Friday, 29 April 2016

Pondering on Bikes

I caught a wee bit of the Tour de Yorkshire today and event that took place in high winds and cold rain.  Judging by the snow atop the distant mountains I suspect the riders met sleet or some snow on their way from Beverley to Settle.  These poor blokes must have spent hours in the saddle up hill and down dale keeping to their team leaders orders and hoping at the end it was all worth it.  
Slippery wet roads and steep hill climbs do not make for fun cycling and I am glad that such opportunities are unavailable here in the hot and warm sun filled south.  (That's satire by the way) 
One thing I like about these races is the view behind the riders.  As they chase down the breakaway mob at speeds of thirty or forty miles an hour, sweating and gnashing teeth as they climb hills in the lowest gear, I find my eyes wandering to the sights around them.  Today we had somewhat bleak Yorkshire moors covered in purple heather and stone walls, hand built, that stretched for miles.  On occasion the helicopter above startled sheep who raced across the fields each accompanied by their new born lambs.  Strange pot marked fields, small tree lined streams and many stone hump backed bridges that must be a delight to the speeding motorist passed by with the occasional isolated farmhouse looking ideal for a TV adaption of one of the Brontes dark and dismal books.  
It crossed my aged mind that these men grappling with the hills ought to slow down and just enjoy the view.  Yes I realise that this is their employment and that the desire to prove yourself capable of cycling hundreds of miles over tough conditions is important to young males but in the end the majority finish in what they call the 'Pelaton' and while satisfied in many ways they have missed watching the country around them.  These international riders have missed the whole of Europe at one time or another.  Head down they have raced through France, Italy, Belgium and Germany never once noting the wildlife or the beauty of their surroundings.  OK they get a wage and are able therefore to pay their bills but bus drivers get a wage and they at least can enjoy the scenery!
These races do make me wish I was out on the bike.  Hopefully the weather improves over the Long Weekend May Bank Holiday and I might get a trundle around the quiet streets.  I will of course require a massage afterwards and any young lass who is free can call.

I stopped off at the museum today to chat with the curator about a question on photographs and met her as she was off out to lunch.  That ended that query, to which she has still not emailed the reply, and this left me with the Friday girls gossiping as they usually do.  As I was asking important questions of great moment I was instructed to carry three boxes of copy paper to the store.  This struck me as interesting as it reveals the harm feminism and the false equality nonsense has brought us to.  In 1915 in an effort to aid the war effort Edinburgh women, though most likely these were lassies from Leith, went out of their way to fill the jobs done by men.  Here we see such delivering coal to a house and not one of them is demanding a man lifts and carries for them.  Today two strapping fit women could not move three boxes as a man was in the vicinity, Tsk!  I blame Germain Greer and all those other middle class women (mostly without men) who's daft unrealistic ideas have ruined womanhood.
I wonder if the massage lady could iron some shirts when she is at it...?

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Busy Birds

At this time of the evening the Wood Pigeons begin to roost in the trees across the way, trees with leaves beginning to bud now, the Starlings chase one another round high above and the Blackbird and Thrushes take a high spot and inform the world around that this is their patch and he is watching all that goes on within it. 
These poor birds must be tired.  I read somewhere that a small caterpillar appears at this time, dangling forlornly from all the trees where it emerges, and Blue Tits need 18,000 of these to feed their young!  They, like all the rest, spend all day guzzling as much grub as they can so mum can produce eggs and then both spend the day guarding the nest and feeding the chicks when they emerge.  To to this all these birds are chasing the worms and wee beasties and searching  around for hanging feeders that are found in almost every garden these days.  Some say this actually makes the birds prosper better than when all this was farmland as they find food easier and often better prepared for them.  Whether this is so you can decide but one thing is clear they like the Suet and Mealworm pellets found here as I have to refill them daily.  Tomorrow I must go to the 'PoundShop' where they are found and buy more.  It's costing me more to feed these birds than feed myself!  
Mind you money may be flowing out soon, the Hoover, the cheap Tesco variety, was failing to clean and the burning smell was worrying.  That ended when I removed the long shoelace that was entwined around it but it still fails to work.  Later I will have to clean the whole thing out properly and see if that works, tomorrow is museum day all day, and if it fails a new proper one might be needed.  I did splash out (£4) on new scales as clearly my 30 year old ones could not bear the weight were lying to me.  One day I was heavy, the next I lost lots then it all came back again.  The lass in the shop suggested dancing would lose weight as it had clearly done so for her, maybe she was just trying to pick me up, it failed as the thought nearly flattened me.  Me dance, aye right!


