Saturday, 7 December 2019

Thursday, 5 December 2019

James and a Mouse...


There is one clear error on the front of this book.  The xenophobic English refer to 'James I' even though the author himself states clearly he is called 'James the VI & Ist.'  This is the type of English contempt that James himself suffered from the English parliamentarians and their nobles.  
That said the author does a reasonable job with this book.
While stating he never liked Jams he looked into him and found much to admire, and there certainly is much.  James remains a mixed up character.  His upbringing was cruel though he became well red, speaking Latin, French and much else by the time he was 5 or 6.  Too many beatings from a tutor who constantly criticised his mother, Mary,Queen of Scots, had run away not long after he was born in Edinburgh Castle.  This meant he was pronounced King before he was weaned.  The nobles took care of him, mostly however those that did tended to die, either in war or mysteriously.  Being Regal was a dangerous occupation in the 1500's.
Being a short book we hurry through his squabbles with the Scots Kirk, his tendency towards Bishops never went down well, his move to London where he was welcomed and greeted by all.  His early success in ending war with Spain and in Ireland although he did tend to find it easy to spend money he did not possess.
His marriage to Ann of Denmark was not a great one, seven children arrived somehow yet most died before they were two. years of age.  Henry, who was destined to be King died aged 18, Elizabeth and Charles survived though Charles did lose his head of course.  While James could negotiate and be patient Charles could not.  James wrote many academic works including justifications for the 'Divine Right of Kings.'  How much he believed in in practice is debatable but certainly Charles fell for it and it cost him.
James wrote much in the way of theological works yet managed to spend his days hunting, sharing the coarsest of jokes and drinking far too much for a 'man of the cloth.'  Indeed most of his life was spent hunting, alongside a few chosen friends, mostly male and their behaviour was far from pure.  His youth may have been responsible but his bible reading, good though this was, failed him here.
This continued throughout his life.
His hunting may have been to keep him away from his ministers, however the work followed him wherever he was hunting and his duty was observed.  Possibly the peace of the country was preferable to the business of London, certainly less people to bother him and Parliament was a trial to him, as indeed it is to anyone who wishes to rule by themselves.
While welcomed at first James soon fund much resentment from Englishmen that Scots, 'foreigners,' were running their Parliament.  Such xenophobic emotions have never left the 'English' Palace of Westminster.  Proof, as if it were required, that Scotland must be independent from this grasping southern kingdom.
This is an ideal book to get a grasp of King James VI & I.  Other books will be of more depth and a differing impression possibly received but this is a good starting point.  
Whether he died grasping his last boyfriend is however is debatable...

  
Running behind time today as a visitor arrived before I was half awake, it was just after nine after all.
Then I had the household stuff to do while also discovering where the mouse had come from last night.  The brute had found a weak point and pushed his way through the wire.   I wonder if he has been reading about 'Colditz?'  Anyway, another bag of wire has gone in, more spaces blocked up and nothing edible will be left out tonight.
It would certainly be better if I had a cat.  However such a place as this, plus a main road outside my door, does not make that a sensible idea.  No nearby cats to borrow either.  I wonder if 'catnip' would put him off?  Either way I noticed small square chunks of poison in the shop and may well be baiting him with those  soon!




Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Lousy Mousey


Another mouse trauma has arisen.
While some have the joy of Boa Constrictors, Tarantula's and other poisonous beasts here in the cold wilderness of Essex mice and pigeons are out lot.
The pigeons have been thrown out and often sit glaring from the neighbours rooftops into my window, the mouse however has yet to learn his place.  His place is elsewhere!  He will learn it soon.


A few days ago I was irked by scratching, not me but the mouse scratching at the carpet.  It took a  day or two to actually discover what he was up to and keeping a light on all night chased him away. 
Two days later the neighbour knocked on my door asking if I had mice.  
The cheeky chappie had gone next door looking for nesting material, he had taken no food from me, and just chomped portions of his girls clothing.  He called in the Rat catcher who did his thing, sent in a bill, and left.
Two days later I noticed the mouse had returned to me.
Thanks a bunch!
Yesterday saw me moving heavy furniture so I could get down to the skirting floor under the old wall heater.  Do you remember those things filled with bricks?  The idea being they took in heat at night and released it during the day, total failure and costing a pound a day at that!  Under here the skirting board bends away slightly.  Aged houses have several such faults.  The mouse had increased the gap thereby avoiding the 'steel wool' I filled the gap with a while ago.  Yesterday I put the rest in place and suggested he try getting through that lot.  Other areas he had been chewing at were also dealt with and that night I went to bed content in his removal.


