Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Sunday, 30 October 2011

My Movies to Watch List

Author Julia R Barrett recently posted a blog entitled, "Who is Robert Redford?" in response to someone in their 30's who admitted they had no idea who he was!  Redford as we all surely know is one of the most entertaining and influential actors from the last 45 years, but, I don't want this blog to be about him, although for at least one reason that will become clear, he did play a small bit part in my memories of courtship and eventual marriage!

The other thing raised by the original post was a request that we think about our favourite movies and why, were they life changing, thought provoking or just plain entertaining, and to either give them to Julia or as I have chosen to do, write my own blog, so, to the original young lady who posed the question and Julia for the inspiration here is my list and the reasons behind them...

1. The Way we Were with Robert Redford and Barbara Streisand.

This was obviously not the first movie that I remember seeing as, by the time it came out, I was already in my late teens, left home and was serving in the British Army in Berlin.

No, the reason it is number one on my list is because it is the first movie that I took my then (short term girlfriend, Hah) to see, and it was in the American cinema in the American sector of Berlin! I was around 18 and Ishbel was 16, we got married two years later! I still remember and can sing the title song today!

2. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid again with Robert Redford and Paul Newman.

I saw this movie after sneaking into the cinema to see it but I can't quite remember if it was the Odeon next to The Brew ( or, to give it its proper name - The Unemployment Office, where you signed on when you didn't have a job) or the Regal down by The Fountain.

I had been reading western books by JT Edson and of course the Lone Ranger at Saturday morning cinema and Alias Smith and Jones on the Telly, but this was different and the chemistry between these two guys and the humour was unforgettable.  Scenes that you always remember, "I can't swim" before they leap of the cliff into the river,  The song Raindrops Keep Falling on my head and the bicycle scene with Katharine Ross.  The conversation with the George Furth as Woodcock, before they blow him up on the train and so many more...

3. The Ghost and Mrs Muir  Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney.

A widow, Lucy Muir, and her daughter move into a cliff top cottage only to discover that it is still inhabited by the ghost of its former owner a brusque dead sea captain who falls in love with Mrs Muir and who in turn falls in love with him.

Soft I know, but I just love watching this movie even although it was made 9 years before I was even born.  It was a somewhat dark and gloomy film but the concept of a ghost appealed to me then when I first saw this movie.  Rex Harrison's wonderful baritone voice and the the beauty of Gene Tierney all helped to draw you in and the closing scenes, well, tissue time again, that's all I'm saying...

4. Goodbye Mr Chips Robert Donat and Greer Garson.

Another movie made long before I was even born and again one of my all time favourites.  Unbelievably sad about a lonely and strict disciplinarian school teacher who goes off on yet another solo holiday , but finds and falls in love.  Bringing the new Mrs Chips back to the school with him he becomes less strict and more loved by his pupils, thanks to the influence of his wife.

His wife announces that she is pregnant, but both she and the child die during childbirth.  If you haven't seen this and track it down, buy a box of tissues with the DVD, you will need them.

5. We Were Soldiers Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe and Sam Elliot

A bit more up to date with this one, set in the Vietnam war.  While the battle scenes are realistic and well filmed, it has to be one of those 'war' movies that falls into the category of 'anti-war', making you think is it all worth it.  But then as human beings it is probably one of the things that we are best suited to doing, unfortunately.

If you haven't seen this movie can I suggest man or woman, have a box of tissues to hand as the men go off to fight the women are left at home and when the telegrams start arriving informing the wives that their husbands are dead, WOW.  Based on real events and the first real battle that the Americans fought in this conflict, it truly is a riveting film.

6. Barefoot in The Park Robert Redford, Jane Fonda and Mildred Nantwick

Another Robert Redford I'm afraid.  This is one of the most deliciously funny movies of all time with the scatter brained Jane Fonda marrying the up and coming lawyer and him leaving it to her to find their new apartment.  The difference in expectations from them both to the found apartment is just so funny and then mother played by Mildred Natwick after climbing the 5 or was it 7 flights of stairs to the apartment (no lift/elevator) has to be one of the single most funniest moments in film history.  If any youngsters reading this need to watch a film that will make them laugh out loud, this is it.

Supporting the three above are an excellent ensemble cast from the telephone installer, to the delivery man and of course the inimitable Charles Boyer as the European enigma who lives on the roof of the apartment, hilarious, as stuffy Mr Redford is finally cracked.

