Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Another Book!

A somewhat lazy day sitting around reading books, watching the screen and muttering to myself.  A normal day perhaps.  
I did finish another of these 'Penguin Monarch' books.  This one concerns a woman I knew absolutely nothing about.  My school history was rightly more concerned with proper Scots history and Mary I was never mentioned.  She did come to mind later occasionally as 'Bloody Mary,' a well known expression, often when I was working I remember, but rarely did she ever get a real mention.
For a start I did not know she married an Italian prince who became King of England!  As King of Spain I had heard of Philip but not that he married Mary, or was that a later Philip?  The book stops when Elizabeth appears.  

Born February 1516 she had the misfortune to be daughter of Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII.  While it appears Henry liked this woman she had a stream of miscarriages which meant he failed to get himself an heir.  The world of that time had its own pressures and as time passed Henry suffered somewhat from too much jousting and removed the wife from his life.  This meant Mary, and later Elizabeth, both went into a kind of hibernation as far as monarchy was concerned.
Henry had his troubles, usually badly handled I would say, with the Pope and became head of his own 'reformed' church.  The increasing protestant religion found a home in England and Henry encouraged this, stripping the Catholics of all he could obtain, closing monasteries and parcelling out the land he did not retain.  This did not make him popular in Rome.

Once the King died and the short lived attempt to put Lady Jane Gray on the throne failed, Mary had her head removed, Mary took their reigns and soon began reverting things back to the RC manner.  Now the author of this book is somewhat biased in his opinions.  He is a lover of Spain and Mary and throughout the book is intent on portraying her in a good light.  All very noble.
He makes a point that she was not 'Bloody Mary' and only did what she had to do according to the ways of the world at the time.
Four Bishops burnt at the stake and 283 others leading protestants who also died may disagree here.
Her short lived reign saw many others follow if they deviated from her spiritual path.  Over 800 well to do people fled the country at this time.  
Her beliefs were based on her Spanish grandmothers influences, clearly Mary was a clever lass, well educated, well read but family pressures possibly kept her from the new reformed faith, especially if she was looking to be crowned and then had to deal with large Catholic super states in Europe.
After she suffered a false pregnancy, possibly from desperation to have a child, she was 38 when she married Philip, her husband moved to France to participate in the ongoing war there.  He only returned once, not long before she died.  
Mary died from  a variety of internal problems, not helped by Flu which took her away during November 1558, she was 42.   She had by this time enabled Elizabeth to replace her as queen.
Whatever was in her mind this author was trying to make her reputation better.  I am not convinced he succeeded but he did offer a concise look into a world I had never known.  We know lots about Henry, too much in my view, the English are obsessed with him for some reason, and we know much about Elizabeth but Mary I know little off.  I am better educated now as these short books are indeed a treat. 

Monday, 29 July 2019

Sunny Picnics and Boris

Leaning awkwardly through the back window I glimpse the sun offering us the appearance of summer once again.  Outside people pass by in flimsy outfits, T-shirts and shorts, dark glasses and thin dresses.  All pretending the weather is hot because the sun is in the sky.  Inside, I sit with a pullover on under my old man's cardie watching the temperature aim for the mid 60's, that's about 17% to you modern people.  By noon it might become summer properly again. 
Interestingly I was reading about one of those murderous English queens, Mary, the Catholic one who married Philip of Spain in an attempt to bring happiness to her people.  His first ten days in the country, in mid summer, were a torrent of continuous rain!  Add to this the diary of King George V, the one who served during the Great War as King, his 1914 diary is full of grumbles re the weather up to the end of July when it turns hot.
Some things never change.

