This means he now wishes to bomb the people fighting Assad the man he wanted to bomb last year but parliament opposed.  Now the people fighting Assad have been overrun by ISIS or some other Islamist group also fighting Assad but we will bomb them to help the fight against Assad.  The fact that Russia now has many, many more aircraft already bombing those fighting Assad including ISIS we must be on the side of the man we oppose in the Baltic region and Ukraine.  
Does Cameron understand this? 
So we fight alongside Russia against ISIS, against Russia in Ukraine & the Baltic's while supporting non ISIS fighting Assad supported by Russia?  No wonder he fails to understand how his government is reducing local services in his own county!
The bombing of Libya left a broken nation where armed gangs roam the streets.  Supporting those fighting Assad has left Syria broken yet the money for these wars flows through London so they say!
You thought Blair and Bush were bad?

I went shopping today.  I actually had shopped for what I wanted but had to return to the shop to put right the financial difficulty that had arisen.  With the family being 400 miles to the north it is easier to send a gift card rather than a present they don't want.  So I wandered down the other week and bought eight such cards from the woman's shop that they are happy with (I wanted to get a gift card from 'Poundland' but others persuaded me 'no') and had them ready to go and all appeared well.  The thing was that as each card had an accompanying £5 off voucher these all had to go through the till separately which took time but the young lass handled it very well.  However on checking, and rechecking, the bank statement (the one that just says "GIVE US YOUR CASH!" all pretence to service long gone from them) I noted that instead of eight amounts there was only one which meant I was seven times the amount better off than I thought.  Hmmm thought i this cannot be so I let it go for a week or so awaiting movement but they moved less than my knees and that is why I ventured to hobble down the road this gray dreich freezing cold afternoon.  
I had actually been there in the morning where the girl informed me I required to carry the cars with me so they could be checked on the system, I trudged back, via the supermarket, and lunched on something tasteless.  I wonder what it was?  
This afternoon I spoke to the (twenty something male) manager. (hmmm) and he almost said 'Just keep quiet and it will go away' but not quite, however the lass I had bought the cards from appeared and took a more mature approach.  She remembered me, I find attractive women do, checked the cards, the receipts and claimed all was OK.  The manager appeared unwilling or incapable f doing anything so the lass phoned the people 'upstairs' wherever that may be located.  She explained the situation and after a while was told to hold, cue bad music, after which another voice listened as she explained once again the predicament.  The voice muttered and murmured and then decided that there was nothing that could be done!  So that was that, I took the cards, proffered thanks to the one store member worth her wage and left.
I had bought eight at £25 and they were losing £175 yet this did not appear to bother anyone.  I can understand a business with many shops and connected to larger concerns like that can lose such amounts and not notice but the lack of concern from here and there amazed me.  They appeared surprised at my honesty!  Yet many folks I meet are honest in such situations, maybe it is the clientele or maybe honesty is less obvious than it once was.  The bad running of a business in itself does not shock, many companies I worked for while temping surprised me with their lack of concern, often the main staff cared only for their bonus, sometimes they were corrupt or lazy but on other jobs efficiency and integrity shone through.  It all depended on the leadership.  
I will be checking my accounts next week but I suspect nothing will happen.  If I am that much better off I will donate it somewhere as it will burn a hole in my pocket.  A few pounds or pence is one thing but this is too much.


Sunday, 22 November 2015

Friday, 20 November 2015

Is it Just Me?

Is it just me or have things gone over the top regarding this Paris outrage? 
I am not changing my avatars to include French flags, I am not weeping and wailing regarding the various Islamist attacks.  I wonder why?
I notice the papers are once again filling the page with a variety of items regarding this week old story.  The news vendors appear to consider nothing else, even the usual slappers and royals are being pushed down the page and all media appear to be totally behind an onslaught on Daesh in Syria.
One TV reporter appears to break down during his report, Andrew Neil a famous political interviewer and a man with few fans launches an outburst against Daesh and is applauded for this.

