Saturday, 30 January 2016

'Setting the Desert on fire'


My best looking and most intelligent niece only ever made two mistakes, she married a Hun and bore his son.  That said she appears to be quite happy about all this in spite of my opinions and the son has turned out to be the only member of the family with the ability to read books.  Since he learnt the art of reading he has always had a book in his face although drink and women have lessened his reading abilities somewhat in recent years.  However when Christmas arrives and the two are together long enough for a briefing re presents he has clearly advised her regarding a book for me.  It is not possible she, wise though she be, would consider such a work as suitable.  Indeed the last book she chose by herself was 'Grumpy Old Men,' a book with which I could not begin to comprehend the reason she sent to me and then could not see any 'grumpy men' within, indeed they appeared quite commonsensical for the most part. 
This year once again she has returned to him for advice and clearly his advice has been good.  "Setting the Desert on Fire" by James Barr is a wonderful fast moving narrative concerning the details of 'Lawrence of Arabia' and his Middle Eastern adventures during the Great War.
Having read so many Great War books I was going through one of those moods when any more offerings were not seen as urgent reads, naturally I have four more lined up after this one all demanding my attention!  However once I opened the book I could not put it down.  Everyone has heard of 'Lawrence of Arabia' British propaganda and tabloid newspapers half truths saw to that but few including myself know the real deal.  This book, the result of four long years trawling through documents, diaries and letters scattered across the globe, enlightens us as to the reality of the popular myth.  Creatures found in Hollywood movies usually bear no relation to the facts I find.

The political problems faced by London were simple enough.  The Royal Navy was now powered by oil rather than coal so guarding the oil fields in southern Mesopotamia was urgent.  The Turkish threat to the Suez Canal could lead to uprisings in Egypt which may lead to loss of the Canal and cut the lifeline to India, the so called 'Rose in the Crown.'  France was desperate to control Syria and the Brits were desperate to avoid any interference from them in that area.  Here also two forces fought for control of the region, London and India.  The Indian end was afraid upsetting the balance in Arabia could lead to disturbances in India and their solutions cut across much of what London, or their people ion Cairo wished to see.  Political games are of ten delicately balanced and strong forces often care little about the harm others may suffer.
The Arabs were of course not asked their opinion.
This is not quite correct as Arab opinion was important, that is getting Shaikh Hussein and Ibn Saud the two most powerful Arab leaders, to follow British wishes in removing the Turks.  Politically this led to vague promises that in reality meant little in western diplomacy however in the Arab mind many steadfast promises were made.  Often this was exaggerated by translation promises and lack of comprehension of the other sides views.  This still causes resentment today.     
Lawrence, or Captain Edward. T.E. Lawrence as we should call him was an intelligence officer in Egypt.  Before the war he had travelled widely in the region working as an archaeologist and just happening to note Turkish positions in the region.  During 1916 he got his way for more action by transferring to the Arab Bureau and entered the Hijaz region to assess the situation.
In Arabia hew as able to convince the Emir of Mecca Shaikh ibn Ali Husein to follow British will and provide men to help deal with the Turkish railway that ran to Medina the then capital and birthplace of the prophet Mohammad.  
For the next two years Lawrence developed the various factions into an army of sorts and indulged in 'Boys Own' type adventures attempting to destroy the railway line.  As time passed they progressed form cutting small sections soon repaired to blowing bridges and long lengths of line.  Each occasion hindered Turkish movements of men and supplies destroying equipment and men.  On occasion the Arab nomadic approach of looting and taking no prisoners caused some degree of disagreement as this cut across the normal British approach to prisoners.
Difficulties with tribes fighting with one another rather than Turks, of shaikhs demanding large sums of money which appeared to disappear, with Husein fear of ibn Saud taking his place from the rear, and above all problems between London, Cairo, and India and the personnel involved each working from his own position all added to Lawrence's struggles.
For political and personal reasons Lawrence's aim was to enable the Arabs to be seen as fighting the war, not a Briton leading them.  This was to stop the French moving into Syria and to encourage the British to allow Arab rule over the land.  Treaties were signed unknown to those in the field, and often hidden for months, promises from one, vague or not, flew between various peoples, all to often Lawrence would no little of these or in some cases be found responsible for them.  It was that kind of situation.

The final victory brought more confusion as one promise or another was pushed aside to suit worldwide requirements.  All to often consideration for the Arabs themselves were considered unimportant.  The Arabs of course were not one nation, they remain today a variety of tribal and sectarian groupings forced together into political states invented by more powerful nations and their requirements.  Political turmoil in itself is not the fault of the west, that would occur anyway but it is always good to have someone to blame, especially if you have oil and money.  
For most of the war Lawrence's role, along with that of many other British officers and men who joined as time went by, remained a secret back home.  It was the French, in an attempt to prove their position, that revealed his work.  A great hero was created and common myth keeps this going for years afterwards.
Lawrence was not in my opinion a man you could get close to.  He was certainly affected by the war but appears to have been a troubled soul before this time.  he claimed in his 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom' that he had entered the town of Dara then in Turkish occupation and been arrested as a deserter from the Turkish army and roundly whipped and abused by the commander of the town.  Much of this appears from this book to have been an invention of his mind.  The 'Seven Pillars' was not meant for popular publication and given only to friends and this may have allowed him the freedom to express his rather unusual desires more openly.  He certainly indulged them after the war.  The settlement saw Lawrence back in 'England' and later he went on to join the RAF as a lower ranked airman.  Captain W.E. Johns famous for his 'Biggles' books was working at the RAF recruitment office when this strange character entered to sign on.  Orders from above came through and it was only later did he realise what was going on, the purpose of his enlistment was never clear.
Lawrence died a hero by crashing his motorbike at high speed in 1935.  His influence on the Middle East must have hung heavy with him as he saw the major powers mishandling the situation there.  At least some of those he worked with were inspired by their actions there, one Francis Stirling was to join him and later became the leader of the 'Long Range Desert Force' in the North African campaign, this was the beginning of the SAS. 