Reading Jenny's blog brought back memories of Sunday School picnics in the 50's & 60's.  In times past it was normal for the church to organise a bus trip out of town for all the kids, his must have begun in Victorian days, horse drawn carts if lucky, walking far otherwise.  Charabancs in the 20's and buses by the 30's.  All the buses we saw in Edinburgh would have streamers hanging out the windows, some places using double deckers as the numbers were so high.  By the late 60's these had died out, the car, lack of numbers possibly, personal travel far afield ensured such events lost glamour to the wealthier society.  However the picnic, especially with a decent crowd, has not lost enjoyment as Jenny's pictures show.  
If lucky the place chosen for the picnic would be clear of sheep and cows and indeed their aftermath.  But in those days we did not complain, we were just told to 'Leave Pat alone and carry on.'  There were occasional races, competitions, though I canny mind any now, and a strange look from the Minister as I approached.  I am unclear what was going through his mind but it did not appear to be "Let the children come to me."    
I have vague memories of the strange smell of the plastic mug, even worse the tin one that enabled whatever we had put in it lost all flavour!  A bag of buns and I suppose sandwiches were given, I canny mind sandwiches but i do remember Edinburgh's buns!  In those days little side street bakers made their own cakes and buns, snowballs, 'fly cemeteries,' and brown things covered with chocolate were the thing!  When I was last in Edinburgh such dank bakers still existed, I wonder if they do now?  I miss the snowballs!  It is rather sad that 'Greggs' and the like and considered better than the corner baker.  
Of course Scots died from eating 50 years worth of such things...

Boris has 'visited' Scotland.
The Scots informed him of their opinion of him so successfully he left by the rear door!  
Unlike in England where many threw coloured balls at him as he passed nothing but 'Boos' and jeers greeted the bumbling PM.  In the west he had blethered on about the EU 'dropping the Backstop and showing 'common sense and intelligence,' failing to mention Theresa came up with the Backstop.  He also failed to mention why the EU should back down when he wishes to leave not them!
Ruth Davidson, the strange wee lassie who runs the Tories in Scotland, refuses to accept the 'No Deal' scenario and has made that plain to him while offering her full support, 'Tory style' I suspect.  
In short he has been shown the door by Scotland but like all at Westminster he will care not about that, his friends and his position are what counts to him.


Saturday, 27 July 2019

Now I'm not one to complain...but..

Does this rain ever stop I wonder...?

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Hot Books

Francis Pryor is a well known archaeologist who, in spite of 30 years of work, came to fame through appearances on Channel 4's 'Time Team.'  His archaeological work in 'Flag Fen' in the er, Fens, near Peterborough, brought him fame in the prehistory world.  It is amazing how opinions can change when a bit of digging in mud, scraping her, scraping there, and pondering on the finds found bring about a new view of the world. 
This book concerns the authors belief that the real stabilising effect down the millennia has been the basic family unit.  From the time after the last ice age, some 8000 BC in these parts, to the day the Romans arrived, and indeed afterwards, the most important pillar was the family unit.  He has a point.
After the vegetation had taken root and the animals had wondered across man followed.  The hunter-gatherers came, probably following the herds of deer, and when farming arrived some 4000 years later and movement lessened it was always the family group, small at first but in contact with others, that was societies base.  I myself suggest that the Stonehenge, and later 'henges,' were places where such groups met for solstice gatherings, worship of their gods, exchange of goods, wives, learning and news and returned to their home area.  As the population grew it appears such behaviour changed in time, beliefs may have altered, possibly though the numbers growth, possibly by new ideas coming in. But whatever the changes, even by the time of the Romans, at heart all societies are formed of families, that is the root of them all.
Pryor has a bias against a strong leader emerging in these groups but I fear human nature is not made to just work together in the manner he envisages.  Families require a head, a leader, small groups do also, a number of groups/families working together always have a leader among them whether they like it or not.  Large populations require one, the UK certainly does today as from today it has no leadership, and while Francis portrays people happily working together in days of yore I see them working together but leaders always at the forefront encouraging them on.
This is a good and interesting book.  The second of his I have read, and recommend it for any wishing t understand prehistory in the UK.
One thing that stands out is the mind of man was no less powerful 10,000 years ago than it is today.  The world he lived in made him work for his dinner, work for his shelter, work to care for his family.  All the family had to work together just to exist.  Human nature does not change so the soap opera of lives in small or large groups would be no different.  Add to this poor food in famine, sickness and snake oil salesmen who must have existed then as now reveals a world no different from ours, just slightly more basic in the various aspects thereof.

