Monday, 20 February 2017

Time Flies


Where does time go?
Intending to be at St P's for noon today I rose with plenty of time to spare, ate dressed washed and all reading done I happily awaited the hour of departure.
Why therefore with all things done and careful planning completed did I find myself suddenly rushing for the door?  At one point there was an hour before I left the next minute I was racing to get out on time!
Who stole those minutes? 

Switch the laptop on and watch it warm up and almost half an hour will pass before it is ready for work.  Switch it on and go make a cup of tea taking only two minutes and the brute is wondering where you have been and switched itself off again!  How does time work in such situations?
Waiting for a dentist to finish pulling teeth can take hours but a fanciful delight of whatever sort lasts only seconds, how come?
I am reminded of the tombstone which read:-
"Harry Smith the inventor of time travel.  
          Died 3rd February 2317."


This old laptop is quite good however a year or two ago I bought a second one as this was overheating and playing up.  Once I obtained a new one this brute began to play nice again!  The newer one has more power, more ram, more GB space and is slower than this one!  I am annoyed as I cannot figure out why.  
I have done all the usual things, increased ram, run the anti this and anti that, cleaned out this and that and having done all the usual things the beast still reacts slower than this old one.  Possibly Cortana that needless use of space might be responsible, it is off on the old one but keeps appearing unwanted on the newer.  I have tried closing it down as per usual methods but it keeps reappearing.  None of the recommended tricks work.
Possibly that is not the problem but I cannot work things out as to why it is slower, it ought to be faster than this.
A bit like me really, very fast for my age...  what?  Oh!



Sunday, 19 February 2017

Sunday Morning


Sunday morning football is not something I was ever involved with.  I am not sure it occurred in Edinburgh in those days though I think many played on Saturday afternoons, the schools certainly played on Saturday mornings.  We ourselves having left school and unable for reasons we failed to understand took to playing football on Sunday afternoons at the Meadows while attempting to listen to John Peel offering proper music on a distant transistor radio. This was not a success.
Maybe I misunderstand but it appears to me England was full of people playing football on Sunday mornings.  This seems to still be the thing to do but as I rarely pass the fields on Saturday's I do not know if anyone plays there at that time.
It is a long time since I last stood between the goalposts, feet inches deep in mud, thoroughly enjoying myself in spite of the score.  Wormwood Scrubs, 11:30 in the morning, around 1976 or 77,  I reckon was the last game I played.  We drew four all with the Spanish church.  The sounds of the players cries, the thud of the ball as it bounces of the bonce, the emotions aroused when you score or lose a goal, the smell of the grass or ought I say mud as face down you grasp for the ball near the goaline, all such things remain in the memory and please the heart, unlike the aches and bruises found the next day.


These events today were put on by the local football club which struggles near the bottom of what is called the 'national league,' and unofficially called the 'Fifth Division.'  Partly because this gives coaching to young players who one day might bring fame and fortune to the club and partly because such 'community efforts' help encourage the council to back the club in its drive to build a new and much needed stadium players of all sorts can be found here on Sunday mornings no matter the weather.
The earnest kids play a disciplined game such as we at that age never comprehended, their knowledge of tactics far outweighs mine, their positional sense at seven years old is greater than mine will ever be, and maybe one day they will indeed make it to the top division and even their national side.  
parents, often under strict instructions regarding their behaviour, shouting or attitudes towards the referee watch on keenly interested in their offspring's development.   Mums shiver behind the coffee mug obtained from the pie stall trailer that makes a good living from the watchers, Dads once more fantasise about success, this time for their son, wishing they knew then what they know now and on occasion running the line trying their best to keep within the spirit off the game and give correct decisions.  Others find some degree of enjoyment racing after a loose shot as the ball runs down the slope and bodies no longer used to running begin to stiffen before they have returned the ball to the playing area.  Glancing at the pie stall they wonder if they ought to buy something or wait until later and visit the 'Coach & Horses' instead?  

