Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 Draws to a Close...

Torrential rain, high wind and darkness ends the year.  A year I am pretty glad to see the back off.
Glancing through my diary I note several birthdays, one visit from a  niece, one trip to see her perform and vast amounts of money paid into Tesco's!  
The rest of the year has been taken up with long term cold like symptoms that would never leave, and rusty knees that will never heal.  Let joy continue!  The intention to get slim and fit has failed and I have gone into reverse, indeed the ache from the fitness attempts remains with me still.
Good job I am not one to complain.
The Conservative government (If that is the word) continues to fumble no opposition bar the SNP exists, and the people, certainly many round this area, continue to accept the 'little englander' lies of the main tabloids.  The political future looks grim.
Football wise, which is more important, the Heart of Midlothian are once again beginning to return to form.  I expect glory any day now.
One bright spot in my miserable life that I never complain about is of course St Paul's church, the Anglican church that has now become a second home.   The theology is often dubious, very Anglican in that way,  but they wish to see God and seek him correctly.  I am used to these secondary things that irk but even I am now expected to read a 'lesson' occasionally, such as I did today.  The accent drew blatant racism from two ladies who ought to know better but considered this a reason for giggling like schoolgirls.  I will get them back...

Hogmany today while magnified by the tourist board and local media is not what it was.  In the 60's we went from house to house after midnight 'seeing in' the new year.  It was a generally happy time in which drink flowed, people shook hands with strangers and all was delight.  But in my mind and that of many others it is less happy these days.  There is more of an edge, getting drunk for the sake of it, rather than the party these days.  This is disappointing.  Know doubt age does not help and many will enjoy their evening but far too any now remain at home, possibly asleep, when the midnight chimes chime and the overpaid telly hosts croak above the noise of fireworks.  I might be one of them, those asleep, not the fireworks.  I may find the mysterious bottle of Highland Park malt whisky that arrived yesterday must be put to the test first of course....


Saturday, 30 December 2017

Sunny Saturday

There is an unlimited amount of fuss in the media at the moment regarding the 'Honours.'  This is the system where the nation rewards individuals for what they have done for the nation or at east one small part of it over a lifetime.  Most of course go to the high and mighty regardless of worth though many indeed deserve a reward for their labours.  The benefit of such a system is that Lollipop ladies, gardeners, charity workers and individuals who have benefited those around them by helping out can get recognised and a wee bit of deserved publicity. 
The media however concentrates on media stars, celebrities or politicians and debate whether they deserve or not such rewards.  Personally I wonder at some 'celebs' who are given Knighthoods and Damehoods unless of course it is a suggestion, and not too subtle a suggestion, that it is time they retired and never came back.  On the other hand it is a wonder that certain people wander the streets as 'commoners' while many of us consider them worthy of such a reward, maybe their face doesn't fit?
At this point I must make clear that I have not been awarded a Knighthood, OBE, CBE or a BBC, in fact I have been ignored once again.  But there again I'm not one to grumble...

The thing people wish to see at football is goals, lots of goals.  So you can imagine how I feel having sat through two nil-nil draws!  The first was disappointing in that the sectarian bigots failed to either kick one another off the field or institute a riot.  This was disappointing as one would hope for this in a vain effort to have them both closed down.  This surprised me also as the home side, Celtic, ought to have been far ahead by half time and then in the second half they allowed their blue bigot opponents back into the game and indeed to make the better chances. All very disappointing.  In the end I was just wishing the depressing bigotfest to cease and allow me to have my after lunch (which was terrible) nap.
Then I had to ignore football completely until six in the evening.  At that time BBC Alba offered the full Aberdeen v Heart of Midlothian game, a proper football match between proper football teams, or at least they are on paper.
This game also ended as a no scoring draw but was much better in that we were involved.  The main grumbles were the BBC Alba director who felt the need to look deep into the eyes of each and every player,that is when he was not watching some character in the stand, the Aberdeen manager or someone on the bench applying an ice pack to a wound.  Someone needs to tell him that the game is played on the park and that close ups off ugly men are not required!  I wonder if it is a woman?  This would explain the incompetence as she searches for someone to pay her way.
The only other grievance was the expected one, John Beaton the referee has to send off a Heart of Midlothian player at each game, it is in his SFA contract!  This he did by practicing yellow cards for Hearts men but not for Aberdeen ones, even if the jumped into a defender leading with an arm and collapse him.  We have seen such refereeing before and no doubt will see it again.    
However having established a six game run without conceding a goal we can see how the team is being rebuilt, the right way from the back, and once all the injured players return and new ones come in the January sales we will see much improvement in going forward.  That reminds me will someone  give Isma Gonzalves his spectacles back sometime soon? 