A different version of the ancient world, told in their own voice.  Most of prehistory comes down to us via digs in mud or reading scratched signs on walls however by 3000 BC Egyptians had concocted their own version of writing and their tombs were used to inform the world of their opinions. 
Toby Wilkinson has translated many such inscriptions from tombs, coffins or papyrus remnants to bring tales of battles, disasters, tales, hymns, satires and indeed Egypt type proverbs.  All give us an insight, mostly from those at the top naturally, of life in Egypt before the Romans landed there also.
Many of these are worth a read revealing the heart of the one causing the inscription to be written and once again all show just how similar we are to those who lived so far away and so long ago.  Human nature does not change wherever we are.  Our concerns remain the same, cultures adapt because of the land and situation but at heart we remain the same.  This is one way to understand the past life of Egypt.
Also worth a look are the lively Armana letters between subjects and their King.

The temperature reached 93% outside, similar inside when I was burning my dinner.  I went early to Tesco and it was very warm then.  After lunch I toured the shops, it was very quiet, and found only Iceland worth visiting.  A good place today I thought.  
Naturally all around people are complaining!
It is too hot yet they go to foreign countries for this heat, and mutter they cannot sleep in the heat.  Funnily enough it has not bothered me at night, quite warm but facing north I catch any wind there is making the warmest day less of a problem until I go out.  Next week, when normality returns they will be complaining it is too cold!   
No wonder Boris got in!

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Sunny Paint

In spite of the heat, 89% F. at best today, I wandered out to get my hair cut by the miserable one that does not like me.  Still, I got him talking about one of his ex-favourite activities and that helped before he through me out with a false smile hoping I would go elsewhere.  I have that ability, the ability to make friends, I rarely use it.

I wandered over for the free bus which naturally I missed.  This meant a 20 minutes wait until the driver bothered to return.  He also was hating me, and indeed everybody else I reckon, as he trundled along as slowly as possible, almost running into a car at a roundabout as he was poncing about too much, and eventually got us to the end of what is normally a three minute drive.  He was quicker coming back as I suspect he finished at noon which is when we returned.
My need was for paint!
Yes indeed. the bedroom I promised to paint three, or was it four, years ago is now on the 'to do' list.  I wandered about the overpriced shops with nothing to see, almost bought a shirt but considered it a bit poncy for me, saw a similar one later (£45!) which I also decided to leave and joined the sweating throng and headed for B&Q.  
Paint!  White paint, matt, for walls, that was all I wanted.
I could not see it!
There were aisles of 'Dulux' which is expensive, aisles of coloured paints, big pots, small pots, huge pots, but I wanted white not 'harmony' or 'sea blue' or 'felicity' or whatever it was.  
So I asked.
"Round the next aisle," she said contemptuously, knowing I was an idiot and had not thought of seeking out a FIFTH aisle full of paint pots!
There, beside a women confused by the words 'matt' and 'silk' on the pots I found my paint.
At least I found one I could carry.  £11 worth of paint sit outside my door, this in case the landlord or his men pass by and therefore are impressed by my desire to paint, and will do so until I find he energy and desire.  This may not happen at the moment but this is a start.  
I will inform you of progress within the next 12 months.

It appears my prayers have not been answered while I slept after lunch this afternoon.  Boris is now inside No. 10 Downing Street planning to destroy the nation, or at least bumbling a few words before he allows the rest of the louts around him to destroy the free world, he himself will be doing little I expect.  I was praying the police would arrest him for some forgotten misdemeanour and take him away along with the rest of them.  I am somewhat disappointed. 

I would write more but the contents of that 'Yorkshire Bitter' bottle have removed all desire from me and instead made me desire sausage and chips.  I do not see how I can refuse such a desire?

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Sunny Grumble

Is it just me?
I came across this advert on Twitter reminding people to drink lots of water in the heat.
Now it crossed my mind that such things were never made clear when I was a lad.  Nobody told us to drink cold water when we were hot.  No wireless or TV adverts demanded we drink to avoid suffering from heat.  I wonder why?
Could it be, and I am merely speculating here, could it be that we did not require instruction on how to cool down when hot?  Was it because or mum gave us instructions perhaps?  Could it have been that we were not totally stupid maybe?  I just throw this out as reading this advert I wondered if people had never realised before that when the sun shines it gets hot and we drink water to cool down and feel capable of dealing with it.
Maybe it's just me?
I await warnings to 'Keep out of the sun as it is hot,' and 'the sun burns,' don't be in it too long, just in case people do not realise this.  I realise climate change has increased the power of the sunshine, it burns me more than it used to and I avoid it, but really, do we need such blatant advice?