7. The Sand Pebbles Steve McQueen, Candice Bergen

What can I say about this movie. Steve McQueen and Candice Bergen.  Bergen has to have been one of the most beautiful women on the planet (and still is for a woman of senior years)  and she could act.  She was not the main focus of this one, that was more McQueen doing what he always did, play the lone rebellious part in a group under pressure, but played it to perfection and as usual (not giving it away here if you haven't seen it, but think Great Escape ending)

8. Soldier Blue Candice Bergen, Peter Strauss.

I think this was the first truly Violent western I had ever seen and it was probably most notable for those graphic scenes against the Indians by the soldiers including the breast cutting one, truly horrific.  This film was also notable for the title song by Buffy Sainte-Marie

9. Casablanca  Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Raines

I said for No's and 7 and 8 that  Bergen was one of the most beautiful women on the planet but even she was surpassed by Ingrid Bergman's Ilse Lunde next to Bogart's Rick Blaine an atmospheric war time thriller with a love triangle between Rick, Ilse and Victor.

While this was a great movie, it was however  the scene stealing Claude Raines as Captain Renault who was my favourite character.

10. Cockles and Mussels or in the original French, Crustacés & Coquillages. Gilbert Melki, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Sabrina Seyvecou.

This is a great littler French film that I discovered on the BBC late one night and I absolutely loved it. Light hearted and funny and I have watched it about 4 or 5 times,

The plot is that of a family; husband, wife, teenage daughter and son,  returning to the fathers family home each year for the summer holiday but it turns out that the wife is having an affair and is followed by her lover and she keeps sneaking away to see him.  The daughter is off on the back of her boyfriends motorbike touring leaving the son to cope with his neurotic parents, but his gay friend turns up and the parents think that he may be gay.  It turns out also that prior to leaving the village the father was also gay and had an affair with the local plumber who encounters the family son's friend whilst 'dogging'!

The whole thing is a farce and as such hilarious, if you can get your hands on it, well worth the effort, and all is revealed at the end and all live happily together, Oh and it ends with a little song and dance for the closing credits, so a bonus

11. Wasabi Jean Reno

Another French movie. You may recognise the title Wasabi, as the name of the Japanese condiment much like our own mustard and is a bit of an acquired taste probably much like the film, but I do have a penchant for foreign movies, French ones in particular and I also happen to like Jean Reno very much.

Reno plays a hard boiled French cop who always gets results, no matter the cost and after another bout of mayhem is ordered on leave.  As he takes this forced holiday he receives word that the love of his life, in a former life, while in Japan has died, and he has been appointed executor of her will.  In arriving in Japan he finds that he has a daughter although she does not know he is the father, thinking that she was the product of a rape.  It's two days before her birthday and the Yakuza want her dead to recover money that her mother stole from them.  Mayhem ensues and a few laughs particularly over Renos penchant for Wasabi but unlike normal people he does not just take a pinch he guzzles it and others trying to emulate this make for some serious laughs.

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Thursday, 27 October 2011

Illness Makes You Worry, But Sometimes Laughter Really is the Best Medicine!

You will know, if you follow my posts, that I have had a couple of minor ailments and accidents over the years.  I apparently have a touch of Asthma.  Had a hearing test recently where allegedly I am suffering from the slightest of hearing loss in both ears, does that mean I am going deaf in stereo?

I recently had an Attack of the Poorlies when Ishbel my wife of 35 and a bit years was cleaning up after me.  I've been shot, I've been trapped down a pothole with torrential rain above leading to the pothole beginning to flood, I have had canoes spring leaks on me in the middle of the English Channel and the Middle of the Danube river ( read bloody big and wide and not really blue, yuk) oh, and I crushed  some vertebrae in a parachuting incident.  But hey, you venture out into the world and these things happen, don't they? 

But other than that, and being FAT I'm doing OK.

Now Ishbel on the other hand for the 35 and a bit years, plus (please don't hit me again if I get this wrong) the 3 or was it 4 years before we got married (oh Ish,  please don't hit me again), has been relatively fit and healthy, eats like a pig and never puts on any weight(what's that B word associated with women that I am not allowed to use), is never ill and never never misses a step through life until.....

