Saturday, 28 February 2009

A silly idea

I've just read that our Government has given £51,000 to the Isles of Scilly to cover the cost of free bus transport for the over 60s. Pity there are no buses on the islands.

I've done it!

I had, of course, always realised it is possible, but until today I had never managed to do it. Before getting ready for a Lions Club charter night, I passed a few idle moments playing solitaire and achieved a perfect score. Zero!

First attempt


I could have removed the contrail with Paint Shop Pro, but I think Photoshop was easier.


Friday, 27 February 2009

Photoshop Elements

I've just bought the software and, having been using a very old version of Paintshop Pro, I find that I am faced with a very steep learning curve. Perhaps I should also buy a book of instructions!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

I love that quote!

OK, I admit that I have copied this quote from another blog, but I just want to ensure that I can find it again. It's a gem.

I thought I'd begin by reading a poem by Shakespeare, but then I thought, why should I? He never reads any of mine.
~ Spike Milligan

Murphy's Law - the latest version

If I remember to check each dessert bowl as I unload the dishwasher, they are all pristine. Should I omit to do so, one in the middle will have the remains of a particularly sticky pudding adhering to it.


I'm not a lover of reunions. That said, I can only remember being invited to three of them. I declined the last one that I received, which was for my year at school. I had spent only three years at this school and could recall very few of my fellow students. The fact that my last two years were in the sixth form meant that there weren't all that many for me to remember, but most of them have faded into the distance. In any case, my one and only experience of reunions had pretty much put me off for life. I was invited back to my original home town to a reunion of my old scout troop on the occasion of its 50th anniversary or some such. I had enjoyed my time in the scouts and had fond memories of several of the boys who had been scouts with me, so I went. I didn't know a single person, and with my non-existent small talk, I spent a very boring hour or two before leaving early and heading home. I have recently received an invitation to another reunion. Again, it is connected to scouts and it is to celebrate the centenary of a group where I was a leader for a few years. Much against my better judgement, I have decided to attend. At least it's local, so if I'm bored stiff I won't have far to drive home!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

They are at it again

Today's newspaper reports that the University of Californian (again) has researched the impact of drinking tea on the occurrence of strokes. Drink three cups of tea a day and we are less likely to have a stroke.

More research

Other findings reported today include the fact that women who drink even moderate amounts of alcohol, a little as one small glass a day, significantly increase their chances of developing breast cancer. Of course, we have known for some time that up to two glasses of red wine a day reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer's disease or suffering a heart attack, so it seems that women have a choice. Either:
a) drink the wine and suffer a lingering and painful death from cancer; or
b) go without the pleasure of the wine and die a quick and relatively painless death from a heart attack.
Of course, it could be that one could drink the wine and still die quickly or vice versa. No doubt there will be some new research next week which will tell us something different.

Why women can't read maps but like shopping

The University of California has undertaken research into why men are better map readers than women while women are better at finding things which have been mislaid. Their theory is that because, in prehistoric times, men hunted, ranging far and wide, they became more accustomed to navigating and scanning the horizon. Women, meanwhile, stayed closer to home and gathered berries. It sounds very plausible, always provided one accepts the premise that, in general, men are better map readers then women while women can find the car keys that the men can't see under their very noses.

Meanwhile, Manchester Metropolitan University has discovered that a woman's love of shopping is a throwback to her days in the caves. Dr David Holmes said: "Gatherers sifted the useful from things that offered them no sustenance, warmth or comfort with a skill that would eventually lead to comfortable shopping malls and credit cards. In our evolutionary past, we gathered in caves with fires at the entrance. We repeat this in warm shopping centres where we can flit from store to store without braving the icy winds."

I make no comment about the cost of such possibly futile research.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

I've just remembered ...

... what I was going to say (write) yesterday, and it really is earth-shattering.