The book is well researched and a racy read.  My knowledge of that aspect of the war was limited to General Allenby's push up through Palestine and the actions of the Arabs against the railway line did indeed go a long way to helping him by disrupting Turkish movements and greatly hindering the Turks in their operations.  The suffering of Turkish prisoners is not something to consider however but the Turks had followed the usual Middle Easter approach and treated all peoples badly.  The book does not gloss over the good and bad aspects of Arab and political behaviour, it shows the British in a poor light all too often and exposes the confused mix of Arab politics.  
Well worth a read and a change from the Western Front!    


Thursday, 28 January 2016

A Wander


Having had a few days when nobody wished my presence (the first day started about 50 years ago) I have managed to catch up on half of the things that required doing about an eon ago.  So as the sun decided to shine even though this allowed the chilly air to freeze everything and some things that ought not to be freezed I wandered abroad through the gardens.  The thing about the cold weather is that while the plants have few flowers the cold keeps the mums and kids well away.  Only two could be seen in the play area, two too many for me, and I wandered freely among the greenery breathing almost fresh air and enjoying the sun.
A passing stranger offered me a smile, the type of smile women like her offer when fearing you are a rapist, and I only just stopped myself shouting "BOO!"   I had an encounter with a neurotic teacher on Tuesday and I am rarely in a mood for other neurotic females.  I blame the 'Daily Mail.'  Any man walking alone is clearly a rapist/murderer/paedo/ like that man on the TV and needs to be watched as they have read about such things.  The only other who approached me was this timid squirrel and I had nothing to offer him.  However as another possibly older squirrel came hurtling down the oak tree and began to chase him from what was clearly his patch this was an irrelevance.  I actually put aside some nuts for the beasts and of course go out without them.  Tsk!  


As a few birthdays are coming up I decided to shop around the charity shops.  With Christmas past I was hoping folks would have dumped their old stuff in and give me a chance to get a new jacket, shoes and birthday gifts.  How disappointing that was today.  Nothing worth paying for except one book that they were asking far too much for.  It's a charity shop not a bookshop I wanted to say to the woman.  
I noticed some things however such as a dozen or so DVDs of English football.  I noted these were not new and it struck me one lad has found himself a wife at last and his favourite videos and DVDs are being dumped.  It may be of course that she has dumped him and his goods are following or she might have tidied up in that female fashion with no comprehension of what has value and what has not.  I expect the 'Jane Austen' sets are still in their place at her house.
There are six charity shops in town, two of them attempting to be 'High Class' shops with quality shopfronts, decent adverts and higher prices than required.  Most of the staff are of course volunteers but such shops while making money appear to have the wrong attitude for charity shops in my view.  This is made worse when the bigger the charity the more is spent of staffing costs and it appears to me some require urgent and radical rethinking of their policies.  The other shops are less pretentious and a wee bit cheaper in my view and I like that.  While one works hard at making second hand stuff look almost new the other makes sure stuff is decent and puts it on show.  What more is required?  One or two of these shops have been going for years, since before I came here 20 years ago almost, and the 'Cancer' shop has taken over a million pound in its time.  A recent refurb has made it look good and sadly they now stock less books, mores the pity.  I sometimes wonder about the history of the objects on sale.  Who wore that jacket?  Why was that gift rejected?  Did the owner of the university books make a success out of their study?  I'm very taken with the 'Sue Ryder' shop as they sell furniture and have loads of everyday items usually with that one thing you have been looking for.  Naturally they did not have what I was looking for today.
Ah well, next week maybe.


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Dreich Day


A dreich day indeed, wind blowing rain appearing and nothing happening but routine housework - much of which is still undone.  However the day was enlightened by the news that a judge has ruled the 'Bedroom Tax' imposed on the poorest as unlawful!  How good of him!  This pernicious tax, a tax paid by council tenants on each bedroom that is no longer occupied by a family member.  It goes without saying the poorest, often aged parents, were the ones hardest hit.  Now this disgraceful tax has been dealt a blow and I wonder if those who have paid will get a full refund and those who have been forced into other, often less suitable accommodation will receive compensation.  Certainly there is a lawyer somewhere sharpening his pen looking for a client.

Another 'major' story is the one where a headteacher has banned parents from bringing children to school while wearing night attire.  It appears this is what 'slummy mummies' do today.  Somehow I cannot help feeling that something is wrong when mothers care so little about how they dress that they regularly fail to be dressed when taking kids to school - if indeed the wee brats need a mummy to accompany them by that age.  My mother would not have held in high esteem any women so thoughtlessly dressed, indeed she would have considered them in need of care.  
Naturally in today's world some have arisen offering support claiming a mum has the right to do what she wishes.  True, but it is better if she wishes to use her brain and bring her child up properly and not like a lazy slapper, innit? 

Andros Townsend has left Tottenham Hotspur to play for Newcastle United.  Newcastle have agreed to pay some £12 million for his services and one paper claims the player now increases his salary from £20,000  week to £55,000 a week.  Is this a sign of desperation from Newcastle or just realism as whoever they buy will wish for similar amounts?