Memory again, about 1993 or was it 94 she started to lose her voice ( I wasn't really pleased, honest I wasn't) anyway after a battery of tests, poking and prodding she was sent to see a specialist in London and she was diagnosed with something called  Laryngeal Dystonia Now this is a condition that affects the vocal cords and as far as I can tell the only treatment is a very painful one, or so Ishbel tells me (but what do women know about pain) and that is a large needle pushed directly into her vocal cords every couple of months with an injection, and anyway why is she whingeing, it's Botox and as son says, she is going to be the only wrinkly 100 year old with a neck as smooth as a baby's bum! 

But she never complains.  Then recently we were sitting at the table having a meal and I noticed that she was suddenly staring at the wall with a vacant expression on her face (some might say living with me that is normal - and I would just smack them on the teeth) and her right hand, or was it her left, see my memory is going too, was banging constantly on the plate!  I tried to to ask what was going on, what was the matter, but was getting absolutely no response, as suddenly as it had started it was gone. Ishbel says she was not aware of what I was talking about and went straight into continuing the sentence she was uttering, as if nothing had happened.  I was worried of course, but trying to get someone to go and see the doctor for something that they did not know was happening, was a hard task.

Fortunately, or not, as the case may be, it started to happen again, not a lot but intermittently and I would keep on at her.  But then it happened when the kids were over for a visit  and again Ishbel would say she had no idea what we were talking about, but agreed to go to the doctor.   

Long story short, it turns out she's a nutter, sorry she has a mild form of epilepsy, easily controlled with a pill, so all is well and she still never misses a step, she gallivants all over the south of England on her days off work, on train, tube, bus and shank's pony  visiting son, and daughters and grandchildren, then comes home and looks after me (not that I need looking after I am a MAN), and even with all of that we still have a laugh, well mainly me laughing at her as can be seen here......The Bionic Babe and that explains also why I am also laughing when I shouldn't be, remember ever so slight loss of hearing and I do miss some things that are said to me and what do I do, laugh like an idiot of course!

Keep well and look after yourselves 

PS: I should point out since MR Fat started to lose weight his wheezing is nowhere as bad as can be heard, you'll understand......

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Stir - Sasha Brown-Worsham Doesn't write on bathroom walls, Really!

I subscribed to something called The Stir, through my Facebook page and it has had a couple of interesting articles , but more and more I feel like I am reading a newspaper (which I very rarely do these days and I certainly don't purchase any)  that reminds me of The News of The World.

In other words, I am reading a publication that is full of tittle tattle and innuendo with no real merit and the only purpose is to create and make up stories that titillate and serve to feed the need for some members of the public for whatever unfathomable reason who can not resist this kind of rubbish. The latest piece that has provoked my ire is this one Wild Ashton Kutcher 'Love Child Rumour Could be True '

Now, as a rule I do not - and I do realise the following comment will no doubt be met with some derision, but never the less it makes no less of a truth - and that is, that I do not usually read this type of tittle tattle gossip.  Two reasons for that;

1. It is normally spiteful innuendo with no basis in truth and usually ends up hurting someone who is innocent, and in this case the baby who in years to come will have it pointed out to him by some bullying twat that his mother had an affair and whoever she ends up with either in marriage or as a life partner and who will probably love the kid as if he was his own,is going to be shouted at with, HE IS NOT YOUR DAD, will be the taunts.  And if it turns out that it was not Mr Kutcher, what has the article achieved?

2. It's about people who I watch and with whom I sometimes enjoy performances from on screen and sometimes not, but I have no real interest in their lives outside of their work than that, except for a few that I follow on Twitter for their witty comments on life in general or that they have been promoting a cause that I am interested in...

Now the short bio of the author of the above piece says this:

Sasha Brown-WorshamABOUT THE AUTHORSasha Brown-Worsham can't decide whether she is a mother, writer, or runner, but is usually all three at some point each day. She has written for dozens of print magazines, newspapers, and websites. She rarely ever writes on bathroom walls."

Now the comment that caught my attention was, "She rarely ever writes on bathroom walls."  But surely that is exactly what she is doing as that is exactly where this type of drivel belongs?

I heard, and I can not either confirm or vouch for the veracity of the information as it was only  an unsubstantiated rumour, that   Sasha Brown-Worsham had an affair about 4 and a half years ago and out of that affair a son was born.  That son is in a very loving home and is dotted on by the person who may or may not be his father!