We had run out of recorded television programmes and there was nothing we wanted to watch on the channels we can get, so we watched a film. It was a film I had heard a lot about although I had never seen it. In fact, it had, as far as I know, never been on TV and was too old to have been shown in cinemas in my time, but I had found a DVD at the last-but-one Lions book fair and paid the princely sum of 50p to acquire said DVD.

What was the film? It was "In Which We Serve", made in 1942 (or was it 1943?), starring Noel Coward and the young (very young) John Mills. I think it was intended as a morale booster at a time when we Brits badly needed our morale boosting.

I had great difficulty in understanding the dialogue as they spoke so quickly and in such an excruciatingly upper class accent. I was most disappointed.

Blowing my own trumpet - again!

Whatever happened to yesterday? Somehow I managed to get so bogged down with ‘Lavenders Blue' that pretty well everything else just passed by. I found a web site which is part-funded by the Arts Council. Aspiring writers can upload the opening chapters of a book and, in return for reviewing work by others, can have their own work reviewed. One of the benefits is that the reviewers can make suggestions for improvement, and they are, of course, completely unbiased. I have this morning read the first review of my work. "This is a charming, warm and funny tale of Brits abroad ... It was a pleasure to read." Wow!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Another senior moment

There was something of earth-shattering importance that I was going to write today, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

I am so fortunate

I don't give thanks anywhere near as often as I should that all my children and grandchildren are fit, healthy individuals. This was brought home to me yesterday afternoon when I was talking to a woman, a single mother of five children. But I really should start at the beginning.

Some years ago I was lucky enough to win a trip to the Lions Clubs' international convention in Detroit. Staying in the same hotel as me was a fairly large party from Freedom District Lions Club. I already knew one couple, and it was good to meet up with Kent and Liz again. The rest of the party took me under their wing and suggested that I should consider myself an honorary member of Freedom Lions for the week of the convention. Later, the club suggested twinning with my club, the proposal being accepted by Brighton Lions. After a while I became concerned that twinning should involve more than just an exchange of newsletters and, perhaps, an occasional visit, and I gave some thought to the possibility of some sort of joint service project. I recalled how at one time there was a scheme to send picture postcards to severely disabled and life-limited children around the world and after some to-ing and fro-ing between the clubs, it was arranged that Brighton should ‘adopt' a child in the Maryland to whom we would send letters, postcards, birthday cards etc. Freedom would likewise ‘adopt' an English child.

I don't know how Freedom Lions discovered Joe, a 12-year-old suffering from cerebral palsy. We used our Leo House connection and the nurses came up with a 15-year-old boy with MeCP2 duplication. This is a very rare life-limiting chromosome disorder with only nine cases known in Europe. I telephoned Alex's mother yesterday and she was telling me that, as well as Alex, she has four daughters, three of whom are carriers. It struck me very forcibly then just how fortunate I am.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

It really is a glorious, sunny day and feeling quite warm. I thoroughly enjoyed walking round the Roman camp this afternoon with Fern, although the views were not at their best because of a little haze in the distance. The crocuses in the garden are delighting in the sun. Many years ago we planted hundreds of naturalizing bulbs and they have spread very well. At the beginning there were three colours - mauve, white and cream, but they have all reverted to mauve. All the same, when they are in bloom en masse they look terrific.

Friday, 20 February 2009

I might need to widen the doors

I'm a bit concerned that my dog-walking cap might not fit me for much longer. It does get a bit tight sometimes, especially when my hair hasn't been cut for a while, but there is a distinct possibility that my head will start growing if I'm not careful. The problem stems from ‘Lavenders Blue'. Sheila took a copy with her to read in the oxygen tank at the MS centre last week and laughed so much that the man controlling the ‘dive' asked to borrow it. He said how much he enjoyed it and was overheard by a woman, who also asked to borrow it. I gave another copy to Chris, and his wife rang me today to say that she had enjoyed it and had taken it to her book group, where everybody giggled as they read the first page. Even my son said he enjoyed it. I suppose one way of bringing myself down to earth will be to send the manuscript to publishers and get a series of rejection slips.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Roots again

We caught the end of a television programme which traced the family history of Fiona Bruce, a tv newsreader. In the programme she visited the local history centre in Brighton, a resource I hadn't known existed. They seem to have a great number of old directories, parish records etc which are available for family historians for research. I really must pay a visit to see if they can shed any light on the mystery of Sheila's grandparents. What I have at present is as follows.

