Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A Grave Concern Makes My Day.

Hullo ma wee blog,

It's funny how you stumble across things sometimes. Yesterday I'd gone down to Dunbar with the camera doing a wee bit of research on a one time resident of the town {Perhaps more about that sometime later on the blog} My search for information took me to the parish Kirk, or more specifically, to the graveyard. It was a lovely afternoon, bright and sunny and with only a gentle breeze coming off the sea - the Kirk is at the edge of a steep slope down to the sea and has a great outlook over the water - and I spent a peaceful hour wandering the old graveyard looking and enjoying as I do, the old headstones and some of the beautiful scripts, lovely carvings and intriguing stories that you find in such places. Even though I didn't find my man and had to abandon the search due to other commitments, I took a few photos and generally had a braw time. It's just the kind of thing I like to do occasionally. I find old graveyards fascinating, with their final impressions of people long gone. Almost all life is there to see; the pious; the humble; the pompous and pretentious; the fading vestiges of life and of grief and the final outpouring of love and respect from those left behind. There are symbolic refences to belief in the carvings - of time passing, grim reapers and heavenly ascending souls. There are sometimes signs of professions in carvings of dress or tools or activity and we have all seen the images of knights or Lords laid out in armour, sword alongside and hands piously clasped .

Later at home, I looked at the few shots I'd taken and decided there was nothing there really worth holding onto. I decided to carry on with any research I could online for a bit to see if I could track down any sign of this mans last resting spot, although I did think it would be slim chance as he's not a particularly well known character in reality. One of those small stories in local or national history that pass by unnoticed but that seem worth recognising somehow.

In the course of hunting online I found what I thought was an online list of graves in East Lothian but actually turned out to be someones blog - a photographer who's fascination is with ancient graves, old Kirks, headstones and memorials across Scotland. Right from the first few photographs I was struck by the power of his art - and in his case it is art - in capturing the essence of what I described above. I found his work haunting in it's grasp of the subject and beautiful in it's expression. As you can tell I was captivated and spent the best part of an hour when I should have been doing something else meandering through his blog,  realising that here's someone who had not only a passion but real ability. 

If you have a while - if you're like me you'll need more than a moment - here are links to his gravestone blog and to his other mainstream photoblog. High quality work from someone with a great eye.

I'm fair jealous. He probably does the dishes and phones his mother every week too.

See you later.

Listening to....

Monday, 28 March 2011

Sunday Afternoon Walk




Hullo ma wee blog,

This afternoon turned into a nice sunny few hours, so different from the dull and monochrome morning it had started out, so the Lovely G and I decided to flee the coop for an hour or two and head out for a walk. On Saturday I had suggested that if the day was good enough today we would go to North Berwick and have a walk through the town and out onto the rocks at the end of the harbour, with perhaps a stop off somewhere nice for a coffee, but as we were leaving later than expected I suggested - rather than drive the half hour to North Berwick - we change plans and just take a beach walk at Dunbar as Belhaven has a good stretch of sand along the bay and in sunny weather like this there are some great views out to The Bass Rock etc. Me being me, I took the camera along so here are some photo's taken while we were out.

I posted another photo of this ' Bridge to Nowhere'  last week. This one shows its true purpose - spanning a burn {stream} flowing into the bay here.


North Berwick Law in the distance.
Law is an old Scots word for hill and N.B. Law, one of several volcanic plugs in the area, stands over the town - a great viewpoint.

'Look what I found Mum'


The local surf school uses the bay here for practice and training.

The Bass Rock with the coastline of Fife about 8 miles behind across the estuary

Getting ready for home.


Lost feather - or unwanted gift for a cowardly surfer?


'This way's better Dad'.

We took the back roads home. This from the top of Spott hill.
The soil around us here is red - dramatically so at times.

Distant Dunbar.

See you later.

Listening to The Hollies, 'The Air That I Breathe'







Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Sunday Post.

The Old Pear Tree In Front Of The House.

Hullo ma wee blog,

Here's this weeks poem for Sunday.

Basking Shark.

To stub an oar on a rock where none should be,
To have it rise with a slounge out of the sea,
Is a thing that happened once {too often} to me.

But not too often - though enough. I count as gain,
That once I met, on a sea tin-tacked with rain,
That roomsized monster with a matchbox brain.

He displaced more than water. He shoggled* me,
Centuries back - this decadent townee,
Shook on a wrong branch of his family tree.

Swish up the dirt and, when it settles, a spring,
Is all the clearer. I saw me, in one fling,
Emerging from the slime of everything.

So who's the monster? The thought made me grow pale,
For twenty seconds while, sail after sail,
The tall fin slid away and then the tail.

Norman MacCaig. Dec 1967

*shook

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Politics of Modern Debate?


Hullo ma wee blog,

I've done a fair bit of ranting  or commenting about politics on the blog. That's odd because I would never have previously described myself as particularly political. Sure I have a point of view, and I hold my values dearly, but I never felt engaged enough by politics to get involved, other than exercising my right and - in my eyes - my obligation to vote. Although not a member of a political party I see voting as a must. After all, if you don't vote you've little grounds to complain about anything that happens after in my view. So over the years I've listened, formed and changed opinions, gone back to previously held views and grafted on new ones and all the while, at every opportunity, I've trudged to the polling station and voted for the party or sometimes the person that conforms closest to my values. I've not always voted for the same party, although mostly I have. Through the years no matter what way I've voted in real terms I don't feel it's made a great or in fact any difference. Maybe that's the effect of democracy, that the individual want is never truly expressed through the majority, but somehow I think not. I know if I had my way society would be different, priorities would be different and in my own narrow view therefore would be better. Millions of us I suspect feel pretty much the same way.

But, and I know this is a bit late in life, I'm coming to the conclusion that it's not politics but politicians who are the problem. I sat the other night and watched what I deem to be the BBC flagship political programme, the weekly 'Question Time' debate where a panel of 'experts' from ostensibly different political viewpoints face questions from an audience which is supposedly representative of the UK as a whole. This week I found it grotesque, almost a pantomime. Huge effort was expanded by the politicians on the panel in deliberately misunderstanding and misrepresenting what other panelists said. Great mountains were created from overheated non arguments and all the political parties blamed the other while obviously suffering from acute amnesia of their own broken promises. Again and again answers to reasonable questions from the audience were twisted to make a comment about what the other parties had or had not done, had or had not said, while 'they' were diligently trying to do the right thing and all the time suffering from being misunderstood. Any attempt by another panelist to make a point was interrupted and talked over and lengthy amounts of time were eaten up by panelists being allowed by the host to meander off into history or different areas of ideology that were never at the heart of the original question. It was infuriating and depressing.