Very early this morning, around 8:20, I arrived in the East Wing.  A glance around revealed no sign of 'Mousey Mouse' so I burned my toast and cheese in the normal fashion.  I then looked through the grubby papers, Facebook, Twitter and my empty emails.  This of course takes time.  
As I returned my mug for refill I noticed the yellow container with several small potatoes within lying there empty.  "Empty?" Thought I?  Empty indeed!  The brute had got through the prison fence and gone off with seen small potatoes!  All of them were now lying down by his gap, the failing steel wool brushed aside!
Grrrrrrr!  Thought I.  This means wandering up the road again.


Breakfast was somewhat hindered by this revelation.   I stared out awaiting an easy answer, there was none.  So, soon afterwards I was off up the road, on a Wednesday when the market draws in the crowds, hoping not to bump into people who talk all day and say nothing just like I do, and was delighted that while the temperature remained low the sun did decide to reveal itself.  
Having wandered around the usual shops I finally fell into the 'ironmongers' I suppose we call it, one of those shops that sells almost everything, and found my way to the 'steel wool' piled in the corner. There was until recently a similar style shop run by an Asian family, possibly Bangladeshi.  This was a great shop, filled with the products of Chinese plagiarism it contained many things you needed and lots of things you did not realise you needed until you saw them on the shelf in front of you.  Cheap and cheerful friendly family with very little English between them, I loved that shop!  Then B&M opened nearby and killed them off.  They could compete with the popular local 'ironmongers' up the road but not with a big store also and sadly they moved away.  Now we also have a 'Poundland'  come to the town, and while they have the basics they are not like the Asian shop.  Still I give gift cards at Christmas, I hope 'Poundland' do them! 


Armed to the teeth with wire wool I spent some time face down filling in gaps, then cleaning the other new found spaces that the brute uses and finally, having hoovered up the mess, I was satisfied.
A trap is set, if he comes he has only one place to go for his potato, one of which is set before him, ad if he gets through the 'Hindenburg Line' I may have to either obtain more wool or obtain rat poison.  For myself!


I suppose it livens up a bored life.  But I was not bored!  I suppose it keeps me busy.  But I was busy, not actually doing what I ought to do but I had plenty to do if I had done it.  Instead my day has been wasted with this brute.  Of course if it works then he will be off next door again.  They are young, they can do the caring for the mouse, not me.   
Now with that attended to, my dinner burnt, all else pushed aside I can turn to watching the football undisturbed except by women on facebook demanding my attention for small things.  These women have no care do they?


    
  

Monday, 2 December 2019

Xmas.



'Tis the season to be jolly!'

'Christmas comes but once a year
 and when it does it brings good cheer!'

There can be no doubt these words were written by a madman!  
Today is the first Monday of December, most of my Christmas cards have been posted, most will have arrived by today.  This not only avoids the Christmas rush it reminds those at the other end to send me one also!  As they collect their post guilt and panic will begin to arise and then the consideration of cash while a rushed list of names is scrawled somewhere.  A list that will be amended when the forgotten are remembered later.  
I reckon I require one or two small gifts for young kids of my acquaintance, nothing expensive as they will already have too much, just tokens, and possibly one for an adult and some things for my sisters parcel, full of junk usually.  Most disappointed with the charity shops this year, nothing suitable was found at the weekend.  I may have to visit those in town before finishing my Xmas shop.
I hope you have started yours...