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

How Times Change

One of the threads on the Braintree Facebook page recently has been photographs taken over the town in days of yore.  One chap has cleverly enlarged some sections for us and enabled a better look into the peoples past.
This picture features the town centre (well almost) in 1952 and shows a vastly changed image from any similar one taken today.  Where trees and meadow exist now stands a 'Sainsburys' complete with car park and for the locals so many changes to a town they once knew.  I suspect all of us would see the place we grew up in as vastly different to what is on offer today.  If I returned to Edinburgh I would note the basic layout to be the same but so many things have changed, no different for those who once played on the streets here.  Mind you if they played on the streets they would be in trouble as traffic was busy enough even then, our perception of traffic changes more than the actual traffic in my view.  A mothers fear for her young while ten cars an hour pass along is no better than her fear when hundreds pass.  
The museum is funnily enough sited in the middle of this section of the picture.  Once a small school the four pointed arches above the windows remain but all around them has changed considerably.   The playground and buildings on the other side of the road are now a car park however the market day is still under way so this picture was taken on a Wednesday or Saturday, Wednesday is my guess.
The bus park remains but I suspect the prices have increased.

The world has changed considerably since 1952 when I was still learning to walk.  A war had just been won, rationing was in place, a huge rebuilding work was happening almost everywhere and war damage to the town can be seen in some of the empty spaces.  To be a builder at that time must have been a kind of heaven.  In 1951 Harold MacMillan was given the task of creating three million homes and he did so by 1953 and later went on to become Prime Minister.  He would be better thaan the money grubbing one we have today.  MacMillan it must be said was well to the left of David Cameron, indeed he was further to the left of many in the Labour party today as he had a concern for the lower orders and wished to offer better conditions, unlike those who appear to merely line their pockets today.  
Yes Jeremy Hunt I mean you! 
Those who grew up in the fifties have a different outlook to those who grew up in later decades. The wealth amassed by the west during the decades of peace have driven us mad.  Wealth brings a strange security that vanishes like the mist as it did in 2008 when the world collapsed.  However the belief that we ought to be wealthy and have whatever we want remains and people will still spend what they have not got or use credit to get it.  Sometimes I'm glad I'm poor although if anyone has a spare million I will accept it.
What will the town, now 40,000 strong, be like in another fifty years?   Still the same basic layout and ... then what?

Monday, 25 April 2016

Bored, Tired Ramblings

One of the many tasks I had to do today included swapping things from one laptop to another to create space.  Tomorrow I have decided to visit Tesco and see if they have a large flash drive and I will download a lot of stuff just in case things go wrong with the brute.  My boss had a 'ransomware attack' on his work machine and luckily it only affected one or two places but it still was dangerous.  The IT people have of course everything backed up and stopped the virus spreading.  However he had to wipe the drive to remove the beast!  Ransom ware is unbeatable otherwise.  This however was not my problem I was merely editing stuff.  One of the joys was to discover old pictures unseen since the last time I had to download pictures.  Not all were worth it of course, many were deleted today that ought never have happened in the first place but it was enjoyable.  The difficulty began when one laptop would not let me format discs so I was swapping thngs to the other to place on discs and this went well.  The CD and DVD discs on the TV recorder do not format properly and whether this is cheap Tesco fault or something else I know not. 
This was much more fun than noting a burning smell from the hoover that was failing to remove the dust from the floor, looks like money might need to be spent again.  It cannot be two years old yet my floor has beaten it, mind you it was probably made in a sweat shop in China by badly paid labourers who had little reason to care. 

The world continues on its way.  Much fuss over the EU and some dead singer drowning out the problems in Iraq that have dropped from the news sheets recently.  Wars sell but not when a singer dies.  Many are worrying that secret plans have been made to assassinate celebrities, my worry is that not enarly enough of them will be assassinated!  Coincidence turned into a drama sells papers and fills social media.  Maybe they will turn on the media barons and improve that I wonder?