Friday, 29 December 2017

Sundown Again

A gentleman said to me "You are the type who brightens a room," then tapping me on my beer belly added," simply by walking away from the window!"  A similar experience today after the rain that has fallen for the last 24 hours and continued this morning gave way in the afternoon to bright skies and an attractive sundown.  
So attractive was this I left behind the heater and ventured out into the freezing cold.  Crossing the park offered the usual collection of Christmas holiday types, kids with new motorised vehicles, scooters, bikes, girls in bright outfits, and adolescent males in tight groups pouting at passers-by as they huddle around their new iphones.  Most of then texting the male standing next to them I suggest.  Grumpy people also pass by, these are the workers, they have no holiday and have been up since six in the morning and resent not having time off like so many others appear to have.  Occasional dog walkers, well wrapped up freeze as they pass while the dog wags its tail as it happily explores exciting smells all the while not realising the weather is cold no matter how often the owner mentions this.  
Then there is the council smokers.  In spite of the weather a couple of women, dressed for indoor activities, stand smoking and shivering against the wall.  A third, wrapped in large coat, smokes rather too obviously as she wanders across the damp grass ruining her shoes as well as her lungs.  Why are people allowed to have 'smoke breaks?'  If I suggested having 'Standing in the park just looking' breaks would they be acceptable?  How can people take ten to fifteen minutes out of their day several times a day to smoke when others cannot do this just to stand and stare?  And why do people smoke these days anyway?  We have known for sixty years that it kills you, few now accept it as normal behaviour, yet people from many walks of life insist on participating in this ugly habit.  They have never seen the fear on the face of a man being investigated for sickness obviously.  This is not a nice sight.
Many men still smoke as this is what 'rough men' do.  It is part of 'looking hard' and many men participate because that is what their mates do.  Usually they are not the brightest or just feel that, like swearing, it has to be done to keep in with the boys around you.  Women often smoke thereby giving them something to do with their hands, hiding behind a cigarette, while others smoke funny cigarettes and claim it gets them through their day, they never blame that for their mistakes however.  One of the best laws in recent times was banning smoking indoors, it cleaned up so many environments and saved many lives.

High above us and almost unnoticed the moon keeps watch.  
In spite of Brexit and other follies, riots in Iran, bombs in Kabul, and a decent but not great footballer being transferred for £75 million the moon just waxes and wanes as normal, going about its business with little concern for such small things.  The business of raising and lowering the sea levels is business enough for the moon, that and watching lovers stare blindly at it while thinking of words to rhyme is enough for any moon.
When a lad we read in the 'Eagle' and other magazines how we would live on the moon, so far, in spite of preparing to reach Mars, we have not done so.  It appears cheaper to spend three years travelling to Mars, UFO's permitting, rather than establishing one of those glass domed centres that would transform the moon into valuable living space.  The dreams of the early 1950s have never been accomplished in my view.  The moon was reached, more from national pride rather than human ambition, but in so many ways the future that looked so bright has turned out to be very dull.  Human nature keeps getting in the way or possibly it was reality that got in the way?

Thursday, 28 December 2017


I had to rise around two in the morning last night as I heard the mouse chomping away at something.  I searched and failed to find him but scared him off again at least, or so I thought.  In the morning I found he had been in the bin (covered to keep him out) all the time!  Humph!  That requires a change of place today.
However as I dozed back into sleep I thought of something of real importance to scribble, scribble, scribble down here.  As I lay in the dark I wrote it out in my befuddled mind and it appeared good.  I continued this as I drifted into slumber happy in the knowledge that I had a decent worthwhile post awaiting me in the morning.
I have forgotten what it was....