Claude money spent over ten years painting this mural, an image of his garden and it is a colossal work.  It is being put on show at the Royal Academy of Art in London and in my view it is a con.  Art is of course a con, almost all art is about making a name for yourself and lining your pockets, you know the type of 'artist' I refer to.  
Another is putting on show stuff like this while people pander to the 'in crowd' by speaking in hushed tones of the 'light' the 'handicraft' or the quality of the art.  Total cobblers!
Someone somewhere wishes to pay several billion for this and store it in his house and boast to his friends that he owns it, Putin probably, and jealous friends will gather round to view the painting in secret and be part of the 'in crowd.' 
Me, I think it boring and a dull background in a large hall but nothing special.
People however will queue for hours to spend vast sums staring at this.
Bah!
  

Art?


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

What Time is it...?

You will probably know that on this day, January 26th, the One o'Clock Gun was first brought in to use way back in 1861.  
The needs of shipping at that time depended on accurate clocks as by these the navigator could work out his position. (Don't ask me how it's complicated!) As long as he had the sun or stars and an accurate timepiece he could get his ship into the intended harbour.  Had the clock been inaccurate even by a few minutes this could lead to ships ending up miles of course a rather dangerous experience in Victorian days. 
Leith, a small place near Edinburgh became the capital port, putting it to good use, and this small town was a very busy port during Victoria's reign.  Not she bothered to visit even though her statue stands at the bottom of Leith Walk.    Ships wanted confirmation of the time before sailing so during 1861 Captain Wauchope of the Royal Navy installed a ball on top of Nelson's Column high on Carlton Hill which dropped several feet exactly at one o'clock.  To ensure accuracy the nearby Astronomical Observatory next door connected the ball to their accurate clock.
This was fine and ships in harbour at Leith, Granton or Newhaven would have benefited from this simple invention.  Hold on, this is Edinburgh, known to the world as 'Auld Reekie' because of the smoke from the many chimneys that belched out daily, even in summer in Edinburgh!  Add to this the 'Haar' which descends over the Firth of Forth and soon the watchman on deck of any ship would be unable to see the tower let alone note the ball drop.  It should be noted the dropping sphere was a great idea but as the smoke/mist/haar descend two days out of three you would have thought a Naval person wopuld have considered this. 
Later that year the answer was found when an 18 pounder cannon was placed on the 'Half Moon Battery' at Edinburgh Castle high above the New Town and daily four men manhandled the gun to ensure it was fired exactly at One.  This required a four thousand foot long cable being laid from the Observatory to the castle (by the Royal Navy) and from that time on the gun has blasted out at one each day (bar Sunday) frightening the life out of people in Princes Street below and serving as an excellent tourist attraction. 
It was rumoured that during the Great War the gun was fired at the Zeppelin that flew over dropping bombs on the Grassmarket and elsewhere, however it would not have been possible to manhandle that cannon into a suitable firing position, the castle was defenceless, unless a few rifle shots could reach but I doubt that would work.  
In 1953 the cannon was replaced by a WW2 25 pounder field gun and moved to it's present position high above Princes Street, here it is clearly seen by ships in port and of course those delightful rich tourists who ought to be heading up the slope and into the castle.  Blank ammunition for the 25 pounders ran out and now a more modern 105mm light gun is used to frighten citizens and foreigners alike.  The reason for the gun died some time back and today ships guide themselves by highly technical equipment guided by satellites high above the earth.  The tourist however need not know this and possibly imagines men on deck listening for the sound, some do indeed look for the explosion a mile or two out at sea. 
the gun is fired by an ex-gunner fires the gun with appropriate military pomp a pomp somewhat diminished as today a woman has this onerous responsibility.  A woman, firing the one o' clock gun!  Is anything sacred today...? 



Monday, 25 January 2016

A Sign, A Cloud, An Aussie and a Bard


As I walked into the somewhat murky gardens this afternoon I noted this sign glaring at me and I wondered about common sense and stupidity.  It has not been raining today but the are has suffered somewhat from this recently and the grass and grounds will be damp.  However I wonder at the requirement felt everywhere these days to inform people about the need to be careful when walking on damp areas.  Some of us learnt when young that rain could make areas slippery and we now wonder about those who feel they need to be informed of this at the age of maturity (I use that word loosely) so as not to endanger themselves.
MacDonald's have to put 'This Coffee is HOT' on their cups because some people complain when spilling it on themselves that the coffee burnt them, almost all packets carry the word 'This could contain nuts' because some are too stupid to check (this includes packets of nuts!) and on the bottom of some cake packs are the words 'Do not turn upside down.'
Common sense has been lost in the drive for cash.  The need for companies and anyone involved with other human beings to protect themselves from spurious (and often victorious) legal actions leads to needless signs littering the world.
I just hope no blind person falls over it!



Here is a fantastic advert for Australia Day 
sent to me by a young lady you will enjoy this!


   
All morning, when I was hoovering, researching and generally not getting out, the sun shone brightly on those walking the streets and above the clouds made way for blue skies and bright shining silver aeroplane's heading for brighter climes abroad.
When I got out this afternoon the sun hid behind clouds and these glowering brutes began to cover the earth and they followed me as I prowled wandered around on my constitutional.  Here at least I met another retired postman who has reached 16 stone by sitting around too much.  When on your feet and wandering the streets come rain or shine weight is not much of a problem however a sedentary life leads to fat people.  He has lost 9 pounds since Christmas by using a healthy diet, I am starting to do similar but not quite there yet.  However I am stuffed full of salmon and veg (with rotten chips) and have already this week failed to lose a pound!
Next week maybe...

Today is Rabbie Burns birthday.  It is unlikely he will join us as he died in 1796 but he left behind lots of poems and songs all of which make him the greatest of all poets and songwriters.  This is one of his best songs sung as it should be and you will enjoy it - or else I will come round!

Friday, 22 January 2016

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Global Warming, Birds & Putin...