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Saturday Night Relax

Saturday night sees me sitting happily in a silent building with a remarkably quiet street outside.  I suspect most folks are on their way or have arrived at their Saturday evening watering hole and the rest are numbing their mind watching mind numbing Saturday evening TV.
I rest after my week of toil.  Working Tuesday morn was fine however Wednesday saw me halfway through cleaning the oven when I was called into the museum.  Thursday I was there all day happily chatting to the folks who came for the event and took ages to leave as they were having fun.  Friday I spent recovering from my exhaustion.  I am not used to work I have found.  Once upon a time I worked all the hours required now I faint at the mention of labour.  Today however I have done little although I did visit the veg man and stop at the museum to pay for the quiz night.  Naturally I had to hang around as the boss was almost alone in the place, the two staff having booked other events today and only the apprentice was in also.  Another 3/4 of an hour on the time sheet.  At least the boss was kind enough to pay my £5 for the quiz night as a reward for my services.  I kept saying 'No, I'll pay' as I put my wallet back in my pocket but he insisted.  I however had to ring it through the till as he could not find the 'Quiz' button!
The quiz started badly.  I arrived a few minutes before 7:30 to discover it started at 7.  I blame her for telling me lies!  However I got there as the first question was to be put and the team was at the door nearby so I slipped in and slipped out again to gather a glass of red wine.
Three rounds of questions then a break for red wine, cheese and biscuits followed by another three rounds.  The usual formula, each table with four to six people arguing over the answers and knocking back red wine. 
I had brought several quiz books into the shop and the girls in the team had been studying them somewhat as had I.  I watched 'Eggheads' and listened to 'Brain of Britain' and together the table was full of people covering many years knowledge of the world.
We were rubbish!
Each question made us think and our thoughts at each question suddenly stopped!  We dried up and when the answers came we knew we ought to have known so many more than we did.  The mind is active watching quizzes on TV but not when confronted with the question yourself.  Even the history ones we got wrong although on several occasions I had the right answer and they would not accept it.  Example, 'How many seats in the House of Commons?'  '650.' said I, though I suggested it may be 635.  They chose 635 and the answer was 650!  Bah!  The red wine appeared to be filled up occasionally I noticed but not by whom.  
We made our way through the rounds noting the leaders were the curators team.  Someone, I know not who, started to spread a dirty lie that she had been looking through the answers in her office.  A lie I must state she loudly denied, but that may be the wine talking.  Quite why she hit me I don't know. 
At the break there was more wine and as I have been banned from cheese and biscuits they placed a platter full on each table right under my nose.  Thanks a bunch.  He next to me added cakes also to the pile, al;so banned and I was keen to keep the loss of half a stone, about 8 pounds continuing.
Drinking red wine possibly slowed our/my answers but the second half of the evening was hard.  The answers were not coming and the questions were often about subjects none of use cared for.  Quizzes must cover everything but we don't sadly.  
The end came and all we won was a free pencil because the name of the team (I forget what 'VIP' stood for in their interpretation) was the best.  The pencil offered was one of a large bundle found during a clear out and dated from 1986.  We were one short and I lost out.  Mind you I have the others in the shop!
We did not receive the prize of a doughnut each which went to the team with least points (The Friends of the Museum with hundreds of years of knowledge between them) neither did we get a bookmark for being second.  The winners - the curators team, and she I have to add did not cheat - got a jar of expensive fancy jam each.  
Then we all went home, I draining the red wine bottle and slipping out into the rain.
I noticed two things this morning.  One was I had eaten little but put the 8 pounds back on and the second was the old dear from the 'Friends of the Museum' who lay in my bed. At least she made breakfast.
I wonder who she was?


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Blue Sky?

In spite of the cutting east wind the sun shone brightly all day today giving a fair impersonation of Spring.  I left the museum just after four having been called in while attempting to clean the oven.  What a relief I thought!  So the rest of the oven can get clean round about July now, maybe.  This was my day of odd jobs, sinks, loo, oven and a dozen little things were all lined up waiting for a woman to do them and none have shown so far.  This means I must do them but hark the museum calls all day tomorrow (Thursday to you) as I am on duty in the morning and the Crittalls reunion is in the afternoon.  Hopefully dozens will come to gossip and reminisce during the afternoon, quietly as I will be sleeping at the desk.  
Friday sees me back again as instead of watching St Johnstone playing Aberdeen I have been dragged into a quiz team at the museum (at £5 a go I add!) on Friday night!  I have not been out on a Friday night for about oh, twenty years!  I might need a guide to get back home.  This will disturb my routine something awful and I may not survive.  Oh I feel queasy thinking about it.


Monday, 18 April 2016

Wasting Away on the Laptop

Having spent much of the weekend watching the Scottish Cup semi finals and wasting much emotion on them at that by Sunday afternoon I was in need of fresh air and sunshine.  I strolled through the gardens talking to the pretty girls who flocked around me (oh yes they did!) and eventually landed up in the Congregational churches graveyard. 
There, you may be surprised to know, were no young ladies waiting for me, I at least was surprised.  The use of this ground for burials I suspect this has gone on since the late 1700's but the oldest stones are worn and it is not possible to make out details.  Early 19th century abound but maybe by then tombstones were in fashion and money available.  The Puritan work ethic ensured many of those found here came from reasonably well of backgrounds and the fear of grave robbers, the 'Ghouls,' led to many a huge block of stone being erected over the grave.  I suspect a wee bit of pride and position may also have helped here. 
The yard has many of those who once worshipped in this place including two of the preachers themselves, one of whom lasted a great many years as the minister.  One day they will all rise one again to be with the maker who died for them.
They had their troubles.  The gravestone above features a lad who died aged eleven, further down is Alfred his brother who managed a mere five months.  His mother was the fathers second wife called Elizabeth. The first wife, Mary, having seen five children from her first marriage die before her, along with her brother father and mother, produced two children for her second husband.  She attempted to produce another five, and all at one go a few years later and by this time she was in her forties however all five died probably within hours of birth.
It may be she ran away as at the moment all I find indicates she appears to live on and move to the USA where she died in 1802.  However her second husband our man John marries again in 1795!  He appears to have been a wealthy farmer so I may have to investigate this as it took a court order to get a divorce in those days.  Who knows what was going through the heads of the people involved.  The second wife by the way was sister to the first!
You think life today is confusing?
The second wife, Mary, produced eleven children, one who died in 1821 buried here and the last, Alfred who lasted five months also here.  How many of the others survived is as yet unknown however the stone contains the name Ruth a 'well beloved wife' who died in 1842 aged 35 indicating this was one of her daughters.  However it shows that the rich and the poor could produce children, indeed required to do so as the kids needed to survive to look after the old folks but all faced great risks while doing so.  This is fine if sufficient money is coming in but even the hard working wealthier families suffered hardships. Bad weather ruined crops and our man John as a farmer could lose heavily this way.  Poorer folks suffered when there was no work to pay them and all suffered ill health and little medicine available to help.  There are so many sicknesses today we cannot cure what chance those in the early eighteen hundreds?
The early registers of birth marriage and death were looked after in local churches, both Anglican and Non Conformist.  The minister lying buried here among his people had the job of filling out the details of every burial and most would be of people he was close to, both young and old.  The wear and tear on his heart must have been hard for him and his wife, she too would know them well.