The attack in Paris was not pleasant, neither was the bomb that killed 43 in Lebanon that got little mention nor the one in Nigeria which killed 42.  In fact many 'outrages' have taken place in various parts of the world and not all of them get much of a mention.  Maybe some are worth more than others to the media.
Let us take a look at recent history.  Since what we call 9/11 lots of Islamic attacks have been seen, many happened before that, most also kill Muslims and those tend not to be given much space in the western media.  Several attacks in a variety f places have been launched, some by organised groups many by individuals of low intellect, some with high intellect of course.  Many more will be seen wolrdwide.
However this is not new.
Since 1945 when peace reigned the Cold War saw 45 million killed in Africa, Asia and South America. The Northern Ireland conflict saw 3000 dead and some still wish to continue this war.  Why are we so neurotic about Daesh?
Down through the years terrible slaughters have occurred.  The United States killed thousands of Filipinos during their take over of the islands, many thousands of Indians were killed in the States during the 19th century and the growth of the British Empire saw a willingness to shoot anyone who stood in the way.  
We have ignored two world wars by the way.
Each century since Abel was slain by Cain has seen murders both individual and national.  Large groups have taken over and enslaved smaller ones, nations have murdered and terrorised others constantly over the years and on many occasions terror was part of the war.  Guerrilla war entails much violence with men, women and children suffering with both sides using terror to get the victory so why are we so upset about Daesh! 

Vlearly government influence is behind the vast publicity we see in the media, it is not just shock at the killing.  Fear that it could happen where we are is strong and those in big cities especially fear.  The stable peaceful world we all think we ought to have is endangered and confusion reigns.
However we have no right to peace, the majority of the world has trouble of some sort down through the years.  Peace and security is in fact rarer than conflict.  Human nature, as I keep saying, will never change!  Since Cain slew Abel human nature has been rotten and such outrages based on greed, politics or selfishness will always occur.  Only Jesus can save us and he was crucified by us!  

There is an unhealthy aspect to this reverence for Paris, something about our reaction is not right.  I am reminded of the attitudes in 1914 when those who disagreed with the war were regarded as traitors, the nation came under a wave of war that removed free thought and consideration of what was right.  We are doing the same today.
Something is wrong worldwide with our fear of Daesh, something does not ring true.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Reading the Distant Past

What a great book!
The author takes us through ten cities beginning five millenniums BC and ending with Babylon and its fall.  Indeed she steps over into the first century AD but the bulk of the book concerns the far distant and still much unknown past.
5000 years BC people had begun to develop cities instead of large family groups spread over the area.  Increased population saw a drift into the far south of Mesopotamia (the land between two rivers) and Eridu the first stop is far in the south of what we know call Iraq.