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Warmest Year 2017 They Say...?

I glanced at an item in the paper the other day regarding statistics indicating 2017 had been the warmest year since whenever.  I thought of this as the man on TV informed me it would be snowing all day and winds up to 40 mph would bring that same snow through the cracks in my windows.  It was impossible to disagree with his forecast.  Today we reached a 'warmth' of one degree 'C' which must please people who normally live in Siberia, they would consider this tropical, we living in the outer reaches of soft southern England find it means a lot to us!  While I am told constantly I should be used to this having been brought up in a nation that is often 'colder than Moscow' it must be remembered that having been on this difficult mission field since 1975 I have become somewhat accustomed to the constant high temperatures that prevail, tomorrow they claim it will be 13C near this area, we await such high temperatures with expectancy.  Mind you I notice the setting sun has left a noticeable pinkness in the sky so maybe we need not be too expectant.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a day for actually looking at the gifts that have flooded through the letterbox.
My family are beginning to understand the best way to make progress is to send books or a book token, this is what they have done.  For reasons that remain unclear two of my nieces appear to think smelly stuff is a requirement that goes with book reading.  
One niece, her opinion of me is noted in the 'Mr Grumpy' stuff at the front, sent a Levi shirt, this made possible by her new job in one big Edinburgh department store where the staff concessions make up for low wages (she says).  The other continued her unspoken hints (recent gifts have included  the 'Oldie' annual and 'The Real Dad's Army' amongst others, and she added some 'Old Spice' to the book she sent.
Next year I may go up there and see if they can alter their opinion.  
Well actually now I think about it....    

As always there was fifty channels on the TV showing nothing at all.  I did however spend a little time watching the Beatles in 'A Hard Days Night,' a film that still provides good music and was enjoyable in the background while I scrambled together something for lunch.  
Otherwise there was the usual films and old series filling the screen, the non news that occurs at this time of year with one or two tragedies thrown in, and even worse no football to watch!  Only English games of little worth and I just could not be bothered struggling to find them.
Nothing to do bar send thank you notes by email and search social media for something other than political comments.  These could be avoided on Boxing Day, indeed all week but once they are posted a desire to reply appears.  
I did however rush up unwillingly to Sainsburys, the only supermarket open (I think they take it in turns to cover Boxing Day) for milk and bread as tomorrow the rain that is now falling hard will continue all day.  On top of this the temperature will drop and winds increase so I will hide away with my books and the heater.
And so to bed...

Monday, 25 December 2017

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Christmas Eve

Last night the streets were very quiet for a Saturday night.  Tonight however traffic flows as usual, possibly even more than usual as I suspect late last night families gathered while tonight last minute gatherings, preparation for late night church services, retrieving children from Christmas parties and the like force people onto the roads.  
In many homes the crinkling of trinkets and the rustling of paper, neatly parcelled by mum less so by dad is done in hushed tones in a vain effort to stop the brats from peeking in to see what is happening.  Their delusion of Santa long gone.
The delusion of Santa Claus, of if you are middle class Father Christmas, how did we get to this?  From where did we find the Christmas of dreary songs and 'magical extravagansa's' (@Blonde, bouncy TV girls everywhere), snowmen and reindeer?  It's a lie!
Can you imagine Mary and Joseph walking towards Bethlehem singing 'Jingle Bells?'  Picture the three men found on Christmas cards sitting on camels pointing towards a star, would they be singing 'Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow?'  I doubt it somehow.  Note also that such songs usually originate in 'tin pan alley' where the majority were penned by Jewish songwriters, Irving Berlin writing 'White Christmas' for instance.  Tinsel, Christmas trees, origins of the tree begins in eastern and central Europe where pagans once worshipped them, plastic snowmen on Australian beaches, inflatable reindeer in the middle east, flickering coloured lights all offering a 'Christmas feel,'  that special time of the year loved by so many but with nothing behind it bar sentiment and pap!
Bring back Cromwell I say!  Lets be done with all this peripheral nonsense and return to a proper Christmas.  May it be like every other day in this house, miserable!

