Monday 31 December 2012

Keep Right on To The End of The Road.

    All over bar the shouting. Where did it go; Where are we now. I've never seen a back end of a year with so many health problems. The whole country seems to be either vomiting or have diarrhoea; my family included. My daughter was 'told off' for visiting the doctors whilst she and a child were ill. I can see the logic but a bit much from a doctor on £95,000ish minimum a year. Plus my wife on her visit was refused any treatment, antibiotics etc as, she was informed, it will go away in five or six weeks.(a different doctor.)
    My beloved football team (Derby County) is doing only 'so so' and the computers performing badly. (It must be around eight years old.) I'm trying to grasp HTML in order to transfer a book I wrote onto Kindle and failing miserably. What with the weather, the government and everything else it does make you wonder. But always remember, there are two sides to grass, topside and underside and I know which side I'd rather be. So may I leave you with two favourites. Harry Lauder singing the immortal 'Keep right on to the End of the Road' and Freddie Frinton's perennial 'Dinner for One'. (Still shown on television in many, many homes in Germany on this magical night.)
    2013 and off we go again. Happy New Year to all those who are still with me wherever you are, peace and good health to you all.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Christmas Quiz Answers

Nearly over bar the shouting. How did you do? I reckon over 20 is good! Answer sheet A Christmas Quiz by Ken Stevens 1 Norway Spruce (Pice abres) 2 Hellebore 3 Ash 4 A holly tree 5 Mistletoe 6 Nine drummers drummimg 7 Prince Albert 8 a ‘Joey’ 9 December 25th 10 Tom Smith (Victorian pastry cook) 11 Isiah 9 verse 6 and 7 12 Luke 2 verses 1 and 2 13 The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir 14 And fit us for Heaven, to live with thee there. 15 Indian Ocean 16 Discovered Christmas Day 17 Workhouse 18 Christmas pudding 19 Christmas pudding again! 20 Mrs Beeton 21 4 shillings (twenty new pence) 22 Probably after alms boxes(the day after Christmas) 23 Good King Wenceslas 24 January 6th 25 Holiday Inn 26 Jimmy Boyd 27 Dora Bryan 28 Greg Lake 29 Bruce Springsteen 30 Irving Berlin 31 John Lennon 32 The Little Match Girl 33 Hans Christian Anderson 34 Louisa May Alcott 35 Little Women 36 The Wind in the Willows 37 Kenneth Grahame 38 Adrian Mole 39 Sue Towsend 40 Saint Nicholas’ faithful servant (Dutch) 41 Peter Paul Rubens (also painted Giorgione) 42 Saint Boniface (Germany) 43 Turkey farm (Bernard Mathews) 44 Samuel Pepys 45 York Minster 46 to 50 Any five from: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen.

Monday 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas

And we're there at last. Happy Christmas. If you get bored after Christmas Dinner, again, try Grumpy's quiz. I reckon over twenties a good score. Answers after Boxing Day.A Seasonal Quiz

Nature and Christmas

1 ‘A Christmas tree’ is traditionally what species?
2 What is another name for a ‘Christmas Rose’?
3 A traditional Yule log should be what sort of wood?
4 What traditionally sprang from the ground where Christ first stood?
5 What ‘plant is also known as ‘Heal-all’?

Five miscellaneous questions

6 What did my true love send to me on the 9th day of Christmas?
7 Who is credited with introducing the Christmas tree to England?
8 What was the nickname of the little silver three-penny bit often put inside Christmas puddings?
9 On which day was Charlemagne crowned Emperor?
10 Who is credited with introducing ‘Christmas crackers’ to England?

Christmas is after all a religious festival

11 Where from: ‘ For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given’?
12 Again: ‘And it came to pass, in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus’?
13 ‘The rising of the sun and the running of the deer’? Next line, please.
(last line of The Holly and the Ivy)
14 Similarly ‘Bless all the children in thy tender care’?
(Away in a manger)

Ten mixed questions

15 Which ocean is Christmas Isle in?
16 Why was it so called?
17 George R Sims used to recite a monologue about ‘Christmas Day in the ………?
18 Similarly Stanley Holloway used to sing about ‘Old Sam’s Christmas …….’?
19 1½lb raisins 1½lb currants. ¾lb breadcrumbs. ½lbmixed peel ¾lb suet. 8 eggs 1 wineglassful of brandy
Numbers 19, 20 and 21 . A ‘receipe for what? Whose receipe? What was its cost
22 What is Boxing Day probably named after?
23 Bohemian nobleman, 10th century, murdered , aged 26, by his mother and brother?
24 When does the Greek/Russian Orthodox Church celebrate the birth of Christ?
(the old date for Christmas)

For those musically inclined

25 ‘White Christmas’ was first sang in which 1942 movie?
26 Who, in1953, ‘saw mommy kissing Santa Claus’?
27 Who, in 1963, sang ‘All I want for Christmas is a Beatle’?
28 Who sang, ‘ I believe in Father Christmas’ in the 1970’s? (his only solo UK hit)
29 Who sang ‘Father Christmas is coming to town’ in 1985?
30 Who wrote ‘White Christmas’?
31 Who scored with ‘Happy Christmas, war is over’?

