Wednesday, 28 June 2017

A curious thing

The shirt I am wearing today is one I bought many years ago. It's a Van Heuson, a brand which may not even be around these days; it's so long since I bought a shirt that I really have no idea what shirt-makers still exist. I suppose there is still M&S, although Bhs, their main competitor, has gone to the wall. Anyway, Van Heuson was a brand just a cut above the common or garden shirt-makers. So much so that the sleeves have no buttons at the cuffs; they sport double cuffs which should be folded back and held together by cuff links. I wonder, does anyone other than the Prince of Wales use cuff links these days? I always did - provided my shirt cuffs had the necessary holes, even if the cuffs didn't require folding back!

But the point I am getting to - at long last! you exclaim - is that the button holes down the front are vertical, like this | except for the top one (which I can longer fasten) and the bottom one, which is horizontal, like this - .

There seems to be no common reason why this is so. Some say it is because the shirt was at one time buttoned to the trousers, other because the stress on that button is most likely to be horizontal and making the button hole horizontal means there is less stress on the cotton used to secure the button. I guess I shall never know!

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Four quarters

Today, being 24th June, is Midsummer Day, one of the four quarter days in England - and probably Wales as well although not in Scotland. Quarter days are the days when rent is traditionally due to be paid - and still, in the case of many commercial rents - and servants were traditionally hired.

All four quarter days fall on religious festivals: Lady Day (25th March) is also the Feast of the Annunciation; Midsummer Day (24th June) is the feast day of St John the Baptist; Michaelmas (29th September) is the feast of St Michael and All Angels; while the fourth quarter day is 25th December, There is an easy way to remember which day of the month is the quarter day. March has five letters, so that quarter day is on the 25th. June, with four letters, has its quarter day on the 24th. September has nine letters, so the 29th is the quarter day, and December has eight letters . . .

Up to 1752, Lady Day was the first day of the year in England - goodness knows why such an odd day was chosen! But in that year, the calendar in England was changed from the Julian to the Gregorian, with Wednesday 2 September 1752 being followed by Thursday 14 September 1752 (an early example of England falling into line with the continent). The old calendar had been getting out of kilter with the solar system or something, and 11 days had to be lost. There were demonstrations in the streets with people complaining that the state had stolen 11 days of their lives! The act of Parliament (the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750) also changed the day on which the new year started from 25th March to 1st January. However, so that investors would not lose 11 days interest, the start of the financial year would be 6th April, which is the Gregorian equivalent of 25th March under the Julian calendar.

Which is why our tax year still starts on 6th April.

Friday, 23 June 2017


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.