And that's the problem. No one in politics can take a question and give a straightforward honest answer about their opinion and stick to it. Answers are couched in language designed for later ease of denial, easy to infer a change of emphasis and are held up against an opposing viewpoint in an often vague and spurious example of why they should not be trusted. Again and again the same thing. Politicians all speak of 'needing to engage with a wider audience'. They all talk the talk about declining numbers voting at elections and how people need to take little interest in politics. State worry about declining numbers at the polls during elections and how this poor turnout doesn't truly give a clear or effective mandate for government. The answer is surely clear. The electorate are disenfranchised, uninterested in the continual performancing of politicians. We don't want you to dance around the question afraid to get it wrong. We don't want you to take the question and start off by explaining what the other party didn't do about it. This is exhausting, time wasting nonsense. Stop treating us like illiterate imbecillic children. Do you really have such a poor regards for us - your employers. Do you lack the real conviction of your own argument to carry the debate. We want to know what you are going to do. We want you to lay it on the line clearly and unambiguously. We want the truth. We want the facts. We want promises upheld and we want you to stop wasting time pissing on the other guys parade when yours should be in full flow. None of you seems to be particularly fired up about anything. No one shows any passion. Are you all made in the same political factory? You all seem to be working to the same formula regardless of party, of ideology, of doctrine, advised by the same old advisers and constricted by the same old thinking and same old-school perspective.  If the future of politics is going to be this way, with professional politico's out for themselves when we need inspirational leaders with new ideas and the passion to take people with you, then the situation with the voters will only get worse. The stability of long term single party government you all seek will be unobtainable if all you do is promise, lie and deny us the credibility we deserve and the credibility we ask for with every tick on voting papers. End this farce of politics by performance, communication by soundbite. Start treating us with some respect.

Frankly - you 're not good enough.

Like someone once said; the key to politics is integrity. If you can fake that, you've got it made.......

As far as I can see most of you need to take a long walk off a short pier.

And as far as the BBC is concerned - the panel for the programme:  two members of the government, {none from the opposition} a historian once described as one of the top 100 influential people in the world, a human rights activist and an extremist view candidate for Mayor of London. The historian was more Tory than the Tories, never once did he question the government position and constantly interrupted the other speakers. The human rights campaigner hardly got a look in. Through all this I felt the chairing of the programme was very establishment biased and sometimes quite dismissive of audience opinion {at one point he stated a question from the audience came from her own agenda and then allowed the panel to basically completely disregard the real - and relevant - issue of the question in its answer.}  Not what I would call conducive to fair and open debate.

Listening to this - which perfectly describes my feelings.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Windborne




Hullo ma wee blog,

I sit soft and quiet under an evening sky and watch the sea until the colours perfectly meet my mood and I realise that I love her in as many ways as the winds blow.



A Good Lunch

The Bridge To Nowhere, Dunbar.


Hullo ma wee blog,

Salmon fillets steamed over water and cider vinegar, green leaves of watercress and spinach, tomatoes and cucumber and a dressing of toasted sesame oil and a few drops or so of lime juice. Nice peppery leaves, nutty oil and the tang of citrus, sweetness from the tomatoes, the earthiness of the cucumber and the luxury of the salmon given a few nice twists of sea salt from the grinder all went together perfectly with a cold glass of cider.

Absolutely stonking.

Well done that man!

See you later.

Listening to

Thursday, 24 March 2011

How to Significantly Reduce Global Warming

Maltesers - Cinema Confectionary of choice

Sitting in the cinema last night as we watched Liam Neeson's latest flick 'Unknown' {almost up to average by the way} I dipped my hand into the bag of sweets so thoughtfully provided by the Lovely G only to find they had turned almost to goo. That's right, they had become - Meltesers. {Aye thanks dbs for fixing 'wordfusing' into my wee brain cell}

The thought struck me that it could probably cure global warming and the energy crisis combined if only cinemas would turn the thermostat down to a reasonable level instead of cranking it way up. {I can just imagine a smiling cinema manager, "These go up to eleven!"}

Oh and talking about turning things down - while you're at it perhaps you could turn the thermostats on your chiller cabinets down too. Charging £2.55 for a bottle of lukewarm water to take into the movie is just adding insult to injury. And look on the bright side - with all the money you'd save on energy bills you wouldn't have to charge silly money for drinks and stuff. Or pay staff a decent wage of course, as well as saving the world..........

Aye, well you might want to think about it, that's all I'm saying.............

See you later.

Listening to Adele 'Someone Like You'

Monday, 21 March 2011

The Persuasive Powers Of Punctuation


Hullo ma wee blog,

I almost called this post 'If In Doubt, Stick A Comma In'..........

I bet some my more regular readers are dumbfounded by my punctuation at times. I know I am. It's something I've always struggled with and I seem to have become increasingly addicted to commas as I get older. I do try and get it right most of the time but there are also times - even though I do re-read and spellcheck etc before posting - that I get it disastrously wrong. As often as not once something's been posted I'll re-read it and it'll end up back in edit mode to sort out this or that I've got wrong. I don't seem to be able to see mistakes until after I've hit the old 'publish' button. Often when I re-read things I find I've got to sort out numerous bits and bobs I've got wrong. There are also times when I honestly can't be bothered and when the message is still loud and clear I'll just let it go. Even when I do re-edit, there's no guarantee that it'll be right at the end of it anyway. Like many people I'm not that confident with my punctuation. When should I use a colon or a semi-colon? Do I really need - or want - all those blooming comma's all over the place? Shouldn't I just go back and delete most of them?

I keep telling myself that it's the way what's written is understood that's the important thing and that a few misplaced or incorrect punctuation marks isn't going to make any real difference to that understanding. The message is the thing, the communication is still clear and readers still get it, but I know that my old Dad would be shaking his head at the state of some of the stuff on the blog. He was stickler for getting things right. He thought that incorrect spelling or punctuation was the sign of a sloppy mind or worse, or a sign of disrespect for the people you were writing to. Of course he was brought up in a different generation and in those days things like dyslexia weren't recognised. If you couldn't spell, or couldn't punctuate, you were stupid and that was the end of it. Nowadays we're much more forgiving.

For me, the reality is that it's the meaning behind the words that's the important thing and most of the time I feel I strike a fair balance on that as far as the blog's concerned. Occasionally my Lovely G will point out the odd spelling mistake or grammatical error which I'll usually tidy up when they've been brought to my attention.  The other day she e-mailed me a couple of funny stories and one of them was based on punctuation, well really it was about the differences between males and females - are they stereotypical or archetypal? I can never make my mind up.

I thought it was a clever little thing so here it is.....

An English professor wrote the words: "A woman without her man is nothing" on the chalkboard in class and asked his students to punctuate it correctly.