Christmas/seasonal literature

‘It was so dreadfully cold! It was snowing, and the evening was beginning to darken.’
32 Which famous story? 33 The author?
‘ Jo was the first to wake in the grey dawn of Christmas’
34 The authoress? 35 Which famous story?
‘I think it must be the field-mice’ replied the ….. with a touch of pride in his manner. ’They go
round carol singing regularly at this time of the year.’
36 The novel? 37 The author?
‘Sat 25th Dec. Got up at 7.30. Had a wash and shave, cleaned teeth, squeezed spots then went upstairs.’
38 The book? 39 The writer?

A Mixed Selection

40 Who is Black Peter? ( a clue-Holland)
41 Who painted ‘The Adoration of the Magi’ in 1624?
42 Who is the saint associated with the Christmas tree?
43 The worlds largest’ what’ is at great Witchington, Norfolk?
44 Who tells us he was late for Communion. 25th December, 1662?
45 Only one Christian Church (building) uses mistletoe in decorations. Which?
Finally, name five of Santa’s reindeer. There are eight possibilities.
Nos 46, 47, 48,49,50.

Friday 21 December 2012

Nearly There! Three More Blasts From The Past.

Have you finished it all? Shopping all done? Cards all sent? Booze all in? No, oh come on, it's been on the television since August. Have a sit down, again, treat yourself to a mince pie and watch three more funny men from the past. No apologies, it's been a funny year.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Feeling Nostalgic. Blasts from the Past.

No more serious posts until the New Year. Enough of attempts at erudition and pompous prognostications. Lets lighten the mood in this festive season. Three short blasts from the past. Put the kettle on, sit back and enjoy. Surely equal in their own way to today's sophisticated offerings!

Sunday 9 December 2012

Regarding Guilt or Shame, What's to Blame.

    I never know in advance what to blog about. Once a week or thereabouts, not easy. (I'm approaching 400 blog posts and sometimes find I'm repeating myself; I think its called senility!) I avoid the news where possible but occasionally it triggers my mind, often in a direction I would not have chosen to go.
    I read about a mother who shaved her son's head and forced him to go to school in a wheelchair so she could claim he had cancer. Over three years, when the boy was between six and eight she claimed £85,900 in benefit fraud. She has been jailed at Gloucestershire Crown Court.for forty five months.
    I could not imagine an act of more mind bending cruelty. In a way we don't wish to acknowledge that such people exist but she is part of the world we live in. Obviously such people are abhorrent to most of us, but the thing that has played on my mind is, how do such people live with their actions afterwards, day by day, month by month, year by year. I am struggling to comprehend.
    A fifty eight year old man in my area has been charged with sexual offences with a horse. I know of this case in some detail; sadly he has been convicted of similar offences previously. The man's photograph has appeared in a local newspaper; he has also had to move area. Life as he knew it for this sad individual is, irrespective of the eventual court verdict in this case, over. How does he live, day by day, month by month, year by year; again I fail to comprehend.
    (The subject of bestiality came up in a recent edition of Never Mind the Buzzcocks. The participants seemed to find the subject funny. I suspect their amusement was borne of unthinking ignorance, a wish to not think seriously of such actions.)
    Some footballers earn amazing amounts of money. They are often of 'working class stock', their fellow men, if they are lucky enough to be working, earn derisory amounts in comparison to these 'stars'. Yet these 'ordinary' mortals are the providers of the footballers wealth by paying out hard earnt cash to see their 'heroes perform.
    Liam Ridgewell is a West Bromwich Albion footballer who apparently earns over £20,000 weekly. Roughly the average West Midland average yearly earnings. He thinks it very clever to be photographed wiping his backside on a twenty pound note. (There are numerous other twenty pound notes scattered around the toilet floor.) What a crass, stupid, unintelligent, ignorant, thoughtless thing to do. How demeaning, what rude mockery of those who scrimp and scape to watch such spoil brats perform. Again how do the Liam Ridgewells of this world live, day by day, week by week, year by year after such appalling behaviour.
    Just three examples of individual actions that will I suspect never go away for the people concerned. My interest is in many ways more concerned with what happens next rather than the actions themselves. 
    Or do the memories fade; are the memories fleeting or consistently present. Are some people so insensitive, so limited that they do not realise their actions are out of 'sinc' with the majority. (Religious people I presume can ask for forgiveness and, again. I presume, all is well.)
    Guilt, shame, it never was my strong point. (my old 'what's it all about' syndrome.) Why, I wonder, can I remember instances when I did wrong, was 'naughty' over sixty years ago; little things, unimportant yet still remembered; (the result of a religious upbringing perhaps.) I am a nobody, just little unimportant me. So nothing I have ever done that I am not so proud of is important enough to be remotely memorable for ever and a day. I am happy for that; I suspect most of us are the same.
    This post coincides with the Australian hoax call concerning the pregnancy of the Duchess of Cambridge. A hoax that is connected, however tenuous it may turn out with the death of a nurse taking the phone call. A terrible, sad event that will effect the lives of several people. It may have been a daft thing to do, but I don't think it was intentionally, deliberately vicious. The point is, sometimes our actions can affect our futures for ever more; quite a thought. Now that's off my chest I must look for a couple of posts that are more in tune with this happy, festive season!


