Friday, 30 September 2005

Helen the bell

Now this will probably mean nowt to anyone who hasn't been to a Manchester City home game but since when was I interested in amusing the masses? :-)

When I was a good deal smaller and younger my father took me to watch football at Maine Road. In those days football was also young and naive - the minimum wage had just been dropped but players still took the bus to the ground and lived in B&Bs close to the ground. We went to Maine Rd because dad was a Blue and he was a Blue because he was born and brought up within 200 yards of the hallowed turf on which I saw King Colin, Lee 1 (pen), Buzzer and others play. During my difficult growing up years (in contrast to my difficult adult years!) there was a lady who would sit in the North Stand, behind the goal, with a handbell and she would ring this at significant times during the game. When City moved to the new stadium she moved with them and for many City fans that bell was simply part of the game and part of the experience. Her name was Helen Turner.

Yesterday was Helen's funeral and the club have agreed that they will do something to celebrate her life before the next home game on Sunday. I'm not posting this to be mawkish but simply to show that every now and then (not often enough in my book) big business (and that's what football is these days) does the right thing and recognises the people who pay the wages of the megastars like Beckham. Read the comments after that news item to see what she meant to City fans :-)

Odds and ends

The ends first; My project went on its weary way and I've got notification that it's been received. Unfortunately the video card on the laptop has also reached its end and it won't fly a remote screen so that PC is dead. A shame really as it's my main PC and has Outlook and a load of software that won't run on this PC so I'm going to have to get it repaired or replace it with another one which will take the hard drive.

And an odd. Doing the shopping yesterday I wanted some marmalade - nothing like it on hot toast with a cup of tea, snuggled up in bed with the radio on and a good book. Standing next to the marmalade display in Tesco were two women and one was saying to the other "I want Thick Cut marmalade without the bits but I simply can't seem to find it anywhere" - like the sound of one hand clapping unless I'm missing something obvious!

Tuesday, 20 September 2005

Not back yet!

Sorry I've been quiet - still busily trying to finish my project report but I've taken a few days off. My mate Roland came down from Manchester and we spent the weekend chilling and talking rubbish about cooking and growing up and such like - we were at school together so long ago that it was in black and white. I had the children on Sunday so we took a picnic to the final cricket game of the season (a draw) and as Roland hasn't seen the sea for a few years we had coffee in a number of coastal spots including the newest bit of England, a lovely spot overlooking beautiful white cliffs, a little place on the beach at Margate, The Bandstand in Herne Bay (which was mentioned in the Gundrain on Saturday while we were there! Roland doesn't drink but we managed a couple of evenings in The Mermaid too.

More work to do so I'll still be in "Silent running" mode but I'd like to point out that this weekend sees the 35th anniversary of.............

Saturday, 10 September 2005


Just got back, nearly four hours because of the weather - the M1 was flooding in places and there were lightening flashes and all sorts of good things. It's very steamy here in Kent so I guess we'll be having a drop of weather soon.

On the up-side: City grabbed a draw at Old Trafford to stay third in the Premiership! Heady times!

On the funny side: Another animation about ID Cards and tres jolly it is too!

On the Intelligent Design front: The Smithsonian are becoming embroiled!

I'm knackered now. I need a nice cup of tea and a rub down with the Radio Times. I think I'll go and veg in front of tne idiot box for a while.

Friday, 9 September 2005


If I don't blog for a day or two I get messages asking if I'm okay so here goes.

Busy right now finishing the project for the course I'd studying this year. It's got to be in soon so I have to get it sorted.

Saturday is an away day in Newport Pagnell (exciting or what??) and I should really be sharing my time between The Ashes and the Manchester Derby so I hope you will all be cheering on England and The Blues! :-)

Thursday, 8 September 2005

Five days........

Fell asleep last night so missed the football (thankfully!) but that was the hors d'ouvre - today the main course starts. We've won the toss and Collingwood replaces Jones and now it's started. Those less cultured readers might not know what this means but the cognoscenti will be switched into it - and probably for the next four or five days!

Wednesday, 7 September 2005


Angie raised the subject of pizza so I thought I'd bring her up to date on the origins of this famous dish.

Pizza was introduced to these islandsfrom Italy by the Romans when wild pizza seeds were carried over in the hem of their tunics in 55 BC. The seeds fell onto the roadside verges and in our mild and temperate climate they flourished. Long years under the Roman yoke and then successive invasions from the north and south saw the inhabitants of the British Isles sustained on cultivated pizza. When groups left to colonise other parts of the world they took their cherished pizza seeds and in this way pizza arrived in the New World. Convicts smuggled pizza to Australia and during the Raj muligatawny pizza was grown in the lee of the tea plantations. Pizza is now a world dish but it's best eaten fresh, beware the frozen pizza as all the vitamin C is killed by freezing.

Hope that helps.

Sunday, 4 September 2005

Project Heart!

Go and read this post on Mouse Central to see how you can contribute something other than money or food or clothing to help the stricken on the Gulf Coast.

New Orleans again

I know I've been banging on about this but the more I read and see and hear the more I find it incredible that this situation should have arisen as it did in the first place and then been so badly handled. Here's a report claiming that British tourists in an hotel in New Orleans were simply left by the police who came to evacuate people before the hurricane hit. A different newspaper and a different story, The Times claims that British Consular officials were refused access to New Orleans three times when they wanted to try and offer aid to "scores of British tourists" trapped there. One story sums up what was happening
Peter McGowan, whose sister Teresa Cherrie was trapped in the devastated area with her boyfriend John Drysdale, described yesterday how they had been reduced to looting to survive: "They are having to scavenge for food and Teresa is terrified," he said. "At first it was the gangs they feared, then it was trigger-happy cops."