I managed to wander around in the heat looking for half naked women photographs in the sun.  There were so few as it was just to hot.  Animals hid from the heat, children didn't, most people gathered under trees for the shade and to gather together to pray that Boris will get arrested for some misdemeanour tomorrow.  If only.  

I have been struggling to listen to a programme re William Gladstone on Radio 4.  David Cannadine does offer decent programmes but it is becoming impossible to hear what is being said as the producer, as all producers today, insist on inserting needless and irrelevant music thus drowning out the speaker.  There has always been this element on radio, a needless song because the producer cannot listen for five minutes to a voice, now however it is over top of the voice making hearing impossible.
Radio 3 offers the 'Essay.'  Fifteen minute programmes of people speaking intelligently, usually, without music or any other interruption. Why is it Radio 4 cannot manage this?  These children of the 80's have no ability to listen, I suspect they wander about with headsets over their heads, not the women obviously as they fear for their hair, and their heads down onto the mobile rather than looking where they go.  
Speech is good, intelligent speech does not require noise accompaniment.
When will the BBC kids learn this?

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Wet Tour of Boris

I was watching the Tour de France this afternoon and wondering why I was losing interest in this muscular folly?  A few years ago I knew the names of the riders, or at least the favourites, now I do not know who was wearing the yellow jersey. 
I wonder why?
Partly I suspect it is the attitude of those 'keen' cyclists we see around here at this time.  Lycra clad, helmeted, expensive bikes, possibly 'hand made,' and wearing a supercilious expression whenever a normal cyclist struggles by.  I also get irked by their attitude on 'A' roads when they ride two abreast holding up the traffic deliberately showing no concern for others.  This occurs around here and can lead to accidents when a long queue of traffic gets annoyed.  
I know, or at least used to know, a few people here who rode a hundred miles or so for fun regularly, not for exercise but because that was their hobby.  Fine by me but all too often groups of them pass by considering themselves more important because they are 'proper' riders.  It comes to mind a small bike shop in Leith, the owner came often into the 'cash & carry' where I worked.  He would not allow anyone in the shop unless they were a 'proper' cyclist like himself.  Only zealots could buy or they were wasting his time.  Good job we did not stop him buying for us as he was not a 'proper' small shopkeeper and was just using us for convenience.    
Cycling snobs, who would have thought, it's just a bike!

Every so often the rain decided to fall today.  I had just been up the road to Sainsburys watching the big black cloud in the distance and shortly after I had returned and settled down the rain fell.  Teeming down with accompanying thunder, no lightning as far as I could tell.  
Ah summer, don't you just love it.

Tee Hee!  Boris is planning his new cabinet.  He is threatening to put David Davies, who did not do his homework while in the cabinet, in as foreign secretary while we are at war with Iran, Matt Hancock, former Health man in as Chancellor I think, with Rees-Mogg, the member for the 17th century in as Secretary to the Treasury! 
Is this Boris's plan to get himself kicked out of a job quickly in a manner in which he can blame others or what?  Liz Truss, she of the ridiculous statements ("Boris put London on the map" is one) in a high office probably he wants her to replace the woman he now has floating around, if he can remember her name that is.  
I say again this is a judgement!
We do not get ourselves such incompetent leaders in both the UK and the USA by accident.  These people have no idea of running a country, Trump has shown he has less idea than they, racism and rabble-rousing is used as a tool to pull in support, and create enemies, and a quick war that will escalate and destroy millions to follow do not happen in this manner by chance!

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Great Bardfield

The sun tempted me out suddenly this morning.  I gathered up the details of the War Memorial, printed them off along with other things and decided to to the church and seek pictures of those with queries.  I have been meaning to do this for a long time.