Eridu was considered the first city by the Sumerians, Sumer being the name given to the area, the city built they say by the god Enki.  He is said to have built his great temple here and over the centuries this was rebuilt time and again, each occasion carefully flattening and sealing the previous building before rebuilding began.  The archaeologists who dug deep into the mound found there was indeed a temple, a small square box shaped building the size of an average room dating from around five thousand years previously.
The gods feature much in the history.  Each city had its own, usually a female and male and the women often more important for reasons unknown.  Greeks and some early Christians developed the idea of a female goddess, pure and holy, clearly not based on any real woman around them.  I wonder why such goddesses are sought by so many?
The gods become confusing as time passes, some visit one another, several become top god depending on who is the top man, and all look after their city if they are fed and watered properly.   Some temples had at the top a variety of rooms for the gods use, each with following helpers.  The fact is we know god exists and if we don't find the real one we need to invent one to suit.  This did not help when cities went to war and one or other destroyed the loser mind.
The difference between these gods and the real God is that Jesus is alive and can be found, reading the theology here made the biblical story appear so much clearer and straight forward.
Certainly the folks back then knew how to make pottery.  This bowl goes back to 5400BC and was found in a grave at Eridu.  That's seven thousand years ago and more!
The cities had various problems with water.  To the north the desert region depended in the end on irrigation making use of the changing rivers the Tigris and the Euphrates, later water came from the Zargos mountains when the Assyrians took charge.  In the south near the Gulf the tides from the Gulf caused different problems in the southern marshes.  It is thought the varying weather and shifting water led to a fatalism that permeates even Islam today, whether this is true I know not but it is a thought.  When you depend on the weather you tend to live with your eye one the sky.
The early chapters appear to indicate a lifestyle in which peace and love circulates and everyone shares everything and lives in harmony with one another.  Certainly this is possible, ancient cities on the Indian/Pakistan border had no walls and appear to have settled lives so why not Eridu.  We know however that human nature is corrupt and already people spoke of the flood and what had occurred in the distant past, human nature does not change.  It is possible a decent society existed but on occasion as time moves on through the millenniums it is clear soldiers exist, walls are created and aa dominant level of society is calling the shots.
The increase in exchange of goods required better husbandry and records of trade, the beginning of writing appears about 3500BC and by then someone, possibly in the temple is organising society to ensure life continues and this means ensuring the farmers plant crops, the herdsmen and shepherds do their stuff and appropriate offerings are made to the gods.  A powerful civil service arises everywhere and soon scribes become just as important.  
Early writing featuring simple signs indicating beer or wheat eventually develop into Cuneiform script which exists for thousands of years afterwards.  Many late clay tablets feature translations into Greek on the reverse side.  Where would we be without writing?
Ur is one of the most famous cities discussed in the book.  Famous because Abram, who you may have heard off originated here before making his way north to Harran with his father than setting off to Canaan to become the first of the Hebrews.  It was fascinating to discover something of the situation 2000BC when he left.  UR had developed into a small state and ruled over many for over a hundred years or so and near the end of that time Abram and all his moved away.  The folks in UR had not been good at treating the neighbours well and by 2000 the Elamites had come from the east miffed at their treatment and laid waste the city.  They were very miffed!
The author, a woman, begins with the historical dig at each city, tells us the history and of the discoveries made at each city.  This is an excellent read and not boring, at least not to me.  She flows along making special mention of women whenever she can, as women do!  Each town has its occupation indicated, the ideology if it had one and the various gods enthroned.  Some reveal a great deal about those who inhabited the city while others leave a lot to be desired.  Where possible Gwendolyn Leick explains the various interpretations for the difficulties presented and the glossary and notes at the back help a great deal while pondering the findings.
Nineveh offers an interesting problem for those wishing to dig into the remains.  It is situated opposite Mosul, the city now controlled by Daesh (what we should call ISIS).  This makes it interesting as Daesh refuse to accept the past as important and tend to chop heads of those who dig there.  Most now avoid the area and this appears reasonable to me.  The ancient city is a huge space in which hundreds of archaeologists could spend years researching the past, that however will not happen for some time.
This is a poor review of a good book.  My excuse is the tendency I suffer at the moment to fall asleep, sometimes when walking down the street, and the feeble mind is even more feeble than ever this week
If you wish to understand the past read this book.  One thing that we know from such works is that human nature does not change and people now are just as they were ten thousand years ago, people do not change.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Outage Outrage

How I suffered!
Yesterday the Internet started to play up.  The laptop has been slow for a wee while so I cleaned and deleted, made use of CC Cleaner, ran this and ran that but it was slower than ever.  Late on my email would not work, no matter how hard I hit the laptop it did not improve.  The GMail stopped also, in fact neither could be contacted and Google would no work either. 
I checked both laptops and both struggled.  Even my pictures would not work, they just disappeared.  I switched it off and on, did all the usual things, shouted and swore, kicked it about the floor but nothing worked. 
I decided it was their fault and left it till this morning intending to fix things before I went out.
Lo and behold it worked normally!
I have since discovered BT had an outage which affected the whole of East Anglia, much of the Midlands and bits of London.  Screaming peoples were to be found in a million or two homes last night, no longer concerned for IS terrorists more interested in fixing the computers. 
How important the internet has become.
Kids could not do homework or play games, businesses and those working from home could not work, Blog workers could not blog nor could half the nation check their emails, all because of an unknown fault somewhere in BT.
Terrorists have it wrong.  Shooting people is spectacular and in our society brings out the emotional responses that we see today (pity they are less emotional for the seven million babies killed by abortion), it would be much more efficient and a lot less dangerous to just plant a few small bombs in electric sub stations blocking out the entire nation.  Devastation everywhere, industry brought to a halt, millions of porn sites blocked, blogs unwritten, and despair and unhappiness abroad.  No suicides required although a few may occur but a much better way to spite an enemy today.  
Tonight however all is well and I am able to connect with my spam.  I can now sleep knowing all is well with the world and not fear having to talk to real people while I fight the laptop, for without the laptop the world stops.  