Well that cheery bit of research got very confusing.  All those folks getting married, breeding like rabbits, losing one or two here and there and marrying again if need be.  The children growing up having similar fortune, not that I have researched them too much - it's getting dark!  
Of course the thing I ought to have been researching is sitting here staring daggers at me, I choose to ignore this.  I must ignore this and indeed all those other jobs that I ought to have done today.  There were quite a lot of those and I suspect I will be busy later this week, unless something comes up.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

This is Good!


How lovely to see the steam, the smoke, the grime of the nineteen fifties, 
although I am not actually sure when this film was made! 

Friday, 15 April 2016

April Showers or Deluge?


Late yesterday afternoon there was a flash followed by a clap of nearby thunder.  The heavens opened and rain hurtled down like money out of a politicians secret offshore account.  Soon afterwards this particular storm moved away and normal heavy continuous rain fell.  It was still falling this morning and ceased only near lunchtime.  
Not long ago it began once again just after I noticed the 'Yellow Warning' on the weather forecast.  The 'Yellow Warning' warns of the 'likelihood' of heavy rain!  Jolly good of them to tell us after it has begun!  The present rain will continue all evening, all night and well into the morning limiting my time to run for the fruit and veg and those other things I require, mostly broken things needing repair.  
April indeed always brings rain, a gift from left over US hurricanes, and they say this 'brings the violets that bloom in May.'  It better!  There has been sufficient incentive for blooms to fill the park opposite ten times over.  
This weather, plus the holes in my cheap shoes, forces me to do the jobs requiring fixing indoors, so far I appear to have failed in this regard being held back by a sudden attack of sloth.  Once the housework had been sloppily done this morning I returned to more important study and found I was asleep.  Then I had lunch, followed by siesta, and as I was unable to go out I have been forced to spend time looking for a suitable version of 'April Showers' and that took long enough.
Now I slowly degenerate while planning my healthy veg led evening repast - with chips!


The free government propaganda that costs the nation some £9 million to print and deliver fell through the door to the delight of the postman the other day.  Posties use to get paid six pence for every election leaflet they delivered and while the Royal mail has fiddled this to some extent they will get something for delivering these.  They are the only people happy with the leaflet.
A petition demanding a House of Commons debate on this leaflet requires 100,000 signatures before it can be enacted. It has at least 108,000 so far.  I expect a debate will be on offer late one Friday night, the Commons is always empty at that time.
The leaflet, a wee booklet indeed, is David Cameron propaganda telling us to vote to stay part of the EU.  Those opposing the Governments right to make use of public funds in this way (telling us it could be spent on the NHS, something they have not done themselves up till now) are those who wish to leave the EU and make Britain great again by standing alone in the world.   
Who is right?
I truly don't know as the information regarding the EU is always bent to suit whoever is supplying it.  How much does it cost us?  How much do we get back?  What about the many advantages and disadvantage being a member or not brings or takes away?  No-one appears to know or attempt to inform the rest of us.  
Certainly there are many occurrences that make continuing membership a problem, control of borders, forced to obey daft laws, vast wastage of money going down the drain - or peoples pockets. However working together can only be good in so many ways and it would be wrong not to work with Europe.  So what to do?  Listen to the little englanders hating Europe because the French are there and they want to bring back the Empire, send the immigrants home, and have the lower orders know their place?  Or do we vote for Cameron and stay ruled by overpaid unknowns in Europe while Cameron sells the nation to his friends sends the migrants to Europe and forces the lower orders to know their place?
It's all so confusing innit?
I might read that leaflet later....


Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Worker

Yesterday I left about 9:30 and noticed this van parked here.  I returned around two in the afternoon and the driver was still sitting here dozing in the cab.  Nothing had changed, no amendments to the road, no other vehicles, nothing.
Then just as the 'rush hour' was ending, the word 'rush' is not be taking literally here, the man got out of the cab and started laying out the temporary lights as seen.  Had he been there all day waiting until six thirty you ask?  It appears so I answer.  
Today I noticed he was still parked there and appeared to have been there all night.  About ten thirty, just after I photographed him he left, scared of MI5 I suspect but he returned later and now sits there bored as can be waiting and waiting while the lights control the traffic.
I wonder why?
Only one part of the road that I can see has been tarmacked over and that is about ten feet by four.  Has he been there all this time for this?  Say nay!  Interestingly I have heard no noise of machinery replacing bad bits of road.  No noise as potholes are filled, no noise whatever.  
I am left wondering who pays for this?  The County Council that's who, and I suspect they know this is going on.  Is this operator a private functionary?  I suspect so, this explains his willingness to sit here for hours doing nothing and not even make use of a mobile phone.  
Maybe I have missed something here, maybe this is a police operation spying on some bad bloke or other.  Wait a minute, who is that looking through my window....? 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The 'Lyon'

Today, if it takes your fancy you can fly from Heathrow airport to Boston in less than eight hours, not counting time wasted at either airport.  In the early 1630's it tended to take a wee bit longer, sailing ships taking four to twelve weeks to make the crossing.  However I read today that between 1620 and 1640 some twenty thousand people traversed the Atlantic in search of a new life no matter how perilous the voyage.
The ship the 'Lyon,' seen here in an old picture of a model of the ship, crossed to New England in 1630, 1631 and 1632 taking mostly 'puritan' families to the new world.  Many were indeed escaping religious persecution, England, and I mean 'England' as Scotland was still a free nation at this time although the 'union of the crowns' had occurred when James VI & I took the English throne as well as the Scots one, and many in England were suffering under Charles Ist rather unusual Romanesque religion.  Preachers lost the right to speak if they tended towards the evangelical, some were jailed and others roamed the land preaching where they could and when invited.
The towns of Braintree & Bocking contained around about five thousand souls altogether yet some eight hundred met in a farmers barn rather than attend the Anglican service as it was not to their liking.  Essex as a county tends to be somewhat rebellious by nature.  In 1381 during the 'Peasants Revolt' many from this area were among the first to join in ensuring the monarchs sheriff met his end not far from here.  When books of the bible were first translated into local dialect by William Tyndale a priest in Colchester was among the first burnt at the stake for making use of the translation.  A William Pygot and several others met similar fate here also not long afterwards.  You see when people read the bible, both old and new testament it changes them, this frightens those who are established in power!  Monarchs tending towards Rome see this as a threat to their position and even today many churches fear evangelicals as the truth exposes others lies.
Not all were totally honest regarding their religious beliefs however, it cost a great deal to find a place crushed together below decks on such a boat and only the wealthy could afford to travel.  Many were hopeful to pray their own way in the new world and make a few bucks at the same time.  It often appears to me that making bucks is what many US citizens believe is the 'All American Way' rather tan freedom of opinion!  Certainly some would have dreamed dreams of wealth and freedom in their new land while still others, especially the young saw adventure and a new life ahead.

On board the 'Lyon' in 1632 the Master William Pierce, an experienced sailor who had made this journey many times, took some one hundred and twenty three passengers and probably around forty five or so for a crew.  There would be around 1500 gallons of water, 15,000 gallons of beer as the water tended to go off while beer did not, oats, cheese, beef, oil and butter plus a variety of foodstuffs, with candles, soap as well as a variety of weapons to deal with any bad boys that came along, cannon, muskets, swords etc.
The westerly winds ensured a longer voyage was required.  In 1632 the 'Lyon' waited several weeks before a suitable wind arose and carried them south to the Cape Verde Islands from where supplies could be obtained.  Then there came the ten to fourteen days sail across the Atlantic heading north of the West Indies and up the coast of the Americas.  
On this occasion not one individual was lost bar the ships carpenter who was washed away by the sea when working on the outside of the ship, all others survived in good health.  One hundred and twenty three passengers including fifty children and sixty men landed in Boston in September 1632 after a twelve weeks long voyage.  
This area of what was to become the United States soon became dotted with towns named after East Anglian ones, Braintree, Boston and Cambridge the obvious ones and the settlers soon spread themselves around the area moving on to other places when the town or the townspeople were not to their liking.  Many famous people and organisations grew out from these men, Harvard was one and much later both John Adams and his son became Presidents of the United States.  A man from north of Braintree, Essex settled in the US and a descendent who studied a type of medicine considered a method of catching sunshine and feeding the people in his sanatorium.  After much research Dr Kellog produced his Corn Flakes and started a fad that continues to this day.  A descendant recently visited the Essex area from where they began.  One visitor to the museum informed me that some three million people claim descent from those who travelled on the 'Lyon' on one of her trips to the New World, I hope they don't all come calling at the same time! 
Where the ship was built is unknown and what happened to her later is also unclear.  Her Master William Pierce made a home in the Boston but on a trip to the Bahamas Group in 1641 he was killed by the Spaniards.  Early settlers had troubles all around from the nature of the land, opposition from residents, severe winters and in some cases the Spanish to the south.  They remained of course and possibly one of my readers may be descended from the travellers in this ship.