My Christmas will be quiet especially as the cold I suffered so severely last month has gone to be replaced with a gentle every day cold the sweet lass at work passed on to me.  This limits my joy and ensures my remaining indoors for the next couple of days.  Having stocked up this is fine and not having to go out helps but it is irritating, mild though it is.  
The TV looks as poor as always tomorrow, one church service, Carols from Kings, and back to fifty channels of pap interspersed with kids films which no-one will be able to watch for the noise of the kids breaking things.  Radio 3 looks entertaining and Radio 4 might be passable although I suspect I will wish to have two programmes on at the same time!  Iplayer it is then.  
I will not be alone, the mouse has rummaged through a bin last night for something I foolishly threw in the wrong bin.  He might get a surprise tonight if I put the humane trap in their also.
The traffic is lessening, the kids must be home by now, gifts are being wrapped men warned that the wife/girlfriends gift had better be the right one, men are prepared for socks with vile designs and urged to enjoy mother in laws company again.  I know one man under orders not to accidentally kill any of his grandchildren, and not to take them walking with the dog and forget to bring them back like last time!  He might need the Single Malt whisky he will receive.

I hope your day is a good one and you remember the reason for the season.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Friday, 22 December 2017

Thursday, 21 December 2017

At Last, the Shortest Day.

For the past six months we have been waiting for this dreich but gladsome day, the shortest day of the year!  At last we know that Spring is coming and Summer is ahead.  Of course the day being dreich, cloud covers the land, we cannot see the sun rise or fall, indeed some cannot see anything in the gloom, but inwardly we rejoice as the nights now get shorter and minute by minute the warmth of Spring lies ahead with nothing in between but two months or more of rain, snow, ice, storm, hail and other regular events but nothing too much to surprise us.
I suspect many Druids of various types, alongside youthful trendy middle class types, have gathered at Stonehenge and other such henge's to see the winter solstice come and go and pretend they are living out ancient pagan rites even though nobody has a clue as to what ancient rites were all about.  The lack of knowledge will not stop them reaching out to something they see as enlightening, though the main result might just be chilblains and flu caused by the dank atmosphere.

I spent the morning at coffee with one of my women and then returned home to eat, sleep and send e-cards to those I canny be bothered writing cards to.  You know the type, those acquaintances who offer cards but you reckon it's easier to send an e-card and know they will not mind.  It took longer than I thought and the gloom outside made the world dark by four!  


Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Last Shift

That is the last shift at the museum for this year.
A day spent with a few visitors and a long list of photographs to search! 
For a future exhibition there is a need for suitable pictures and I was selected, no-one else around, to sit there scrolling through and clicking on hundreds of photos.  
I found four of aircraft (it was a local airfield we are researching) and millions of pictures of dinners, VIPs, awards, and a few personnel but rarely a suitable picture.  
When an airfield has existed since 1943 and seen a great deal of action during WW2 and later during the Cold War, it closed in the 90's, many aircraft and numerous men have passed through.  First the RAF and then the USAF of one sort or another have been there and enriched in every way the locale.
We often find US men returning with wives obtained while here.  Occasionally a man will remain in this country with his wife.  
A few decent pics of events, one or two of individuals who may be important, but not enough of aircraft.  I have found one or two other sites online that are better but copyright is always a problem there.
So now, unless I have to meet someone there I will be out of the museum for two weeks.  Closed over Christmas week but how will it survive without my input?  What?....oh!

As Christmas nears the news deadens as politicians run for home or overseas visits and major items that keep the media happy run out and minor events are blown out of proportion.  This means no more Brexit lies for a week or two, few tales of corrupt politicians and nothing concerning badly behaved attention seeking film/pop/tv celebrities filling the news.
It does however mean a TV filled with old films, programmes and assorted junk to watch if the TV means something to you.  Personally I will seek more on the radio but so far it does not sound too exciting, maybe this will change but I doubt it.
It's being so cheery that keeps me going!


Monday, 18 December 2017

Rejoice! Rejoice!

