Friday, 23 June 2017

Kindling

I have always been a keen reader and I well remember walking what must have been two or three miles to the public library when I was but 12 years old. I have never been one for buying masses of books; I would then have the problem of either storing them or giving them away, something I would be loth to do. There are some books that I am happy to read again and again, and they do have pride of place on my bookshelves.

But - a few months ago I decided to bring myself into the 21st century. I bought a Kindle!

I was really very dubious about using such a device. There is something special about opening a new book - the smell of it and the crisp feel of the pages. But I rarely managed to be the first to read any of the books I borrowed from the public library so there was little chance of me missing that special feeling.

I still do like reading a 'proper' book, but I have to confess I am very taken with ebooks. There are various advantages:

  • the Kindle fits in a jacket pocket so is easy to take with me;
  • I must have the better part of 50 books in my library, many of which I will read again;
  • the size of the font can be altered at a whim, so I can increase the size when my eyes are tired;
  • the pages are back-lit making reading easier in low light;
  • many 'classics' can be downloaded free of charge, and there are plenty of books priced at less than a pound!
On the other hand, there are disadvantages;
  • in my experience, there is a tendency for errors to creep in due to lack of editorial control over the electronic version of books;
  • one occasionally needs to recharge the battery before the Kindle warns of low battery life - and it is too easy to forget.
On balance, I consider myself hooked.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Not my work

I don't have the foggiest idea who took these two pictures showing what was at one time called the Palace Pier, then Brighton Pier and now Brighton Palace Pier!



Sunday, 18 June 2017

The Book of Jeremy Corbyn

From The New Yorker:

And it came to pass, in the land of Britain, that the High Priestess went unto the people and said, Behold, I bring ye tidings of great joy. For on the eighth day of the sixth month there shall be a general election.
And the people said, Not another one.
And they waxed wroth against the High Priestess and said, Didst thou not sware, even unto seven times, that thou wouldst not call a snap election?
And the High Priestess said, I know, I know. But Brexit is come upon us, and I must go into battle against the tribes of France, Germany, and sundry other holiday destinations. And I must put on the armor of a strong majority in the people’s house. Therefore go ye out and vote.
And there came from the temple pollsters, who said, Surely this woman will flourish. For her enemy is as grass; she cutteth him down. He is as straw in the wind, and he will blow away. And the trumpet of her triumph shall sound in all the land.
And the High Priestess said, Piece of cake.
And there came from the same country a prophet, whose name was Jeremy. His beard was as the pelt of beasts, and his raiments were not of the finest. And he cried aloud in the wilderness and said, Behold, I bring you hope.
And suddenly there was with him a host of young people. And he said unto them, Ye shall study and grow wise in all things, and I shall not ask ye for gold. And the sick shall be made well, and they also will heal freely. And he promised unto them all manner of goodly things.
And the young people said unto him, How shall these things be rendered, seeing that thou hast no money in thy purse?
And he spake unto them in a voice of sounding brass and said, Soak the rich. And again, Pull down the mighty from their seats.
And the young people went absolutely nuts.
And they hearkened unto the word of Jeremy, and believed. For they said unto themselves, Lo, he bringeth unto us the desire of our hearts. He cometh by bicycle, with a helmet upon his head. And he eateth neither flesh nor fowl, according to the Scriptures. For man cannot live by bread alone, but hummus is quite another matter.
And the High Priestess saw all these things and was sore. And she gathered unto her the chief scribes and the Pharisees and said unto them, What the hell is going on?
And they said unto her, It is a blip, as if it were a rough place upon the road.
But they said unto themselves, When the government was upon her shoulders, this woman was mighty. But now that she has gone abroad unto every corner of the land, she stumbleth. For surely it is written that ruling and campaigning are as oil and water, and there shall be no concord betwixt them.
And the chief scribes wrote upon tablets, saying, Jeremy is false of tongue. He hideth wickedness in his heart. And his sums do not add up.
And nobody paid any attention.
And the elders rose up and said to the young people, If ye choose Jeremy, he will bring distress in your toils and wailing upon your streets. Do ye not remember the nineteen-seventies?
And the young people said, The what?
And the elders spake again, and said to the young people, Beware, for he gave succor in days of yore to the I.R.A.
And the young people said, The what?
And the young people said, Jeremy shall bring peace unto all nations, for he hateth the engines of war that take wing across the heavens. And he showeth respect for all peoples, even unto the transgender community.
And the elders said, The what?
And it came to pass that the heathen of this land came among the people, with fire and sword, and slew many among the faithful. And great was the lamentation.
And the High Priestess waxed exceeding wroth and said to the people, Fear not. For I shall bind your wounds and give ye shelter from the heathen, and shall take up the sword against them.
And there came again pollsters from the temple, who said, Will the people not vote for her in this hour of need?
And nobody paid any attention.
And it came to the vote.
And the elders went up to vote, and the young people. And the young people were as a multitude. And in the hours of darkness there was much counting. And the young people watched by night, and the elders went to bed.
And there came in the morning news that the High Priestess had vanquished the prophet Jeremy. But the triumph of the High Priestess was as the width of a nail. And she was vexed.
And the elders and the chief scribes and the Pharisees spoke among themselves, yea, even in the corners of their houses.
And there was great rejoicing amidst the multitude of the young. And they took strong wine, and did feast among themselves. And there were twelve baskets left over.
And of the pollsters there was no sign.
And the people saw Jeremy and said, Surely this man has won? Doth he not skip in gladness like a young hart upon the hills?
And there was great murmuring among the elders. And they said unto themselves, Weep not. For the High Priestess doth but prepare the way. Cometh there not one who is greater than she?
And they said, Behold, for the hour of the redeemer is upon us. And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Prince of Peace. And they cried in one voice, Boris.
And the young people said, Oh, shit.
And the people gave tongue, and made supplication unto the Lord, saying, Lord, let our cry come unto thee.
And the Lord thought the whole thing was absolutely hilarious.
And then the people said, Lord, what shall we do regarding Brexit? For henceforth the High Priestess shall be as weak as a newborn lamb. How shall we hope for continued access to the single market?
And the Lord said, The what?