Sunday, 10 April 2016


There is nothing to say.
The weekend has been filled with football and little else.  Once only did I venture out into the real world, Tesco's and the fruit & veg man were calling, and naturally it rained on me.  I was somewhat displeased.  Having decided to remain indoors with the football the sun came out and I was more displeased.
The football was not that exciting, having watched the Heart of Midlothian dispose of Aberdeen in the usual manner on Friday night all other games have less meaning.  The overblown English games have large crowds, huge salaries but little meaning for me in comparison to any Scots game.  
So I have sat here with a somewhat thick head, thicker than usual that is, somewhat weary also and being stimulated only by the desire to get rid of the blasted 'Cortana' effect from Win 10. 
This is an item that they claim helps you, we know its main purpose is to inform the CIA of your every movement and that in doing so it takes up a third of the memory and anything else it can get hold off.  Quite what some CIA worker in downtown Washington would make of the balderdash he would find on here intrigues me.  I can see him working his way through my postings at the end of a busy week leaving him depressed and desperate for a transfer to Afghanistan or the Yemen.  As I peruse my scribblings I an tempted to join him.
Cortana cannot be removed, another example of Microsoft loving care, however some say there are ways to disable the brute, changing the name on the file for instance but that has failed for me today.  The waste of the memory is annoying.  I suppose this stimulates the mind and prevents the brain stiffening up, that may be too late in this house of course, so I will keep trying to kill it.

There has been some talk regarding footballers from the sixties who now suffer from dementia or some similar problem.  These men began playing football during the thirties, forties and fifties at a time when the ball used in football was a leather ball blown up sometimes the night before, and the ball sealed with laces to keep it round and neat.  Of course pitches were not so well cared for in the past, wet and muddy was not uncommon at most grounds and some deliberately made it worse because their players were big men who could cope.  The ball weighing in at one pound soon soaked up the water and weighed at least two pounds on many occasions.  The style of football, especially at lower levels, was simply to hoof it as high and far as possible, a tactic still used by Hibernian to this day, the result being the central defenders and centre forwards tended to head the ball all to often.  I read of one man in what I think was then the third division north being ordered by his doctor to stop playing as he had headed the ball so much in one game it was now unwise to continue.  This brown leather ball, the 'filly' is now considered to be the cause of many players suffering dementia.  Most people who used it, including I myself, found that getting hit in the face with this ball soon led to unconsciousness.
Late in the fifties the coated 'T-Ball' was introduced and soon after the 'Mitre' ball became standard everywhere.  These white balls were coated and somewhat resistant to gathering water and much safer for the players.  Today much research has gone into the ball and the effects cannot be considered similar to the days of the 'filly.'  However heading the ball, an idea introduced by a Scotsman as all today's football innovations were, continues and it is possible banging your head on a ball can cause problems in later life.
However many men who played sixty or more years ago have not lost their minds.  Many are still sharp, wise and knowledgeable, so why the difference?  Could it be age affects us in differing ways?  Is it our eating habits, hereditary or some other cause that leads to dementia?  Many women who have not played or headed a ball suffer thus so there is great need for research and in my view no need as yet to stop people using their heads.  It is sad however when men once seen as fit footballers end their lives this way.

The recent fuss about David Cameron's tax dodging has meant leaders of various parties now rush to show their tax returns and how squeaky clean they are.  Not all have done so and the majority of Cameron's cabinet have not made any effort to do so, not until they have moved their cash from Panama anyway.  Cameron has to explain why his mum gave him two gifts of £200,000 and explain why this was not done to avoid tax, which it clearly was, and why his father had £10 million but only left £3 million in his will, where is the other £7 million David?
And when we are on why is it his wife has an 'advisor' to help with her hair and outfits, an advisor who earns almost £53, 000 a year? 
These tax queries may yet bring an end to the career of the worst Prime Minister we have ever had, however the question remains who will replace him and will anything change if he does go?

Thursday, 7 April 2016

A Fool & His Money...

