Friday, 31 July 2009

Almost the weekend

Hello there ma wee blog!

Well its been a successful day today. The final prep for the hearings went well and I had time in the morning to go down to Dunbar and get my overdue haircut which is always strangely going to make me feel a wee bit better about 'life the universe and everything' anyway to quote Douglas Adams.

Getting a haircut, especially if I have left it a bit overdue, always takes me back to being a wee boy and going to the local barbers in the village where I grew up; sitting on the childs seat that was just a short plank of wood put across the arms of the barbers chair so you stuck up enough above the chair back to let the guy actually get to your napper. That almost tearful feeling of having been scalped as you stepped out of the shop with your Mum or Dad at your side and felt the wind caress your baldy heid for the first time reminding you of just how much hair you had just left behind on the floor. You actually felt lighter so much seemed to have gone, and of course, you knew your pals were going to make fun of you for "havin' a baldy" or having been "rumped right intae the wid" as they laughed ruefully and ran hands self consciously back through no doubt soon to be shorn locks themselves. You also could never resist that first tentative hand up and across the back of your head to check how sharp the remaining stubble was, feeling lucky no doubt that you actually got out of there with some hair left. No one was allowed to have their hair long it seemed. Everyone had to look like military conscripts with identical short back and sides. I doubt, looking back, that the demon barber of Drongan could actually cut hair other than in that universal, one fits all style. Certainly I remember seeing grown men of all ages with the exact same cut { and reaction on coming out of the shop }. Sometimes Dad would get his hair cut at the same time and we would look at each other as we stood outside the shop and he would smile sympathetically at me and offer his hand for the walk back home.

I got that feeling so strongly this morning that I smiled broadly to myself as I stepped out into the warm breeze { and not the forecast torrential downpour } to get on with the rest of the day.
Aye, sometimes its the simple things in life eh?

The hearings went well today too. The cases went smoothly and we worked well together as a team during the hearings. Its good to be able to terminate a supervision order and say to a child or a family that although they have been through a bad time that its clear that the worst is over and you no longer need us to support you. Its clear that you can do it on your own, working voluntarily with social work. Its a great boost to a child or families confidence not only to feel or to be told things are getting so much better but to be shown by action that legal compulsion to do certain things is not needed and they must feel that if we can step back out of it then getting social work to do the same and to take back full control is a reality. One of the big anxieties I see in families is that fear that once social work depts are involved its never going to be over.

I was also able to have a bit of a rant to social work about the information in reports - the huge amounts of abbreviations, the ICPCC, RCPCC, MAAG and ELIS and all those other things which although meant to help - and do to the likes of us who see these things on a regular basis - can actually be quite intimidating to people and to children who are already in a stressful situation and dont need the additional threat of this secret code which can only be understood by the initiated. I also hate how so much understanding can be lost at the altar of the great God 'Cut and Paste' when a hard pressed social worker clearly doesn't take the time to stop and proof read the reports before issuing them. Not helpful.....

Actually I have a huge amount of respect for social workers and the job they do in often really trying circumstances. They are fantastic folk in my opinion and I have yet to meet one who does not really care about the job they do and the folk they are trying to help. Unfortunately so often now they are the scapegoats for society and the media in particular. Damned if they do and damned if they dont. I have the utmost respect for them and I dont think I could do their job for a pension.

That doesn't mean that I am not critical of the structures they work in or some of the policies they enforce or some of the procedures used but I certainly don't feel that as a society we are really prepared to shoulder the cost of giving them the training, tools and resources to truly provide that fine mesh safety net that we expect them to have for every possible permutation of problem or consequence for the vulnerable elements of our society. Instead we seem only too willing to pillory them at the first opportunity.

Whoa Boy! Slow down man! .......... Rant over, ok Alistair?. Look at what it says at the top of the blog entry. Its "almost the weekend" not " Get on your high horse". Calm down......... Breathe deeply......... REEEELAAAX...........


So anyway........

Its almost the weekend!

And this weekend its the 1st of August.! National day of Switzerland!