All of the males in the class wrote:

"A woman, without her man, is nothing."

All the females in the class wrote:

"A woman: without her, man is nothing."


So, as you can see punctuation is a powerful help or hindrance to understanding the true meaning of the writer should he or she get it wrong.

I do hereby promise that whenever possible I'll pay attention and do my best to get it right but you'll have to bear with me. Hopefully I'll keep getting better with practice. {lol}  In the meantime try and wriggle through my quirks and misunderstanding of proper punctuation of the English and occasionally Scots languages and hopefully you'll make it to the end without being completely bamboozled. If you do come across any mistakes or recognise my ongoing bad habits please keep them to yourself. I'm grumpy enough as it is without having them brought to my notice all the time. Trust me. I'm trying to make it better. If any of my failings upset you then I'm genuinely sorry, but look on the bright side......

With the medium of blogging at least you don't have the problem of trying to decipher my handwriting!

You should be grateful for that.

See you later.

Listening to Ed Alleyne-Johnson, 'Oxford Suite'

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Sunday Post



Hullo ma wee blog,

Connoisseur. {1977}

The rain makes a drumming on the roof
and a splish-splash on the road.
Nothing makes one sound only.

That cloud is a camel, a weasel, a whale.
Hamlet was right. Nothing
has only one appearance.

I collect
Your laughter, your talk, your weeping.
I collect your hundred of semblances.

I store you in the cabinet of my mind
I'm a connoiseur, in love with the value only
of priceless things.

Though my eyes blur, I look at these treasures.
Though my hands tremble, I touch them.
Though my heart grieves, I love them.

And a seed falls from a tree and
in its lowly cabinet sets about
creating forests.

Nornam MacCaig.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Prague

Old Town Square

Hullo ma wee blog,

Well, that's us back from our few days away to Prague where my wife took me for a surprise birthday treat. Although she had been before I'd never seen it and was left reeling yet again by a beautiful city. It's strange but given a choice I would probably never choose to go on a city break but would rather choose to be out in the country somewhere yet, every time my Lovely G has taken me to a city I've completely fallen for it. Maybe depite everything I said in that post before we went I'm easy to please in reality, but I don't really believe that either. The only explanation I can find is that she takes me to some simply stunning places.

As usual I took loads of photo's - hard not to in a place like Prague - and came back with a camera - and a mind - full of memories to treasure until hopefully I can go back again. It's a place full of charm and with a photo opportunity round every corner.  Again as usual I spent lots of time people watching, usually from a cafe with a drink near to hand, and as usual I came home with lots of studies of people. I did this at the recent wedding we were at - which I've still not posted about {but I will} and several people have commented how good some of them are. One of our pals - and a fellow guest at the wedding - showed them to one of her friends who is getting married soon and she has approached me to do the photography at her wedding. { that would be a stresser!}

Karlstein Castle Near Prague
On day one G had pre booked a tour to the castle above. { castles are a favourite thing of mine} Being so early in the season we were the only people who booked that day so we ended up with a tour guide of our own. Tony was a nice guy and gave us a great start to our first day out and about as well as some tips about places to see.


It was odd to think we were walking the same streets as Dvorak, Smetana and Kafka seeing sights that Mozart had enjoyed when he stayed here too. Every turn in the street brought you to another view or another small square where people listened to a street performer or sat in cafes to rest weary feet and let the world simply pass by.



Some of the houses were decorated with incredible doorways and much of it very well preserved.


Street Scene

A Snapper Tries A Shot

 Door Plaque


Coffee time

The Face Of The Astronomical Clock

This old man had a hypnotic, yearning voice that perfectly fitted the sound of his 'hurdy-gurdy' as I would call it

A Paper-Cut Artist at Work


Detail of Jan Huss Monument

A Street Vendor Roasts Pork Over Wood

 The Look That speaks Volumes

 Pigeon Feeding


A Quiet Moment


Concentration


Late Night Opportunities

The weather was great, the food was good, drinks were cheap and the whole town had a lovely feel and a real buzz to it even though the tourist season was just starting. I have to admit I'd hate to be a local and have to share it with all the tourists that must come at the height of the season. At least with Edinburgh the peak time is the festival and that's over in three weeks.

That makes it more bearable I think.

See you later.


Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Sunday Post.


Hullo ma wee blog,

You're probably getting fed up with Norman MacCaig by now but I'm finding it almost impossible to get away from him with his perfect economy of words so you'll have to put up with him for a while more.

Edinburgh Stroll. {1989}

I leave the Tollcross traffic and walk by the Meadows
between two rows of trees, all looking
as grave as Elders of the Kirk - but
wait till the wind blows.

Dogs are hunting for smells. A few men
are practising approach shots
on the drwarfish golf course. some children
are incomprehensively playing.

And between two heaps of jackets
a boy scores a goal -
the best one ever,

Past the Infirmary I go back to the traffic,
cross it, and there's Sandy Bell's bar.

Tollcross to Sandy Bell's Bar -
a short walk with a long conclusion.

See you later.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Well I Never.....

Don't I look surprised and happy?

Hullo ma wee blog,

By the time you read this I'll be gone.

It's my birthday next week. Not that that's anything momentous on its own of course, but I was taken by surprise last night when my Lovely G announced that we were going away for a few days. That too isn't necessarily momentous either. We often get away for my birthday. This year I wasn't expecting anything special - I rarely do - so I was delighted and taken by surprise when she announced that she was taking me for a short break to Prague instead of as I expected, to somewhere here in Scotland. I'd been talking it over with a pal the other day, idly chatting, when he asked if we had anything planned for my birthday. I said that as far as I knew we hadn't anything organised but I hope that maybe we would have a few days up north. Maybe even we would have a stay at The Balahulish Hotel  {probably my all time favourite} if we could. As far as I was concerned that would be great - but even that wasn't an expectation. Just one of those comments you make when speculating almost without conscious though.

Now, when the Lovely G announced we were of to Prague I was genuinely surprised and delighted and I felt really chuffed that she went to all the trouble of organising the break, keeping it secret and broke the news to me the way she did. Although she's been before I haven't and have wanted to go and see it for ages. I love old towns and cities, going to new places and new countries and just soaking in a different culture, tasting the local food and drinks, enjoying a different language around me and seeing things I've never seen before. Things like that are perfect when I have G beside me because we like many of the same things but see them, as we all do, slightly differently, and that in itself is exciting and interesting as we point out different things and talk about different aspects of our experience together. For me it's one of the wonders about G, how differently from me she sees things yet how it compliments my understanding, makes it better and gives me perspective I would otherwise miss. In that respect I feel we are like two halves of the same person and I think/hope she feels the same way.