It's a funny thing this weather.  Today we waken to frozen fields, ice hanging on everything, windows struggling to open, cars covered in frost, a typical winter type day.  Facebook has offered me one of those 'memory' posts where they gave me a picture from three years ago, there a local foto showed snow thickly falling and I considered the weather today warm in comparison.  January after a mild November/December sstill not covering the nation in the depth of snow we expect reflects the reality of global warming.  I wish it would increase the heat around here mind.  
The point I am forgetting to make is that while we have Jack Frost leaving white fields I found the bird feeders I filled yesterday completely empty.  The birds, Starlings, Blue Tits, Sparrows and pigeons of various sorts have spent the day stuffing themselves because they think it is breeding season!  I filled the two feeders with small suet/mealworm pellets and all day the brutes have been hammering away at the thing swinging it back and forward banging on the wall keeping me awake.  
The seasons have fooled the birds and I suspect this will have a result, possibly detrimental, in days to come.  Young birds may face one of those snowfalls just as they begin to fly and this could kill them.  We will wait and see.





So Putin has arranged for the murder, with polonium laced tea, for the Russian, British, Spanish etc spy Alexander Litvinenco.  Naturally the Russians know nothing about this and wonder what the problem may be.  Of course it was not Putin, lots of spies carry polonium in the pockets to use when confronting people they wish to eradicate.
Now lets think about this.  David Cameron and his friend George Osborne have a terrible habit of licking the Russian backside as the Russian's with large amounts of rubles tend to launder their dirty money through the city of London, local football teams, and other enterprises.  Many have spent big on million pound houses, other infrastructure has gone into their care and if we upset them they might move the cash to Germany, France or Italy and that would not do.
On top of this we have the Iraq/Syria/ISIS problem where the Sovie Russians are dropping bombs carelessly around that region.  What if they got annoyed and accidentally wiped out both our planes?  
So Dave and his minions have to work out how to slap Putin down without causing a war, hot or cold, and keep all their cash in our hands.  Putin must be sniggering at them both.  He may be a Mafia type gangster caring only to run Russia for he and his friends but there is no competition when it comes to playing with Cameron & co.  He is well above their league.  There is little chance much will be made of this, I suspect a withdrawal of some from the embassies and newspaper shouting and all will be forgot.



Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Eating Well & Donald Trump


I tried this eating well business again yesterday.  Lots of green stuff, lots of healthy ingredients, lots and lots.  Today I have been rough because I did not eat enough carbohydrate, that's chips to you!  The body needs a plate of chips with everything, at least mine does.  I was choosing carefully yesterday all the right things, I forgot we need some chips to go with it. 
Today as I struggled to comprehend the words on the laptop it struck me the reason was feeding myself badly.  All this health nonsense is just nonsense if you don't have the right balance, I had no balance whatsoever yesterday, although lots of green things must be good for me.
I've had none today.
If my limited mind is to work tomorrow I had better eat something more filling and full of brain energy.  Home made curry and chips.  No wonder I'm unhealthy!



Now here's a thing, using CC Cleaner to clean the slow laptop I note it tells me Internet Explorer has thousands of temp files upon it, this surprised me as I never use the thing!  Is Bill Gates using it for me I wonder?  Can Microsoft be trusted? 
Anyway the brute is still slow, all that can be removed is or will be removed, everything that can be run to clean and search has been bar a boot scan, and still it's slow.
Maybe of course it is just me that is slow and the machine has come down to my speed.  


Well Donald Trump has guaranteed success with the arrival of one Sarah Palin!  As I awoke this morning I heard her screeching voice yelling out to the world that Trump would be the next President of the United States.  I fear I let out a rude word and not just because her screeching was doing my head in either.
Goodness gracious the woman who wanted to do something about South Korea, like invade or nuke it, is now working for Trump.
Had this happened in the UK or Australia or Germany we would all laugh and ignore them.  However this is the USA, these are Republicans, these are not normal people.  I keep thinking of MacArthur.  This general was responsible for much in the past, intellectual understanding was not one of the things however.  During the Korean war he was informed China did not want an American army on its doorstep he quickly found a solution - 'Drop and atom bomb on Peking and Shanghai.' 
Truman sacked him instead.
Back home he attempted to become president, he had trained for this by ruling Japan like a King for long enough, and he received much support from the ancestors of Trumps followers. However he lost out and disappeared into obscurity.
We must hope that sufficient Republicans vote for one of the other losers and that if Trump wins the nomination sufficient Democrats and Republicans vote for Hilary.  She may not be great but she is not Trump.
Just remember the UK voted for Cameron, anything can happen in politics.
 



Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Robin


The Robin pictured here was helpful enough to stop singing and pose for me while I struggled to work out which button to press on the camera.  Sitting there singing his delightful song while announcing to other Robins or any other bird that he was around, and if any lassie is available here is my phone number.  Possibly my presence stopped him getting a response.  Listening to his call and awaiting a reply I wondered if I would here a reply.  Could it be that with the traffic noise nearby he might yet hear any reply even though I could not I wondered?  
We appear to have a lot of these tough wee birds around here but usually they do not pose.  Possibly he thought me a threat to his territory and was willing to see me off.  He won.  Being you I suspect you are telling me he is a she but I will let that pass, you are just guessing as I was. 

Museum was busy today.  I found an interesting museum type magazine and began to read but found it difficult as every time I picked it up the phone rang.  People booking for one of the events usually.  Back to the mag and someone comes in the door, handle them with care and attention hoping they will pay money and back to the mag.  It took till long after finishing time to get to the back page and then I could read no more as three disparate groups came in to prowl the premises. 
All regulars in one way or another, two groups with 'learning difficulties,' that awful pc tag dumped on them by white middle class know best types and one of the 'University of the 3rd Age' groups.  I find it difficult to see people in their third age university when I never finished one.  
B.A. (failed) that's me.  