So we are celebrating the Swiss part of the family with a get together, a meal, Swiss flags, Swiss tablecloth, Swiss napkins, Swiss food , Swiss wine, Schnapps, Kirsch and anything else we can find that remotely smacks of Heidi Land, of edelweiss, cowbells, alphorns, yodelling, mad obsessions about time, efficient train and bus services to impossibly remote locations, chocolate, fondue, badly timed senses of humour { they say if you tell a Swiss a joke on Tuesday they will laugh Sunday in church! } - and missing Nazi millions.....


see you later............

listening to Bob Marley, "three little birds"

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Job done

Well, thats the initial read through done and my case notes made up. Time now to let the cases soak in and I'll revisit them again tonight or early tomorrow and get the questions together ready for the hearings.

Never managed to get a haircut though. Went down to the town but my usual place was closed so I will try again later in the week. Its annoying as I have left it a week too long and its been bugging me.

Ah well serves me right.

see you later.

listening to - absolutely nothing............

A few whiskers short of the full kitty!

As usual I am sitting in the kitchen while I blog this. I have just let the cats out. We have two, sisters, which we took to look after for a couple of weeks a few years ago. As you will recognise they never did go back to their owner, a colleague of the lovely G who was recovering from divorce or something and had moved into temporary rented accomodation for a few weeks while he looked for something better. I can't remember now what happened but he moved office or something and never got in touch. Whatever. The "Girls" as we call them settled in very easily and we grew to see them as ours very quickly - we were getting over the fact that our cat had died {old age} recently.

Jess and Bailey are very alike, white with some brown markings. Jess' main distinguishing feature is that she has a smudge on her chin and is smaller than Bailey who to be honest is a greedy guts. They are more recognisable by their behaviours. Bailey as becomes a cat who has just scoffed for Scotland and won is usually very sedate and when she goes out she is usually back at the door in less than ten minutes looking for some more food and a cosy corner. She is quite affectionate and loves a good petting session and to snuggle up with me on the couch. She is definitely MY cat and she knows she can twist me around her little claw. She loves to go out after a good meal and waddle around the garden for a while pretending to the local birds that she is a lethal hunter on the prowl when actually, although she does have some ability in that direction, she is much more likely to be just sitting in front of the hedge and watching the birds come and go. More an aid to digestion than anything else. One of her favourite tricks is to come back after a visit to the garden and do an enormous crap in the litter tray which I have just cleaned out.

As I speak she is sitting at the patio door practising her Jedi mind tricks on me, trying to convince me through the glass that I did not feed her an hour ago and that I should let her in so she can rub around my trouser leg while mewling pitifully until I cave in and feed her for the first time in weeks thank you very much.
Jess on the other hand is G's cat and will usually only deign to darken my door if G is absent from the household or she has just had a scolding or something and feels she needs to get in my good books. Of course also if G isn't around I can provide and fairly adequate cat massage although clearly not in the same league as G. And so, I am suffered and allowed to approach and scratch the ears or the back. Jess is a few whiskers short of being the full kitty if you catch my drift and there are times when you look at her that you can see the lights on but nobody is in or that she is going to kick off on one of her daft half hours shortly where she will tear about the house and bounce off the furniture {if she gets a chance that is} G will often cradle her in her arms like a baby while sitting in the lounge and Jess will sit there contendedly hour after hour while staring gently at me to remind me that although I get to go to bed with G at the end of the evening thats just so I can warm the bed and that I should never NEVER forget that G clearly knows who comes first and its not you mate!!!

Bailey as I said is always around and will come racing across like a rocket from the other side of the garden when I whistle. As she weighs a bit its advisable to look out carefully for this phenomenon and keep feet, legs and assorted other bits of human anatomy well out of the way until she comes to a halt and reverses back towards you to find out why the utility room door isn't open and food piled meaningfully up in bowls already.

Jess is a house cat. Not something she has actually signed up for mind you, just that she disappeared for 5 days the last time she was officially let out. There have been a couple of escapes since then, which of course I am totally to blame for { so I 'm told } but I wont go into that just now in case G ever reads this and I get pounded!. We bought a cat harness and one of those extending leads and G will occasionally take her out and drag her, sometimes almost literally around the garden. Over time though Jess has got used to this set up and now I can take her out to the garden and using the extending lead tie her safely to one of the apple trees and she has learned that she:
A} is safe
B} can't get away even if she wants to.
C} still can get to most of the interesting bits of the garden nearby

This has brought an new equilibrium to our relationship as she now recognises that I am at home every day and have control over whether she gets out or not and, being a smart little kitty, she will now quite happy suck up to me for garden access rights as long as its not raining or too windy and therefore she can get to many interesting little bits of the garden. She can also play "untangle me" by crawling up and around through the branches of aforementioned apple tree and jumping down on the other side before walking back around and lying down facing the patio doors where I most often am sitting as I still need to keep an eye on her. { I WILL die if she gets away from me again and she knows it the bugger that she is} Once she sees that I have noticed, she will do that appealing little cat roll onto her back so her head is upside down and she looks as cute as possible and as innocent as sin. Little sod!
So, thats a thumbnail sketch of "The Girls".