But I'm not demonstrative about things. Even though I think I'm showing pleasure I'm not that expressive. I can be having great fun and yet sometimes people will ask me if I'm ok which sometimes really spoils it all for me as then I get on edge looking out for how others are thinking about me. I feel like maybe I should put on a bit of a performance so they know I'm enjoying it but that would in itself spoil it for me.  I'm perfectly fine, maybe I'm just concentrating on something about it - one particular aspect or a thought or feeling - or maybe I'm just letting the vibe wash over me but somewhere someone gets worried that I'm less than happy, less than satisfied. It can be a problem especially when someone else has gone out of the way to do something or other, made a special effort to make something just perfect in their eyes and then I don't respond the way they expect. What do they want? Should I jump up and down and clap my hands?. Should I scream and shout and make manic faces at them? I think I smile. I think I say thank you very clearly and let them know that I'm really happy about whatever it is, but once I've done that, well.......I've done it and just want to get on and enjoy it in my own quiet way.

Maybe I'm difficult to please?
Maybe I'm hard to read?
Maybe they don't really believe me when I tell them how pleased/satisfied/happy/delirious/ecstatic I am.

{Maybe I'm autistic?}

Today my Lovely G called from work to see how I was and told me how all the girls in the office knew that she had been arranging this trip and was going to tell me all about it last night so they wanted to know how it had gone down, wanted all the details. How had I taken it? What had I thought? Was I excited? How had I reacted? She could only tell them that I'd seemed pleased but was my usual unemotive self and that once I'd found out I didn't start asking a hundred questions about how we were getting there, where we were staying, why she had picked it and what we were going to do or see while we were there. They were gutted for her. For me though that's normal. I know I'm going somewhere I've never been before. I know I'm staying somewhere I've never stayed before and we're going to do things together we've never done before and I'm looking forward, really looking forward to it. I want to - I will - enjoy all that as it happens. I don't want to live it all in expectation now, before we get there. To me that'll make less of it somehow. I know I'm going to love it because my Lovely G loves it. I know I'm going to enjoy it because I'm going with her and will be spending time with her, just the two of us. I know she'll enjoy taking me places she's been before and that we'll enjoy going to places neither of us have been to because we're doing that together.

So I'm sorry that I didn't do a back somersault or scream ecstatically in surprise. I'm sorry I didn't react like I had just scored the best ever goal at a football match {Scotland V Holland, World Cup 1978 - and you know what goal I'm talking about boys!} but that's me.

I am who I am even though sometimes - even often - I wish I wasn't..........

But I am so much looking forward to the next few days.

See you later - when I get back.

I've scheduled a couple of posts for while I'm away.

{oops - just realised that includes this one. Just the one to come then - Sunday - enjoy}

Friday, 11 March 2011

No wait a minute thats MY money.......

A Fictional Pirate.
{Other kinds of robbers may be available.}

Hullo ma wee blog,

I feel better after that rant about politicians and banking and all the rest of it. Its therapeutic to have a rant and get it all out when you're feeling a bit down and sorry for yourself like I have been for the last couple of days. I don't suppose it does much that's positive or encouraging for the readership of the blog - after all not many people {Scudder excepted} - will be wanting to hear me 'gurn' on about politics and there are plenty of 'oddities' out there on the internet when it comes to political ideologies and the like. It's not really what the blog is about and most of you read this stuff because you like the way I write and not necessarily because you like the way I whinge, but it's my gaff my rules I'm afraid so you have to put up with the occasional grumpy old man routine.

We've been getting rid of as much debt as possible recently. The redundancy insurance and bill payment protection gave us some really good leeway to eat into any debt we had and as a result we are in a much better position than we have been in many years. That having been said we are making plans for the future to try and protect ourselves ongoing. I would never have believed that I would still be unemployed after all this time and we have to face the reality that things are going to be tough for the foreseeable future. Our income will drop dramatically in a few months when the last insurance cover ends and we will be operating on about 30% of what was our joint income until I find some - any - employment. Its a very scary prospect and we are both worrying about it.

It's been quite an education just trying to get rid of debt. Clearly it's easier to get into than out of but, even when you have the money to hand,  it's not as simple as you would think. We have been closing down credit cards by contacting the companies and advising this is what we want to do and getting final values we should make as payments. Interestingly, even though we have paid several of these off lately we are still showing outstanding balances on accounts that should have been cleared. After all we contact you, you tell us what's to pay and we pay it. Job done you would think but, these companies can't seem to give you the right amount to pay so you're left owing a few pounds here and there. Often the companies won't take a payment for this over the phone, you have to make an electronic payment - with a credit card - or send a cheque which takes longer and low and behold - gets you a charge just to do that.

There are also a couple of accounts where inexplicably the payments we were told to make to clear have resulted in us being in credit. One company got it wrong by quite a bit . When we asked to have the money refunded we were told that it would take about three weeks to do.
We thought  " but this is the electronic age and you get the money direct from our accounts. You should be able to simply reverse the process and pay the money directly back where it came from....." But no, it's not that simple. How stupid of us. They have to raise a cheque - manually - then they have to send it by snail mail and that whole process will take three weeks before we get a cheque to put into our account which will in turn take three - and sometimes up to five - days to clear. {Isn't it funny how this is the case when there are ads all over the TV for quick loans that offer the cash in your account in just fifteen minutes?} We asked why there was no electronic system available and were told   "well, there is - for emergencies - but if you want us to do that there will be a charge of twenty five pounds." 

"So, wait a minute you want to charge us twenty five quid to get back money that belongs to us and was overpaid because you gave us the wrong information in the first place?"

"Yes, that's right. Sorry but that's policy!"

"But you agree that we paid what you asked us to pay, right?"

"Yes"

"So - isn't it right that you should pay the cost of what is after all your mistake?"

"No. Sorry but that's against company policy!"

This went on backwards and forwards for several minutes until eventually we gave up. No-one at the bank could accept that it would be good customer service - and business sense - to just make the payment.

The end result is we will never ever use this bank again, under any circumstances.

Unsurprisingly,  yesterday it was announced that the chairman of this bank is receiving a salary of £2.1 million and this year will receive a bonus of over £5 million.

Laugh?

Well there were tears in there somewhere........

see you later.

Slings, Arrows and Outrageous Fortunes


Hullo ma wee blog,

Is it just me or do things just stop making sense when you get older? I've never felt this so often before, never felt so aggravated every single time I pick up a newspaper or hear a headline on some news programme.. Every time there's a current affairs programme on the radio there's going to some bloody politician spouting the line, doling out tales of woe about how bad the current economic climate is, how dire the country's finances are, how cuts being implemented are being targeted to make them as fair as possible, how carefully thought through they all are, consideration given to every aspect of our modern life blah blah blah.