There is little positive to have come from the Terrorist attack of Friday bar removing the election from the front and indeed middle pages of the media.  A lone attacker, influenced by a minority reading of Islam kills two people working in rehabilitating those caught up in crime and terrorism.  Some degree of irony in there.  
Sentenced to 16 years, but allowed out in 8, and freed early on licence because he was not considered a threat has allowed the politicians to spend much time blaming one another rather than finding a mere secure way of dealing with such persons.  
Personally I would suggest let him serve his sentence, that however might be too radical for some.  Cutting his sentence half way through could be dropped, but some would object.  Not letting him out on licence early might also be an approach but again that makes me sound like a 'Daily mail' reader, and that would never do.  Still had such a situation been followed two useful people would still be alive and being useful with several others no longer wasting time in hospital and missing useful work.  
To suggest spending more on the constabulary, prisons, probation service and anti-terrorist work might be seen as expensive.  This is true, however the cost to society and individuals with such incidents occurring might be greater, but not however recorded in government fiddled statistics.  Had this been the case we might have better prisons, less re-offending, more rehabilitation and less terrorists walking the streets.  Just saying like...

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Famous: 1914 - 1918


This has been an interesting second hand book.
On Remembrance Sunday I read my portion of the service which included items from individuals life experiences during the war.  Richard van Emden was the man who had gathered, or actually his wife,gathered the material which we used.  So when I saw this book I had t have it as I was always interested in the war experiences of these famous men and these were for the most part real war lives.
Harold MacMillan, later to be Prime Minister spent considerable time lying wounded in the field, between two lines and with conflict chasing past him.  More than once he was wounded and for the rest of his life had trouble walking and little use of his right arm.  He still made it politically and we could do well to have him back today, he would be appalled at his party under Boris.
Ralph Vaughan Williams joined the RAMC, possibly because of his age, as a private and served on the western front and in Salonika where he achieved a commission at the age of 45!  Always 'unkempt' he failed further promotion because of his lack of consideration for such niceties as tidiness but he remained a popular and efficient officer.  His music reflected his war, while climbing the slope with the ambulance wagons towards the line he noted the countryside and the colour of the sky from which he began to develop his 'Pastoral Symphony.'  It was a war scarred vista that brought out the music, not a sweet countryside view as many think.  The war was not something he ever forgot.
J.R.R. Tolkien like the rest never got over the war, though he wrote little about it he manifested the war in his writing, most clearly in 'Lord of the Rings' where many see reflections of the war exposed.
John Christie, more famous as the murderer from '10 Rillington Place' did indeed see time on the western front during 1918 but his service records are somewhat dubious.  His claim to have been gassed and wounded are not exactly well documented though extremely likely as is the fact of his many small crimes which followed him during his life.  Christie was a mixed up individual, his life complicated and while war service may have encouraged a maladjusted life style it probably made little difference but did offer him an excuse on occasion and allow him some leeway while in a courtroom.  He was hanged eventually, unmissed by anyone it appears, in 1953.
Not all 'our boys' are 'heroes.'
Tom Denning was one of five brothers who enlisted, one dying in action another failing through TB while in the Royal Navy.  Tom Denning, like all good barristers very good at maths, and he joined the Royal Engineers in 1918 as he thought his maths would be of benefit, indeed they were.  Careful maths study enabled him to dig a tunnel from two directions and find much pleasure in them meeting exactly as planned, not easy in wartime.  Denning's war was fought during the 'last hundred days' as the allies pushed the enemy out of France and Flanders.  This required the erection of bridges and pontoons over canals and flooded rivers, always under fire and as he passed the sight of dead and dying men all around, from both sides.  
After the war he resumed his legal profession becoming the second highest judge in the land and famous for his exclamations throughout his time.  His most famous work was the Report into the 'Profumo scandal' of the early 60's.  Denning died in 1999 not long after his one hundredth birthday. 
C.S.Lweis, A.A.Milne and many others are mentioned in the book.
A piece on their war time experience, some background info and in my view too little critical examination, even allowing for the few pages available.  Their failings are glossed over, which in such a book may be understandable but it does appear to avoid controversy somewhat.
I enjoyed the book however.  Each chapter was readable and shirt enough to stimulate more study and saved time reading about the less interesting people.  Clearly all found the war affected them for the rest of their lives, some more than others.  If you listen to their music, read their books and read about them somewhere you can better understand how these men viewed the world.  
Well worth a read.