Must go now. I have a cat to feed, a litter tray to empty and I'm on untangling duty in 10 mins.
Thank goodness we don't have kids as well......
see you later......................

listening to John Barrys' theme to "Somewhere in time".

Another day and not another dollar.........

As usual I have been dosing on and off for most of the night, tossing and turning and being in danger of waking up the lovely G who is sometimes less then lovely to me when kept awake at all hours of the night. I got up at one point for a cup of tea which is probably not going to help me sleep either I know but at least gives G the chance to have a couple of hours of undisturbed rest and help preserve my safety for a couple of hours too. For one so small she packs a mean poke in the ribs!.

Having been up from 2.30 till 4.30, its now half past five and I have given up trying to sleep anymore for today. Daylight has seeped through the window and the rain which came last night has left droplets of rainwater hanging brightly from the underside of the velux window which we always have open summer or winter. A quick glance out past them shows me a pale blue and fairly clear sky over the sea as I carefully pick up my shirt and trousers and head off downstairs for a coffee.

Everyone says, and I have to agree, that the first coffee of the day is the best one. I love to have mine in the kitchen and in peaceful solitude, quietly able to consider the day ahead, planning and organising my half thought out day and looking forward to the small things that make each day worth living.

Today I need to prepare for the childrens hearing tommorrow afternoon as its a heavy caseload and the reports posted to me a few days ago have lain, an undisturbed but weighty reminder, in their sealed pack across the weekend and the start of the week. It can take quite a few hours to go over a case and there are 4 to hear tomorrow so it feels like a pretty full day of reading and thinking today. I also need to get a haircut which I will do when I need a break from the social work background reports for the cases. A short trip to the nearest hairdresser and a quick cut should hopefully only take an hour or two maximum. I will read the reports and my notes again later either tonight or tommorrow morning to make sure I know exactly what questions I want answered for each case before any decisions are made. I'm chairing two hearings so I need to be thoroughly prepared.

A well, better get started but maybe also another coffee. The second of the day can sometimes just be a continuation of the first.......

see you later

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

old photos, old memories

Hullo there ma wee blog,

some photos of Operation Manna April 1945

Crowds pick up the dropped food even from the ditches

people were on roofs, at windows and in the streets

Dads position as tail gunner

plaque to 153 Sqn in Scampton church

RAF and Luftwaffe graves, Scampton kirkyard.

I am typing with two fingers due to me accidentally trying to chop off three fingers on my right hand yesterday in the garden.

{Aye, that bloody hedge again!}

I'm sitting in my library, my own little sanctuary , surrounded by my books and my collection of antique maps of Scotland. I have always been fascinated by history. I don't know why, I just am. Being a bit of a magpie too I have also a fair wee collection of memorabilia relating to the family: a set of dominoes my Grandfather got from his Dad and which he carried through WWI, in Gallipoli and the Western Front, the reading frame made by an uncle for him to set on his bed table which went across his legs - he suffered from shellshock as a result of his experiences in the Somme and was bedridden for the last 30 years of his life. I have a portrait of the family { Mum, Dad, me and G, Gordon, Charlotte and their kids} made about 15 years ago and given from dads house when he died. Its sitting in the corner as I haven't made up my mind where it should hang yet or found the courage to look at it every day if I do. There are many other little things in drawers or cupboards around the house too.

I have been typing , - oh so very slowly .................