  
They even have girls teams pretending they are men on occasion.  It is clear from those involved that few will make it to a higher level though one girl I saw on an earlier occasion might make it playing rugby!  For most of them fun is the main thing though I notice few girls team in recent weeks, maybe the weather was too cold!  
One problem I find is that if you don't make it into a 'team' you might not play football in any place. Until the late 70's or the early 80's football was played in open spaces five night a week in every part of the country, now it is played in school playgrounds if there is space or not at all.  I wonder if the lack of natural talent has been lost because few now play in these sometimes 20 a side games with players of various ability?  The great skillful players of yesteryear all came though such football education and I wonder if this is losing talent that ought to be allowed to develop before such coaching is used.
It also loses many who get discouraged early on and fail to just enjoy the game, played at their own ability level, for fun with little thought of a future career.  Playing for fun, in spite of the weather, also involves team spirit, meeting strangers, a wee bit of travel and again more fun!  We cannot all make the top level but we can make fun out of the game with friends surely?



Saturday, 18 February 2017

Bored


Having chosen to remain indoors, once I had nipped out for breakfast, I have been struggling to find decent pictures form what little lies around me, hence starry fruit!  I wondered what that button would do.

   
What do you mean "I think you've had enough sir?"


Playing with the buttons has many effects, especially the effects that make me spend time trying to work out what went wrong!  How many folks have had one of these beauties?  I suppose everyone had a ''Brownie' camera at one time, some of you old enough to have had a 'Box Brownie' I suspect! 
The only one I actually used was the Minolta, a bargain at £125 from a shop in North Finchley many years ago.  How many blurred, distorted, obscure, wrongly exposed and totally naff pictures did I take with that camera?  It was fun mind!  
I suppose most pictures today are taken on mobile phones, and the majority of them are 'selfies' by wee girls exposing themselves for young men to take notice.  I remain unsure that 'selfies' are a good thing myself.  While I understand their use I reckon far too many of these are taken at the wrong time and in the wrong place. 
Maybe I'm just jealous.


The 'Glums' agree with me...


Friday, 17 February 2017

Friday


Another day where clouds cover the earth,  Does winter ever end?  No wonder those living in the far north suffer depression and commit suicide!  Imagine six months of darkness!  A couple of months of cold, rain and cloud depress enough quite how they manage up in Lapland beats me.  They do drink a lot it must be said and that cannot be good for them.  No wonder the Vikings long ago loved to move to Scotland as the weather was more acceptable!  That tells you something! 
Yesterday the sun shone brightly as you can see, cheering everyone and allowing the pigeons to think that Spring was on the way and they began to chase the girls through the trees.  This morning they were sitting in the branches of the same trees digesting their breakfast and looking for woolly hats to wear.
Of course this week has been mild and the gutter press are screaming that next week it will be "warmer than Greece."  This does not say much as Greece gets cold in winter also of course and there is much snow on them thar hills.  Hopefully this will actually happen but the press are never reliable sources.
Interestingly the other day I read that Wiki, the source of all knowledge, has banned the use of the 'Daily Mail' as a source grumbling that the 'Mail' is "..not a reliable source."  How right they are!  Will the 'Daily Express' and the 'Sun' follow I wonder?


You can tell nothing else happened here.  
Trapped indoors by housework, trapped indoors by weather, trapped indoors by stiff knees and trapped indoors by laziness!  Not actually in that order.  
I am not getting out and about at the moment, there is little worth reading in the news, little exciting happens and I am not yet finished any of my books. 
My memory is so poor these days I am unsure if i went out this morning or just imagined it.  I think I need a matron here to look after me.  I am beginning to wonder if I should go to bed or just wait until someone phones and tells me what to do next.
Life can be so exciting....



Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Scapegoats


It began with the unemployed then it moved on to the sick, after a period migrants became the target and now, at long last, come the pensioners.  Yes the Tory government have got so low that they now feel able to attack the very people who put them in power - pensioners!