I checked the bus times, go ready hurriedly and sped off down the road.  As I neared the bus I realised I had left all the paperwork on my desk!  Too late to go back now when buses run once an hour.  Still, a day out is a day out.

At the very least I knew I would see some of the rolling English countryside as we sped along the rolling English roads.  The harvest is almost gathered in, wheat and barley have been cut down, no green leaf veg to be seen here, although there were quite a few fields resting from their labours.  This area appears to have been made for cereal crops it has always been found here.  There were occasional animals in fields, very few since the great disaster some years ago when 'Foot and Mouth' devastated the herds.  Brexit will no doubt devastate what farms we have left.  This country cannot feed itself, we need imports of foodstuffs, someone tell Dominic Raab that, and where they enter the country.

When I was doing the war memorial it was interesting to note how people offered the address.  Today we have streets and numbers, although any postman will tell you how foolproof that is, while a hundred years ago houses in the village were known as on the main street, Church End or 'Bridge End.'  A straight forward idea and with everyone knowing everyone numbers were not required, just ask and all you speak to would know the person you sought.  Today this would not be the case and not just because of increased population!  
I hovered over the bridge attempting to work my way back a century, the traffic did not make this easy.  The gentle trot of a horse and carriage or the hammer from a workshop nearby has been replaced by traffic, traffic that is too close to the expensive houses for my liking.  For those with children a village life is ideal, if you fit in, for the rich driving into the city it is an escape from hassle to clean air, well at the rear of the house anyway.  Those content to hide from city life will enjoy such a place, though everyone looked sideways at me as I passed, village life you see.

I was looking at the houses trying to fit my dead men, almost all farm workers, into them.  This one looks like it has been around for a while, still I think three homes appear though it may only be two.  The small sign saying 'Private' on the hedge indicates the road to the rear where the horse and carriages (made by BMW and Benz) await.

These look very Edwardian to me these buildings, ideal to dump your farm labourers in.  Before the Great War there was a lot of trouble re wages in this area.  Men were paid 7/6d or possibly 10/- depending on their work.  Many strikes and occasional hay stacks burnt in the night.  Wages rose up to 15/- for some and possibly new houses also?  

More typical are these updated houses, this area is covered in such as this.  Timber frame and plaster, some with fancy designs embossed on the walls others plain and simple.  Only cost about £300,000 today....

Nice to see so many working Landrovers about the place, they offer a true 'country feel' to the village.  Of course few appeared to have any mud or dirt marks on them possibly the weather was too wet to go to Waitrose?  

This as you will guess, is the 'Cage.'  The lock up for drunks who did not wish to leave the pub, the woman alone, or did wish to punch the farmer, Lord of the Manor or the policeman.  A night in here to sleep it off and we will see what happens in the morning.
The wheelie bin does not belong to the cage!

Essex is a terribly revolutionary blackspot!  The Lords were in the lead in rebelling against King John, Wycliffe's English translation of the bible was popular here, even though it meant being burnt at the stake, Cromwell's Parliamentarians were popular here, and the reformation left many staunch non-denominational church groups in the county.  
By the 19th century each village had a parish church, at least one, possibly two, non-conformist chapels, and many continued until after the war.  This one continued in use until 1977, seating for well over a hundred and for 50 odd in the school hall at the side.  There is a joke regarding 'Primitive Methodists' but I am too nice to use it here, the response is similar with 'Particular Baptists!'  The 'Primitive' comes from the belief by 1800 that Methodists were moving away from their origins and a break away determined to return to Wesley's original ideal.  Within a hundred years they had reuinited again.  From the front it looks an awkward house but it would be nice to look around inside, many such places have been renovated and will serve as good homes for another century or so.

Also nearby are the Quakers.  One family, The Bucks, allowed the creation of a meeting place in their large garden in 1804.  In time people famous in Quaker circles were buried here.  I was impressed by the fact that all stones looked similar, no pretentious tombs as is found in many Victorian graveyards.  It did look a bit regulated but so do the war graves from both wars.  This way all are equal in death as in life, social position meant little.   The most recent tombstone, the white one in the far corner, featured a lady who died at 101 last year, just consider what a world she lived through.