{ due more painkillers now I'm reminded - back in a mo....}

I have been looking at an old photo of Dad in his RAF days. I think it was taken in 1944 at Scampton. It shows Dad and his crew posed formally under their Lancaster. Just seven young men; 4 at the rear and three crouched in front , their looks and postures a mix of serious, bravado, self conscious. Above them all is a Lancaster, poised over them like a protective brother. -they are standing or crouching under the nose cone and it looks like the engines are swept up beside them in defensive mode. Dad is at the front on the right. It looks like it was taken on a cold day but Dad of all the front three is the only one with bare hands, the others sheathed in leather gloves and I find myself reminded of how he often complained of hot hands { a trait I have inherited from him} even in the coldest weather.

He was twenty when the picture was taken. I wonder if they knew that it was almost all over, or that the rate of loss of Bomber crews was a deadly average of 5%. It doesn't take much working out to see that that is equal to the whole front line force going down in just under three weeks. Of the 125000 who served in Bomber Command 60% { almost 74000} were casualties. I wonder too if he knew that tail gunner losses were much, much higher than that { I have read that tail gunner casualties were in the region of 76% as this was the preferred and safest method of attack for the German fighters until some were fitted with a vertical firing gun to allow attacks from directly below.} I imagine in all likelihood he must have, but he never spoke ofthat side of it.

He spoke of things like winning the crew a 2 day pass to Lincoln as first prize for an airborne gunnery competition with a score of 92% and of nearly shooting down another RAF plane that was towing a target in one of the early training missions.

He must have got better with practice.

He didn't get posted operational until quite late due to injuries sustained in a crash landing during training when a Wellington they were using had engine failure and came down in some trees on approach to the airfield. He spoke of training on low level flights when based at Scampton, flying at full speed across lakes at 60 or 70 feet, of being scared witless at the closeness of the water at first and telling the pilot that " if he went any bloody lower he would have his bloody feet in the bloody water" {Lancasters normally bombed at 10,00ft or higher }.

He told of having fallen asleep shirtless at the base on a sunny day and getting his back absolutely roasted with sunburn and then not being able to go to sick room because as operational aircrew it would have been considered as self inflicted injuries and potentially been a court martial affair. The others in the crew treated his back by liberally applying all the brylcream hair lotion they could lay their hands on before they went up that night. He said it was the most painful experience of his life and the only time he was glad that the turret was so small the rear gunners couldn't wear their parachutes but had to hang them up behind the closed door of the turret.

He told me a few stories, mainly in his last few months, about Operation Manna food drops to occupied Holland where the people were dying of starvation due to lack of food - the Germans had flooded the polders and stopped all transport except essential military stuff . It was something he was very proud of and he seemed to have clung to those memories more than others.

The crew took part in three or four drops at very low level and at almost stalling speed. Paw said the first one was terrifying as although they had been briefed that the German forces had agreed safe passages of access { they must have known the end was near} the aircrews didn't really believe it. They thought they would be fired on because of what they had done to German towns and cities. He said it was so scary to be flying so slow and so low. He could clearly see the manned anti aircraft guns tracking them, could see the expressions of the German soldiers they were so low. He said it felt like they could have reached up and slapped his backside, but he said that once you knew they were not firing { although they did take some small arms fire on one trip but no one was hurt} there was a really great feeling on board, especially when you saw the reception.

People were everywhere, at every window, in the streets, in the fields, on the rooftops, all yelling, screaming and waving things: flags, towels, hats. In the countryside people made huge thank you messages out of tulips and some of the braver ones put Dutch or even British flags out across their rooftops which must have been a bit risky since they were still occupied territory.

After the initial drops many of the pilots became quite show offs and would fly in and out with, as described in the Sqn records, "great panache"

At one dropping zone they had to make a tight turn to miss a church steeple nearby on entry or exit, which the pilot did but so so close that it felt like you were spinning round on the steeple.

But one flight, {to the Hague I think Dad said} the pilot said " Right lads, SMILE!" and dropped the Lancaster down, right into a big wide boulevard, and down to zero feet. Paw said you had to look up to see the people in the houses as the plane cruised very slowly up the street with the crew waving and laughing and crying back at the people.

What a feeling that must have been........ and I bet he was glad of all that extreme low level practice after all!

Apparently even today the Dutch people celebrate not VE day as the end of the war celebrations, but the Operation Manna food drops by RAF and USAF in April and May 1945.