Having spent all morning indoors I had to get out and take advantage of the bright sky above that I had been watching through the windows.  With the temperature being so low and the sun in the sky we had a wide variety of colourful skies laden with streaky clouds today.  The sky is always worth noting and in the distance especially there were fabulous colours appearing yet I was unable to turn the camera onto them.  When I eventually left the building the skies had changed and these puffy clouds drifted high above, still bright yet without the hues of earlier.  
The one thing I missed from Edinburgh was the view north across the Firth of Forth towards Fife as the skies there were always attractive, although at this time of the year usually gray and flecked with snow!  Bah!  Yesterdays view of Granton was one of the best in days of yore but with all the flats built there it is not like it was sadly.

It appears there is football on tonight, you will be surprised to hear I am off to watch this.  I hope I can keep awake to the end...


.

Monday, 18 January 2016

I A'Door Me


After months of procrastination I managed to make a start - again - on fixing the slats on the cupboard door.  This time armed with cheap wood glue I slotted the slats and gunked the ends only to find the last attempt left the gap a wee bit too wide and they fit but only just.  Still I put my handyman skills to the proof and remembered again why I failed technical subjects at school all those long years away. 
After many rude words I managed to fit the top half so as though it looks fixed.  Anyone who opens their eyes, or I fear opens the door, will soon discover a weakness or two.  I expect next time I touch the door to be back at the starting gate. 

This little job held me back long enough to prevent me reaching the shops when they were quiet.  So this afternoon I walked among the living dead around Sainsburys wondering why I bothered.  I only had to shoot two customers and one was driving a black van when he attempted to run me over. I lacked suitable pity for him at the time.  What is it about supermarkets that make people girn so badly?  Normally I am in early so I miss the crowds but the rest of the day in such a place is a wonderful way to practice patience.  


When I first graced this world the family lived in a tenement in Granton.  For the first three years of my life, little of which I recall, we lived a short walk up the road from the harbour pictured here. This photo was taken in 1958 it says and I can recall going down there with dad to look at this rig sitting in the far side of the harbour.  I had no idea what it was for until today when I found this picture on facebook and discovered it was used to search for coal under the Forth.  It is different from what memory recalls so this may be a different rig or my memory may falter but the era is about right.  
The view north over the Forth is fantastic, one of the great memories of Edinburgh.  To the north lies the Forth and Fife opposite, the view to the south reveal the Pentland hills and for a major city the escape to the countryside is  remarkably easy.  How I missed that in London!  
The building on the right was at first a Hotel but for most of the 20th century, and possibly still, it was a land ship for the Royal Navy.  The large ships in the harbour also stopped in a similar spot to the left of the picture, a harbour soon afterwards filled in for industrial buildings.  To the left there was a small school house that my dad attended.  Two doors, one marked 'Girls' and at the other end 'Boys' and quite rightly too, but last time I was in that area the only possibly building had boarding around it advertising the company I could not determine if the school still existed.  At the entrance the road to the left led along to the promenade where relaxation and sea watching took place.  To the right we could eventually reach Leith.  A high embankment carried a railway into town, a railway that closed around 1962, and the embankment has long since gone also.  Behind the embankment lay a small beach and on any occasion I wandered down there I was struck by the smell of fire.  It was the done thing then when at the seaside to gather driftwood and build a fire, even in summer, the smell lingered forever afterwards.  The road on either side near the camera rises upwards as you will realise Edinburgh slopes down to the sea, sometimes we fall in. 


A more recent picture nicked ungraciously from facebook shows a more modern image.  The view has been devastated by the ugly new blocks of flats that take so much money from young trendy people, and to the left there are many more such buildings.  Those with a clear view up or down the Firth of Forth will have a fantastic sight before their eyes, not too sure what the others will see mind. 
The ships have long gone, even Leith harbour appears to be struggling with such reconstruction these days, and at Granton I think only rich folks yachts can be found today.  There have long been such yachts but the actual Yacht Club has sold its premises and moved elsewhere or died.  
As always some things remain, the toilet block stands as always, the buses halt here before trudging back across Edinburgh, and people still climb the stairs grumbling at the effort.  
Is this an improvement?  Is it progress?  Is it the passage of time?
Life goes on and we cannot stop it.  

Here in the soft south I spend a lot of time looking at old pictures and comparing them with the reality today.  On the local facebook page old pics are offered and people reminisce about their childhood and youth, always claiming "it was better then."   No it wasn't really, even if the fifties were better in many ways for kids in the end the 'good old days' are always in our minds.
1958 was good in many ways for me but there were fears and problems also.  For a start we had school and that was not my favourite place.  The fears and problems of childhood disappear and we forget the bad things that caused us worry then, the fears can be worse now of course, but
we were lucky to be living in an era of peace and even prosperity, a time such as my folks had never known before.  We moved into a three bedroom place, bathroom and kitchen, dad got a better job, and we got a TV.  How the world changed then!      
There are good memories in the past but in three quarters of the world war was raging and millions died.  The 'Good old days' are always in our heads, nowhere else.


Sunday, 17 January 2016

Nothing Happened


Nothing happened today as I was busy watching several football matches and doing nothing else.
Nothing else happened.
No news.
No nothing.
Nothing.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Musing


An item caught my eye the other day that lingers in my mind.  It was one of those celeb things that irk me so much. This one featured Brooklyn Beckham the son of the failed footballer and his stick insect wife.  These two have made a living by posing, him with a dumb expression that comes from his head and she by pouting in the same posture she has used for these past twenty years.  Neither have actually done anything, he was an overrated player who Fergie dealt with correctly while she sang feebly in a band based on 'Girl Power,' a power invented by a male by the way.  Later she was making an album when the recording studio stopped her as it 'would not sell.'  How lucky are we?