Sunday 2 December 2012

Nowt so strange as Folk.

    Readers of long standing know of my fascination with the human condition. So around a dozen instances from the press in recent times that caught my jaundiced eye.
Money, power, always in the news. A couple, referred to only as Mr and Mrs Y, 'of an illustrious Oxfordshire family' were in the High Court contesting a divorce settlement. The husband suggested he could only afford £7 million, she maintained  she needed £11.2 million to keep up her lifestyle; she was awarded a lump sum of £8.7 million. We are not allowed to know their names! (The judge said her aspirations were not outlandish or avaricious' but 'borne of her lifestyle' and 'expectations from birth'.)
    A highly successful auctioneer from Dorset found a tree in his neighbour's garden spoilt his view over Poole Harbour. The answer, get a friend to cut it down whilst the neighbour is away. Result £125, 000 in fines.
     Its a strange thing, power. I suspect arrogance and power go together. Eric Joyce, MP has to wear a 'curfew tag' for being involved in a brawl in Parliament earlier in the year. No problem, he cuts it off in order to attend a function. Some in the world seem to think they are above laws and rules. A leader of the People of Freedom Party in Italy (Berlusconi's Party) regularly parks in a disabled parking bay. (He is not disabled). He is reported so he slashes the tyres of the man who reports him; who is incidentally disabled.) His defence 'It was a technical error due to a fit of rage.' That's all right then! 
    An accountant from Bristol way is obsessed with cars. He embezzles £562,000 from his employers and bought, over a period of time, over 100 cars; including Renaults, Vauxaulls, Morris Minors, a hearse and two caravans, not exactly your vintage motors. He had them stored all over Bristol, garage rents over £4,200 a month. All bought on eBay. His defence said he was 'a shopping addict'; He wasn't kidding!

    We all need a certain amount of money. Rosemary Smith from Derby, my home town auctioned a piece of toast allegedly left behind at breakfast by Prince Charles on the day of his wedding to Princess Diane; it fetched £230. Far more than the Henry Moore sculpture sundial, value between £250,00-500,00 stolen by two men in Hertfordshire and sold as scrap for £46. It was fortunately recovered intact.
    Its not just people searching for money, or people seeking power I find so entertaining. Some people are so naturally entertaining without meaning to be so. Southend Pier is the longest in Britain. John Smith from Raleigh just up the road is a trawlerman. So what does he do, he rams his boat into the pier. He is fined £3,000 for failing to keep a proper lookout; cost of pier repairs £130,000.
Perhaps its the sea air that makes people a bit light headed. A man from Weymouth washes his pants and socks then puts them in the microwave. He has to be lead to safety when his flat catches fire. There's no law that says you can't dry your underwear in the microwave. You can't lock people up for being daft. And if you did its not a bad life inside. Not for much longer, mind you. Around 3,000 prisoners in private run prisons have access to Skye TV and Chris Grayling the Justice Minister is not happy!
    If you break the law you must pay for it. Providing it IS a law you break. A Ms Moira Johnson has paraded round Manhattan trying to gain awareness that it is NOT against the law to appear topless in public in New York; for neither men nor women. Good for her I reckon, but, dear readers, why shouldn't females walk about so in the 21st century if they so wish. To deny them that right is surely sexual discrimination. It truly is a funny old world.