Shortly after Dad died my brother and I took a trip south to visit his twin brother and as he lives quite close to where Dad was stationed in the war, we decided to visit some of the associated places. We visited Scampton air base, Lincoln cathedral, which houses the bomber command memorial, and the local pub and church the aircrews used in Scampton village. Scampton air base museum was a bit disappointing as it focused mainly on the fact that the Dambusters raid had departed from there and there was little else relating to WWII , but the guide suggested we go and look at another museum where they have a Lancaster bomber on site.

So we went to East Kirkby and had a look around. Its an old WWII bomber base and they have many of the original buildings and a great little museum as well as a complete Lanc which you can sit in as they taxi onto the runway.
It was the first time I had seen a Lancaster up so close and actually felt the impact of the scale of it. Its large, but even so I imagine it must have felt like sitting in a cardboard tube waiting to get blown out of the sky. 76 ft long with 4 engines and guns front top and rear. It certainly looked lethal.

It was cordoned off as they were doing some mechanical maintenance and I couldn't get very close to Dads rear turret so I spoke to one of the guys working and he said to me to hop across the barrier and take some photos if I wanted. I was across in an instant and took some good photos. It struck me how isolated from everyone else in the crew he was and again I felt that I was getting to know a bit of Paw that I had never had the chance to appreciate as I grew up. This young man had actually put himself in harms way and was clearly also prepared to defend himself and his crew to the utmost.

It made me compare this with the cheerful, sociable and gentle gentle man that was my Dad every day that I knew him. Amazing, absolutely amazing.......

Walking around the museum there were a series of display boards set up with one side of each board dedicated to an individual squadron of bomber command. From Scampton I had found out which one Dad had served in and I easily found the display dedicated to 153 sqn. In pride of place there was a long photo of the entire squadron posed in front of a Lancaster bomber. The photo was dated June 1945. It took only a few seconds for me to identify Dad amongst the many men in the photos. Maybe as a son or daughter its something genetically programmed into you to be able to do, to help you find the familiar face in the crowd so quickly. Of course I had a huge lump in my throat and once it had passed I called Gordon over and we looked at the display and talked a bit about Paw. That little museum with all its exhibits and detail and its very personal feeling { set up by two farmer brothers in honour of their brother who had died on active service in Lancasters} was a little gem of a place and I think its somewhere I may return to again and again.

Gordon and I separated again and went off in different directions, probably lost in our own thoughts. Later I found myself in the NAAFI and looking around at photos around the room. The museum was about to close for the day and I was waiting on Gordon coming back in. As I looked around a man asked me if I had found the place interesting and of course I said yes and explained that I had never expected to see a photo of my father in a museum. I think I said it felt a bit bizarre. He smiled and said he understood and asked which photograph it had been, and as I had found another copy of the photo on the wall in the NAAFI, I said "that one there". He went over and we looked at it for a moment and he said to me " Would you like a copy of it? " I hadn't realised he worked there. Actually he was one of the family that still own and operate the museum. Of course I said yes and we arranged the details very quickly. He had a contact who could reproduce the picture despite its odd shape and length and we could expect to get a copy within a few weeks. I ordered two, one for myself and the other for Gordon.

Since then there have been problems with computers and kit needed for making the photos, but I received a phone call from the man at the museum a couple of days ago saying he had finally got the two copies we ordered and that he thinks they look great. So they are on their way to me and I expect them to drop in through the door tomorrow. I'm so excited and in fact I think I probably feel better somehow that they have taken a bit longer to come as perhaps it would have been more emotional if it had happened sooner. It feels like this is just the right time somehow.

I will let you know how they are when they get here. I am planning to have a local professional picture framer fix up both of them and I am going to give one of them to Gordon as a present.

Listening to............Supertramp, Even in the quietest moments.

I found the photos of operation manna on the internet. Not sure of any copyright but if anyone knows I would be happy to list accreditation. I think they are just in the public domain though.

Monday, 20 July 2009


Its a nice morning so maybe I will finally get that bloomin hedge chopped down a bit. think I will make a start on it when I get back from taking the lovely G to the station for the 7.38 to Edinburgh.............

Listening to............Thin Lizzie, Dancing in the Moonlight

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Switzerland 2009

Hi there blog
As promised some photos of our recent holiday in Switzerland. we stayed with G's aunt and uncle near Schaffhausen but did a fair bit of travel as we had passes for free travel on trains, buses, boats and cable cars. These are just some memories........
Listening to........ Polo Hoffer..... Giggerich

No Surprise.......

