Friday 29 January 2010

Answers to 'I Know What That Is' dated 21st January.

Item One
A hat stretcher, actually I think it is a Bowler Hat stretcher used in a tailors shop to keep hats in good condition. I had never noticed until I looked closely that it is inscribed with the name of William Plant and the address 51 Hilton Street, Manchester. The number 2 is also inscribed several times. I have read there is a museum in Stockport dedicated to the hat industry. Anyone out there know if Hilton Street still exists?

Item Two
A blood circulator. Patent number 13932. Inscribed with the name D Macauras. Presumably originating from the 1920's. The only mention of the name Macauras I can find is in the Middleboro Gazette, Minnisota in the mid 1920's. Any information gratefully received.
If you place the circulator against the bare skin of the body, a leg for instance and turn the handle rapidly the end rotates. A not unpleasent sensation that I presume would break down blood clots. Again any other observations greatfully received. And no rude suggestions concerning alternative uses!
Item three.
A grappling iron/hook, often seen in old movies where the prisoner in the yard escapes by throwing it over a wall and climbing up the attached rope. This particlar one in my possession belonged to a police force. I am told it has been used on several occasions to recover bodies from rivers and canals.

So there you have it. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog and even I learnt something . We must do it again!


The blog dated 16th January concerning posts,whilst of no real scientific importance taught me several things. There are some amazing people out there, the goodwill of bloggers never ceases to amaze. The comments as to why people blog have been warmly received, thank you.
Few if any seek fame. All without exception indicated a willingness to help others. I was astounded at the expertise available on individual blogs. I was particularly impressed with the 'How to Blog' series offered on the blog The Fifty Factor. You learn something all of the time. I did not know, for instance, that it was possible to read a blog without going to the actual blog itself. (Thanks Cathy and Kitty.) I am not ashamed to admit such things. Plus, as a matter of interest, I learnt concerning 'meters/counters'. Due to this blog I now have not one but two. The main thing I notice is that the two sets of 'visiting' figures are not particularly compatible, but it's early days yet.
(I find also it is mainly the ladies who tend to put me right, without dismissive lecturing as to my technical shortcomings!)
I found that the mention of other blogs was gratefully received. So I wonder if my talented friends out there could do something for me. I would like to put at the side of my blog, permanently a triangle, a circle, a square perhaps in which I could weekly put the name of another blogger (each week a different name) who might appreciate a visit. Nothing flash, large or obtrusive, just something instantly recognisable and self explanatory. Anyone out there who can tell me how I go about it? (Or come up with a design.) And if others were to place the same emblem on their pages, how many bloggers would get a welcome extra visitor or two. (There may be such things already available.) Any suggestions gratefully received, thanks once again for your help and friendship.

Monday 25 January 2010

Nguyen Tien Trung.

Monday morning. I had prepared a blog that would hopefully bring cheer but it will have to wait.
I blog roughly every five days; some of you out there blog daily. Many bloggers from the top downwards, ourselves included are often 'full of it', self indulgent and self opinionated, basking in the attention we create. It is so easy to become quite giddy at our perceived 'fame'.
We try to amuse, inform, educate, impress, a little voice in the great big world. Some sail close to the wind, offering blogs of great humour but often provocative, using words of which our grannies would not have approved and offering ideas than would have been unacceptable not all that long ago. Some offer great knowledge to a world that is eager for their pronouncements, wit and wisdom. Or so we hope.
Then there are the political blogs of varied persuasion, almost unreal individuals oblivious to the real world, their incessant, inane rambling designed to convert us to their own, often perverse political opinion. The top three in our beloved countries political blogs purports to be Guido Fawkes, Ian Dale and Spectator Coffee House, though quite frankly, who cares.
So what, you may be asking, is he on about! Please allow me to tell you the reason for this blog.
Whether your or my blogs are senile, boring, vitriolic, unpatriotic, uninformed, crass, puerile, biased, infantile, inspired, groundbreaking or even world shattering, we are allowed to publish all the same. That is the rule in the civilised world.
Nguyen Tien Trung. Remember the name. Nguyen is a twenty six year old Vietnamese blogger. Whilst you read this he is in the first week of a sixteen year sentence for daring to post anti-government views on his blog. The prosecution gave no evidence to support the indictment, the judge deliberated for only fifteen minutes. He has already been in prison since July 2009, at one stage death by firing squad even seemed a possibility.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that it is the fundamental right of all persons to hold opinions and freely express them. (From the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR] of which Vietnam is a member.)
Continue to enjoy your blogging, for life must go on. But please remember Nguyen the next time you blog, and in your prayers tonight.