Anything is used to gain cheap publicity, cheap publicity which brings them in millions!  
There children similarly are being used for publicity and Brooklyn, named after the place where he was conceived and isn't it lucky he was not conceived in the Balls Pond Road!  Anyway he apparently has an Instagram account, whatever that is, and is followed by some 5.8 million people according to the ever reliable 'Daily Mail.'  Five point eight million?  The lad is only sixteen!  
What has he done to earn, or been given this following?  Indeed why does anybody follow the Beckham's in the first place?  The pair of them are as false as a six pound note for crying out loud, and there is nothing there!  
Millions follow these people for what reason, what do they get out of following two grossly over rich people who do nothing?  He played football she has her own fashion designs (does she actually design them?) and they have children, what is there here?  How can a sixteen year old who has merely posed with dad have such a following?  
I have done nothing, been nothing, failed at everything I have touched just like them so where is my following making me millions?  Where are the companies desirous of my presence where adverts for their products are being made?  If you wish a nobody then here I am!
Bah!


Some years ago this man, Mark McGhee, attempted to become the manager of the Heart of Midlothian.  He changed his mind at the last minute and avoided meeting the then chairman, one Mad Vlad Romanov, he who himself has disappeared from the face of the earth to avoid his debtors. 
Instead he awaited the call to become the manager of Celtic football club, a club he once played for but was rather upset when the job went elsewhere.  However he was appointed manager at Aberdeen and got the fans behind him at the start by claiming "I really wanted the Celtic job but this was all that was on offer."
Such ability to endear himself to the fans was enlivened some time later when his players, many of whom did not like him or his attitude, got stuffed by 9 goals to nil from the Celtic team.  Marks response was to say "Well it's really only three points," while giving the clear impression that he cared not a jot.  His team floundered and he hung on until sacked, the integrity of walking away from a failed job as not in his character and so he left football for a while.
His friend Gordon Strachan, the man who left Celtic and opened the avenue for Mark to think the job was his, took our man as his assistant when he got the Scotland job, a job he, Strachan has been  doing reasonably well in the circumstances.  Circumstances that have failed us by the way.  Recently Mark undertook a new job as manager of Motherwell football club, a major part of Scotland's football world.  The team were struggling somewhat in spite of containing many decent players and Mark McGhee has turned them around and seen them rise up the table and it will be no surprise to find them finishing the season in the top six come May.
However I suspect McGhee has a purpose in all this and Motherwell football club play only a bit part.  I suspect our man will be hoping the present Celtic manager gets his jotters come May and our man reckons that by doing a good job at Motherwell will allow his name to be put forward (by him and his agent) in the hope that he will at last get the Celtic job he so desperately desires.  
One slight objection to all this was the visit of his Motherwell side to Tynecastle Park which as you know is the home of the Heart of Midlothian.  This the team he rejected, this the team he claimed during the week would not be allowed to 'bully' his team and this the club that did not bully but did defeat his Motherwell side by SIX goals to NIL! 
Tsk!



You will have noticed that Mark McGhee was pictured standing in a snowfall.  That is because it is freezing around here and up there the snow was falling so hard many games were off and some abandoned half way through.  Here we merely had a smattering during the night that had gone before I woke and the sun shone through the freezing air all day.   
I hope those of you in climes where 40% of heat are causing to you complain realise how difficult it is to type when frostbite gnaws at the hands!  Drinking tea is hard when you have to chip the ice off beforehand.  I sit hear with my feet on the heater and an icicle on my nose. 
Bah!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Friday Night is Music Night, at least on here...




  



  

Music to make the head think and the heart leap!

 

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The Smell of Fame


The problem with mixing with famous people is the temptation to be like them.  Gary Lineker, seen here with wife Danielle has given me the impression for many years that he thought being famous, having a 'trophy wife' and mixing with the rich movers and shakers was the place to be.  
Gary became famous as a talented footballer, a striker who scored an enormous number of goals without being cautioned or sent off by the referee.  He played  at the highest level with Barcelona - and for England, and even proved his worth by scoring TWICE against the Heart of Midlothian during a friendly some years ago and at a time his then side Leicester City were being taken apart by the Gorgie men.  As his playing career ended he found a job in the media, with a column in a grubby paper and then presenting 'Match of the Day' England's premier football highlights show.   He, or his agent, knew how to manage money as he soon found similar jobs elsewhere at million pound prices and has stashed away a great deal during the following years.
On the way he divorced his first wife of 20 years, who knows why, and ended up with the young actress and model.  Hmmm older famed rich male meets actress/model 20 years younger, it smells like love to me.  Now six years on they are amicably divorcing and all is well.  The reason stated is her desire for a child and at 36 it is her last chance, and his reluctance at 55 to endure that.  Hmmm, I'm with him at that, he is too old to be a father now.   He has four sons from his first marriage, ranging between17 and 23 so they are probably well looked after, she has a 14 year old from a previous fling, sorry marriage, isn't that enough?
Hmmm.  
What is it with men like this?  Fame all to often goes to the head.  It may be there were problems in the first marriage however it strikes me when money and fame with celebrity status calls the man no longer as young as he was and with his professional calling behind him looks for 'something' in life he no longer possesses.  Was Danielle a 'trophy wife?'  I suspect so as he often commented on her looks rather than in a manner most men have when mentioning the wife, it was as if the looks mattered more than anything else.  
Gary has his fame, his wealth and his job will remain for some time and I doubt this will hinder his popularity and the cash will still roll in.  My cynical mind however expects to find arguments about money appearing in the gutter press some time soon as discussions over cash break down.
There again I am just cynical when mid life crisis men jump ship and find a women half their age.  This can be a good thing but far too many celebs drag their failed lives through the papers for my liking.  The kids can survive such things but all too often they end up the same way.  
Marriage is not an easy option nor is it something to play around with.  Having children makes life harder also and divorce cannot be the best thing for the child.
Fame eh?  We all want it but standing back we don't want it at all really, an unheard of life is a happier life.