Oh aye, I never gave you the update on my appeal.

As forecast the original decision was upheld as right and fair.


Well of course they must have. And they are entitled to make their own decision. So the company is acting in a fair and reasonable way making you redundant when they dont consult with you about the situation or the process, when they brief you on what will happen not consult about the situation, when they arrange meetings and dont advise you to have representation and when they tell you on day one of the consultation that you are out of a job and two days later give you a formal letter saying there are risks of redundancy. And its also fair not to tell you what the selection criteria is or how it is scored and to put into your selection form that you have delivered your role below average but are still a green performer. And obviously its fair to use a dept team ranking that has allegedly been put together by 5 managers, 3 of whom have never been in any of your projects, or any of your colleagues, or to retain two staff who have never yet delivered a project on their own, or to deny that geography is a factor and yet retain a perfect geographical split. And its highly reasonable when they say they have consulted with representatives but wont advise who the representatives are or the content of the consultation.

I'm glad they think thats reasonable. My lawyer thinks I have a reasonable case too. so I now have to appeal the appeal and go through it all again with yet another suit from the company who will no doubt regurgitate the same corporate platitudes and the same old decision. I cant tell you how frustrating that is. I can't believe either that I have spent 32 years of my bloody life working for a shower like that. Thats multi national corporations for you I guess.

I am not lying down on this. I have always trusted my instincts and judgement and I wont be treated in this way, being swatted like an annoying little flea.

So I will go on with the appeals charade while I lodge the tribunal claim.


Listening to - the sound of blood pumping in my ears!!!!

Friday, 17 July 2009

A blustery day.

Been on my own today: the lovely G at work and out in the evening and the weather has been dour. Cold and wet with the rain driven across the garden by a strong wind. The skies have been sullen, dark grey and the day has seemed like one long cold evening. When I was young and living on the west coast I would have called it "dreich" and pronounced it "dreech" with the ch like in loch.
I had planned to be out in the garden almost all day. The hedges at front and back of the house have been left so long they are almost out of control and I am going to have to be ruthless when cutting them back. My fault of course, I have left them too long. My excuse was that there were several nests in the hedges, sparrows, blackbirds and a beautiful thrush with its ermine chest, and I wanted to wait until all the eggs had hatched and the chicks were properly fledged and away. I should in all honesty have done it before we went on holiday but of course I didn't and by the time we came back it had become a daunting task.
The front hedge is about 30m long and about 2m high and 1m deep, the back about half the length but almost another metre high. So I have been procastinating, prioritising other easier jobs ahead of it and now on the day I had cleared the decks to get it done I am forced to sit inside and look at them from the window, the wind pushing them to and fro as if showing me again how big the job is going to be. Its not nice to be mocked by a hedge you know. Not funny. The wind almost cracks as it whips across the patio doors in the kitchen where I am sitting just now. It sounds like thunder at times.
In an hour and a half I will be at the local station to pick up G, who has already sent me a text to say she is a bit squiffy thanks to the cocktails she and her pals have downed. It doesnt feel like a cocktail day to me though. This is a day for a whisky. Or rather this is a day for a malt, maybe a nice soft speyside to warm the mouth and stoke the inner furnace a little, or a nice salty iodine rich Islay malt like Ardbeg or Bruichladdich with the tang of the sea and echoes of cold nights kept at arms length by a good fire and a comfy chair. I'm out of my personal favourite Talisker at the moment with its peat rich scent,sharply tangy bite in the throat and its long spicy finish so I think it will be a speyside. Islay malts seem too much like a concession to winter for this time of the year, at least in my present mood this evening.
Ach, thats the phone. Back in a mo............

G has called to say she is on her way to the station in Edinburgh. She has had a couple of nice cocktails based on one of her favourite drinks. Krupnik is a Polish vodka flavoured with honey and she has just described a Krupnik and pear cocktail and another honey and cinammon concoction, so I suppose I can see at least the latter being ok for a night like this although she says that in Edinburgh even though its raining its warm and there isn't a bit of wind with the flags all hanging limp on the flagpoles. What a difference a few miles makes eh?