Happy St Andrews Day


  

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Stupid Man in the Dark Rain


"Only a stupid person goes out into the dark, in the rain.  Especially when there is no need to do so"
You are talking to a stupid person. 
It crossed my mind that as darkness falls shop lights stand out, go take pictures.  Great idea!  There was no rain when this thought came to me.  However, out I went, into the downpour, cheerfully splashing through the puddles that arise on pathways that are supposed to be flat but are anything but.  Crossing the park meant meeting many such puddles and in the morning I suspect many an individual will grumble loudly as they walk the dog before the skies turn to gray.


As the 'rush hour' had ended, much improved by an accident at the roundabout that ceased almost all movement for an hour, much hot air in the atmosphere as people made their very slow way home, as folks had mostly gone and the rain drove others indoors the streets were quite empty.  This was helpful.

  
I could have remained wandering for a while and ventured down to the big church where the local candidates, including Mr Cleverley, a Tory who does not live up to his name but has reached cabinet level, is appearing.  This goes against the grain for Boris who I note has been replaced at Channel 4 TVs Leaders debate by a melting block of ice set in a Conservative Party symbol.  Boris is not keen on meeting people who ask questions.  Andrew Neil at the BBC has interviewed two leaders, a third on the way, but Boris cannot make a date?  His own constituency has not seen him for a while and he refuses to meet at their local debate.  Possibly he ought to take up running, he is good at that.
However there is a good chance he will lose at Uxbridge, maybe he wishes to lose?

  
Listening again to the Beatles 'Rubber Soul' album I was struck by the passing of time.  In 'You won't see me' there is the line 'When I call you up your line's engaged.'  A reminder of the time when to stop an incoming call you took the phone of the hook.  That does not happen today.  I suppose what they call 'voicemail' takes over or just ignoring the call, numbers of callers often displayed these days.  It just made me think how long ago this tremendous album was made.   December 1965 it appeared, long before we were born, yet it remains a great album, I think George claimed it was his favourite.  I read in the dreadful online 'Daily Express' that John thought the 'White Album' best, mostly because Paul disliked it as he was not in charge!  Paul preferred 'Sergeant Peppers' in which he was in charge.  Hmmm... Ringo preferred the second side of 'Abbey Road,' but I am not sure what he thought of the first, "Peace and Love," probably. 


Standing in the shop doorway I was a wee bit tempted to enter the 'Swan' but as it appeared only three people were making use of this recently re-opened pub I deferred.  That spot is where the market began in 1199 with a variety of locals dropping stuff in that area and trying to flog it to one and all.  King John was pleased as he got the taxes from it.  At some time a pub arose, when I cannot discover, but round the back a later addition is dated 1590 but whether it was a pub or a dwelling for one of the rich I know not.  I think myself the house came first and the pub later, it does not look like a success at the moment.


The problem with social media is that it does not go away.  Whereas in times past it was difficult to find something written in a newspaper or said privately in a pub or even at a public meeting, a search of past papers takes time, nothing can be proved in 'pub talk' and things said at meeting are difficult to obtain conclusive evidence about, today anything said can be fund quite easily.  So, daily we are finding candidates from all parties being hounded out because of things said many years ago in the press or on social media, no wonder so many false names abound online!  Boris apparently claiming single mothers produce poor quality children is a case in point, his child, the one he ignores and pretends does not exist, is now all over the social media, but not the Tory press, I wonder why?
I must go and delete my history...


I am not convinced by the sparkling town Christmas lights.  This does not reflect a booming economy.  Or indeed a council or town centre willing to spend money to encourage visitors.



It has been mentioned that Trump is visiting troops in Afghanistan, telling them the Taliban want a deal.  It may never cross his mind what the troops think of his visit, privately.  They can now tell the folks back home they have sat near the President of the United States, many relatives will ask "Where was your gun?"


"TAXI!" 
Time for home, this rain gets everywhere, even in my pockets...

 

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Labour, Ovens...