1879 - grandmother Constance Emma Brown born near Newhaven.
1881 census - family now living in Bevendean.
1891 census - Constance no longer with the family and I have been unable to trace her in the census.
1901 census - Unable to trace Constance in the census, but
1901 census - Constance A Brown, 21, a fishmonger's manager, was living in Brighton, with the Paris family. Could this be her? Edward Paris was a cab driver.
1904 - Mother (Margaret Eva) born in Brighton, name registered as Margaret Eva Brown, father William Brown, mother Constance Emma Brown, formerly Brown. William Brown was a cab proprietor.
1904 - Margaret Eva Brown baptised in Streatham, a London suburb 40 miles or more from Brighton, but as Margaret Eva Jones.
1911 census - Albert Jones, Constance Jones (grandparents) and Margaret Jones (mother) living at a different address in Brighton. Albert Jones (a taxi cab driver) & Constance Jones supposed to have been married 9 years, but unable to find any trace of marriage. Albert Jones born about 1877 in Norwich. Margaret Jones stated as born in Philadelphia, USA!
1911 - Ivy Vera Brown born in Brighton. Father registered as William Brown, a taxi driver, mother Constance Emma Brown, formerly Brown.
1912 - Lillie (sic) Jones born in Brighton. Father shown as Albert Jones, a taxi driver, mother Constance Emma Jones, formerly Brown.
1913 - Lily Jones dies in Brighton. Daughter of Albert Jones, a taxi driver. Informant C E Jones, mother.

Unfortunately, William Brown was a very common name in Sussex at that time, so there is no hope of tracing his birth with any confidence, and I have been unable to trace any record of a marriage of Constance Emma Brown. But apart from that, there are a couple of mysteries. Why was Margaret baptised in Streatham when, as far as we can tell, the family had no connection with that area? Why did William Brown chop and change his name between Brown and Albert Jones? Why did Albert Jones state in the 1911 census that Margaret was born in Philadelphia? We shall probably never find the answers to these questions, but I must try to do so because both Sheila and I are extremely curious.

I have changed the names in this post in the interest of security,
as one so often needs to give one's mother's maiden name
in answer to a security question.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Square roots

My daily rag prints a number of puzzles each day, including three crosswords and two sudokus. I usually try to complete the cryptic crossword (the so-called toughie is beyond me and I leave the quickie for Madam) and the sudokus. One puzzle I have never managed to get my mind round is the Mind Gym. This consists of three mental arithmetic puzzles of increasing difficulty and the object is to try to complete each one in under 30 seconds. Each puzzle gives a number, followed by a series of instructions. For example, 3, then x25, then -15, then x2/3, and so on. The first (and simplest) is usually within my power, but the third is generally quite beyond me. Take today's, for example. It started by asking for the square root of 784. I haven't the foggiest idea how to work out the square root of any number quickly, but realised that the answer must be less than 30 as 30 x 30 is 900. And as 20 x 20 is 400, the answer probably lies in the upper 20s. It actually needs to end in an 8 (assuming that we are talking whole numbers and not fractions), so 28 seemed a pretty safe bet.

This led me to search the internet for simple ways of working out square roots — but it seems that there aren't any! They all involve guess work and estimation. I shall just have to give up on the third puzzle when square roots are involved.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

I've been and gone and done it now

I really can't think why I agreed to it. Was it because I find it difficult to say ‘no'? I don't think so; after all, I had no difficulty in turning aside a request from the Lions' District Governor last year — and I didn't even wait to hear what she wanted me to do. Could I perhaps have fallen for flattery? No, because Peter didn't try flattery until I had agreed to let my name go forward as the third member of the Lions' membership committee for next year. I have never served on that committee, and I'm not sure that I really want to, either. I did point out to Peter that I felt the committee has been going about things wrongly, whereupon he reminded me of a comment on one of my staff reports written by a manager who preceded him. This said that I was ‘adept at lateral thinking'. Now I am landed with being on the committee for the next three years, unless there is somebody else in the club who is keen to do the job, which seems highly unlikely. So I had better start thinking of new ways to attract more members into Brighton Lions, ways that are more likely to succeed than the ways that have been tried in the last few years.