As I came home today I noticed the daffodils outside the Council offices had blossomed.  A sure sign of how mild winter has been so far.  Of course the chill weather is here now and it appears that wee beastie inside the Daff has in fact died there.  Tonight we may get a smattering of snow so I am leaving the heating on and staying in bed for two days.
I need the sleep.  I have spent two days working and in my condition at that!  
Yesterday I discovered my condition.  I began to check the books upstairs and sort out what was what.  There I found three boxes of leaflets so out of date TV was in black & white when they were printed.  I carried one enormously heavy box downstairs and across to the skip and dumped it then discovering how unfit I actually had become.  In days of yore I done jobs like that with no problem, warehouse work, humping and carrying were the way to earn a living when you have no brain.  Now I realised I was unfit and near death!  I however brought down the second box from its hiding place, dumped it in the skip and stood there panting.  I considered jumping in myself but would have been unable to get over the edge.  I called it a day and sat there with one of the girls drinking tea and working our way through a quiz book in preparation for a quiz night several months away.
I think we may lose.
Today I returned to finish the job and after shifting all the boxes of books, counting them and deciding we ought to dump many of them I took my way home with every muscle desperate for a Swedish massage.  A slap from one of the girls in a manner very different from what I suggested was not in my way of thinking satisfactory.  
My new healthy eating regime has begun, tomorrow my new healthy exercise programme begins.
That is if the ambulance folks have been told about it...

 

Monday, 11 January 2016

Wowie!


The media are in overdrive this morning at the death of David Bowie.
I am unmoved.
I bought his album 'The Man Who Sold the World' when it first came out and considered it far ahead of its time.  He was booked to play in Edinburgh that night but I managed to avoid him, I suspect the £1:50 entrance fee put me off.  His next, 'Ziggy Stardust,' was OK but not as powerful as 'The Man...' at its launch.  Both were enjoyed at the time and Bowie was among the top stars of his day but then he trailed off somewhat.  Always a wee bit not right in the head he ended the 'Ziggy' period and went off the rails as far as I can remember.  Listening again to 'The Man Who Sold the World' I find I cannot recollect any of the songs bar the signature one and while this album appeared so far ahead of its time now appears dead and lifeless, indeed somewhat dated.  This reaction has not happened for me with the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Cream or many others I wonder if that is Bowie or just me? 
Most lost interest when his 'gay' life appeared at the beginning of the 'Glam Rock' period and then his music took on the 80's empty sham style that pervaded the era.  Fancy hairstyles and absurd fashion dominated while music was all show and shallowness which fitted the decade.  
Music has got worse since!
Bowie took to acting and various other activities while I was too busy having a life and working for to keep a roof over my head.  His life no longer interested and his music when it appeared was dire.  He always struck me as someone not quite all there possibly chasing something that he could never find.  People tend to call this 'inventive' but all too often it was desperation it seems to me.
Now he has died after suffering from a horrible disease and the media who have ignored him now lather themselves in a frenzy!  Hour after hour his music, mostly the dreadful 80's stuff, has been played at each and every opportunity.  Let me remind folks he was not as important as they make him out to be.


Saturday, 9 January 2016

Saturday Stroll


I strolled along the murky river bank this lunchtime thinking it would make a change from the usual route.  Recently the council have upgraded the are with tarmac pathways and landscaping the grasslands however as I came in from the far side I noticed they had stopped half way!  What was the point of that?  Halfway down there is a small weir and from then on there is just a dirt path.  As it has been raining for yonks this is a near impassible swamp in places and muggings was trying to slither through here.  My opinion of the council varied with each slide into the mud.  

  
The sign at the bridge warning of either danger or punishment for playing or drowning in the river has as yet not had itself renovated.  Possibly the cash ran out just as they reached the weir and so it has been left to a later years budget.  Under this Tory government and Tory council it will be put back more than ever now.  
Note the sludge like effect of the rain on the water.  So much has slipped into the river with all this rain, the banks are eroding and the weight of water is rushing through at places tearing the banks down as it passes.  This is a small river just imagine what is happening elsewhere?  

 
The locals are car lovers in these parts however I am not so sure about the owner of either of these two.  As I recall they were standing there when I delivered up this road many moons ago and now with new houses built next door they appear to possess this small plot of land all to themselves.  Maybe someone lives within?  I should have knocked.  However it may be the owner is spending some time at Her Majesty's Pleasure in one of those ageing prisons that are so overcrowded we often release murderous thugs early from their sentences.  Possibly they will return one day and be somewhat surprised  that nobody has put some sort of ticket upon them.  These are not the only hulks slowly falling apart, and I don't mean me either.  When I think of it a trip to the inlets where yachts are stored usually reveals several eroding away and one or two well under the water.  Maybe this chap owns a rusting boat also?


The possibility of improving this are to make it an attractive spot in summer will probably never happen while we suffer under George Osborne's 'austerity.'  However even if money was spent the place might still be a wee bit rough.  People pass through from the town to the dwellings on the south side and while dog walkers and eejits with cameras may find pleasure in this it might take a lot more work to make this wee part of the town acceptable to all.  I think it may be worth it in the long run.  


My day was excellent and this was topped of by watching the Heart of Midlothian defeat the miserable Aberdeen by one goal to nil in the Scottish Cup.  The arrogance of the Dons in thinking they are bigger club than the Heart of Midlothian!  This was shown today when the one goal ought to have been joined by seven or eight more.  Onwards to the next round and dubious refereeing from the Glasgow mob.