Ephraim Mirvis, the Chief Rabbi, has made a statement, much lauded by the media, concerning  'Anti-Semitism' in the Labour Party.  It has amazed me this morning just how much publicity this has been given by the press.  The BBC has given proof of the 'News and Current Affairs' departments pro- Boris stance by giving great coverage making this the main story of the day.  
When you consider on Sunday the Roman Catholic Bishops sent out a letter encouraging people to vote for Labour, though not in so direct terms, as they ought to vote for those who 'support the poor' and not vote for those who treat the poor badly, and we all know who does that in the UK, yet little coverage has been given by the BBC, I wonder why?
Anti-Semitism may well be found in the Labour Party, it certainly was there in the Conservative Party until Margaret Thatcher and her Barnet constituency relied on the Jews in London's North West for votes and cash.  Few Jews however make it to the top, Dominic Raab is not a good example.
I fear this has little to do with Brexit and much to do with Israel not wishing to see Corbyn, a man who criticises Israel's treatment of Palestinians, in power.  They prefer the money grabbing Tories who will always bow the knee to them, whatever their personal opinions may be.   
For some time it has become increasingly obvious that the supposed 'Leftie BBC' is in fact following the Conservative lead.  Brexit opposition is put down and support encouraged in all programmes on TV and Radio.  Those who disagree are silenced or leave.  
Once the BBC was neutral in all things, though not totally obviously, it did have to help win a war, and the news broadcasts were respected as being more objective and factual than many other media outlets.  This cannot now be reckoned as being the case.  While some stories are independent and objective far too many reveal bias towards the Brexit line and Boris and his mob.  
Maybe too many in the BBC are looking towards their future prospects or Knighthoods?


I have had a hard day.
Not only did I have to trek to Sainsburys in the drizzly rain but afterwards a spirit of stupidity entered me and I began to clean the oven!
This chap here speaks for me!
Now I realise it has been a wee while since I cleaned it last, long before Brexit I fancy, and therefore once I removed those metal grill things, with difficulty, and dumped them in the sink, I was able to take a closer look at the insides.
It was not pretty.
So the rest of the afternoon was taken up with spraying, scrubbing, soaking and clearing up the mess.  This I can tell you is good exercise!  No wonder women have such big muscles.  Of course it would be easier for a woman, she would clean more often!  Ha!
Now I must away and lie down while the aches creak...



Friday, 22 November 2019

'Tis the Season to be Jolly...?'


No it isn't, not yet, but the attitudes of the people in town today represented the Christmas cheer we meet annually.  Women blocking the way with buggy's, women walking into you in shops, miserable faces all around, cheerless shop staff cheerlessly dealing with the cheerless customers who cheerlessly obtain needless cheerless goods for others to break or wonder how to hide.  In short the Christmas season has started already.  All I needed to find was a drink sodden Santa Claus to make my day!


The day was indeed 'Dreich!'  Gray, rain sprinkled clouds from the south east hurried across the sky, blowing the remaining leaves around the streets and chilling those forced to walk therein.  Indeed the only bright lights came from the ambulance helicopter which landed in the park opposite to collect someone and rush them onwards to hospital.  
Umbrellas early on, removed by the 'breeze,' as the weatherman calls it, sprinkling rain afterwards and many a coat turned up and yet, as I wandered out of B&M after a fruitless search for children's cheap gifts I passed a man and his son in t-shirts.  Macho men who walked fro the covered car park to the shop showing us their strength.  Ponces!  

 
Boris has been on the hustings again, or rather has not been.  He was to attend a debate in his own Uxbridge constituency on December 5th or 6th, date not sure as yet, but has not responded to the call to attend.  This is the normal local debate at any election and he knows he ought to be there.  Possibly he cannot cope with an outraged audience, such as the one facing Dominic Raab at his local meeting in Esher.  He was 'booed' and catcalled and did not have an easy time.  Boris is not good at handling such scenario's.  Maybe he will just run away?  If he does they will just put an empty chair there and ask questions anyway, the chair might know more.
Of course it may be a ploy?  Maybe he hopes to be deselected by the election.  Possibly he hopes the electors will choose another candidate and dump him.  That would save him losing face with his financial backers and avoid having to deal with the Brexit farce.  We shall see.