Monday, 16 February 2009

It's all in the mind

I sometimes manage to confuse people completely by using terms that seem to them to be utter gibberish. Like saying somebody's adrift when they are late. I normally use expressions like this without thinking about it; they are just something I grew up with as my father served in the Navy for more than twenty years. In our house, the floor was always called the deck and the ceiling, the bulkhead. When my father changed his mind after having given an instruction or some information, he would say, ‘Belay that', meaning ‘Hold it, I've changed my mind. I'll have coffee instead of tea.' Small change was ‘ackers'. Somebody who was not wanted around would be told to ‘sling your hook.' If my brother and I were fooling around when we should have been doing something useful, we would be told, ‘Drop that and grab a scrubber.' Now it really gets people wondering when I say that!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

How time does fly!

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of Jayne Torville and Christopher Dean winning the gold medal for ice dance at the winter Olympics and there was a commemorative programme on television which brought back memories of that night. The games were held at Sarajevo, a city I have driven through. This was just after the end of the war in Bosnia when I went with an aid convoy organised by our Lions district. We drove through Sarajevo to reach a refugee collecting centre near Visegrad. I remember that the refugees directed us to a hotel which had been built for the Olympics and which was, they said, the best in the area. We had to stay overnight as we had been unable to unload all the aid on the first day. I've found the entry in the team's log book:

Depart the camp, Oliver leading us to the best hotel in town. Actually, it's in the mountains a few miles from the camp. Getting back across the wooden bridge is even more of a problem for Roy and in the end the guardrail has to go. Pass a hot spring on the way and dream of steaming hot showers! Hotel looks magnificent, built for the 1984 winter Olympics, perhaps? Remember Torville and Dean's nine perfect 6.0's for their Bolero routine? Won't let us have rooms for the evening only, so we book 2 twin-bedded rooms for the night. Katy and Manda will sleep in one, Sue and Bill in the other. Roy, Tony and Brian will stay with the vehicles. At least we can all have a hot shower and a decent meal in the hotel. Some hope! The hot water is the tepid side of cool - and that's when you can get any at all. Still, some are brave enough for cold showers. Reception want passports for the four sleeping in the hotel. But where is Bill? To get things moving, Brian produces his passport, so Bill and Sue end up as Mr & Mrs Slater.

We ask directions to the bar and are sent to the far end of an enormous dining room. There must be tables and chairs for 200 people. After a few drinks we repair to another section of the dining room where something seems to be happening in the way of serving food. Tables are laid up and there are local people scattered around. We gather that we can sit where we like, so we do. The waiter comes and takes our order. Then bedlam! A man dressed as a nurse (psychiatric?) screams at us and we gather that he wants us to leave. Can't think what we have done wrong - or is this a case of the patients running the asylum? Two or three of the locals tell him to stop making a fuss. "No problem", they say. At least, that's what it sounded like. However, we decide to withdraw and sit at another table in the posher part of the restaurant where we were eventually served with almost cold meals. Katy's was hot, but only because the waiter forgot to order hers. We decide that the hotel is being used as a treatment centre of some sort and that the other part of the dining room was for the patients only.

Leaving the restaurant, Roy leads the way through the 6 foot gap between a pillar and the wall, only to find it's not a gap but a plate glass window. Roy's OK and the window is undamaged, but Roy's glasses fell to the tiled floor and one lens is smashed.