The UK has the most right wing media in Europe some say, the UN included.  This is clear with even a quick look at the press on offer.  The biggest sellers, the 'Sun,' around 1.7 million sales daily,owned by Rupert Maxwell, the 'Daily Mail,' around 1.5 million daily, owned by Lord Rothermere the non domiciled billionaire who prefers living in France than to his own nation, especially as he then pays no tax on his papers income, and the 'Daily Express,' around 400,000 daily, owned by an ex-porn baron Richard Desmond! 
These are the biggest sellers and if more than one person reads every other copy you could say they reach 6-7 million people a day, mostly adults.  All have a hectoring right wing stance, most for the Tories (though Rupert Murdoch backs anyone who will agree with him) and the 'Express' now supports UKIP, the UK Independence Party, in a vain hope of increasing sales among those who live in daily fear of immigrants and have react with fear and follow any rabblerouser. 
There are 'quality' papers for the thinking man however the term 'quality' is difficult to discern within the pages.  The 'Daily Telegraph,' once the 'Daily Torygraph' has lost over a million readers and now sells just under half a million.  'The Times,' another Murdoch paper, sells just over 400,000 and religiously follows his lead.  
On the alternative side there is the 'Guardian,' once a well written liberal paper and now just a middle class socialist rag losing money day by day, around 160,000 sold daily, yet the people at the top keep getting pay rises it appears according to 'Private Eye.'  They claim to be on the Left yet live like those on the right these young folks.  There is also the 'Daily Mirror,'  once a Labour paper but now not quite sure where it stands so resorts to the usual downmarket stuff.  As long as Labour are in disarray the 800,000 'Mirrors' will not increase.
Of course all these have online pages which gather many more readers, at least those that do not charge, the 'Daily Mail' pandering to the Trump supporters in the USA gathers, they say, 80 million hits!
Then there is the TV & Radio.  ITN News follows the tabloid formula with much use of the word 'shocking' I find, however Channel 4 News can do a decent job on the occasion they make the effort.  The BBC by far and away the most popular ought to be totally independent but in recent days so many journalist have been removed and replaced by younger, cheaper, options all of whom follow the PC order of the day, and that is led not by the 'lefties' as described in the 'Mail' & 'Express' but by the Conservative Party!  The top people at the trust have been appointed by the Tories, three of the six were members of the party I understand, the top man in the news is an ex- 'Times' editor, the political editor is a Tory (again) and several leading persons in the news are clearly right wing.  It is no surprise that the news from the BBC is not as independent of the government as they imply.
The millions reading the papers get home to watch the same stories, often better written, on their televisions.  The message is clear, 'they' are a problem and 'they' live off your taxes!  

  
What am I rabbiting on about?  Well these papers on the right have followed the lead forcing upon their readers the idea that the nations problems came from too many people on the dole.  It was nothing to do with the lack of jobs or the economic downturn it was clearly lazy people living of YOUR taxes!  Often Tories quote the line "If you don't work you should not eat" taking it deliberately out of context (though few know the context) and implying all unemployed were lazy.  Keep telling lies and people begin to believe them, soon people began to believe them!
The next target was the sick.  People with serious diseases were soon informed by those totally lacking in medical knowledge that they were 'fit to work.'  I met one of these women one day and was struck by her ability to fill in a form and have no idea what it all meant!  She got paid mind!  Questions have been asked of the government department responsible for such enquiries (DWP) as too how many such people declared fit for work have died within a month of receiving this information, no answer has so far come forth, not even a court of law has received an answer to this query!   The readers of the Tory tabloids now know that all who are sick are not sick, each one is a cheat and just lazy, you know like those on the dole!  
Then came another excuse.
While the government deliberately mismanages the NHS, poor management, absurd Trusts, lack of sensible investment, the blame can easily (via the papers) be blamed on foreigners coming here and having free health care, not just in an emergency but for anything.  Statistics to show how much this actually happens are not printed.  Anything to avoid facing up to the governments deliberate attempt to kill the NHS and make money from an American style insurance fiddle.  Jeremey Hunt, the richest member of the cabinet and the Health Secretary has thousands of shares in such private companies, many of whom have won work with the NHS.
Now they have reached the pensioners.