Through all this we are also told that this is the best way to deal with things. We can't go on spending and borrowing more than we earn.

On the face of it I have to agree. We ARE in the middle of a global recession. We do need to make changes. But I can't stop being skeptical about this coalition government and particularly about the Lib-Dem ability to reign in the excesses of Tory ideology. Both the Tories and Lib-Dems made numerous pledges to us pre-election about what they would and wouldn't do and of course if you believed all of it then you need your head examined, but -  I've never known so many pledges to be ditched so quickly and openly. This really worries me. The Government are prepared to to treat us like we are somewhere between idiotic children and simple cash cows. I AM ABSOLUTELY SICK TO THE BACK TEETH OF IT ALL.

When politicians start dripping words like 'fair', 'justified' 'equality' and 'common good' it doesn't bode well for the future. If you have any sense you know you're in trouble.  And don't believe for a second that it includes them or their vested interests whatever they say regardless of political party or ideology.  I also have heard lots of Government MP's lately  bleating about  "the scale of the problem was much worse than we were told by the Labour government". Well I'm sorry but that's absolute crap. The financial situation was fully known about before you toe-rags were elected and in the weeks before you actually created this abomination of a coalition government it was DOWNGRADED by £5 billion - so the situation you inherited was even BETTER than you should have ALREADY KNOWN  it was.

 Or maybe you were asleep and missed that. { maybe you were doing your expenses!}  As for some of the 'crazy' previous decisions you have had to mop up after - many of these - such as spending on nimrod and aircraft carriers involved cross party consultation and decisions.

Not once when the bale out of the banks and banking system was being discussed did you - any of you then in opposition - say it was the wrong thing to do. Never once did you say we couldn't afford this without massive and agonising impact, paying off hundreds of thousands of people and cutting services for the most vulnerable and needy in our society, yet now it's oh so obvious that this policy was just building up problems for the future. Who the hell do you think you are kidding here? Shame on you. SHAME ON YOU ALL! You say you have the skills in the coalition to sort this. You have the perspective. Yet many of you are millionaires in your own right and fifteen of the front bench government ministers went - not just through a private education - but 15 of you went to THE SAME SCHOOL! How will that bring  a breadth of perspective? You have no idea what people are going through cosseted as you are by salaries expenses and great big party blinkers.

Of course it does bring perspective,all that expertise, that world experience, but perspective of a very different kind to what's needed. None of you millionaire old school tie brigade will make a decision to make those who really can pay their way do so, no matter how justified it would be. No, no, no. You would work doubly hard to create a justification for the opposite. These people are 'wealth creators'. Well sorry - but they're not. They're wealth takers, nothing more. They pay their workers salaries and benefits as low as they can push them, nothing more and squeal at any hint of added cost no matter how justified, no matter how paltry.  That's where your perpsective falls short. None of these super rich top tenpercentile earners in the UK will ever feel anything like the same kind of pain as the lowest paid workers and families who depend on some of those very benefits removed for creating a basic decent standard of living. Benefits that the poor are paying for through taxes at a higher rate than the top earners regularly pay anyway thanks to your inaction on the tax system. Those highest earners wouldn't vote to keep you in power if you did or give you jobs when you 'retire'.

None of them will feel any pain at all. None of their children will be denied access to education because their parents can't afford it. They'll be sent like their fathers to Eton and Cambridge where annual fees are higher than the average national wage and then be given access to jobs based on pedigree, on connections and by right of the old school tie and spend the rest of their life increasing the inherited wealth because of that protection rather than have to dig it up from scratch.

So let me just remind myself of some of the crap you promised in the election campaign and whats happened since!


No frontline cuts in public services - DECIMATED
Protecting the NHS budget - MASSIVELY CUT AND FRONTLINE NURSES BEING PAID OFF
3,000 more police officers - POLICE OFFICER NUMBERS IN ENGLAND AND WALES BEING CUT. NUMBERS IN SCOTLAND UNDER THREAT.
Keeping VAT at 17.5% - RAISED TO 20%
Keeping the Future Jobs Fund - SCRAPPED
Preserving tax credits for middle earners - REDUCED
Scrapping tuition fees - TUITION FEES RAISED TO UPPER LIMIT OF £9,000 pa. FUNDING FOR EDUCATION DECIMATED - yes education costs - but ignorance will cost more.
No bonuses for bank directors - HUGE BONUSES FOR BANKERS REMAIN. NO EFFECTIVE STEPS TAKEN TO REGULATE THE EXCESSES OF THE BANKING SYSTEM WHICH CAUSED MUCH OF THIS PROBLEM IN THE FIRST PLACE. TAX ON TRANSACTIONS SET AT LOWEST ESTIMATED LEVEL. BANKS ALREADY PLAN PASSING THESE CHARGES DIRECTLY ON TO CUSTOMERS
Three more army battalions - SCRAPPED.
Pupil Premium additional to the schools budget - SCRAPPED
Keeping Child Benefit universal - SCRAPPED
A Post Office Bank - NOT HAPPENING
No cuts to the Royal Navy - HUGE CUTS TO NAVY AND AIR FORCE
Automatic prison sentence for carrying a knife - NOT IMPLEMENTED FOR ENGLAND AND WALES
Cutting rail fares each year - 10% INCREASES IN FARES
No more top down NHS reorganisations - THE BIGGEST EVER REORGANISATION OF NHS ANNOUNCED TO TAKE PLACE AT THE SAME TIME AS IMPLEMENTATION OF HUGE CUTS
No cuts to public spending this year - MASSIVE CUTS TO SPENDING AND A HUNDRED THOUSAND PLUS TO BE MADE REDUNDANT.

Military chiefs have written a joint letter saying we are leaving ourselves unprotected and that these cuts make no defensive sense and serve only fiscal policy. We were told that getting rid of quango's would simplify procedure and save almost £100 million annually. Since then the Institute for Fiscal Studies - who are normally the experts the govt use for these things - say that there will be no significant savings as a result of changes made. Unsurprisingly the govt say the IFS have got it wrong.

On top of all this fuel prices are through the roof - our  home domestic gas cost has gone up 55% this year. You can add another 10% on that for last year too. God knows what the % increase is for transport fuel - yet you sods continue to add to the misery by increasing the tax take on every single litre sold. - How can you possibly justify that?  Mervyn King, head of your own Bank Of England is saying that banks are showing no change in operation and no real restraint in managing bonuses. And you lot - YOU LOT - have rolled over on forcing reforms and charging a meaningful transaction tax and instead have given them £19 billion worth of tax reductions by allowing them to offset previous losses against future tax. EFFECTIVELY YOU'VE GIVEN THEM ANOTHER 19 BILLION POUNDS OF OUR MONEY. ??????  WHERE DID YOU GET THE MANDATE FOR THAT BIT OF PERSPECTIVE? That should pay for a few Tory voting chief exec bonus'  no doubt. That should earn some of you a nice little earner in drectorships when you give up this political malarky to go and top up your pension schemes.