The family told how Cherrie, 42, and Drysdale, 41, both from Renfrew, near Glasgow, had searched for food outside a supermarket after shelves were stripped by gangs.

The couple were eventually rescued yesterday afternoon from an apartment block in the French Quarter of Baton Rouge One New Orleans blogger in the city wrote yesterday: "Bunch of stressed out, trigger-happy police and military types driving by suspicious as all hell. It's not safe standing out on the street."
This editorial in The Times, entitled "When the levees broke, the waters rose and Bush's credibility sank with New Orleans" makes interesting reading and draws parallels between this disaster and earlier ones where natural disasters have highlighted inequalities and led to political change. The Johnstown flood in 1889 and the Galveston hurricane in 1900 are mentioned as is the 1927 flood which led to the rise of Huey Long.

Meanwhile the BBC reporters on the ground are saying that getting troops there is starting to make a difference. The BBC site also has a roundup of international press coverage of the disaster. Two things in pieces I've read today really hit home.
........ after the 9/11 attacks Fema was absorbed into the mammoth Department of Homeland Security, in the expectation that its expertise would be vital in the wake of another devastating attack.

The result, however, was that Fema became part of the counter-terrorism apparatus and its preparedness for natural disaster atrophied. When the Louisiana state authorities appealed for medical aid from Fema, the first delivery they received was a shipment of drugs and equipment for use in the event of a chemical weapon attack.
It took four days to begin a large-scale evacuation of people stranded in the Superdome stadium and to bring in significant amounts of food and water to an American city easily accessible by motorway.

Relief agencies took half that time to reach Indonesia after the Boxing Day tsunami. [My emphasis]
Both from Julian Borger writing from Baton Rouge.

Finally, there are some truly moving images at Truthout (thanks for flagging that site Mouseperson of Canada!)


Yesterday was this guy's 10th birthday
So we all went to Howletts Zoo and saw lots of animals including tigers and gorillas and elephants (including two baby elephants)

Then we came back here for pizza and fizzy pop and party poppers and balloons and strawberries and cake and then they went home and I spent ages tidying up and that's carried on this morning. It was a smashing day though :-)

Friday, 2 September 2005

Tricky mouse!

Nothing gets past EchoMouse and she's pulled together some great links to blogs based in the disaster area. Great stuff Mouse and thanks for doing that - some amazing stuff here. I find it incomprehensible that the US is refusing offers of aid!

Vote Nagin!

"We authorised $8bn to go to Iraq, lickety spit. After 9/11 we gave the president unauthorised powers, lickety spit, to take care of New York and other places,"

"Now you mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place that is so unique... that you can't figure out a way to authorise the resources that we need?"

"I don't know whose problem it is, I don't know whether it's the governor's problem, I don't know whether it's the president's problem, but somebody needs to get their asses on the plane and sit down the two of them and figure this out, right now."

"This is ridiculous. I don't want to see anyone doing any more goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city and they come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops which we can't even count."

This bloke get's my vote.


So Ken Clarke, the last "big beast" in the Tory jungle, went for the "third time lucky" pitch yesterday and in his opening speech suggested that Blair is probably one of the few people left who cannot draw a relationship between an increased risk of terrorist attack and the military excursion in Iraq. Today we hear the flat vowels of someone from Leeds trying to justify blowing himself up on a tube train in the name of a faith which, true adherents know, opposes violence - especially against innocent women and children. We watch in sadness and incomprehension as part of the most powerful country in the world suffers great pain and is still waiting for a full scale relief operation - it's taking far too long to get supplies and support there. Some commentators are suggesting that the military support available is reduced because of the soldiers serving overseas. There is already discussion about aid for the Gulf Coast states and a few people have commented that they hope the rebuilding work isn't directed only to Dick Chaney's companies.

Time waste

Yahoo games are a good way of wasting time and the one I'm currently hooked into is wonderful. It's called Rocket mania and while the game itself is fun the best part are the names of each level. Give it a go and see if you can move from being a "Young Salamander" to a "Crowd Pleaser" or even a "Disciple of the Lotus" - they are surreal and always worth a giggle :-)

Thursday, 1 September 2005

Approximately 06:30 this AM. This view from my bedroom window. I had to dash downstairs for the camera otherwise I'd have taken some of them surrounding the car or wandering into my garden. You can't see the sheep dogs but there were three and before the sheep were in view I could hear the shepherd whistling to them as the sheep were brought down the hill in the field at the end of the terrace - they were too early for The Mermaid so none dived in for a beer!

I know someone is bound to ask - 300, you don't need to count them - my neighbour asked the shepherd as he passed.

Serious stuff

I'm writing today (and will be for much of this month) so I'm surviving on a diet of radio news and cups of tea. Today I've been listening to the terrible events in New Orleans unfolding and I've been getting more and more annoyed. The town is wasted, the poor people still there are being told to get out as quickly as they can. Many are still there because leaving wasn't an option anyway; no transport, carers for people who couldn't be moved, etc but now the mayor or some other worthy has instructed the Police to stop search and rescue and stop looting. No argument that lawlessness must be guarded against but if you and your family are living on the roof of a building and you need food and water and the supermarket is awash but nobody is on the till do you leave the food and wait a few months for the shop to reopen? Do you wait a few days for the relief operations to find and feed you? Or do you grab some basics and feed yourself? I'm not supporting the wholesale rampage that is being described but it still seems difficult to reconcile protecting things and stopping looking for people. One radio interviewer described people grabbing food being stopped by the police and told to drop the goods - they did and the water washed them away. Who benefitted?

Horrible circumstances and I recognise the difference in sitting here postulating and being there terrified.