Now how would the son feel reading that as he got older, particularly as in this case as I just made the whole thing up as I have never heard of Sasha Brown-Worsham, until I foolishly looked at the article she has written full of innuendo and supposition.  I do not know January Jones and I certainly do not know Ashton Kutcher or  Demi Moore and I realise that Brown-Worsham is not the only proponent of this scandalous muck.  We have just seen The News of The World paper in the UK that specialised in this kind of muck raking close its doors and presses and one can only hope that a few more both here and around the world do so as well.  Maybe The Stir is from the same stable, but I am afraid I will not be subscribing to any more stories from it on line.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Do Despotic Rulers Still Have Human Rights of their Own?

I listened to a radio interview this evening on Radio 4 where Robert Colville from the UN (wikipedia) was insisting that a full independent investigation needs to be carried out to determine the true facts surrounding the death of Colonel Gaddafi.  He went on to state that there were at least four versions emanating from Libya on how the death occurred!

Let me save them, the UN, some time and OUR money*:  Some put upon Libyan who, or some member of his family had probably suffered at the hands of the regime at sometime, over Gaddafi's 46 years in power, found him cowering in a hole, dragged him out threw him in the back of a pick-up and put a bullet in his head, end of story, now what is there to investigate?

He went on to say that there was a human rights element to this and "lets not forget this is an elderly man in his late 70's", I mean can you believe the crap these people come out with.  As if his age had anything to do with it, it didn't stop him sending his secret police out to arrest, imprison, torture and kill his own people, now did it. And what about their human rights over the last 46 years.. While that talking shop in New York debated, Libya, Iraq and all the other states ruled by people of that ilk who gave no consideration to their own peoples human rights, what makes them think that those same people who suffered were going to give one thought to his, if he was caught, and they didn't, and so what!

The interviewer asked him, if they did find evidence that conclusively pointed to him having been 'executed', "what action would the UN take".

"Oh let's not get ahead of ourselves on that one", he replied.  Well why not, if you are going to put in place an investigation, there can only be three outcomes to it surely?

  1. No evidence to support he was murdered
  2. Evidence to support he was murdered 
  3. Or (as we have in Scotland) a not proven verdict 

Now I suspect if the investiagtion does find in favour of 2 above that absolutely nothing will be done by the UN or anyone else, SO, I ask again what is the bloody point of holding the investigation in the first place.

It's a bit like their investigation into Bin Laden's death what is the point.  Another UN chappie who goes by the name Navi Pillay, a top UN human rights official,  is reported to have said at the time, "all counter-terrorism operations must respect international law".

Forgive both my ignorance and naivety here, but to the general law abiding populace of the world, to which I admit to being one of that many, but I, like they, believe that as terrorists, or every day commonal garden criminals for that matter, do not respect our human rights, why should we worry about theirs.

It's not as if David Cameron or Barrack Obama are going to send a special forces hit squad after us for penning another blog calling them a bunch of plonkers, again, (well at least I hope not or I may well be moving up the list with the UK government at least). So, I really do not understand this propensity by these dunderheads in the UN calling for investigations into these killings, when the majority of people do not give a damn as to how they have met their end.

And let's face it, in reality, since 1945 when Human Rights issues were first enshrined in  various laws and when the UN came into being to replace the League of Nations, it has been the biggest waste of space adding to the 'greenhouse gas problem' talk, talk talk, without actually doing what it was set up to do, which in layman's terms was to bring all the countries of the planet to the table to talk and to prevent armed conflict, well that worked out well then for the rest of us, didn't it!

Finally, let's have no more talk about a UN investigation.  If Gaddafi had remained alive, do not think for one moment that the Libyans would have given him up to stand trial in the Hague, cos if I had been a Libyan, that would have been the last place I would want him sent, to pontificate and pronounce for years to come about how misunderstood he was and that everything he did was for the good of his beloved people and it was just that they were to stupid to understand the he knew better than them (much like our own politicians in that respect then),. No, if he had remained alive he would have been put on trial, convicted of crimes against his own people and sentenced to death, in the same way as that other numpty from Iraq, Saddam whatshisname.

This way, it is done, it is over, and the Libyans can get on with rebuilding their country, their economy and their LIVES.  UN get over it and find something useful to do, like turn off the lights in that very ugly building in New York, send all the hangers on back to their own countries, and leave the talking to the respective governments directly  and then each country can stop paying the massive bills for an organisation that really does appear to be a complete waste of money.

And as for their Human Rights - they are not entitled to be treated the same as the rest of us, they gave up that right when they set the rule of law aside and tortured and murdered their own peoples and aided and abetted in the murder of other nations citizens through financial funding or terrorist training camps or supplying arms to other terrorist groups around the world.