Friday, 8 January 2016

Nothing Friday


Nothing happened.
I dreampt I was being besieged by an angry Boxer dog last night and was pleased to escape it by waking.  I failed to waken after this until almost 8:30.  That shows how hard I worked yesterday.  Having looked for people who leave only a badly spelt name and finding little about them I have done nothing else all day.
A wander a couple of times through the town, no fotos to be seen, and a wander back again disappointed was my lot.  Had it not been for the chatting up the lass in Tesco the whole day would have been wasted.  
Now I look to blog when nothing has happened, the town is the same as always, darkness falls early, I have no energy to go anywhere, and life continues in the mundane mould?  Where is there inspiration in this?  
I could discuss the two up and two down little houses that were erected around the late 1870's up 'Sunnyside' and let you know that the first dwellers therein could male use of the water pump found next to Number One, but that may not interest you.  Having been inside one some time back I can tell you the walls are too thin, not a problem then although most contained families of six or seven plus occasional lodgers!  I suspect noise was a problem even then.  One has a deep hole in the back garden this the remains of an 'Anderson Shelter' built during the war.  It had been covered up and was found by accident by one of the people renting there.  There must be many such holes across the nation like this.
Holes in the ground was a war happening.  It was Spike Milligan in his book 'Rommell, Gunner Who?' In which he tells of his experiences during the war as he raced slowly across North Africa chasing Germans.  He mentions standing in a hole on guard one night pondering the vast number of men also sitting or standing in holes in the ground all across Europe, Africa and the Far East.  Millions of men like he were doing their duty although he was possibly the only one having officers point and laugh at him as they left the mess late at night.  How lucky we are to no longer send young men into holes in the ground so we can sleep in peace.
There are holes in my teeth also and the dentist was champing at the bit to extract the big wisdom tooth at the back that broke up some years ago.  The NHS must pay him a decent amount for that!  However it bothers me not, all the nerves were bust long years ago by an Aussie dentist, and I am content with it at the moment.  Such a good dentist but he might not sleep if it does not get done next year.  
Local papers are often full of holes.  Small meaningless stories made to be great headlines.  This week however we saw a good one.  A woman received a letter from the DWP informing her that she was not sick enough to receive benefits.  On the day the letter arrived she died.
This has happened so often under this Tory government, it is difficult to know how many times as correct figures are hushed up but possibly up to twelve thousand people have lost their benefits because they are not 'ill enough' and been dead within a week or two.  If you are Amazon or Starbucks or Vodafone you can dodge billions in tax revenue but if you are just another cog in the wheel this government will chase you to death.  Soldiers die from abuse and lack of care as well as faulty or inefficient equipment, patients are allowed to die slowly in hospitals, social workers fail to care for so many needy who are injured or die and yet nobody cares.  The secular money chasing world has lost compassion, only politically correct ideas can be cared for and if you don't fit then it is not good for you.  We kill children in abortion and hate migrants flooding the land, we can hate paedos and Muslims but so many other wrongs are not just accepted they are positively encouraged. No wonder people are confused about life.
The weekend is here, I can tell by the long line of cars outside my window.  Rush hour on Friday begins about 2:30 as folks race slowly for home, to the supermarket, to collect the kids, to beat the rush and find themselves in the rush.  A weekend of bad television, good cup action and drinks all round for some.   Hopefully your weekend will be worthwhile, enjoyable and make you happy.


Thursday, 7 January 2016

Thursday Trivia


Just before five I wandered homewards via the High Street and attempted to catch the blue sky left behind as the sun dipped over the horizon.  This was the exact time to miss everybody as few around were intent on getting home while only drunks, yobs, and those who had to remain at work could be seen.  Looks like few were working  hard tonight.
This afternoon I wandered into the museum to help in the stock room and did little enough.  The rest of the day I did nothing.  My life is so exciting!  However the lass who has to look through the stock, ensure it is listed, ticketed, paperwork correct and so on has got loads to do.  Some mistakes have occurred and some things have too little information.  Goods donated and no longer required must go back to donor but it is not always clear who donated!  Poor lass has lots to do sorting out the stock.  I will do my best to keep out of the way!

 Want to know what happens when the museum closes its doors...?


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Away With the Birds


The world has been shrouded in mist today and I had a 'couldn't be bothered' day at that.  However I dragged myself out before noon to wander through the gardens looking for misty pictures.  It has to be said that I was too late, the mist was clearing somewhat and what could have produced interesting shots two hours before offered merely damp scenes now.  
However up on the bare branch sat this Robin singing away to the surrounding world informing them that this was his patch so gerrroutofit and if any passing women were available he wanted his next tidied.   He sat there some time.  
I love the song of such birds, as he is part of the Thrush family like Blackbirds he can sing very well.  The song resounded all around and it is sad that I have no record of his voice to offer.  Maybe I will think quicker next time.  


Gey dreich in the distance however and this is how it was as I plodded homewards.  Dampness all around including my shoes and the chill in the air indicating the mild winter is ending and a cold spell appearing.  This times nicely with the request for my Gas Meter reading which arrived today.  I promptly ran slowly downstairs, read the meter, sent off the numbers and noted how my use of gas has fallen slightly in these last few months.   The gas man will not be happy with this.  He might not be able to make me pay more this time, but he will certainly not reduce the price even if he has got gas cheaper than ever!


While the Robins and other wee birds sang, chased one another and stuffed themselves the Wood Pigeons (which are not made out of wood) merely spent their time sullenly sitting high in the tree gathered together but at a distance from one another.  Rare to see two sit together unless it's hanky panky time.  The people around were similarly morose today, the weather does this.  Therefore I am off to bed to sullenly grumble to myself about the weather and the lack of interesting activities around here.