There is only limited coverage of the immigration crisis these days.  The right wing media, which in the UK is almost all of the media, is more concerned with ‘Brexit,’ that is the referendum vote concerning the UK’s membership of the EU.  David Cameron, who you will sadly recall is Prime Minister, has decided to send each and every one of us a 14 page document telling us why we need to remain part of the EU.  This is indeed one of the PM’s ‘PR stunts’ and dwelling on all the previous ones I suggest this one will fail as badly as they.
Indeed spending some £9 million on this can be considered upsetting to those like George Osborne the Chancellor who believe in ‘austerity,’ that is spending nothing on the people unless there is something in it for us.  Of course the ‘Brexit’ lobby are up in arms.  They see this as a biased one sided document so unlike the thin bits of paper they have been sliding under our doors recently.  The thin bits of paper reflect the Brexit lobby have not got £9 million of government money to put their own biased view over to the public.
Having watched the Scottish referendum and the abuse of democracy noted there can these people, who participated happily in that bias, now object to seeing the same used against themselves?  Tsk!
The immigrants?  They are still in the mess where they were left but are not 'newsworthy' at the moment.  Don't worry they will return when some editor decides he can make use of them.

The only other matter to fill the pages is the not very surprising news that rich people have been hiding their millions in tax dodging Panama banks.  The leak of millions of pages detailing famous peoples cash reserves in one sense does not surprise, the only question is how many have not been named by the media who have seen the papers?  These folks often forget to name all the names, especially if they are their bosses.  
Our favourite PR stuntman is once again involved.  His father, now deceased, placed a great deal of money there, David claims not to have earned a penny from this.  He forgot to mention his mother (who lost her job with Oxford Council because of David’s cuts) his mother has money in another tax haven which he will benefit from when she goes. Now David has admitted he sold such shares when he became PM for a mere £30,000 and paid tax, he claims, and has no other tax dodging to speak off.
Hmmm we will see in due course.

What is it that such people get from their money?  What can you do with umpteen millions?  You by houses, you care for friends and family and then what?  Do a deal to get another ten million?  Every so often we read of people doing just this and always ensuring they pay the least tax on their cash.  If they paid tax would it hurt them?  Paying £2 million tax and having a mere £18 million left to spend, would this hurt much?  How can you spend such amounts? 
Money is required but we put inordinate trust in money.  By having loads we can never be hurt, at least that is the idea.  However it fails all too often.  The recent crash cost many their homes as they spent too much and had too little to cover the loss.  This was caused not by buying homes required but homes and cars they wanted rather than needed.  Some lost everything. 
One man has won £35 million on the Lottery, I hope he keeps his mouth shut!  The media will follow him for ever now if he admits his cash.  So will many chancers after their share.  The clever man will buy what he needs wisely and make sensible use of the rest, keeping quiet about it all the way.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Daft Baddies

I read today of a daftie, a man who attempted to burgle a house in Colchester and failed miserably.  Now there are many ways of failing to rob a house but this is one of the simplest.  This 32 year old thought he was clever but instead of getting into the house, when the householder was at home, he managed to get caught up in the security chain at the door and impaled his finger thereon.
He was still there when the police turned up, with a screwdriver, to release him. His excuse was that he 'heard a woman in distress inside' and wished to aid her.
The police disbelieved him and he instead pleaded guilty.
Having been treated at the local hospital (one with a bad reputation so that served him right) he now has the delight of not having to pay rent for 33 months as he is being kept at 'Her Majesty's Pleasure.'
Another chap was parked in a petrol station late at night and this aroused the suspicions of the local bobbies.  On investigating they found a 52 years old man with around 40 wraps of various drugs, much of which was concealed in his underwear.  I would have thought carrying such stuff required care and an effort not to be suspicious?  He got three years!
You could, if you were 19 and not very bright, carry what looks like an imitation firearm and try to rob a village shop.  This goes wrong when the shopkeeper throws you out and you end up doing three years among similarly brain dead youths.  
These guys, and they are all men so far, are not so bad as the boy some years ago who robbed a shop and ran home the fifty yards to his house.  As he was well known, did not hide his face and lived fifty yards from the shop you may be surprised to know he went to jail.
Earlier this year two men were given suspended sentences for drug dealing by a somewhat naive female judge.  Within the hour both were laughing at her and in a somewhat crude manner suggesting what she ought to do now they had been 'let off.'  Sadly this information got to the judges ears and she recalled them to court, lifted the 'suspended' part of the sentence and locked them up for a year or two.  Social media has its uses but dafties who make use of it often fail.
In Wales a man broke into a Post Office and ran off with lots of money.  Just his luck that when he tried to buy a car the seller would not accept £1000 in £1 coins, he thought the bag weighing in at near 10 kilos a bit much.  He called the cops and soon afterwards out intellectual was inside for two years.
In Newcastle a bright spark targeted a first floor flat but being wearied by his exploits fell asleep on the sofa.  The owners returned  and found him snoring away so left him there, called the police and they woke him up.  The hero had been taking drugs during the day and nodded off while loading up a bag of swag.  This was his sixth burglary and 95th offence so he is now on holiday for two years.  
Some years ago when Videos were new a taxi driver in a northern town saw a man late at night with a VCR under his arm.  He asked where he got it and was told to mind his own business.  Not long afterwards he encountered the man again and mentioned the VCR and was informed it had nothing to do with him.  However when a constable passed by the taxi driver mentioned the gentleman in question and indicated his tattoo perched upon the man's forehead.
"Oh that's Headbanger Henry Smith" they said.
Later at Headbanger Henry Smiths house the police collected the VCR, which did not belong to Henry and mentioned that one way to get caught was to have tattooed upon your forehead the phrase 'Headbanger Henry Smith.'
I suspect he still roams the streets at night even now.