The other day a committee (the name escapes me as it has gone from the online media) announced that today's pensioners were better off than young folks in work.  Watching such young folks with Sky TV and smart TVs to watch it on while making use of the expensive smart phones I began to wonder.  I wondered how they afforded this while driving smart cars, that's what I wondered!  
Poor folks, none of them lived through the rich Thatcher days when I earned £36 a week in the NHS, none were lucky like me to later earn a good wage yet be unable to buy a house because prices rocketed so much I could not afford a front door let alone a house!  Also unlike so many (according to these tabloids) I could not stay living off my parents as I was booted out and told to find a job!  On top of which I wanted my own place not to live off them, not that we could as there was no money.
(Can you hear the violins)


The fact is the public have been under propaganda for many years, while the rich get richer those reading their papers and nursing their wrath at the benefit scroungers living off their 'hard earned' (they say) cash while fearing the vast number of immigrants arriving next door to live of the dole while taking their jobs and milking the NHS, they themselves do not notice that they are getting poorer and it is the rich, not the poor, who are responsible.
The unemployed were attacked so less money could be paid to those without jobs, the sick were attacked to lower the money paid in benefits, immigrants were attacked so government need not help those in need, and now even pensioners are attacked so the Chancellor can cut back the money spent on them thus lowering the welfare budget.  
While many have fallen for the propaganda spewed out daily from the 'elite' they may have overreached themselves this time.  The pensioners have a weapon no government can fix, pensioners tend to vote Conservative!  It will not take long for the younger MP's in the House to feel the wrath of their aged population.  An email from such can go a long way to influence Tory thinking. As so many 'True Blues' got their seat from votes from loyal Tories they will soon find a voice crying out for aid to the poor pensioner who struggles to make it through the day ( like me for instance) even though many in Conservative areas are doing nicely thank you.
(Insert here song: 'Brother can you spare a dime')

  
So what about the rich elite?  Those in powerful positions in government or business, Banks or the media, what about them?  We know so many have millions stuffed away dodging tax in foreign banks, this was shown when then Prime Minister Cameron was seen to have £3 million in a Panama Bank!  What did the media tell us?  They spent days attacking a Labour Party hate figure for his so called 'anti-Semitic' views which he may or may not have had.  The tale of rich people with money abroad died.
The rich get richer and the poor get the blame, nothing has changed and this time the middle classes, and those who want to believe they are middle class, are paying for it while being told it is everyone else's fault.  Hopefully one day when the Brexit lie is over these people will stand up and oppose those who are leading them to ruin while blaming 'Him over there.'  Maybe they will wake up but I doubt it.    

 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Cold Sun


See!  I told you it was cold!  I found this man posing for Christmas cards and Calendars in the gardens this afternoon!  He missed the snow as it had melted by then but he was ready for the next lot, his scarf and mittens were lying in the background.  


There was sunshine today trying to pretend the east wind was not happening.  It failed!  However as it is now half term around here the place is chock full of kids running around.  I dread going to Tesco tomorrow as a million kids will be there.  That reminds me some will be in the museum doing arty things tomorrow.  What with that and the popular art exhibition I may not find time to read my book!  Bah!


You can tell it has been another quiet time.  
Some excitement will arrive soon, and the weather might warm up...



Saturday, 11 February 2017

Light Snow


Light snow this morning, freezing cold night.  Snow has returned as we speak so I am wrapped up indoors watching poor English football on the laptop.  It is zero degrees at the moment but they claim that buy Wednesday it will be 10% here!   What has trump done to the weather????  I'm taking the laptop to bed...

 

Friday, 10 February 2017

COLD!!!!


While some grumble about 40% of heat in Australia others are watching snowflakes fall outside their window failing to appreciate the lack of heat. Those desperate too cool down can come here and test the frostbite if they wish! 