Monday, 28th October

0030 Katy wakes with a terrific thirst. Doesn't trust the tap water, so goes out to wake Brian in the camper for a bottle of water. Night porter sees her coming back and thinks she is due to be a patient before long. Much leg pulling for the rest of the trip! Bill had thought to take a bottle with him, so he and Sue were OK when they too woke with terrible thirsts.

0600 Roy, Tony and Brian start to move stuff from the artic to the Leyland in order to speed things up later. Halfway through, the nurse from last night comes and asks if all this is for him. What brass-necked cheek.

It was quite an eventful trip and maybe I'll post some more of the log book one of these days.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Interesting times

On the way back from the park this morning, a near-neighbour and I watched a stand-off between a bus driver and a car driver. Woodbourne Avenue descends a hill and in that particular part of the road there are always vehicles parked on one side so that there is no room for two vehicles to pass. This morning, a bus had come over the brow of the hill and was coming down the single-track part as a car was driven up. The car driver no doubt thought that has he was on the correct side of the road, it was his ‘right of way' and he refused to give way. The bus driver, understandably, was unwilling to back his bus up over the brow of the hill, so there the two sat. The car driver did eventually back down into a space just twenty yards or so down the hill.

But that's not really my point. My near-neighbour remarked that it made something interesting in his day. I couldn't help but think that if that scene were to be the most interesting thing in his day, he must lead a pretty sterile life. I'm just so glad that I have more than enough to fill my days with interest.

Which reminds me of a question I liked to ask when interviewing job applicants. After finding out (as best one can) about their abilities and suitability for the position, I would ask them to tell me the most interesting or unusual thing they had seen on the way to the interview. It threw most applicants, but it also threw a little light on how well they could think on their feet and how well they might fit into the team.

On the subject of interest, there's always the old Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times.

Positive thinking

Something I saw in the paper today:

Some people complain that roses have thorns: I'm just glad that thorns have roses.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Today's post (I can't think of a title)

Now that the new flooring has been down in the bathroom for some time, it should have just about finished any stretching that it feels inclined to do. Yesterday I decided to replace the metal strip that goes in the doorway to cover the join between the bathroom flooring and the landing carpet. For once in my life, I decided to play safe and, having laid the strip down without screwing it in place, I tried to shut the door. Of course, my reckoning that the new flooring is thicker than the old was correct, and that means that the door won't close over the strip. So, I shall have to take the door down and plane a bit off the bottom. First, remove 20 years' of paint from the screws holding the hinges...

A sad day today. A friend of Sheila's died a couple of weeks back and the funeral was today. Pat had been in Guides with Sheila 50 or more years ago and they have kept in touch ever since. In fact, until Pat moved away from Brighton about 30 years ago, she was a regular at the monthly girls' night where six of them from Guide days met up. Pat did attend perhaps twice a year, in fact she stayed with us only about four weeks ago so that she could be at one of the evenings. A larger than life person in all ways, as are her husband and three children, she will be much missed by the Scout Association in East Grinstead.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

This might be heresy.

I have not been a regular church-goer for many years. In fact, it is many years since I have attended a church service at all, other then weddings or funerals. But I still call myself a Christian. My rationale is that all the Christian denominations I have looked at have something about them with which I disagree, so I consider that it would be hypocritical of me to join them. I just hope that my form of worship, which involves doing good works, will be sufficient for me to scrape a pass mark when the test comes.

Another ‘problem' is that my view of God and religion in general might be somewhat unorthodox. I have never been able to understand why there is so much bitterness — hatred, even — between Christians, Jews and Muslims. I thought we were all worshipping the same God, albeit in different ways and with different beliefs in the role of Jesus, but fundamentally the same. I'll go further: I think that any religion with the core principle of loving others is a good religion, and probably has my God at its heart. In the King James version of the Bible, John 14:2: ‘In my father's house there are many mansions.' Surely, then, there will be room enough for Christian, Jew and Muslim to live alongside each other?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

I stole this one...