I haven't eaten since lunchtime when I decided to have the lamb curry I had made last night and boxed up into the fridge. It felt like the right thing for today but I didn't bother with rice, just a small supermarket naan bread that I found at the bottom of the freezer and heated in the oven to use to soak up the spicy meaty juices at the bottom of the dish. Nothing special, just lamb and loads of onions cooked slowly until it was all meltingly tender and dark with spice and heat. It certainly hit the spot but was more than I would normally have for lunch so it has been enough for the rest of the day, especially since it rendered me comatose for a snoozable post lunchtime hour and the fact that I have been a completely lazy git today.

Now though I'm looking forward to G coming home, a nice cuddle and the malt that has been teasing my tastebuds memory for the last couple of hours or so.

listening to............. Evanescence, Tourniquet

see you later..............

Friday, 10 July 2009

The appeal

Hi there ma wee blog.

Today I attended my appeal hearing for my claim of unfair dismissal. I claim that my redundancy was unfair due to an unfair selection process and also seperately that the normal stated company process for making people redundant wasn't followed properly.

So today I got to sit down with one of the company directors and lay out my case in detail. I started talking at 9am and stopped at 11.50am. I got what I wanted: to sit down with the company and explain exactly what I feel they got wrong. To show and explain the evidence I believe supports my case and to be questioned about what I believe should have happened. I took my time, and carefully went over everything I had prepared and at the end of it the director thought that there as enough concerns to go and speak to the people involved in the process to check my claims. So the hearing is adjourned and we will reconvene next week when I will get to hear what they have to say and continue arguing my case. Then once the discussion is over I should get a decision from the company whether they believe I am correct in what I say and what they are prepared to do about it.

They can do several things I suppose: offer me my job or an alternative job back, buy me off or tell me I'm wrong and to go away, in which case I will then take them to an unfair dismissal tribunal to get an independant decision on the case.

But for now I'm content. I got to get someone senior from the company in front of me and I got to tell him exactly how I feel about the way I have been treated and what I feel has been done wrong and to explain exactly how I feel it should have been handled. It felt great. It was cathartic. It was healing and it was bloody long overdue. So, I made the most of it. I said exactly what I had prepared, what it feels like to be done over in such a shoddy underhand way and to have your livelihood taken away from you in a moment. I cant forecast what result I will get out of it but my expectations are low and I told him that. If I have already been treated in an unfair way and the appeal is part of the same process, why should I feel that this will be any different. He seemed shocked that I felt that way but why shouldn't I. What are the chances of him bucking back against the company with all the corporate ramifications for similar situations in the future? Not bloody much I would say. Not unless he absolutely has to.

For now its enough. Lets let it play out and see how it falls.

As one of my heroes would say " The game is afoot!"

Track of the day "Flowerdale" by Philip Spark.

Oh by the way. If you're interested go to you tube and look up ' great cornet solo' and look for Flowerdale by Philip Spark to hear a beautiful rendering of the solo by Yorkshire Building Society Band.
The picture is of the inside of Lincoln Cathedral. Its near where Dad was based in the war and was held in great affection by him and others of Bomber Command. Its an enormous landmark and he always said he felt safe when he could see it again.

see you soon..........

Sunday, 5 July 2009

So long Paw and thanks for all the fish!

Hi there my wee blog. Not posted for a bit. Been away for a couple of weeks on holiday in Switzerland. Great to see the extended family again, to leave our cares and woes behind for a while and to see the lovely G unwind and step back into speaking the language again.
What a magical place it is. Once more we can come back with hearts full of memories and smiles and our batteries charged for another dose of real life. We did lots of travelling with our pre paid travel passes which meant free travel on trains, trams, buses and boats and most of the cable cars too.

I'll post some photos of the holiday soon but today my heart is full of thoughts of Mum and Dad as my side of the family got together yesterday to scatter their ashes. Dad died a couple of months ago aged 83 and we hadn't yet, for many reasons, let go of Mums ashes after she died nearly 2 years ago. Uncle Bill, Dads twin, had come up from down south to stay with Aunt Helen, the youngest sister, for a short holiday and therefore we thought it would be right to bring forward the tentative arrangements my brother Gordon and I had made so that Uncle Bill could play a part too. Dads older sister May was 86 yesterday but is too frail to make he journey from Moray.