We suffered a serious loss in the comedy world recently, Alan Simpson who working with Ray Galton created both 'Hancocks Half Hour' and 'Steptoe & Son' died the other day aged 87.  
Born in Brixton in 1929 Simpson had the misfortune to contract tuberculosis when only 17.  However while in Milford Sanitorium, the way such diseases were dealt with in those days, he met Ray Galton and together they improved the patients lot when writing scripts together for their fellow sufferers.  
Surviving their ordeal the two sought out advice from the then leading scriptwriters Frank Muir & Dennis Norden, they were told to send scripts to the BBC and from this odd parts appeared in Radio comedy of the day.  Tony Hancock noticed one of their scripts during a rehearsal and soon they worked on a new kind of comedy from that usual at the time.
Radio comedy featured short acts with musical interludes and occasional special guests.  The two decided more realistic comedy was required, no funny voices, no gimmicks, no catchphrases instead just a situation comedy using wit combined with good acting and indeed that was the basis of the Hancock shows.  The fact that Kenneth Williams indeed offered 'funny voices' and some of Hancocks phrases became a kind of catchphrase, 'Stone me' & 'You will get a punch up the bracket' amongst them, the comedy combined awkward situations, clever witty lines often genius's in themselves, Hancocks personality and acting ability produced a show that was so popular that in the days of 1950's radio some twenty million would tune in to listen.
The Hancock experience lasted until 1961 when Tony broke off the tie and ventured into oblivion but Galton & Simpson continued to change the face of comedy this time continuing on TV where the Hancock shows had naturally ended up with a new long lasting powerful drama comedy called 'Steptoe & Son.'  Once again it was sharp wit, clever lines and good actors, straight actors this time, who combined to produce both pathos and comedy at the same time.  Once again the programmes popularity brought millions to rush home to see this programme.  The popularity was such it is claimed one programme was taken off air on election night (always a Thursday) to ensure people would come out to vote!  
Neither man achieved such success again as that found in these two programmes though both worked in various programmes with mixed success.  It matters not as their place in history is assured.  Both became OBE's and they were awarded a BAFTA Fellowship in 2016.
Like Muir & Norden Galton & Simpson among remain the UK's best loved scriptwriters and their work will remain popular for eons to come.

   
Men beware, the Valentines guilt trip is upon us once again!  Valentines Day on Tuesday is now compulsory violence against men and ought to be banned.  Throughout the land men are forced to pay large sums of cash to florists, card shops and chocolate sellers to ensure they are not kyboshed by a loose frying pan on Tuesday.  Women, whose devious ways are manifest, will of course claim this day means little to them then reach for a blunt instrument, not their tongue obviously, when he forgets or worse doesn't bother about the day.  It's cruel and a mere business moneymaking scam!
Naturally I need buy nothing, the last time I had to was about 15 years ago and I offer a used frying pan, somewhat dented, to show the result when I forgot.  I could of course send anonymous cards to several women just to upset their men  mind....



Thursday, 9 February 2017

Books Again...


Instead of my misgivings about the local W.H.Smith shop I ventured in there this morning on the basis that being Thursday half day closing it would be quiet, and so it was.  Clutching tightly in my mitts was a £10 Book Token from my delightful and best looking niece way up north in an uncivilised part of the world, West Lothian!  I strolled along the limited shelves searching out the great book that I was waiting for and as always failed to find it.  However two useful books were discovered.
'The Railways' looks a decent history of rail in the UK and at £9:99 it fitted the book token.  However I was left with a dilemma!  Buying this book meant there was a penny left over and I then decided to add to my purchase a hardback book 'The First World War on the Home Front' produced by the Imperial War Museum (IWM).  Now I am not keen on the complicated IWM website and a couple of their books I have read before were not to my liking either knowledgeable though they were  but as this book was only £5 I took it, the paperback version was also £5 for some reason so I got the hardback.  I'm like that.  This means that to avoid losing a penny I spent a further £4:99, what does this indicate about my thinking processes....?
The books have been added to the 'To read' pile and by astute use of the remaining Amazon Book Token I might well add more before the day is out.  Of course all this may mean I have no time today to actually read any of these literary works but at least they are there in the moments when I am free!


I was irked again this week, occasionally I am irked, this time I was irked by the phrase 'Moving forward!'  What does it mean?  Variations of the theme can be 'Going forward'  but this does not help me.  I mean where are they going?  Football teams often use the phrase, "We want to be moving forward with the club," they say, why?  Can they not say "We are developing the club" or "Life goes on and there is nothing we can do about it!"  Is anybody actually moving when they move forward?  I mean what is this woman going on about, "Food is ever-changing and ever moving forward and getting more and more complex." Alexandra Guarnaschelli.  Food is moving forward?  If my food was moving forward it could be that is because of the green stuff growing on the side of it!
Possibly black olives falling off the plate are 'moving forward?'  I don't know, maybe that's because I keep moving backwards...