One sunny day in January, 2009 an old man approached the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he'd been sitting on a park bench. He spoke to the U.S. Marine standing guard and said, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush." The Marine looked at the man and said, "Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here." The old man said, "Okay", and walked away. The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush." The Marine again told the man, "Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here." The man thanked him and, again, just walked away. The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same U.S. Marine, saying "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush." The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, "Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Bush. I've told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer the president and no longer resides here. Don't you understand?" The old man looked at the Marine and said, "Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it." The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, "See you tomorrow, Sir."

Better late than never

It is getting on for three years since I wound up my mother's estate, but in the post today came another cheque for a dividend payment that had been overlooked by the company (and, presumably, me). It's not exactly a fortune, but at least the cheque has been made payable to me and not to the estate.
I find it difficult to believe these idiots.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Endal - a follow-up

Endal's home page can be found here.


No, that's not the 'checkword', it's the title of a book I've just read, a book written by Allen and Sandra Parton. The blurb on the back of the book reads:
Allen Parton suffered a serious head injury while serving in the Gulf War and returned home unable to walk, talk or remember most of his life. He couldn't even remember his wife, Sandra, and their two children. After five years of rehabilitation, he was still severely disabled.

Endal was a Labrador puppy with problems of his own until he ‘adopted' Allen and Sandra.

The book tells how the dog changed Allen and Sandra's life. One particularly amusing part concerns buying a new washing machine. Endal had discovered how to open the old machine and would take the washing out and put it into a basket, shutting the washing machine after he had finished. The machine gave up the ghost so Allen and Sandra went to a big department store to buy a new one.

‘I'm looking for a new washing machine,' said Allen, ‘but it has to be one that my dog can open.'

The salesman was obviously gobsmacked but agreed to let Endal try a few machines, so he went down the row opening the doors and pulling out the hoses etc stored inside. I would love to have been there to see the salesman's face.

I know I'm biassed, but I think it absolutely amazing what dogs can do for people, both emotionally and practically.

Monday, 9 February 2009

The 365 challenge

I have recently come across a number of people who have accepted the 365 challenge. This involves taking a photograph every day for a year, though I suppose they might be allowed more than just the one. I did think about trying this myself, but it hasn't yet (and probably won't ever) get beyond the thinking stage. I'm not at all sure that I could find anything of sufficient interest every day, but I suppose attempting the challenge would induce one to look at things instead of just seeing them. That, however, means taking time, time which I rarely seem to have. (Quote: How dull is he who, full of care, can find no time to stand and stare.)

Actually, I did then think that perhaps what one should do is photograph the same thing every day, but that would be monotonous. So, maybe photographing one of the fruit trees in the garden, say, once every week would result in an interesting slide show. Of course, the photographs would ideally be taken from the same position and would each be framed identically. Then the slide show would be a bit like those shots one sees of a flower unfolding, or clouds scudding across the sky at a zillion miles an hour.

Maybe I'll think about it a bit more. Only think, mind you.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Apparently, every fourth child born is Chinese. That's why we stopped at three.

Lavenders Blue

I always swore that I would never go down the vanity publishing route. My reasons were twofold: I thought that if somebody had a story to tell and it was not good enough for a publisher to accept it, it should not be published; and I thought I was too much of a miser to contemplate actually paying to have a book published. But I should have realised that ‘never' is a long, long time.

Some time ago I had started putting together the story of buying our house in France. There had been so many occasions when Sheila and I found ourselves laughing hysterically for so many different reasons that I decided to write it all up before I forgot everything. As so often happens with good intentions, I wrote for a while and then let the whole thing languish in the depths of my computer's hard drive. I had written four chapters, which I had shown to several people who had found them amusing, but had become stuck in chapter five. I have to admit that I hadn't stuck rigidly to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but the story I had written was at least based on fact. There were a number of events which had been mildly amusing but which became (I thought) hilarious with just a little exaggeration or tweaking.