*Yes we pay, and the last time I can find what we paid, although the more astute of you will no doubt find more up to date data, was over £300 million in 2005, so extrapolating that, we in the UK have probably paid about £2 Billion since thenUN (website)

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Scottish Independence

Scottish Independence poll

The SNP conference is about to get under way in Inverness and again the question of Independence is on everyone's lips.  Now if you haven't noticed, I am Scottish although I live and work in England and have done since 1991.  Prior to that I lived in Inverness for 10 years after coming out of the British Army in which I served, also for 10 years.  Prior to my time in the British Army I spent the first 15 years of my life in Coatbridge, which was an industrialised town nearer to Glasgow than Edinburgh.

Ever since I was a kid I can recall, from time to time, the clamouring outcry of nationalism  from people and from some Scottish newspapers, usually just after England had again demolished the Scottish football team in another one sided match and that it was time to go independent, and that the 1707 treaty forming the Kingdom of Great Britain should be dissolved.  Another source of discontent back then (when I was a kid not 1707 - I'm not that old) with many Scots and one that still exists today, is, TV News and Sports commentators who would be commentating on international sporting events where the Great Britain Team would be participating.  If someone from Scotland, Ireland or Wales was doing good and looked on course for a medal it was so and so from team GB but as soon as it looked as if they were out of the running for the win/medal, then they suddenly didn't/don/t belong to team GB any more but suddenly revert back to being Scotland's or Ireland's or Wales Joe Blog and this really is annoying.  And then the English wonder why, and complain bitterly,  when other parts of the United Kingdom are routing for any team in a competition rather than the English; it's not difficult to understand under the circumstances.

Now, as a kid some of those calls did, from time to time have some resonance with me, particularly later when I began to take a little interest in history and politics and reading, becoming more informed about 'my past as a Scot', I would get angry at the treatment of the Scots at the hands of the English.  But then you really have to temper that with the realisation that it was not just the Scots who were treated abominably by the English, the whole world was treated the same way by them; they colonised the greater part of the world and in many instances brought order, not that Scotland needed it, although much of the country still lived in poverty, as did much of England and the majority of the population were nothing more than serfs to their masters in the aristocracy as it was the same in Scotland, but those were the times. The same argument rages today with the minority controlling politics and the banks and in some cases governments, but at least  the populations of most countries do have a semi fluid choice of who they elect to govern them today, back then they didn't.

In modern times we have seen countries and races demanding apologies from other countries and in some cases reparation of lost lands and fortunes for the ills visited upon them by ancestors and in many cases apologies have been forthcoming, slavery of black Africans,  the Highland clearances of Scotland (although it is worthwhile pointing out that this was also done for and by the convenience of some Scots and not just by the English), Ireland, India, Native Americans and the list goes on, and in many cases apologise have been forth coming from Prime Ministers and Presidents.  But when is enough enough, how many times are the sins of our forefathers visited upon us.......

And this brings me to the question of Scottish Independence, the SNP and clearly  some Scots are still upset with the sins of the English and Scottish forefathers who allowed the Union of the countries of this small island to take place and rather than forgive them for it, they don't just want an apology, they want to take back their independence as well and be recognised as a country standing on its own two feet within the British Isles.  The only thing that surprises me at the moment is that there is not a greater and louder voice from the English to be rid of the ungrateful Scots!

I listened to a brief interview this morning on TV with Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP and Scotland's First Minister under devolution.  Now the interviewer was BBC Breakfasts Bill Turnbull, seems like a nice guy but he is no heavyweight interviewer, but he did ask a couple of questions, one of which was on Defence and 'Scotland's Army' and Mr Salmond seemed to say that 'we' would not rely on the English for 'our' defence and that 'we' would have, "our own army".

Now, you will recall I am Scottish, I am proud of being a Scot.  It is also important to note that I do not have a lot of time for British (or any other) Royalty and I think that they are an anachronism that we as a nation could do without , but, as well as being Scottish I am also British and proud of it and I really cannot understand why some in my 'Home Country',(for it is, after all, still Scotland, a country within the Kingdom of Great Britain), are calling for independence over devolution.