Sunday, 15 November 2015

Sunday Laugh

I wanted to write this!


Saturday, 14 November 2015

Human Nature Never Changes

Terrorism has been with us since people walked the earth.  In Genesis Cain killed Abel because he was resentful, history is littered with sons killing fathers just to be King, small nations using guerrilla tactics to fight large ones and acts of bloody minded terrorism simply because someone wanted it and believed that this would further their cause or hurt the enemy.  Sometimes it wins!
The latest episode of IS terrorism has been a sad one.  Possibly two hundred may die plus several hundred will suffer and relatives carry the long time cost.  There is reason to believe there will be more of this in France.

However while the media are making hay with the shock effect it is important to ask questions.  What lies behind this and were we to blame?  The Wests dealings with the Middle East have never been clever.  While that strange man Lawrence of Arabia was allowed to promise the Arabs much the British government was making other plans and was not considering a bunch of nomads as important, the French desperation to obtain Syria did not help either.  Israel was allowed in, and the Good Lord did indeed place them back in this land, but how the West handled this was appalling.
The 1920's saw Iraq as a place for the RAF to drop bombs (some say gas) on Arabs who disliked British intentions, few asked what the Arabs wanted and even fewer considered the sectarian differences between Sunni & Shia as relevant.  
With the fear of Iran in the late 70's the West under that nice Mr Rumsfeld gave Saddam all the support he wished, including Mustard Gas and allowed him to kill a million or two because we were scared of the old man with a beard.   Not long afterwards the nice Mr Rumsfeld and his nice friend Mr Cheney encouraged the first Bush to bomb Saddam.  Times had changed.
Later Mr Bush 2 came along and the nice Mr Rumsfeld and his nice friend Mr Cheney encouraged the second Bush to Bomb Saddam and remove him.  This they did but one little thing was omitted, they sacked all the soldiers and sacked all the police and allowed them to keep their guns and bombs.  Failure to ensure a government that considered both the Sunni and the Shia (not forgetting the Kurds) was not accomplished and later this caused resentment among the Sunni.

Saudi Arabia a rich friend of the USA and the West decided the West was not doing enough to deal with their fear of a nuclear Iran so encouraged war in Syria, Iran's friend.  Syria was stable, less totalitarian that Saudi and now lies destroyed.  Amongst the 'freedom fighters' appeared many Islamist groups, mostly fighting one another, and from them and the by now broken Iraq grew IS a new powerful Islamist organisation with a blood lust unseen for some years (it has been seen before however and often at that).  
IS did have the decency to inform the world it would create a crisis by sending refugees to Europe, and this they have done.  Amongst them we find many dedicated stupid people who are willing to kill and die in doing so.  These men appeared in Paris the other day.  

Why are people joining IS?  Consider yourself a young man, maybe a woman, growing up in the UK and reaching that horrid age we call adolescence.  This is the time we get very enthusiastic about changing the world or improving our nation.  Thought is not always the strongest of our assets at this time but emotion is!  You are young, enthusiastic for change and find yourself asking 'Am I a Muslim or am I British?'  This is when idealistic types get caught up with what we call 'radical' preachers.  They teach a strict type of Islam that asks for committed people and young folks are always committed.  Have we not all touched something like this when young?
Unfortunately an aspect of Islam that we now see constantly is the willingness to kill Islams enemies and the willingness also to die for what the young see as Islam.  Wealth, education, caring parents, none of these things make any difference, when the young wish to commit they commit fully.  That is why so many give themselves to IS as it is seen as the most radical Islamist grouping.  The volunteers consider they are building a better world, just as we did when listening to 'Canned Heat' and pretending we were Hippies, it's just that our ideology was different.