Monday, 4 April 2016

It Was a Long Time Ago

On the fourth of April 1964, long before my readers were born, the world's greatest rock group found they had not only records (ask your parents kids) taking the top five places in the US 'Billboard Top 100' but they had twelve records there in the singles chart.  
The top five works of genius were:-  

"Can't Buy Me Love"
"Twist and Shout"
"She Loves You"
"I Want to Hold Your Hand"
"Please Please Me"

I'm sure we all agree this was 'pop music' at its best.  Not just 'pop' but poetic insight revealing the heart of the adolescent teenage trauma.  

"I Saw Her Standing There"
"You Can't Do That"
"All My Loving"
"Roll Over Beethoven"
"From Me To You"
"Do You Want To Know A Secret"
"Thank You Girl"

The musical influences on the Beatles as they grew up were often American.  From the ships docking in Liverpool many men brought home records bought in New York and other ports, often black music ignored by the white dominated radio and television of the time.  These records featuring John Lee Hooker, B.B. King and Howling Wolf soon left their mark on the youth in Liverpool who found such discs falling into their hands.  The young musicians of the time slowly developed their own style and once under the guidance of Brian Epstein the clean, friendly, humorous and talented act that was the Beatles emerged to change the world.
Their influence was total and not just in music.  The changing world of the sixties enabled them to indulge their musical experiments while the death of Epstein left them somewhat alone in the recording world but also able to develop new lines in music.  It is interesting to note how different were their individual musical influences, the variety of opinions amongst them and how in the end a break up was inevitable.  George has long since died, John was shot amazingly 35 years ago!  Yet his influence, not always an intelligent influence, continues today.  Paul the girlies favourite managed to remain alive even though many feel the wrong Beatle got shot and Ringo continues his 'Peace and Love' lifestyle in Los Angeles, far from the two up two down wee house he grew up in.  

1964 is Fifty two years away!  52 years!  Alas poor Yorik....

Saturday, 2 April 2016

A Cough in the Park

With the sun shining, the sky blue I took my cough across to the gardens to see some Spring.  This was the furthest I've roamed for weeks and it was a typical English Spring day, cold!  There was warmth in the air when the wind ceased but as it failed to cease much and blew from the east it hurled a chill at those fooled into thinking it was Summer.  When does Spring start and end I ask?  The official date appears to vary with metrologists and various others disputing what starts when.  I suppose in the UK it makes no difference anyway, it will not resemble a tropical land anytime soon.  
One thing that was clear was the Englishman's desperate desire to take his clothes off!  Not too bad today but all around I saw men and a few women in T-shirts when the weather was not yet warm enough for this, I helpfully coughed loudly in their direction to inform them of their next couple of weeks endurance test. 

Our cretinous leaders have pulled a great one this week.  Not that long ago they opposed tariffs on Chinese steel imports as George Osborne was desperate to get his hands on the Chinese cash, now said steel is flooding the market and 15,000 UK jobs will be lost.  Not only but also the steel produce still made in the UK will now have tariffs of around 42%  placed on it by the Chinese!
Selling the nation to the Chinese, Russians or Arabs of any type appeared to be a winner for George Osborne, now like almost everything else he touches it is falling apart.  Poor George his hopes of becoming Prime Minister are fading.

How nice to see the daffodils swaying in the wind today.  So many varieties of one flower were on view.  The council ones were darker and brighter than those planted long ago by the gardener in what once was a school garden but individual daffs seen in a variety of gardens had various shades of yellow.  None I suspect were similar to those seen by the poet that time up in the hills of the Lake District, those would be wild daffodils and not the type manipulated by green fingered peoples in greenhouses.  Such a variety of yellows, as indeed there were varieties of green to be seen.  Soon however the buds which have appeared will blossom and the world will smile once more.


          I WANDERED lonely as a cloud
          That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
          When all at once I saw a crowd,
          A host, of golden daffodils;
          Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
          Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

          Continuous as the stars that shine
          And twinkle on the milky way,
          They stretched in never-ending line
          Along the margin of a bay:                                  10
          Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
          Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

          The waves beside them danced; but they
          Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
          A poet could not but be gay,
          In such a jocund company:
          I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
          What wealth the show to me had brought:

          For oft, when on my couch I lie
          In vacant or in pensive mood,                               20
          They flash upon that inward eye
          Which is the bliss of solitude;
          And then my heart with pleasure fills,
          And dances with the daffodils.
                                                              1804.   William Wordsworth