Now I discover, this shows how little I have looked at news today, that a 'Question Time' special is to be aired tonight with, it says, 'Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn, First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson and Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party Boris Johnson facing topical questions from an audience.'  This will be the only real debate, depending that is who asks what questions!  I suspect myself, if she is allowed to speak, that  Nicolas will wipe the floor with them all, however I will expect the chairwoman Fiona Bruce to ensure she does not get a 'fair crack of the whip.'  I wish I could watch this....


Unfortunately, as always, this programme will clash with the Linlithgow Rose v Falkirk Scottish Cup Tie at the same time.  How inconsiderate and quite possibly racist is that?  I am convinced this is to stop Scots watching the debate.  I wonder if Boris will actually show, if he does not will they 'empty chair' him or cancel the programme?   
It appears each leader will be given 30 minutes, they will take questions from the audience (how are they selected I ask?) one after the other.  Then I suspect they start breaking bottles over one another's heads and screaming blue murder.  It may not be nice but will suit the TV audience well...


The dreich weather along with my dreich walk about town, caused by missing the Free Bus, meant no photos were possible in the mirk.  So, instead we see a lot of old birds who hang around here, or did in times past.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Dreich or just Freezing?


The man in the 'run-of-the-mill' suit offered a forced smile while cheerfully telling us the high temperature of 6%, that's 43% in English, would lessen to around 3 during the night, that, he said with a smile, was "Just above freezing."  I am so glad he pointed that out.  
I wished to inform him the "Just above freezing" last night left the field opposite 'just about white' with frost, but I suspect as he is in warm studio in front of TV lights in Norwich he really does not care to know.  
However, I was forced out after 8 this morning to get through Tesco before it got busy.  This was because I forgot yesterday to go upstairs, which had been the whole reason to go there yesterday, and so trekked off in the frost this morning.  
When I returned shivering I wandered through the gardens, stupidity is my middle name, to see what effects had occurred during the cold night.  The frozen pond was beginning to thaw, white surfaces on plants, and Blackbirds with scarves around their necks foraging in the hedges.  I suspect what fish remain are now frozen and awaiting Mr Birdseye to collect them.  

 
Apparently. last night there was a debate on TV in which Boris and Corbyn made absolutely no difference to the publics view of them and their views.  It appears the questioner was inept, the answers brought laughter not admiration, Boris claiming something about 'Truth' brought giggles, and nothing happened to make anyone take notice.  
I watched Scotland playing Kazakhstan instead, more important and worth a great deal more.  That also makes me ask why the Welsh game was on at the same time, I wanted to watch both? If only one had been held back 24 hours!
Anyway I suspect Boris and Corbyn did not realise football was on, if England had played the debate would have found another night of course, but I doubt we missed anything much.  We know where they stand, or pretend to stand, the sheep will vote without thinking all over the UK, thinking folks will strive to choose he right place for their cross, and others will wonder where the 'Anti-smoking, pro Cycling' candidate is this time.  Possibly he has run out of money from losing so often.  
I have discovered one of our 'Independent' candidates has referred to himself on one sheet as 'Bell-end' or possibly that was an outsider making an observation.  As he is based in Haverhill, right on the border just inside Suffolk I fail to see why he stands here, possibly he has been rejected too often there.  

    
To make the town appear worse a TV company has been filming in the town.  The programme on offer is from BBC 3, 'TOWIE,' 'The Only Way is Essex.'  This has brought much disgust from the locals who suggest that Basildon or Billericay would be more appropriate.  It appears they did not stay long, as folks d not do in the programme I suspect, and the slappers young women involved have run off back home to mum while not forgetting to have several 'touching' photographs taken for publication accidentally in the 'Daily Mail.' 'Touching' can be taken in various ways here...