Millions have followed a leader who encouraged them to lay down their lives,  only a few years ago the Japanese were taught never to surrender and thousands died defending small islands in the Pacific for nothing. Few ever surrendered.  These present Islamic heroes will act in the same manner and bluster from Western leaders will have no effect on them.  When such see what they are told is an enemy they will ac without hesitation.  That is why vats numbers of Muslims have been killed by Muslims and the Middle East and Pakistan runs with rivers of blood rarely reported in the West.
A bomb in Lebanon killed at least 43 yet this does not get such TV time.  After all if they kill each other we don't care, maybe we should?
There are nearly two million Muslims in the UK, most working hard and aiding the nation not killing it, yet these must make a stand opposing loudly the operations of IS and actions like these.  This could be dangerous for many and if the Shia Muslims stood up the Sunni may not.  Some may take sides quietly, opposing violence yet not opposing these actions publicly.  It could of course be dangerous to say anything if you are a Muslim.  Muslims who become Christian are attacked in the streets in some towns one who stands up and objects to IS may suffer worse! 
Intelligence is the only way to beat any terrorist cell, that has to come from Muslims themselves and Mosques must offer a more strident 'peaceful' Islam for people to follow.  Propaganda is as important as bombs in dealing with IS.  

However let us remember such terrorist acts have gone on for years, the IRA caused 3000 deaths over 30 long years and occasionally kill another, Two world wars have caused massive disruption to society yet we are still plugging away, anarchists before the first war also set of bombs as indeed did suffragettes, terrorists who set fire to churches, damaged buildings and smashed paintings because 'men' ran them.  Terrorism is always with us, one of Jesus' disciples had been a terrorist, he carried a short sword, a 'stiletto'  which was plunged into a Romans back which was not very nice, and once IS have been stopped another source of violence will come forth.
Unless Jesus returns first of course.   

Friday, 13 November 2015

Government Makes You Swear

I came across a clip of Billy Connolly the other day giving out his usual stuff.  I was intrigued by his inability to complete a sentence without the word 'fuck' or any of its derivations appearing and reckoned that by omitting these words his act would shorten by about twenty five minutes.  Billy of course comes from a long line of Glasgow comedians who began operating in the pubs around the city.  In those places the act spoke direct to the people and spoke in a way they understood commenting on their daily grind, and grind it was in most cases, and bringing a Glasgow 'black' humour into the audiences lives.  Many lived very rough lives indeed, dockyards, railway engineering, a variety of heavy industry and squalid overcrowded tenements many of which were not removed even in the nineteen sixties.  
Billy no doubt began his career as a comedian as a welder in the shipyards, a Catholic welder at that in shipyards that were strongly protestant in their outlook!  The sectarian divide remaining strong even today in the west of Scotland, not that any were Christian of course but it was a badge to wear so you knew which side you were on.  he progressed to pubs and joined a group called the Humblebums if memory serves me right.  At this point it is normal to yell "You're more Bum than Humble!"  Since then he has been welcomed in ex-pat Scots worldwide, made several TV programmes about art which apart from clips from his act were excellent, done TV in the USA and taken part in several films.  Now he has a couple of nasty diseases which will eventually do away with him.
However it is the needless swearing throughout his act and which appears to be the thing nowadays with all comedians if a laugh is required.  Occasionally it works but constant repeats just take away the need for wit, which may well be why so many make use of it, to cover up their lack of wit.  When Tony Hancock took to the stage at fifteen in front of an audience of soldiers he told lots of crude jokes.  He wanted to be a comedian and was advised to "Cut out the dirt as you will get laughs but that won't make a comedian of you."  He never used it again.  His stand up got him somewhere but once on radio in his own show his talent mixed with excellent writers offered wit so powerful that in those days half the country listened in to the show.  The nation stopped to listen and later watch on TV, it could not happen today and there are none who could pull that audience.  
Crude jokes can be funny, a swear word in the right place gets a laugh but constant repetition just loses an audience.

The other day David Cameron the Prime Minister took time to contact his local Council head to ask why they were cutting back on social services, libraries, old folks, social work and the like.  His idea was that there was plenty of room to make cuts in the 'back room' and made a suggestion or two concerning these.  He was given a telling off in no uncertain manner.  The council leader informed him that as his government was cutting back the cash councils receive cuts had been made, so many cuts that there was no longer any room to cut behind the scene as that had been removed and on his governments insistence more cuts were demanded.  Her letter was shall we say 'full and frank' and it made clear the Prime Ministers lack of comprehension of what was happening in his own county let alone his own country.  It must be said Oxfordshire where he is a member of parliament is one of the richest county councils, just let your imagination turn to those who have little wealth!