But back last summer I started a blog on which I posted a little bit each day. I thought I had enough material already written to keep me going for some time, and this might act a spur to get me writing again. And, wonder of wonders, it did! Sheila had from time to time reminded me of the project, and even suggested that I should try to have the story published as a series of magazine articles. I said nothing to her about continuing to write the story and she probably thought I had abandoned it completely. I was receiving what appeared to be encouraging noises from Skip, my Californian friend, who was reading the blog, and one day I chanced upon the web site of a local vanity publisher who would provide just five or ten copies of a paperback for a relatively modest price. What the heck, I thought, and went for it.

I have been reluctant to have the story, which I called ‘Lavenders Blue', made too public because I considered that some of my comments would offend people who would recognise themselves if ever they read them. However, few of the people about whom I have made disparaging remarks are fluent in English or are at all likely to come across the blog, so maybe one day I will try to find a publisher.

But I can't quite see me as the next Peter Mayle.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Snow pictures

There are plenty of pics submitted by readers of our local paper on its web site, including a number of Brueghel-type pics. See them here.

Friday, 6 February 2009

It's been a funny sort of day.

Walk the dog for an hour, quick coffee, off to the opticians for another hour (new glasses needed), check email, lunch, walk the dog for an hour, quick coffee, take Sheila to physio (2 hours), check email, and generally update things, dinner, prepare Lions' book fair, home for coffee and maybe read the paper before bed! But the good news is that Sheila has improved to the stage where the physio can do no more and it's all up to her now. If she wants, she can check back in a year's time. It seems that when she started her physio she could stand on one leg for just one second but now she can do it for ten and a half.

This could be an interesting site

I have discovered the Library Thing and have started loading my books. I'm not making my details or list public until I've tried the site for a while and decided whether or not it is of any use.

Let's be non-PC

No, I don't like that term, non-PC, so let's be politically incorrect (that's better).


Gosh, I do feel better now!

I've been following with some interest the story of Carol Thatcher, daughter of our one-time Prime Minister, Margaret (now Baroness) Thatcher, who has been sacked by the BBC for using the word 'golliwog' during a private conversation in the Green Room after a show on which she had appeared. Although Miss T was not accused of racial bias (she claimed she used the word in a joking manner), somebody leaked the fact of its utterance to a newspaper. If that somebody had tried to leak this to me when I worked for a newspaper (they wouldn't have because it wasn't that sort of paper and anyway I wasn't on the editorial team), but if they had, my response would have been to tell them to grow up and get a life. Just imagine it: "Please, Mr Editor, Carol Thatcher used a naughty word."

And this is the very same British Broadcasting Corporation which only suspended for three months the vastly overpaid (at £6 million a year) and equally vastly over-rated Jonathan Ross when he and fellow "comedian" (I use the word reluctantly) Russell Brand made an obscene telephone call on air.

This is one time when I do have an opinion - but I won't state it here because I don't use that kind of language in a public forum.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

My opinion? Don't know.

I was beginning to get a bit bothered yesterday when I thought that I can't have opinions. That's not because I have to wait until I'm told by SWMBO what my opinion is, rather it's because I seem unable to make up my mind. This all came about in connection with the suspension without pay of a community nurse who asked a patient if she (the patient) would like the nurse to pray for her, the nurse being a practising Christian. This was reported by the patient and was deemed by the nurse's employers to be unacceptable behaviour, hence her suspension pending disciplinary proceedings. The matter has reached the ears of the national press and both journalists and readers, through the letters column, have expressed diametrically opposing views. As I read one column supporting the nurse I found myself nodding in agreement; then I read the opposing view — and guess what, I was nodding in agreement! That was when it occurred to me that I always seem to be swayed by whichever side of the argument I hear last and I can never have an opinion of my own.