Thursday 21 January 2010

I Know What That Is!

I seldom throw anything away. Plus I collect anything and everything. Do you know the feeling or are you one of those people who live immaculate lives in immaculate houses. I have virtually a small museum at home (my wife says there's no virtual about it.) So to lighten the mood after my last blog, (which I will comment on shortly) three items from my collection you may find interesting. What are they? And I bet the 'oldies' amongst you identify the objects quickest! The third item in particular has a very interesting history. What do you 'treasure'? Have you any items, keepsakes, not necessarily of value you 'own'. Any items that will be handed down? (I suspect most of mine will finish up in a skip!) Any items that are ancient? (On my wall are family photos, one of great grandmother must be going back a bit, I reckon she was born around 1840.)

Saturday 16 January 2010

I Never Stop Learning, I Hope.

Like most others in the blogging world I'm seldom sure what to blog about next. Plus I've only been blogging since April 2008 so I'm very much a novice. Just for once, and only once I'd like to examine why we, why I blog. What's brought this on, you may ask and I'll tell you why. So bear with me. Its 'thinking aloud' time again, the old 'What's it all about, Alfie' syndrome.
I blog roughly every five days. No set subjects but avoiding being too topical in the main. I now have around sixty followers and receive an average of around twenty five 'hits' per day. Small fry indeed at the side of many. ( My son in law, a world renowned photographer once received over fifteen thousand 'hits' in response to one camera review.) I would never cope but it puts it all in perspective. Plus remember the days when I/we got no responses and had no following.
Questions, always questions. Why do I personally blog? It's an ego trip, a challenge, it fulfills a need. It keeps the old brain alive and keeps me interested in living when I wake up in the morning. Dozens of reasons, of no real consequence.
Now it begins to get interesting. Do I/we want the blog to grow, the 'following' to get larger, and larger, and larger! And if we do, why? Do I/we in fact know what we want? We read other peoples blogs, and comment, positively, if you've any sense; most bloggers respond. And, like Topsy it grows.
'I 'spect I just growed. Don't think nobody never made me.' Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Recently a kind blogger with no blog in mind that day suggested her readers go to my blog. That day I had just short of one hundred visitors. Thank you, Expat Mum. Remember, I have never exceeded thirty previously in one day. Now I appreciate there are learned books and articles teaching how to increase 'hits'. I have read some, find most too difficult and too testing for my feeble, not very technical brain. As a one off experiment, I would love visitors to my site to do something for me. I will name five blogs. Will anyone interested visit the five sites mentioned. I promise you will lose nothing as they are all interesting in their own way. I will ask all the five bloggers to record if their visitors increase and by how many in the week after this blog is published. I'm curious as to how many 'hits' we create when we advertise someone elses 'wares'. You never know, as the saying suggests, 'Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.'
It's a fairly random selection from the blogs that I follow, no favouritism intended! All those on my 'list' are equally valued.
Also if anyone would like to spell out their thoughts, aspirations etc concerning their blogs, they are very welcome. I'm sure such 'soul searching' would interest many fellow bloggers.
Thanks, rest assured next week, or sooner, as they used to say on the television, 'Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.'

Five blogs that would welcome a visit

my wife has agoraphobia


Kit Courtenay Writes

That British Woman

Monday 11 January 2010

Silly Old Granddad loves His Local.