This got em thinking about the rich today and those in the past.  Human nature being what it is, grasping, selfish and concerned with the self first, has always made a division in society, the rich get richer, keep in with one another and the divide between them and 'the rest' grows and remains.  Does this always happen?  Indeed not one prime example is the Victorian era when many were rich took positive action to change society and improve the lot not just of their workers but of the world around them in general.  The motive on occasion was a happy workforce is more loyal and works better and for many a religious motivation based on the 'social gospel' that was preached by many during those years.  How can it be some asked themselves once money flowed in their direction that we have so many who have nothing while we have plenty?  Some claimed, as the 'Daily Mail' reader does today, that laziness makes them poor, while others knew better. 
The Victorian population of Britain & Ireland was around twenty five million.  In England around eighteen million lived and it was reckoned about one third of these lived in poverty, that's six million people! Of these the majority had food for the day and work for tomorrow but around a third of those, that's two million, did not have work tomorrow.  That's poverty for you!  Those who did have work spent at least ten hours a day six days a week (Saturday half day beginning to appear in the 1860's) working.  Housing was shoddy, rents high, no work meant no home and for many women working the streets selling themselves at times of economic downturn was the only way to survive. 
There are those today who would turn us back to that.
Those who considered they ought to do something soon did so.  Titus Salt became famous for his use of 'Alpaca' wool and from his wealth built a new factory with accompanying township in the model village of Saltaire.  His concern over the conditions within Bradford, which while mayor he tried to end, caused him to move outside the town.  His village provided workers with healthy conditions, hospital, school and churches.  When he died and was buried in the Congregational church he built the attendance was numbered at one hundred thousand.  Port Sunlight grew from similar sources, the Cadbury family built Bourneville and other similar villages came to pass elsewhere.  In this and neighbouring towns the Courtauld family built hospitals, provided doctors, schools and housing in places for the workers.  Braintree Museum began as a school built by the Unitarian Courtaulds and later the infants building was added.  The family still operate in the area and a great many buildings bear the name 'Courtauld' somewhere upon it.  Crittalls and other companies also offered as decent conditions as possible in the circumstances, and I am sure a few decent companies exist today.

So I ask why is it that today the wealthy do nothing for those in need?  There is a welfare state that provides and most of us have benefited from this at one time or another yet this government is dedicated to destroying all that has been built up since the war.  The common consensus of what the nation required was ended with Thatcher, the selling off of trains, buses, steel and so much else is now continued by this cabinet who are following the same procedure to kill off the NHS!  Privatisation on rail has failed and still costs the taxpayer huge amounts, Gas & Electric were sold off and cost the nation far more than before, and the end of the NHS will lead to much health deprivation nationwide.  What is more with no opposition bar the SNP in the English parliament nothing can stop this dangerous path.
I realise some spend large amounts on social needs but the impression given is that the rich get richer while the poorer struggle.  Of course it is not like mid Victorian times, few go hungry, however far too many struggle and a majority of those are working people!  While the taste of wealth makes people loath to do without many are having to and are not keen on the experience, others can cope especially with friends and family helping and there are those happy to live of large state handouts. These do not struggle while many working do and this situation ought to be dealt with.  However while George Osborne can sell off the Royal Mail and allow his Best man to make ten million pound profit from selling on his shares the next day I feel people such as those have a requirement to care for those who struggle.  The Victorians led the way, a few continue such aid, it is time those reeling in so many millions they cannot possibly spend them decided to put this cash to good use and benefited the world at home and abroad and not kept their cash in their pockets.  They will answer for this one day.  

Wednesday, 11 November 2015


Happy am I as my week is over and tonight I sleep!  I slept ast night but by the time I got home tonight it appears to have worn off.  I wish it wouldn't do that.  No need to check the clock in the morning, no need to iron a shirt, no need to wash, just be a normal slob for a while and catch up on the things not done.  I note the fruit and veg from Saturday has already turned a strange mouldy colour, the rubbish is piling up in each room of the Palace and the things dropped on the floor on Monday await putting in their place, I'll do that tomorrow. 