It has been a tiring couple of days.  Searching the town for cheap gifts, wandering for miles round in a circle, back to St Paul's for a great morning including Greek ginger Christmas treats, and then today wandering again round the shops before joining the merry crowd in Tesco, smiles abounding, at least from those heading for the door!
All this has been accompanied by the joy of watching the Heart of Midlothian do what they are meant to do, stuffing the Old Firm good and proper!  This half is the lesser of the evil twins, but not by much, and while they deservedly have made good use of the vast wealth they have it is clear the Heart of Midlothian are making much better use of the slender resources at our disposal.  This is why the victory is greater than it would have been in times past.
Scottish football was at its best in the 1950's and early 60's.  This is partly because the better players did not wander off into England as the £10 a week limit on wages still applied at the time, most were content to remain at home unless the English club could find a way round the wage limit by acquiring another job for the player, an old and well worn trick.  So when I started to watch football  e expected to beat everyone, and why not, they expected to beat us.  Sadly filthy lucre has ended those happy days and with SKY V pouring money into the feeble English game, and far too little into the Scots one, a disparity has arisen.  Add to this the Rangers chairman and his tax dodging friends hugely increasing costs and running away, supported by the Glasgow media, we now see Scots football recovering slowly from the bad taste of recent days.
So enjoyment is complete when one half of the evil twins lose to the Heart of Midlothian, the other losing also to St Johnstone the day before also brings tears to the eyes of the 'typists' at the 'Daily Record,' and this enjoyment we wish to continue.  The struggles are not over but as one man said "This is not the end, but it maybe it is the end of the beginning."

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Christingle Sunday

Christingle, whatever that is, occurred today.
This is one of those Anglican advent things that I have never seen before coming here.  
The symbolic side represents Christ as light and that explains the candle on top.  The kids love it and are allowed to stand there with lit candles in hand, not something they can do often!  The vicar informed us he had to do a Health & Safety appraisal for this because candles were involved!  Just how we survived without insurance companies insisting on such daft precautions I do not begin to understand.  No accidents happened, nothing burnt down and all as usual enjoyed the day.
Symbols are often used in Anglican churches but in my mind they are not required.  Just say what you mean and get on with it is my way, too many symbolic candles, symbolic this and that and none are actually required however they like them and it gives the kids something to make them feel involved.  

An early morning frost and fog covered us this morning.  This was better than the smell of burning plastic that filled the air about this place when I came back at lunchtime.  Quite what was burning I know not but the neighbours will not be happy!  

There is still a moose loose aboot this hoose and he is annoying me. While all foodstuffs are unavailable he has now got into my plant and spread much everywhere during the night.  I again can hear him chewing at inaccessible places making it difficult for me to block him.  Two 'humane' traps have been ignored and if they continue to be ignored less humane ones will be employed. 
Happy Christmas!

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Siberian Saturday

Another Christmas Saturday, another event in the town.
Shivering while playing Christmas music concerning snow and reindeer will not warm up the band.  I hope they have hot toddies at their sides as their fingers must be frozen. The fellow at the back has been somewhat excited by the songs however! 

The audience could not restrain their enthusiasm as you can see, the big man in red emerging from his grotto to listen to the band.  Possibly he wishes to avoid being inside alone with kids in these days of lawyers adverts and tabloid journalists!  Sadly dealing with kids on one level has not changed but on another PC attitudes and neurotic mums make it impossible to be alone with a child.
Like me many men will not talk to kids who talk to us innocently, however if one required help I, like most, would step in, whether others thought this right would have to wait for later.

The market swarmed as it did last week, grumbling people, cold stallholders, far too few stalls.  A very good opportunity to sell the town has fallen flat with poor planning and lack of experience.  Mind you I went to two of the usual stalls and obtained what I required.  I avoided the newer trendy ones as it was home made stuff, jewellery and the like, nice in itself but not for me.  
One Saturday to come, Christmas almost Eve, must do better. 

Note the cheery smiles...