The place is going downhill and I reckon it's Cyril the landlords own fault. Let standards drop, you start to get riff raff in and its the beginning of the end. A bloke came in last night and asked for a BBC; brandy, benedictine and cointreau mixed.
'Shouldn't be drinking this with what I've got' he said, mind you, only after he were served.
'Why's that? 'I said.
''I've only got fifty pence on me' he said.
Cyril were furious. He made him write out a cheque.
'And you can endorse it' said Cyril, mustering his utmost authority.
So the bloke wrote' I think your pubs smashing' on the back. Then he had the cheek to ask for another drink.
Cyril were furious. 'Piss off'' he said.
'Oh dear, in that case I'll have a Whisky' he demanded.
Boy, did we 'ave a job throwing him out. Mind you, we were a bit rough to say the least. Hit his head as he landed on the pavement. Blood everywhere, it were quite scary.
'Where yer bleeding from?' asked Cyril, quite concerned.
'Ilford,' said the customer, 'what's that got to effin do with anything.'
Then he went. We were glad to see the back of him. Who needs his type when we've our regulars to look after.
Old Davey were his usual entertaining self. He'd been to see his brother in the old folks home.
What's your brother like' I asked him.
'Beer, fags and women' he said.
'No,what's he like, like.'
'Fat and ugly' said Davey.
He can be hard work, can Davey.
They try hard at the old folks home. Just before Christmas, as a surprise they had Will Young to lead a sing song. Will enjoyed it but were a bit concerned that nobody seemed to recognise him.
'Do you know who I am?' he asked one old lady.
'No' she answered, 'but if you ask one of the nurses I'm sure they'll tell you.'
The old man in the next chair looked a bit strange. Davey couldn't help staring.
'He's got a glass eye' said his brother.
'How do you know?' asked Davey.
'It just came out when we were talking.' said his brother.
There's no answer to that.
I went and sat with one armed Wally for a while. He were singing to himself, 'The Green, Green Grass of Home.' Its not unusual. He lives in a world of his own at times.
He's not the sharpest, is Wally. He went in the ironmongers in the week for some screws.
'How long do you want them' asked the chap behind the counter.
'Well I was hoping to keep them for good' said Wally.
Mind you, he's not completely dopey. He went to the bar for another drink. As he picked up his pint his sleeve went in a blokes drink. The chap were not amused.
'What do you think you're doing' the fellow yawped. Wally kept his cool.
'I can't see what all the fuss is about' said Wally, 'there's no arm in it.'
It were all getting too lively for me. I were glad when I'd had enough.
I were going to have something to eat in the pub but they're non too fussy at times. The barman taking a meal to a table didn't half push his hand against the steak.
'That's not very hygienic' I suggested.
'Well I don't want to drop it again' he said.
I went to the fish and chip shop next door instead. I thought the wife might appreciate me taking some chips home.
'Fish and chips twice' I ordered.
'I heard you the first time' the man said.
The wife liked the chips and I reckoned she appreciated my kind gesture. I bet she were right pleased she'd lent me the money to go out. I were feeling quite with it after the antics in the pub. 'You look very youthful in that dress, my dear' I offered.
'It's too long and the veil keeps getting in my eyes' she moaned. Oh well, you can't win them all. Women, they're never happy!

(My apologies yet again for the age of the jokes. As I've told you before, my wife says 'The old ones are the best. But she would say that, wouldn't she!)

Wednesday 6 January 2010

One Hell of an Inheritance.

I kept a full daily diary only once in my life, 1985. I thoroughly recommend it. Events long since forgotten are instantly there when you glance through. Who cares some may say; well I do!
January 6th 1985
'Today would have been the birthday of Clara, my aunt and guardian who died four or five years ago, aged mid seventies.
In life Clara (and Walter her husband) gave me a home, love and affection. In death Clara unknowingly gave me an amusing if unexpected bonus. Towards the end of her life Clara became somewhat eccentric concerning money matters. Whilst little or no food could be found in the house (Clara lived alone in a small cottage) it was obvious that money was accumulating due to Clara's frugal habits. No amount of pressure could persuade Clara to either buy necessary food or bank excess money. (Food therefore tended to be provided by others.) Eventually, sadly, due to self neglect and a lack of a will to live, Clara died.
Now I would suggest that it would not have been unreasonable to expect that a little of Clara's money might have found its way in my direction. (A materialistic consideration but nevertheless realistic in this day and age.) I was, after all the second 'almost' adopted son for over ten years. Alas, it was not to be! Number one son (real not imaginary son) received the money. And the tea service, the clocks, the brasses, the linen, the electrical goods, contents of garden shed, pots, pans and sundry paraphernalia. Which accounted for everything, except Rusty. Rusty being a decrepit, sixteen year old, rather deaf, medium sized poodle with an extremely enlarged left knacker. (testicle to the more refined of you out there.) I, (or rather we, my wife, my children were included) 'inherited' Rusty, the alternative being an end of indecent haste after years of companionship to a lonely, often confused old woman.
Rusty's condition was, to say the least, unfortunate due to neglect by ignorance rather than malice. To restore Rusty to something resembling a dog, never mind a poodle was no mean feat. Cutting through matted fur was physically difficult yet needing an almost delicate touch. Where ears really began was difficult to ascertain. Eyes, faded with age and induced darkness blinked somewhat mechanically as fur was sheared almost sheep like. Most amazingly a dog that had for many years been almost muddy in colour was discovered to be nearer a light grey in reality. As Rusty shed his coat, so too the years seemed to be lifted from him. A young sprightly dog emerged, over the next four years, admittedly with increasing knacker, but a young at heart dog, full of life and vigour nevertheless.'
The happiness one old dog brought to another old dog was truly immeasurable. We had four happy years together, Rusty, the children, my wife and I.
My cousin, the number one son was not so lucky. His marriage broke up, and he never lived long enough to achieve the contentment old age can sometimes bring us. I never felt he captured the happiness he too sought. Life is indeed strange at times.