As per Mum and Dads' wishes we took half of their ashes and scattered them at Glen Trool in the spot where for many years they went with their caravan. The campsite, next to Loch Trool has been closed for a few years now but we were all able to all get to the spot. No mean feat for Aunt Helen who is 80 or Uncle Bill at 83. So at their spot we scattered their ashes which we had mixed together and gave a short prayer of thanks. Then we walked down to the side of the loch to their favourite spot which they would visit every evening, weather permitting. Its the site of a fallen tree, down more than 30 years now, where the uprooted base and the fallen corpse of the tree have managed to survive and also to throw out new growth, with new branches sprouting out vertically from the prone position of the main tree. Its a lovely spot, right next to the edge of the loch.
{ Dad would have said "at the water lip" with the A flattened to sound like "waa-ter". God I miss his voice! Thinking of how he would have said that made me hear him just now } and the view is quite serene, quite lovely. We took a few photos, or rather Aunt Helen did as she was the only one who thought to bring a camera.

After a while, and having been fiercely attacked by the famed Scottish 'midges' we moved on and prepared to release the rest of Dads ashes. { We are keeping the remaining portion of Mums so that her last surviving sister can be with us when we scatter her final portion of ashes over her Mum and Dads grave}

We drove for an hour back towards home, and stopped for a family dinner at the Hollybush inn, which was one of Dads favourite restaurants. The meal as usual was great and after dinner we drove the last few miles to Gadgirth at Annbank, where Bill and Dad, and indeed the rest of the siblings, had been born and brought up. The twins had always been fascinated by water, prompted no doubt by the river which flowed at the back of the row of four 'room and kitchen' houses. So it was to the bridge at Gadgirth that we went to scatter the last of the ashes.
We went down to the side of the water where uncle Bill said a short prayer and we put the ashes into the water. A grey smudge floated off downstream, and as this happened I noticed the dust which the air had caught was going upstream. As I watched it go, low over the water I felt peaceful, as if I was getting a visual message that as the body goes in one direction the spirit is free to go in another.
Daft I know, but it felt comforting.
I looked back at the spot where the ashes had been tipped in and I saw that there was a lot of ash lying on the river bed and again, I felt comforted as if I was being shown that part of Paw would always be there on that bend of the river he knew so well, and in the very spot where Bill and he often played as kids. I looked back upstream for the small cloud of dust but it had disappeared.
It felt good, and I smiled.

There were of course a few tears shed among us but in a few moments we had begun to reminisce about Paw and his early days here on the water, living at Gadgirth and working at Crawfordson, the local farm. The boys had done this from age about 11 or so and continued to do work for the farm for several years being paid in kind by the farmer. No doubt what they brought home helped the family survive and it also gave them a taste of work and in both of them, a life long respect for nature and farming. Uncle Bill shared a few stories and quite naturally I began to look about the shingle beach on the rivers edge and picked a stone to skim over the water. Soon we were all looking for stones and had a great time and a good laugh for 5 or 10 minutes as we skimmed stones just like the boys had done there so many years before. I'm sure anyone passing would have thought we were daft. 6 grown ups between the ages of 40 and 83 skimming stones, shouting and laughing like loons in the evening sun. It was a good end.

All too soon G and I had to leave as we had a 2 hour drive back across country. G had a headache and was soon asleep in the car which left me to think of Paw as I drove home past so many of the places connected with him. The evening light was stunning and the journey seemed like minutes instead of hours. I found myself looking around as I drove in absolute awe of the beauty that lay all around on the journey back home. Even Glasgow, which only Weegies can surely think of as beautiful made me look and appreciate that it may not be the dour dismal place I always feel it to be.
Maybe Paw was a passenger too, he always made me look at things differently.
So long Paw, and thanks for all the fish......................
"Though your soul may set in darkness
it will rise in perfect light
For you loved the stars too fondly
To be anxious of the night. "
All in all, a good day.

Listening to........ Horse, " The first time ever I saw your face"

The photos are of operation Manna - a food drop into Nazi occupied Holland in April 1945. Dad, who was a tail gunner in a Lancaster, took part in this and was so proud to have been able to drop life rather than destruction out of the plane. In one of the quirks of life, one of the people in the Hague who watched the lancasters flying in very slowly and at zero feet to drop the food and who ran to gather it would become the father of a boy who in turn would become a university chum of my older brother and this earlier connection would only be discovered when the two fathers met in the 1970's several years after their sons had become firm friends.
see you soon...........................

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