You absolute gits.

Today I hear that the number of billionaires in the country has increased at a higher rate than previously yet we have taken no steps to ensure that our tax system is properly reformed. It's reckoned that billions annually in tax are not paid through deliberate tax avoidance by UK companies yet this is not illegal - only 'tax evasion' is. If we only stopped companies sending profits into tax havens and made them pay the tax THEY ALREADY SHOULD BE PAYING - we would wipe out the entire national debt in one bloody year!!! - without making one single person redundant. Never mind stopping up the loopholes for tax deductions so often used by the super rich. They should be following the spirit of the law- not trying to avoid the letter of the law.Frankly, the law should leave them no option, yet you hesitate to make any meaningful change. And you reward these same people with peerages and consultant positions. You self seeking cretins.

 We're as bad because we put up with it too. Will we never learn.

In the meantime you're not tackling these issues because you are too busy cutting jobs, freezing wages and raping peoples pensions. I bet every bloody one of you has a final salary pension but heaven forbid we should give one to a fireman, policeman, a nurse or a teacher and many who have often worked hard for years at lower salaries than they could have got because they have the sense of social responsibility you so clearly lack,  because they want to make life better for people.

It's time somebody - any bloody politician at all - grew some balls and some integrity and made some changes that are actually going to be genuinely for the benefit of this country and not just the self serving, crass and damaging same old same old over and over again.

WILL YOU PLEASE - PLEASE - GET A GRIP.

I've never been ashamed to be British -  BUT I AM NOW!

Rant over.

Phew.....I feel better for that.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

My First Guest Slot.

A totally unrelated picture unashamedly aimed at getting soppy cat lovers to open this post.


Hullo ma wee blog,

I was given the chance to write a guest post on 'e-clecticism', a blog I've followed for almost all the time I've been blogging myself. This is a first for me and I was chuffed that Jono felt that I was a safe enough bet to let me loose in his china shop as it were. It was posted today if you'd like to follow the link above. Jono's blog has been mentioned here before and I do recommend it for a regular visit as he doesn't half find some interesting stuff  down the back of the internet sofa.

Cheers for that Jono. It was fun.
see you later.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

1745 - A Damned Rebel Bitch..........

A yellow x shaped cross on a blue background formed the flag of the Stewart of Appin's regiment
     Flag of The Appin Stewarts



War is always disastrous and for many Scots, whether involved in the Jacobite uprisings or not, their world fell about them in 1745 and '46. The years afterwards would never be the same. In those hard days for some there was complete disaster and for a very few, miraculous escape, while for the victors at least came the chance for advancement and recognition, for power and fortune. For some it would consolidate and secure their place in the world and for others persecution was borne in the hope that there would be another, better planned and ultimately successful, attempt to return the house of Stewart to the throne of Scotland and beyond. Even after the disaster that had been Culloden this was a very real prospect for many Jacobites and an equally real threat to the house of Hanover and its supporters. The Hanoverian Government of Britain had been caught napping by the speed and audacity of the Jacobite uprising, had severely underestimated how real and how dangerous it was and was woefully slow in responding, caught with many of its best forces fighting on the continent. Fortunately for them France too failed to fully recognise the opportunity that their Jacobite allies represented and neglected to give them the support needed. When they finally awoke to the significance of the threat that was upon them the Hanovarians reacted with overwhelming resource and, once victory was assured, a determination that they would not be exposed in such a way again. It was perhaps the realisation of how close they had come to losing everything that made them so determined to make sure that it could never happen again and fear and frustration therefore set the scene for revenge, barbarous over-reaction and cruel treatment of the defeated supporters of the rebellion. It could have been successfully and bloodlessly handled with political astuteness but the chance to consolidate their reign and their kingdom with foresight and positive action was missed. That would go very badly for the Jacobites and leave an enduring legacy for the rest of Scotland.

Most of the unfortunates left injured on Drummossie Moor at Culloden were executed where they lay, although a few brave locals did venture out to recover a lucky few who had survived that first killing walk of redcoats across the battlefield. Many of those who tried to recover survivors were women looking for relatives and some were themselves cruelly abused and beaten by the victors for their trouble. While the killing continued the cavalry rampaged towards Inverness and cut down any fleeing combatants and numerous innocent civilians caught in the open regardless of age, position or sex. On reaching the town they began to break into houses to look for hiding Jacobites and take the best of any loot they could find. Shortly after when the main force occupied the town the hunt for rebel supporters began and once the town had been pacified the hunt rippled out across the highlands. On the night after battle the Provost of Inverness came to Cumberland's lodgings as he celebrated with his officers to plead for calm and Christian mercy. For his trouble he was badly beaten and physically kicked down the stairs.  Jacobites who could fled. Those with money and influence fled to France as soon as possible though that could take several months to arrange and they had to exist as best they could. Many 'took to the heather' to live rough in the furthest parts of that countryside they knew best until hopefully things died down and they could escape abroad or return to homes and families. Common fighting men often made straight for home to try and hide amongst the normal population but they too risked being recognised and outed as rebels.

In all of this Jacobite women also risked everything. Families who's men were dead, captured, had failed to return or taken to the hills were subject to a military force with orders to rob and pillage the homes of any 'suspected' Jacobites. Murder, rape and hangings began almost immediately. While there are stories which show hints of mercy these are few and usually involve gentry; ladies and families of wealth who shared a lifestyle and education, fashion and manners that could be recognised outside the highlands. For the poor commoners who wore the hated tartan and spoke only the Gaelic, those who lived in rough 'black houses' and were isolated in the mountains and hills away from prying eyes there were few if any glimmers of mercy.