'Dreich' you will be pleased to learn, has become top of a Poll to discover the favourite Scots word.
Beating 'Glaikit,' 'Braw' and 'Scunner' to become number one, and no surprise.  No surprise as this is the word most Scots utter first thing in the morning upon waking.  Whether they refer to the view outside or inside is not always clear.  
The words meaning are in themselves quite obvious, what?... Oh!
All right then, here is a run down for you...  
  • Dreich - tedious; damp and wet
  • glaikit - stupid or foolish
  • scunnered - disgust or strong dislike
  • shoogle - shake or move from side to side
  • wheesht - call for quiet or silence
  • fankle - to tangle or mix-up
  • outwith - outside or beyond
  • braw - fine or pleasant
  • beastie - an insect or animal
  • bumfle - an untidy bundle 
They appear straightforward to me...


Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Cold


Too cold to write. In bed, heat on, wrapped up, hot drink, football on. 
Hands and feet freezing!

Monday, 18 November 2019

From the holy Mountain.


Well that didn't take long.
454 pages that raced along easily.  At first I could not put it down.
Beginning in Greece, passing through Turkey, Kurdistan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the deserts of Egypt, William takes us on a fascinating journey around the Middle East of 1994.  The fascinating thing is that many of the changes he saw beginning are well under way, others still to come.  I would like to read a follow up but wars and rumours of wars would,not allow that.

The story begins with a book written by a Byzantine monk who travelled around the area attempting to visit the monasteries which he felt were under threat, those remaining still are.  John Moschos, an ageing monk travelled with a companion, Sophronius, walking of course, no taxi's in those days, through troubled lands and many dangers.  
The one clear message from the book is that the area involved has always been a dangerous place to visit.  When the two travelling companions set out in 578 AD the land was in danger from the Persians in the east.  They spread themselves over the are soon to be replaced by the new religion of Islam which swiftly conquered the entire area and seen looked to enter Spain.  When you consider Mohamed died in 632 AD, the Arab tribes were then united within two years yet by 641 AD they had taken the whole of what s now Iraq and Syria and entered Alexandria, one of the great cities of the Mediterranean.  Pushing aside both Persian and Byzantine's they were not long in taking the great city Constantinople also.  Life for a monk, bad enough with nomadic raiders and bandits in the isolated places they chose, was not enhanced by the wars around them.
Christianity is seen in many forms in this book.  The author claims to be a Catholic, but nothing about biblical theology.  He is following Byzantine Greeks on his journey and comes across a wide variety of those.  Some use Aramaic in their chants, a language used by Jesus and while in a modern form this sound may go back five thousand years!  
William finds problems between Catholic and Orthodox, both of whom reject Protestants, both are oppressed by Muslims, although this is often more about politics than religion.  In some cases during the Lebanese war Christians lived among Muslims as they considered this safer, and friendlier, than living among Maronites!  In that was life appears to hold little value for either side yet instances of humanity glow in various forms.
It has been ever thus in the area.
Armenian's were slaughtered by the Turks, who themselves had only entered Turkey 400 years before, they were also rejected in 1922 by the Soviets, the Kurds meanwhile, fighting with, or against, the Turks, used them also.  Today Christians are caught similarly in Syria, in 1994 possibly the safest nation in the Middle East for Christians of all sorts.   
Christians get a bead time in Israel also, though the media ignore this.  Palestinian Christians suffer as the Muslims don't trust them, Israel wishes to remove all Christian traits and have a Jewish state, but with money from visitors to 'Holy' places.  Most Byzantine relics have however been swept away!  
Egypt offered problems in the distant past for the monks and hermits who streamed out of the cities.  Political and religious differences, and I suggest no little seeking after both salvation and  a wee bit of fame possibly, drove many to become hermits, while living close to one another.  A form of monastery which has spread by 700 AD to Ireland and Scotland long before Augustine got to Canterbury.
Constantly the author is found in a chapel, darkness reigns bar the flickering candle light or oil lamps glowing in the dark.  Hooded monks chant for hours, even Vespers, the evening service when outside the light still shines brightly is a dark event.  The hours of prayer pass slowly, chanting the works in ancient languages, some newer ones among those a thousand years old.  In dangerous places often only a handful of monks exist, probably long gone now, elsewhere young men have begun to seek this life.  Saints are worshipped, healing's they claim occur, healing's often sought by local Muslims who come, are given a prayer, some token to take with them, then healing's, or babies are said to result.  To me much is superstition, no theology is offered, no doctrines, just teachings which need better scrutiny than in found in this book and yet God is kind.  He hears all people, does he actually respond even though the theology is poor?
Much of this I found a wrong view of Christianity, a form growing up after Constantine took the throne, but not dating back to new testament days.  Too many ecclesiastical layers have been added to a simpler original.  However there is something interesting within.  This book will not be the answer to life's problems but will take us through the land swiftly, with humour and insight.  History is found here, much opened up for us, and while many of the authors views may be argued against I would recommend this book, especially if you look at the Middle East today.  The area has always been one of conflict, it shall be this way for ever.