Friday 1 January 2010

Dear Old December. Grumpy's Alternative News.

Lets start with two or three animal stories, always good for a smile.
I'm pleased that Eskimo, a reindeer in Edinburgh Zoo survived keyhole surgery and so had a good Christmas. I thought the octopus in Bali that stacks up coconut shells for later use is very clever. What a useful shelf stacker he would be in Sainsbury's. But I don't reckon much of the insurance company who refused to pay out for damage by a cow in Tennessee, suggesting the householder was not covered for 'acts of cow'. Blimey, they want to be careful they don't accidentally pay out on a claim. That wouldn't do, would it chaps. Mind you, they're safe where flying saucers are concerned, at least here in Britain. The MOD has closed its UFO unit. After over fifty years of existence it has never had one single report of a real threat. The man in charge has moved to another job, a saving of £44,000.
A couple of figures for those amongst you who are into numbers. A Japanese man set a new world record for a hand launched paper aircraft, which flew for 26.1 seconds. And a novice won the World Pie Eating Championship in Wigan, eating a meat and potato pie in 43 seconds. As Michael Caine would say, 'Not a lot of people know that!'
Talking of eating, one of Britain's most wanted men, Adam Hart, tried to eat his SIM card when arrested in Amsterdam by a Fast Response Unit. If he needs a prescription for stomach ache, he must be careful where he gets it. Evidently The British Pharmacological Society are concerned too many student doctors rely on pharmacists and nurses to correct their errors. Be warned!
I see the Politically Correct brigade are still with us. Sudbury Town Council have banned the traditional bingo phrases at their weekly sessions in the town hall, not wishing to be sued. Henceforth number 88 is no longer to be known as 'two fat ladies'. (Actually there had been no complaints). Whose right in these sensitive times. And talking of sensitivity, I see Jonathan Ross has offered to take a pay cut. Evidently he told the BBC he realises there is a downturn and he is humble, sources said. So he offered to take a 50% cut to £3,000,000 a year. (His contract runs out in the summer.) How nice of you, Jonathan. **** ***!
Two little titbits for our Scottish friends. I see the portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, thought to be the definitive image is not so defininitive after all. Evidently its a portrait of his brother Henry. Not bad, its only taken 150 years to realise the mistake. I reckon someone's been on the Tokeo beer brewed by BrewDog of Fraserburgh. A glass or two of that, 18.2% strength and you wouldn't know Bonnie Prince Charlie from Queen Victoria. And probably wouldn't care too much either!
Some unconscious humour that made me smile. Neil Fingleton is a 7 feet 7 and a half inch giant who is thrilled to bits to be in the pantomime at Poole. Guess which part. But it was his comments that made me smile. He said he was very pleased to be in the pantomime and would like to get more roles. 'I want to be recognised as an actor, but I understand I'm always going to be typecast.' Neil, I suspect you have hit it in one.
Finally a little competition for anyone bored with having nothing to do. New York City's health department is running a competition to design the city's official condom wrapper. A limited edition design to keep people 'excited' about safe sex. I have some very talented readers out there. Any takers!

Happy New Year Everyone.