Another Armistice commemoration day comes to a close.  For days people have been buying Poppies, placing pictures like this on the web, talking about soldiers and groups, teams, companies andgovernment national and local have been talking about remembrance. 
I wonder how long this will last?
The remembrance acts have a shallowness about them.  Those who have served or have family who served are not shallow, the general population is however.  Certainly the plight of returning soldiers has been highlighted again, we will not forget so easily as before but the population in general will become tired of remembrance when other problems press them hard.
I wait and see...

Now there's a strange thing, silence.
For a few moments there was no noise, nothing.
No cars drove past, no kids screamed in the park, no aircraft high above, nothing.
Even more astonishing the constant bang and flash of fireworks close by or in the distance ceased.
A repetitive drilling a while ago has stopped, silence reigns.

Now the occasional cars are passing by.  Normal service might be resuming. 
How strange that in the evening sudden silence can disturb as it is so unusual.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Monday, 9 November 2015

On Duty

I was on duty again today escorting ladies to and from the talk on Embroidery that we had today and then offering them drinks and cake.  This meant I walked a thousand miles back and forward, never complaining about my knees nor the suffering I endured.  No one I must indicate asked whether I suffered anyway as it happens.

There was a talk, then the exhibition was opened, drinks were offered and the visiting multitude inspected the works newly hung on view.  I never had time to look at them, just a moment to take a picture and find the lights reflecting everywhere making that difficult.  The girls had a good time however and they were all very pleased.  

I just had lots of washing up as my assistant had to leave when washing up time approached.  Typical female trick!   I am worn out and weary, have not eaten enough and now have to watch a football game.  Life is so trying I get no time to myself.


Sunday, 8 November 2015

Braintree Remembrance 2015

Just before two this afternoon a thousand or so souls gathered to pay respects to the war dead.  The number is similar to last year when there was more emphasis in the media as that concerned the centenary of the beginning of the Great War however the desire to remember has not faded as yet.  

The 'Four & Twenty' gathered to lead the paying respects which followed the usual routine of short service, a word, a hymn, a prayer and the laying of wreaths this year by at least 25 groups.  The bugler, a young female, played the last post, flags dropped, silence reigned, and at the bugle call the standards arose again.  This type of ceremony occurred throughout the United Kingdom today sometimes with similar crowds and at others only one or two people attended.  The local dead were not forgotten.
It is important to remember why these events take place.  Politicians cause wars, not soldiers, they merely fight them.  On two occasions world wars took the lives of millions and the entire nation was involved it seems to me that on both occasions the war had to be fought to prevent Germanic hegemony over Europe.  Freedom was indeed at stake on both occasions and these deaths must not be forgotten nor the freedom they fought for lost.   It is interesting that some of the most ardent opponents of fighting wars tend to be soldiers, they after all know the cost.

Local groups attended in great force today.  I was not aware so many belonged to uniformed organisations today.  Certainly the majority were primary school age but there were many in the teenage age groups in other organisations.  It is likely that many of these will continue on into the armed forces, learning a wide variety of skills, travelling the world, encountering strange experiences and of course shooting people.  In the end that is part of the job.

Two of the men present served after 1945.  One saw service in Iraq during the First Gulf War then found himself posted to the Balkans.  He was lucky enough to have two chances to die!  The other served in the RAF with Bomber Command and saw action during the Suez Crisis of 1956, another Prime Ministers Middle East mistake.  Both were worthy men and both ought to be remembered while living just as comrades may be remembered when dead.  We tend to forget 'Our Boys' when they leave the services and let them rot, this should not be.

A cross section of the district is represented here.  Not just from the town but  from the villages round about.  Many would attend their local Memorials others may have gathered here.  In some villages the memory of the departed has long gone.  Where once the locals knew one another and those in the villages around today the incomers, running from the big city, drive in and shut the doors rarely meeting the neighbours.  Supermarkets are close by and all deliver to your door.  The need to go out is limited, meeting places close, at east one pub will remain open but others become Indian restaurants or housing.  Many of those who left a hundred years ago would not recognise the towns they grew up in today.

All paid full attention, mostly...

What goes through the mind of a young man in service uniform when standing at a war memorial remembering men such a she who died.  There is no way he can see the world as we do, no way he can comprehend what soldiers have gone through as yet, and at the back of his mind must be the thought that if he continues along the army way he too could be come a casualty. 

A soldiers thoughts.

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!"

Joseph lee, 4th Black Watch.