Appin, in the western highlands near modern day Fort William, holds the lands of Ardsheal which I wrote of in the post about 'James of The Glen'. His death in 1752 was probably the last openly vindictive act of Jacobite suppression. In the months after Culloden, Charles Stewart of Ardsheal, owner of those lands, was one of those fugitives who had taken to the heather. He was one of Prince Charles war council, a fervent Jacobite and high on the wanted list of the Hanoverians. His wife, Isobel Haldane, had actively supported and encouraged him to come out in support of Charlie and had helped recruit the Stewarts, MacColls MacLarens, Mcintyres, McCormacks and Carmichaels he took with him from his estate to fight as The Appin Regiment. During the battle his 300 men had charged on the right flank and ninety-one of them died, seventeen it's said, shot one after the other while carrying the silk regimental standard of a yellow saltire on blue silk. Almost seventy others were wounded or captured. Among the fallen was the great grandfather of the explorer David Livingstone and the nephew of his own wife, Isobel. The aftermath left Isobel in a very precarious position as a prominent rebel supporter, wife of a key fugitive, alone, without protection and holding lands which were bordered to the south by powerful adversaries in the staunchly Hanovarian Campbell Dukes of Argyll. She was made of strong stuff though and when the bloodied regimental standard was brought back home with news of defeat and a hunted husband she set out to maintain and manage the estate and its people in her own right. As such she came to the attention of the local military Commander based in Fort William.

Her battle ground would be her home.


Appin Stewart Heraldic Shield

Captain Caroline Frederick Scott was a hardline Hanovarian, ambitious and ruthless. He seems to have taken a particular dislike for Isobel and paid particular attention to her and her situation in a very unpleasant manner. Why he targeted her so specifically is unknown but there is some speculation that he made amorous overtures to her which were rejected. That Isobel was a gentlewoman and a lady of significant social standing was all that prevented him from visiting the very worst he was capable of on her. Despite this he would go far beyond the limits of appropriate behaviour. He had successfully resisted a Jacobite siege of the fort at Fort William under his command two weeks before Culloden and was now freed to root out rebels wherever he could.

Shortly after Culloden intelligence reported that Ardsheal { as Isobel's husband was commonly known} had returned to the area and was hiding out. This was all that Scott needed to visit Isobel and occupy her property which he did for several days while he searched in vain for Ardsheal. Even before that the Duke of Argyll had been instructed specifically by Cumberland himself to carry off all the cattle and other livestock belonging to the estate. He fulfilled his order to the letter but the following day returned a significant portion of the livestock along with some other provisions from his personal stores and a letter which said that he was aware that she had several children to look after and was also pregnant. The goods were "for the use of yourself and the little ones" and he stated that her situation " makes my heart aik." A glimmer of mercy for sure. Captain Scott again appeared in August and again removed all livestock and foodstuffs as well as cut down all the trees in the orchard. He then ordered that the house again be sacked and this time went to extraordinary lengths, removing all doors and windows, the wooden panelling off the walls and the slate tiles from the roof as well as all personal belongings, furniture and fittings. He even went as far as ensuring that the nails which his men removed were straightened so he could have them resold in Fort William. On point of departure he asked for the keys of the house which were given to him and told Isobel that she was 'a damned rebel bitch' and should leave. She stood in the shell of her house surrounded by her wailing children and refused, stating that she would have to be physically thrown out. Scott appears to have balked at this and departed, taking the children's young tutor to Fort William jail. He was soon pursued by Isobel to Fort William where she was eventually able to secure the release of the tutor, but was unable to save his wallet, his wedding ring or indeed the children's school books. She returned to the shell of her home and borrowed writing materials to pen a vitriolic complaint to the Duke of Argyll detailing the treatment meted out to a pregnant lady and her dependants. She could scarcely believe, she wrote 'that any man of this country and good company could be so free of compassion or anything at all of the gentleman to descend to such low degree of meanness' She also archly begged the Duke to forgive the roughness of the paper 'for my good friend The Captain has left me none better'. {This time I know of no response from the Duke but would like to think that his charitable nature once again came to the fore.}

In September Ardsheal finally managed to get ship to France and safety but Isobel and the children were unable to go with him. She must have thought though that news of his escape might at least prevent further deprivations by Scott but in this she would be wrong. Finally in December he arrived through the snow to finish what he'd begun and forced Isobel and her brood out of the house and had the place set on fire so thoroughly that it was almost completely ruined. Isobel and the children spent the night in a nearby barn where Scott again found them the following night. That night Isobel had finally given birth to a daughter and it's said that Scott and some of his officers came to see the newborn child. This was not out of any compassion. Scott is reputed to have said to Isobel as she lay recovering from the birth ' I do think your husband a great fool to join the rebels and to leave you and your children without a home.' He took the hand of the newborn child and reached forward with a purse full of coins jangling in his other hand. He said to the little one ' I would give up this purse and its contents to hold your fathers hand as I now hold yours'. Isobel's response is not noted. I could imagine that it stretched the bounds of civility somewhat.

Later she managed to make her way with her children to France to be with her husband, leaving the estate management in the loyal hands of James of The Glen until he was removed and the estate taken over by the Hanovarians. Even after this, the tenants continued to send rents to Ardsheal and Isobel in France as well as pay rent to the crown. Isobel bore her husband ten children who survived to adulthood. They seem to have lived happily within the circle of Jacobites at the exiled court of King James and continued to work and plot for the return of the house of Stuart. Ardsheal died in exile in France in 1757.  Later, Isobel returned to England in 1779 to seek treatment for dropsy. She died in The Peacock Inn in Northampton and was buried in the graveyard of the Church of All Saints nearby. She had lived devoted to her husband, her family and to 'The Cause'. She is remembered in the church by a plaque

'In a worse than civil war, her house plundered and overthrown by soldiers, innocent, she was forced to give birth to her babe in a poor and mean hut and on the next night to flee through the snow accompanied by her young and tender children........ In adversity therefore o traveller, be not to much dismayed for piety may surmount a rugged road.'

Ardsheal house was eventually rebuilt and returned to the control of the family for a time at least.

 It is now a hotel.

see you later.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Sunday Post.


Hullo ma wee blog,

This weeks poem is;

Two Thieves. {1980}

At the Place For Pulling Up Boats,
{one word in Gaelic} the tide is full.
It seeps over the grass like a robber.
Which it is.

- For old Flora tells me,
That fifty yard stretch of gravel now under water
was, in her Grannies time, a smooth green sward
where the Duke Of Sutherland
turned his coach and four.

What an image of richness, a tiny pageantry
In this small dying place
Whose every house is now lived in
By the sad widow of a fine strong man.

There were fine strong men in the Dukes time.
He drove them to the shore. He drove them
to Canada. He gave no friendly thought to them
as he turned his coach and four
on the sweet green sward
by the Place for Pulling up Boats
where no boats are.

Norman MacCaig.


See you later........

Saturday, 5 March 2011

At the Movies........