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Three weeks!

I'm not entirely sure how it is that three weeks have passed since I last cast a few pearls before the swine. But it is!

I have been fairly busy - apart from the week we spent in France ("wineracking", as Skip calls it). Then there have been various things going on, far and near, to distract me. We had an election. That took place only last week, but it seems much longer ago than that. It hasn't helped that the result was a hung Parliament.  Of course, while we were away there was another terrorist attack - on London Bridge and in the Borough Market. And only three days ago there was that terrible fire in Grenfell Tower in London. The media can't complain that there has been no news to report recently!

This morning I spent much of the time updating the Brighton Lions website, Facebook and Twitter pages (here, here and here) and have been working on the Club's accounts in preparation for the year end.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Negative thoughts

Picture credit: The Sun/PA Press Association
This, frankly, is not a picture one associates with the United Kingdom - except during 'the troubles' in Northern Ireland. but following the decision this week to raise the threat level in this country from 'severe' to 'critical' we now have armed police supported by troops on patrol at key sites such as government buildings, railway stations, shopping centres and the like. We even have armed police on trains!

I don't ask why; I know why. But I do have to ask, Is it necessary? What good will be served by having all these armed men in our towns and cities?

Those whose brains are wired wrongly or who have been brainwashed into acting as suicide bombers won't be stopped by a few soldiers or armed policemen. Picture a mainline railway terminus in the rush hour - especially those in London such as Waterloo or Victoria. Ten, twenty or even a hundred police or troops will never spot a determined bomber. The same goes for shopping malls.

Seeing those men around the town doesn't make me feel any more secure because I know that if a madman plans to commit an atrocity, he very likely will - unless he can be caught before he sets off to blow himself to what he hopes will be paradise.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Positive thoughts

I'm not ashamed to admit that I have shed tears at the thought on Monday evening's horror in Manchester. Our television screens and newspapers have been full of the results of that obscene act of evil and I do not propose to dwell on that side of things. It is - perhaps strangely - pleasing that all sections of the media have also highlighted positive matters.

How taxi drivers switched off their meters and offered free rides home.

How off-duty doctors, nurses, hospital porters all went back to work without having to be asked.

How so many people queued to donate blood that the blood transfusion people were unable to cop

How a Muslim man escorted his elderly Jewish neighbour to pay their respects.

How a man and woman who just happened to be passing collected 50 girls as they escaped, took them to a hotel and stayed with them until every one had been collected by parents.

How people took food and drink to hospital staff.

How a local cafe offered free food and drinks to emergency service staff.

I am sure there were many other examples that I just don't know about.

When so many people are not prepared to pass by on the other side when others are in need, there is hope for us all. Evil will be defeated.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The nun's prayer

It was only the other day that I posted about language - and I find myself doing so once again!

I acknowledge that I am in increasing danger of being a pedantic old bore on the subject and have to bite my tongue on more and more occasions when people say 'lay' when they mean 'lie'; 'less' when they mean 'fewer' and 'hopefully' when they mean 'I hope'.  It irritates me even more when I hear somebody (quite often my younger son!) ask in a café or restaurant, 'Can I get' instead of 'May I have'. I always want to say, 'No, you can't get it. The waiter will do it for you.' Another irritant is the response to the question, 'How are you?'  The reply should, of course, be 'Very well, thank you', not 'I'm good'.

These thoughts have been rattling around in my brain for a few days and it was a complete coincidence that a report was published yesterday telling how a so-called expert on the English language had pointed out that a lot of words we think are irritating Americanisms can be found in the works of Shakespeare. For example, he used 'gotten' quite a lot and spelt 'honour' as 'honor' more than he did with the 'u'.

But controlling my tetchiness reminded me of the (supposedly) 17th century nun's prayer. I'm sure many will remember these gist, but just in case, here it is:
LORD, Thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody, helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends in the end. Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is growing sweeter as the days go by. I dare not ask for grace to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience. I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and less cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be saint — some of them are so hard to live with — but a sour person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people. And give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.
Wise words indeed, whether they date from the 17th century or not.