    

Friday, 15 November 2019

Cold, Cheerless, November


Deep joy and happiness were not in abundance as I ambled across the park.  Slight joy was to be found in obtaining, at £2 a time, some Christmas cards to complete, I hope, this years lot.  There can be no doubt when I fix them up someone will be forgotten, a sister or cousin or someone you never meet.  That sort of person.
There was a kind of thrill watching Portugal play football last night, not a thrill from the football, their 6- 0 win was understandable, but watching the Portuguese crowd wrapped in heavy overcoats, hiding from the chilly rain that is sweeping across Iberia.  No open necked shirts, dark glasses and t-shirts on show.  Anoraks and expensive rain wear the order of the night.   Somehow this surprised me.
The thrill today continued when I hoovered the floor with the broken Tesco hoover, thus annoying the man downstairs who was sleeping after a heavy night shift.  I would apologise but that would mean waking him up again and he might not like that.   
The Polling card arrived today.  This tells me where to vote, when to vote but not who to vote for.  This may be difficult this year.  Our man always wins, the Tory sheep will vote for a monkey in a suit if it wore a blue rosette, but the 18,422 majority might be in some danger.  However I note there are three independents one a one time councillor, and two nobody's with only the deposit to lose.  This means the Labour and Lib-Dem will be fighting to come second.  If only one withdrew and supported the other, we might lose this man! 
The man had a 3000 increase on his majority as the UKIP folks ran off and joined the Tories, what will they do this time, the Brexit man has had to stand down!  Thanks Farage.  Looks like the Labour man has the best chance, the others too far behind, and the ex-councillor might take votes from the Tory boy but I doubt that will mean much.  It all depends in this 'Daily Express' 'Leave' area what the people wish for.  I hope the 'remainers' turn out...

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Nothing Blog


It has been that sort of a week.
Nothing in the news bar election, which means Brexit.
No interesting items to read therein, just lies and more lies.
The football pages, the Edinburgh ones anyway, are full of lies re the new managers for Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian.  Names are plucked out of a hat, any unemployed manager is given a ring and asked if he is interested, a full declaration of his love for the club is then published.  Neither of the two clubs have any interest in these men, but anything is used to sell these days.  A Celtic coach has spent much time in the media, Hibernian did not contact him, they did not want him, most fans had never heard of him, but he was 'linked' to Hibs.  The Celtic fans, possibly Hibs ones also, clicked on the online story, wasting their time they read nothing but bull.  Story worked, nothing happened but such is the media today.


I have of course made use of Twitter, much better than facebook, to put right those who are wrong.  This does bring back various answers, educated ones from people in the know, far from educated ones from Rangers fans and gay boys.  Political ones are a dream, although so many comments appear to be 'bots' rather than real people.  
The disadvantage of Twitter is when someone posts a news item, say a football story, then everyone re-tweets this and soon the whole thing is dominated by one story, real or imagined, that never appears to end!  Nothing can stop this. 
At the moment Farage is dominating the page.  Quite why I know not, but there he is, constantly appearing again and again.  You would begin to imagine he has friends pushing this for him, surely not...?

  
This is nice.  
Press baron Lord Rothermere meets world leader.
Nice to see two men working for peace together.  How things have changed.  Today the 'Daily Mail,' the Lords publication, would be aghast at meeting such a man.  I suspect Adolf may feel similarly if he read the rag today...


On the genealogy trail I discovered one great granddad had a marvellous way in which to stop his wife nagging him.  He always had a way with women, however he did not reveal it to the wider public, well, not until the trial at any roads...