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Crackling


I woke with a bit of crackling this morning.  This has become normal in this house.  Daily I awake and the springs in the mattress, a mattress which I confess has seen better days - the relief of Ladysmith was one I believe - a mattress which requires replacing urgently with a real one.  The noise as I head for my seven hour coma can be mistaken for one of those avant garde Radio 3 late night shows where 'modern music' is given its head.  Heads which many of a musical bent would consider ought to be removed I suggest.  Anyway the creaking and groaning, the crackling and crashing of aged springs which could be mistaken for my knees at the moment discouraged me  and sent me off, eventually, to my mornings stint at the museum.
Having held a book signing last night in which almost two hundred 'arty' people came to call there was a lot of clearing up to do when I arrived.  This of course is not unusual, I usually spend the first hour removing that which belongs elsewhere to it's own lodge.  Quite why women canny do things in a logical straight forward organised manner beats me.  The cleaner agreed with me, clever and very busy man that he is, but I just carried on without one word of complaint as I always do.


There are those who do complain however, my associate who spent the entire day wandering off or grumbling about nothing.  Not that I complained when she left me with an hour of the 'Beach Boys' on CD while I wished for Coleman Hawkins, I merely attended to the many visitors coming in to see the art exhibition.  In fact many folks are travelling many miles to view these pictures.  It made me wonder why?  What is it about painting/sketches and the like that makes people seek them out?  
I like pictures, I am happy to view galleries if what is on show is worth browsing but I doubt I would travel miles for that reason.  Art brings in the punters big time, why?  
Do these folks dabble in art or is it just that they dabble in the art world and all that goes along with it?  Is this a middle class seeking a role model or possibly hoping to seek art that justifies their views on life?  
These folks may have prints of the pictures at home and wish to see more, maybe they lived in the village or area where the artists worked, possibly some are relatives of people shown.  However whatever the reason art brings people from miles around just to spend a long time checking out each sketch, painting or book cover design.  I still wonder why.  
Interestingly a question on 'Brain of Britain last week asked about an incident at a famous art gallery. None knew the answer which was that the famous artists famous picture had been hung upside down.  Nobody noticed for forty seven days!  That speaks volumes for the art world.

   

Monday, 6 February 2017

I Don't Get Out Much...


I don't get out much these days.  Either the weather is dreich or I am it's always one or the other.  Yesterday the mist covered the land until I appeared and my presence turned it into cloud cover.  I hurried slowly back home from a very good morning at St P's to watch the Heart of Midlothian demolish Motherwell as we ought and then wasted the rest of the day footering around on the laptop trying to speed things up or watching bad football. 
This was not my most productive day.


Today I was off to St P's for the study time but was directed by the museum to attend a meeting instead.  This was good as I was still sleeping having woken at seven ans not fallen asleep until very late.  Therefore my mind did not recover sufficiently to debate things and a museum meetings was just about right for my head.  The meeting was to inform us volunteers of developments, problems, exhibitions, secret stuff we already knew about (walls have ears) and other highly informative news that I admit I have already forgotten.  
These little meetings are important because one or two of us ask the questions they do not wish asked, I only once upset the boss, and we all had a jolly good time.  It is nice to have an idea of what is coming up, lots of good things this year, and long term developments that may also occur money willing.  It's good to work amongst folks who enjoy what they do and have good ideas re exhibitions and money gathering, I am so glad I do not have to do any, my role is to mutter and grumble, nothing else.  
It is impressive that there are signs of an income increase, slight though this is, that school numbers are also increasing, and that bright ideas are being thought through.  I look forward to later in the year when we bring the locals in to talk about their past, that is if they will actually come to join us.