My shopping ended at the sweet stall I usually ignore.  These cheap delightful chocolates in a presentation plastic jar will do the job.  It would have been better to find other items more appropriate but they don't exist in this little town, and I was tired and cold!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Thursday, Still Shopping

The sun was shining through the chill of the day as I trawled through all the charity shops looking for gifts for the girls at work.  I got one, four to go!  This  buying cheap stuff shopping is hard work yet not as hard as dealing with women who walk through you, push prams into you and shop girls who chat incessantly at you while you browse books!  I am in a charity shop lassie, I don't need heavy sales chat while browsing the 176 books you have littering the shelving.  I think she must have been trained at W.H.Smiths, that store is regularly considered the worst in the High Street year after year yet as it makes vast profits, Smiths have all the airport newsagent stores, the directors care not that the shop is a mess.  A messy charity shop is better than a well presented one not just because the latter raise their prices suitably.  When I played football in the days of long ago I was less worn out than when I trudged through the masses today, what is it about the 'season of goodwill' that turns shoppers into growling ruffians?

Next week I will have to rise early to visit Tesco and avoid those buying sufficient supplies to feed a battalion of Royal Highland Fusiliers for a week rather than just feed the family.  As soon as Boxing Day is over, and some on Boxing Day itself, the customers will be back for more overpriced goodies they do not need.  I might buy what I need only and enjoy that.

 I might avoid Sainsburys myself this year, they do not look as if they are up for it this year....

Mind you this lot are not doing to well either!  Prices are cheaper mind.

The queues outside the shops which have begun the sales early can be wearying, this lot have been waiting for some time now and still the queue does not get less.  Possibly time to shop online girls?

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Gifts, Postmen

I thought Christmas was over.
I had obtained all I needed but then I must get something for the girls at work, something cheap appropriate.  However if I buy them expensive (reduced) chocolates we find one doesn't eat them, if I buy wine (cheap) two don't drink) if I buy flowers their partners get anxious (I thought about packets of seed and let them grow them themselves) so it is getting difficult.
There is also a lack of shops.
The best place to look for appropriate items would be in the museum shop!  We have the best selection of such goods in town, though the opposition is weak.  However that would not do.
I may have to travel tomorrow into one of the big towns, full of people, to search for odd items that fit each one.  Good grief I thought I had finished this ages ago!
Life is not fair!

This man visited me today with three big boxes.
This makes a change as he usually just put a card through the door.  He has never liked me since I left because of my knees.  After that the postman's work changed for the worse and he, who rarely smiled, smiled less as he saw me lazing about while he had lost his easy job and had a hard one for a change.  In fact I would rather have worked on but my knees refused, he works on, trapped by women and children, while I am at ease, in his view.  The sad thing was while some had a lot to do this postie had an easy time, the changes resulting from new management meant he lost his favoured status and was treated like the rest of us.  He and one or two others have not yet got over this.
Hee hee!

Monday, 11 December 2017

Snow Still

The fearsome snow that caused panic in all media and led to vocal attacks on gritter lorry men might be coming to an end.  As always the terror lasted a day or two and by tomorrow most snow will have evaporated, all will be forgotten by Friday.
Certainly it snowed again today, again this caused closed schools and shopping centres.  I informed the facebook lot that the local Freeport was open and when I got there desperate to see one specific shop found that today's snowfall, which had ceased by the time I arrived, had led to the closure of Freeport!  I was miffed!  This meant a trudge around the shops I trudged around on Saturday and there was nothing I wished for there.  This town has all the basics but nothing fancy apart from what the museum sells, and as I was buying for someone at the museum I could not use that.  Knackered and disappointed am I.
Tomorrow we will freeze, it will be minus 2 tonight, much colder up north, and I must trudge through sludge again tomorrow for the museum.  If the boiler fails we will be in big trouble.

It is becomng common these days for people, mostly women, to fill the media with pictures of themselves, 'selfies,' showing off their scars and boasting how this will not affect their 'confidence.' (Why are women and footballers the only ones with problems of 'confidence?')  Why are these women shoving their sickness down our throats?  Why are these self publicists allowed house room? Local and national papers appear full of people suffering a sickness, leg break, scar or whatever and demanding we pay them attention, why?
I sent many years in the NHS and have been treated several times as a patient and found no-one then interested in running to the media nor did I wish to do so myself.  Why then are these folks so often filling the pages?  Are their medical problems news?  Give it  a rest folks.