Hullo ma wee blog,

I love a good film and am happy to spend hours squirreled away in the dark watching a movie or two. I'm not overly particular about what genre of movie {except one} I'm going to see either as long as it's well made. Even in a film that doesn't grab me for plot or characterisation I'll often enjoy the music or the cinematography or some other aspect of the production. I just love being at the cinema. The lovely G and I both have 'unlimited' tickets to get into the cinema - pay a monthly fee and go as often as you like - which is worthwhile if you go more than twice a month and that's no problem for us. I used to like all the gore and guts of a good slasher or horror story but as I get older I'm shying aware from these more and more as they get more and more predictable and more and more over hyped. I still enjoy the odd shocker but it's more of a rarity these days. While I love the escapism, action and adventure tales that cinema offers I do like a good story well told and I love films about the human condition, relationships and just good human interest stories. The best films make you think about them long after the final curtain and we've been lucky to see some great movies over the last month or so, so I thought I'd share a recommendation or two with you in case you missed any of them.

Paul Giametti is one of those actors who can often lightly pass by in a movie with his understated performances and lack of screen idol good looks and to be honest I wasn't sure at the start about casting him as the lead in 'Barneys Version' which is a cracking film about life, relationship and regret. I have to say I was absolutely wrong in that and he turns in a wonderful performance that by turns makes you hate, despair and finally appreciate his character. As the film unfolds, and I'm not going to spoil it or any of the movies by just reeling off a plot line, he really manages by slow degrees to make you  aware of the complexity of a life of selfishness, yearning and the regret he has for the way he's lived and some of the choices he's made. A great film. I absolutely loved it and was mesmerised for the whole performance. A great supporting cast too.




I was really looking forward to going to see The King's Speech, although I always worry about films that get so much hype and critical acclaim. I really prefer to ignore all that and make my own mind up. Imagine my disappointment when we went to the cinema as we often do with no firm decision made about what we will go and see - one of the strengths of these 'unlimited' tickets is that we just go, see what is starting soon and go watch and this has let us find some super films that we wouldn't necessarily have chosen to go and see - when my Lovely G said that even though 'The King's Speech was starting first, she didn't really fancy it and would rather wait and see 'Black Swan' that was starting a little later. Like most men I realise what has to be done for a quiet life and so, with a little sigh, I agreed and dutifully went along to this film about ballet, or so I thought.

The movie stars Natalie Portman in this portrayal of obsession and descent into paranoia of a ballerina who has longed for recognition and especially the chance to play the dual perspective lead role in the ballet Swan Lake only to feel this is being snatched from her at the very moment when she should be being acclaimed for it.. Cleverly written and directed and with a well played lead role from Portman this again was a surprising and intriguing film which caught the excitement and fear of the slide into madness in a very graphic way. It's been panned in some areas for being too melodramatic and over the top, but I thought that it captured the fear and angst of Portmans character in a very understandable way and didn't go beyond the limits of realism either with the portrayal of the obsessed star or the conniving and manipulation of the dance troupe by a megalomaniacal director of dance. It's dark and manic and I felt that it draws you in to the story and the passion of these dancers who have a very short career-span before having to give up what they have trained so hard to achieve really effectively. For a film I didn't expect to get much out of I really enjoyed it. Portman - who I've always thought of as credible but not much more puts in a stunning performance and also trained so effectively for the part that you do actually believe absolutely in her as the highly driven and incredibly capable dancer she portrays. It was an Oscar winning performance and I understand why. It is melodramatic and it is borderline over the top at times but that's how I think of madness anyway. Great film, but don't go expecting many laughs.

The poster for the film shows Natalie Portman with white facial makeup, black-winged eye liner around bloodshot red eyes, and a jagged crystal tiara.

Next in the movie timeline of recent weeks we went to see a reshowing on the big screen of 'Inception', starring Leonardo Di Caprio. I'd actually seen this before but G had missed it and was delighted to see it reshown as she wanted to see it on the big screen. I'm not the biggest fan of LDC but I do appreciate he is getting better as he gets older and I really thought he was perfectly cast for this role. Great idea, great effects, a great performance by Di Caprio and a great supporting cast all worked together to make this an incredible piece of movie-making. A deeply intriguing psychological idea at the heart of the story and a movie that, although bewildering if not given full concentration, fairly rattles on at a great lick and has plenty going on to keep you rivetted to the screen for the duration. I loved this movie and found so much more on second viewing. One that'll end up in our DVD collection for sure.

A man in a suit with a gun in his right hand is flanked by five other individuals in the middle of a street which, behind them, is folded upwards. Leonardo DiCaprio's name and those of other cast members are shown above the words "YOUR MIND IS THE SCENE OF THE CRIME". The title of the film "INCEPTION", film credits, and theatrical and IMAX release dates are shown at the bottom.

At last I got what I wanted when  we went to see .The King's Speech'. I do like Colin Firth and he was great in this film, well cast and deserving of all the praise for sure. Helena Bonham Carter I'm not really a fan of and as usual I thought that although she played the part well that others could have played it even better. She did fit the look and fashion of the 1930's and 40's particularly well and that to me anyway made her  a completely realistic choice. For me though the star of the piece was the character played by Geoffrey Rush as the king's speech therapist. I felt he stole every scene he was in. He just dominates in such an unassuming way. I find him mesmerising to watch. He brings absolute realism to everything he does and for me is one of tha great actors around just now. I was sorry he didn't get more recognition for the part he played in this movie, which is a relationship tale told with great humanity. It really deserved the number of Oscar nominations it received. I thought that for a story about royalty - which I'm also no great fan of - that it focessed successfully on the human side of the tale and didn't lose itself in any of the visual spectacle that would have been so easy to slot into almost any part of the narrative. I though the main characters were all well and sympathetically written and yet it was probably quite near the historical truth. I thought the sub plots of family relationship and antipathy of the establishment to Wallace Simpson were all well done and neither under or over emphasised. It's a film that I felt was well balanced throughout. Even the Lovely G, who really didn't want to see it said that she enjoyed it.

'The Kings Speech' gets a new showy poster!  Main

The final movie we went to see was 'Never Let Me Go', an adaption of a book by Kasuo Ishiguro. It's always hard to see a film of a book as comparisons will always abound and any screenplay isn't going to have the same impact as the novel. Here though is a film that is so deep, so well rounded and so perfectly sparse and understated that it may well be my favourite out of all the films we've seen recently. The three main characters, played by Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield, put in stunning performances and Carey Mulligan is perfection. Her playing of the girl experiencing confusion, anxiety, hurt, bewilderment and finally acceptance is simple, graceful and spellbinding. One of those films you talk about all journey back home.




All in all it's been a great couple of weeks of cinema going and I thoroughly recommend you to see any of these movies if you get the chance. Next on my list is 'True Grit' and I'm also looking forward to 'The Adjustment Bureau.

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

The Sunday Posts 2017/ Hush Hush

Hush, hush, time tae be sleepin'. Hush, hush, dreams come a-creepin'; Dreams of peace and of freedom, So smile in your sleep,...