I did however have a disaster on my WW2 memorial.  I went on to it to amend something and the info box claimed it could not connect to something, followed by computer speak.  I clicked on it stupidly and the thing deleted everything!  Whether this was a virus that sneaked in or just a cliche I know not but luckily I have most of the info on file. 
So I have spent time required in bed elsewhere replacing the basic details and when that is done I must go over everything again and add the more informative bits.  There is only about a hundred names after all...
In between times I merely bait Trump lovers for fun.  

 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Rough, So Read a Book.


Been rough the last couple of days and have only ventured out to the shops.  This reflects the very exciting life I now lead.  Apart from another highly satisfactory result from the Heart of Midlothian today there has been little to comment on.  Fiddling with the laptop and reading books has been my lot and I managed to finish one at least.  



"A Foreign Field" tells the true story of a few British soldiers caught behind the enemy lines after the Battle of Mons in 1914.  As they withdrawal began the enemy swarmed all around and many a man was caught out by the advancing Germans.  Some became prisoners, some killed on the spot, others after desperate measures of living off the land remained hidden in the houses and out buildings of French homes hoping to escape back home or survive the war.
German behaviour at this time was not pleasant. The village in the story had the unfortunate luck to be in what was to become part of the Somme battleground.  They therefore had German authority over them and many troops billeted on them, both going to and coming from the battle.  Going to the line troops were often reasonable while returning troops had the haunted looks war offers.
The local Major took opportunity not just to impose military rule but grabbed each and everything he could from the people.  It appears he thought the peasants had more than they had and were hiding things from the Germans so he issued many orders demanding this that and the other.  One demand included ordering that all Cock chickens should lay two eggs a day, another that all rabbits in the are should be counted!  It was clear he was not a country lad.
Several soldiers remained hidden in the village for almost two years.  Hiding in lofts and behind walls while Germans ruled the houses the men appeared in the open air dressed as locals and learning to speak the local patois. It fooled the invaders but not any local!
Inevitably one man fell for the prettiest girl in the village and in spite of mothers stern opposition a baby appeared also!  The book concentrates on the relationship of these soldiers to the village and much of the problems arise from this relationship.  Jealousy and resentment were common enough before the war but the straightened times, the threat of imprisonment and death if the men were found took its toll.
Several attempts to escape were made, the local smugglers knew the area well, however the vast number of occupying troops made this impossible.  Indeed only one man, moving alone rather than in a group, managed to make it to the Netherlands and home.  
Eventually someone tips off the enemy and the remaining men are captured.  Tried and shot much to the villagers disgust many were more disgusted by their own treatment by the Germans.  Many were condemned to death, most imprisoned and this meant a slow death anyway, and others soon afterwards removed to refugee camps far away.  This was because the war at the Somme was now the main battle ground for the British and the Germans were with drawing to new positions.  They then destroyed deliberately the entire area, villages, churches, farms, woods were cut down, cellars turned into dangerous mines, booby traps laid everywhere, the village turned to rubble.
The book from this point concentrates in searching for the one who informed the Germans of the presence of the British soldiers and what was the motive?  
So we have a war book with little direct war, a clandestine group of soldiers, a love story (yuk) and a mystery.  The book rattles along at a decent pace and while I had heard of the tale a while back this gives an in depth study of the times.  How courageous these French folks were!  Many like them died for their efforts to aid such men, and after the war a medal and other tokens were received from London as reward, one couple at least were taken before the King, they had hidden one soldier in a cupboard for four years in a house full of Germans!  Deprivation, fear, fighting the enemy in any way possible and finally traitors!  This was a decent book even non Great War lovers would read. 