It's just the same with opinion polls or market research questionnaires. The question might ask me to rate a number of things on a scale of 1 to 5, great to awful. I always seem to tick the middle box, neither good nor bad. One thing I can do is place in order of preference/importance a list of things. For example, place the following fruits in order of preference: apple, pear, orange, grape, plum, etc. One of the few things I remember from school is being told how to do this in a vaguely scientific way. Take the first two things (apple and pear) and decide which I prefer (apple). We now have a list of two items in order of preference. Then take number one and compare that with number three. Again, apple. Select orange or pear: orange. We now have a list of three: 1 apple, 2 orange, 3 pear. Continue. When I first heard this I thought what a genius the man was, and I still think it's pretty clever, but to most people it's probably common sense and they just do it without thinking. You see — I still can't have an opinion!

First post

We had post this morning, the first this week because of the ‘adverse weather conditions'. They sent two postman out in a van to the end of our road and each took one side, this presumably being an effort to catch up. There were five items for us, and four of them were junk mail which went straight into the bin. The fifth was a receipt from the local paper for the Lions' book fair ad. This is usually given to me when I place the ad, but for some reason this week they preferred to post it. Pity they set the franking machine incorrectly and paid 50p more in postage than they should have done.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

I can't claim the credit for this picture - I only wish I could - which appeared in yesterday's Daily Telegraph. I searched their web site for it to no avail, so I have tried scanning it in from the newsprint, hence the poor quality.

Oh yes, it is a picture taken in the Royal Pavilion gardens in Brighton, on Monday this week.

Another rant is on the way

Just got back from a session at our nearest supermarket whose name I won't mention 'cos it upsets my regular reader. At the tills are stands of plastic carriers (although one is encouraged to take one's own bags as we do) and on the top of the stand is a notice: "We are using less bags". GRRRRRR!!!

I'm tempted to write to the company.

Cold case

Sussex Police have re-opened an 83-year-old murder case. The story is in our "local" paper.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The Checkout Girl

Spending a few idle minutes browsing other blogs, I stumbled across the Checkout Girl which I found amusing.

That's quite enough of that, thank you very much

Thank goodness the temperature has been above zero all day and the snow is going fast. Our buses started on one (shortened) route yesterday afternoon about 2.00 and other services were gradually brought back, but even this morning there were some services still not covering their full routes, although everything is back to normal this afternoon. We are told that this is the heaviest snowfall in Britain for 20 years or so and I can well believe it. I will be quite happy if we don't have another like it for another twenty years! I know that people in places like Switzerland or Moscow would laugh at the way England grinds - or slithers - to a halt when we have just a few inches of the white stuff. But it doesn't happen often enough to make it worth while having snow ploughs and other expensive machinery on stand-by, so we just grit our teeth and hope for the best.

Fern didn't waste any time when I let her down the garden before breakfast yesterday and she was so unhappy about the snow - which reached her armpits - that I didn't take her out at all. I missed the fresh air and exercise but have made up for it today. As well as walking Fern twice for an hour each time, I also walked to the newspaper office (half an hour each way) to place the ad for the Lions' book fair this weekend., and spent nearly another hour clearing snow off the drive. I'm shattered!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Bright side? What bright side?

So much for the snow staying north of the Downs. It started yesterday afternoon while I was walking Fern and by about half past four a car was stuck trying to get up the road. This morning we have six inches, drifting to twelve, and south-east England is virtually at a standstill. Here in Sussex many major roads are closed, trains are severely delayed (there are none running at all in Kent), and we have no buses running in Brighton.

The bright side (well, brighter, or less dull) is that we have heat, light and food, albeit we are short of milk and potatoes. The milkman didn't deliver this morning so I will have to walk to the shop later and hope that they haven't sold out.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Look on the bright side

We currently have a ‘severe weather' warning of snow starting tonight with strong easterly winds. With a bit of luck it will pass us by on the other side of the Downs. Despite this, and the bitter cold, there are signs of spring. The snowdrops in our garden are looking good and those under the trees in the park are starting to show their blooms. I noticed a small clump of crocuses in our front garden that would come into full flower if only the sun would shine for a while, and there is just one deep purple one towards the bottom of the back garden that is almost there as well.

It's not often I'm right,

but I'm wrong again. ‘The Associate' is on the High Street in hard cover and has leapt into the number one slot on the best sellers list.