However I came for a war memorial and here it is in the central position in the village.  All roads pass by, none could be forgotten, all 18 names, plus two from the later war, stand where they can be seen.  I wonder what people thought as time passed by.  One family lost two sons and four went, others went and little information is forthcoming about them.  Imaging the attitudes of those who returned having seen Paris possibly, parts of France and Flanders, been in a war, possibly at the front, now they return to the farm and the old order?   Interesting times in the village, especially as all were privates and no officers from here died, if indeed any went!

In the inter-war years the painters moved in.  Bawden and friends spent much time drawing and painting in the area.  The light was good, the pace slow, and many works were created offering a glimpse into village life.  I have no idea what the farmers labourers freezing in the fields thought of the well wrapped up rich bloke with the sketch pad but I might be able to guess.  
One of the labourers was also artistic.  Straw plaiting had grown in the 19th century and Fred Mizen became so good at this, in spite of an eye wound he got in the war, in 1951 he created two enormous Lions and Unicorns for the Exhibition at Battersea.   Many of these creations are found in the museum where kids can try straw plaiting with string, they like it.  

I popped into a somewhat confusing Co-op store to buy a bottle of water (57p), the staff were excellent and the sudden queue disappeared quickly, and I crossed the road heading for the main object of the day the large church and the graveyard to do a search for a dead man.  On the way I passed this ancient fountain donated by Henry Smith in 1860.  This at a time when decent clean water was not always available.  However I wondered if it was drinkable today.  It looked clear enough but was it just coming out of the river to the side?
On my way back home I stood at the nearby bus stop watching two men fill several large plastic water containers, several gallon types, with this water.  It looked like this was their normal work. I wondered where they were taking it, who they were and was it drinkable?  I am now looking for a break out of disease in north Essex to see where they went!

By the time I sat down in St Mary the Virgin I was knackered and losing interest.  Insufficient breakfast was showing fast.  I have been here before around 20 years ago and realised this was now a very High Church type of place.  You see prayer kneelers in the pews but no bibles.  No books on sale to indicate what is on offer.  I can see why so many non denominational churches arose here.  
The place is somewhat darker than the pictures reveal, the light at the main end is OK but back here little gets in.

The windows are interesting, mostly memorials to people but not all.  St Cedd was one of the first proper missionaries to Essex, I think he came from Lindisfarne from amongst the Scots monks who came with Columba from Ireland.  Life gets confusing in the centuries after the Romans left!

These churches are full of interesting things, some can be explained having been once important in times past, others appear to be making the most of a gap!  

Sick man that I am I thought this my best picture today.

I shuffled around the churchyard, not an easy thing to do with so many humps and unexpected bumps in such places, I was looking for the men on my list.  I ought to add this was the list stupid lugs had left behind on his desk.  This meant I could not be sure which name I was looking for, I could guess but this was not a good idea.  Also the older stones were often unclear, rotting away from lack of care and I was getting tired now.

I was surprised to see this man and his wife here, I thought all the Crittall's were buried closer to Braintree.  John was the last family member to run Crittall's as a going concern, when he retired in 1974 it went to other companies and through many variations continues still.  He like all the family appear to have been popular, his wife was an adventurous woman although I never got to read the book in the museum as people kept coming in to annoy me.  

Though I never found the man I was looking for I did find the parents of two others, the Cornell's had 12 children altogether, one died, yet mum managed to live until 79, just imaging the life she had!  It is women like her that make me angry with feminists.  They demand so much while spending their lives at a laptop while millions of women like this one had such tough lives, in many places they still do and the middle class feminist is not helping them!  
The round metal grave marker is typical of this area.  Only a couple here but many Essex graveyards have them, fashion or cheapness I wonder?
I also found a man called Evans I have not heard off.  I wonder who he is?

The sun was high and it was time to shuffle of down the road for the bus.  The hills rolled along while here and there workmen brought in the harvest and large bales of hay looked set to roll of down the rolling hills.  Farm work remains one of the most dangerous employments in the country.  Sadly I cared as much as the Alpacas we passed appeared to care as I was tired and they were well fed and sheared I believe.   The bus rolled into town and I hobbled home desperate for food,  then spent the rest of the day doing this!