Friday, 3 February 2017

Friday Life


We walked into the restaurant, she brunette dressed in black, me scruffy leading the way, and the waitress similarly dressed in black showed us a table.  I wandered to the back and she suggested another table while asking about my 'girlfriend.'  Clearly she wanted me also.  I returned to the table for two by the wall and as I sat down I woke up and discovered Justin Webb the middle class 'Islington leftie' attempting to browbeat the Finnish Prime Minister unsuccessfully.  How I wished to return to my dream.
Wednesday was a good day, one in which I read books and slept a lot.  Beginning with a wander up to Sainsburys before the rain began I ignored the world and relaxed in my best day for weeks.  At night I felt a wee bit radge but the next morning I was very radge indeed.  The boss at the museum had a cold and she has given it to me!  The dreich weather meant I was going nowhere anyway so 
I suffered indoors.
Today I ventured out to buy some Corn Bread, fancy bread being one of the present day fads I am enduring, and I got there just as the lass brought one out.  Naturally while having my tea I forgot all about it.  Bah!
I looked in the museum as I passed, heard how the lass had been "busy all day" and was lumbered for a few minutes as she wandered off to chat to someone!  Good job I'm not the complaining type.

On Wednesday night I did however see a revival of the good old days when visiting Glasgow teams were put to the sword.  In my youth this was what we expected, today the mismanagement of money and the league set up has limited this for all clubs, Scottish football is in a bad way.  However in spite of our recent problems the Heart of Midlothian are indeed on the way up again and under Ian Cathro's enlightened coaching we were able to reduce the Rangers Tribute Act to a trembling jelly like mess.  It was wonderful to see!  There is much more to come in this new system and even the Glasgow media must take note. 


I've found a new toy to play with!
One of the lassies at the church has become obsessed with UKIP and lately Donald Trump.  Her facebook page is littered with 'Daily Express' pieces telling of nasty Muslims, good old Donald and the love of Brexit!  
Naturally I am indicating the problems here.
This took her by surprise as she doesn't appreciate how the 'little englander' come 'racist' approach is actually unchristian.  She believes UKIP and Donald trump are Christian simply because they oppose abortion.  No I agree with banning killing children but I 'hae ma doots' that UKIP personnel have much in the way of Christian doctrine in mind.  Their leaders show no evidence and appear more concerned with bringing back a fantasy empire than anything else.  
As for Donald I note his many Tweets on Twitter, always worth linking to them, and while he is seen at prayer with others and has some decent advisers in Christian ways I 'hae ma doots' aboot him also.  The word 'publicity stunt' appears in my mind when such photographs appear and until more evidence is forthcoming I will be wary of our Donald.
Sadly it is clear there are far too many stories for and against almost everyone in the media or online that it is difficult to know what is real and what is half truths exaggerated.  Reading the tweets however there is indeed a man in the White House who requires someone to polish his act somewhat.
I expect to get a loving mouthfull this Sunday...


Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Hard Work...


On Saturday I popped into the museum for the opening of the exhibition.  I was late and missed that, missed the boring speeches, missed the cheap red wine, missed the cakes, so I went home again before I didn't miss the washing up.  
Today the first thing I did was wash up the left over cups!
The thing about art exhibitions is the people that this attracts.  Tuesday mornings, especially dreich damp ones, are usually quiet however by not long after ten thirty I had dealt with ten people already!  So it continued, art lovers, both local and distant arrived and will continue to arrive in their droves as long as the exhibition lasts.
When doing the war memorial it was clear most of the men in the village were agricultural labourers, horsemen or stockmen.   It is no wonder that after three or four thousand years of such work the men took the chance to move to Canada or Australia for a better life!  What future would there be unless you found an exceptional talent and the opportunity to use it?
No doubt that also enabled many to enlist in 1914.  Several volunteered and occasionally one or two were already in the army,the temptation of regular pay and the opportunity to see the world too strong for some.  In those days the army was a rough place to be but at least there was the chance to be rough in India or China, Africa or some other hot exciting spot.  The fact that you might get shot didn't loom high at that moment.
In the late twenties when Bawden and Rivellious arrived the village would have been a quiet retreat from the big market town.  The small village surrounded by fields would, in the Spring, offer a delightful opportunity for painters to wallow in country living and express this on their canvasses.  Quite what the farm labourers really thought as they slugged away at twenty tons of potatoes or turnip while some chap drew sketches of them i cannot say.  I know what might have crossed my mind however.  
We have this exhibition on until April 15th so I expect to be an expert on these men and those who followed them by then.  Just listening to the folks this morning was interesting, though few of them bought much from the books and cards we have on offer however!  Bah!