On the SNP's home page they compare Scotland to Sweden, why? Why should they need to compare Scotland to anywhere?  Sweden is 5 times larger than Scotland.  The estimated GDP for Sweden in 2010 was $337.893 Billion compared to Scotland's (for the same period) of £137.774 Billion.  So there really is no comparison that I can see and being 5 times larger they probably have lots of untapped energy resources that they can find and exploit!  Whereas in Scotland 'our' oil which will never be given up by the English, is beginning to run out, or so we are told, and if it isn't why are we still paying through the nose for fuel at the pumps?

Scotland, as far as I can tell is being funded by tax payers from across the United Kingdom; This is paying for the free prescriptions, the free care for the elderly, the free bus and travel passes for the retired, the free university places, none of which are available to the English or us Scots living and working in England.  Mr Salmond wants full Independence and no doubt he will want to get his hands on the oil to continue to pay for these social causes, but how long will it last, if he gets his hands on it.  Does it generate enough income as it stands at the moment to pay for all these things and then to include an Army and a Navy and an Air Force and a full defence policy?

How does he propose to create jobs to get people into work who will then be paid and in turn pay taxes?  If there is a wonder plan for the creation of jobs, why wait until Independence, create them now, and don't be selfish, tell the rest of the UK countries how to achieve this so that they too can get people into work that doesn't currently exist!

You will recall in the first paragraph of this post I said that I came from Coatbridge, an industrialised town to the East of Glasgow.  I left in 1971 at 15 as all of the manufacturing and smelter plants were declining and closing down and thousands were thrown onto the scrapheap.  Places like these have never recovered either in Scotland or anywhere else in Britain or across the world and yes, while there have been some betterment of employment figures in most countries the  days of massive factories employing thousands have long gone and the education of the masses in this country does not turn out today, at the end of schooling of our children , with the level of competence or skills required for future employment.  In the face of that where, again, are the jobs going to come from to allow people to work and pay taxes to maintain the benefits currently enjoyed by the Scots through the monies given back to them from the rest of the United Kingdom?

Do the Scottish people really believe that the small population that they have can sustain them as an independent nation through taxation?  Are they being lulled into thinking that as an independent nation that membership of the European Union and that handouts from Brussels will replace the handouts from London?  I don't know, but what I do know is that the British Isles is a relatively small island.  It has been living under one Flag for 300 years relatively successfully and  I see no reason to break it up.  It's strange that the SNP want to be the architects of destruction of the United Kingdom but then want to join the European Union.  It seems to me that the EU was set up to bring a stronger integration between countries in the EU and whether you like it or not this has happened.  In some things the EU seems to usurp national governance and while there is a hue and cry about it life goes on, so I really don't understand the need to leave the Union.

 related items:

Population of Scotland   
Population of Sweden

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Lesley, My Niece has a Grammatical Rant

    • My gorgeous niece, Lesley, had a bit of a rant on facebook the other day. I thought it was relevant to some of the other posts I have read recently, where people have ranted at a blogger for the content of their blog and for the perceived grammatical errors, only to fail miserably in their own use of certain words, as described by the lovely Lesley

    • people seriously - how hard is it to grasp the difference between to, too and two? there, their and they're? were and where? you're and your? its and it's? GO BACK TO SCHOOL!!!!

        •  Ur a gurny xxxx lesley. Maybe some ppl like spelling rong!! We all didnt go to milburn like u, ok!! Some ppl didnt even go to school!! So leave the stupid people alone. Its not their fault!!! :P x

        •  But for most of them, it is! Most of them DECIDED not to go to school! And couldn't be ARSED learning BASIC BLOODY ENGLISH!! grrrrrrrrr! (also, well done on the correct use of "their"! Gold star for you!) x

        •  Damn, straight!! It coz i is cleva!!! But did u notice my on purpose wrong spelling of "rong" ? lol. x

        •  I didn't think that was on purpose and didn't want to draw attention to it...=oP x

        • Tom Stronach I have too nieces who are two bad and sometimes their funny sometimes there' not. Its a shame that their too far away as its nice when where able two see them two laugh at them when their funneee. Oh, LS your a hoot xxxxx

        • I know it was deliberate, but it still makes me want to claw my eyes out and throw them at you. You're lucky I like you. And my eyeballs.

        • Tom Stronach You're adorable and when we were in Inverness you were so cute, Uni has a lot to answer for but I still lurv you too......

        • Lesley Scott Haha, I think you're the only person on the planet who would apply the word "adorable" to me =oP

          Sahra Anne Scott: Forget the spelling! It's the math that frightens me!! I had two customers trying to work out why 10% of £15 was £1.50 and not a fiver!!!xxx

Is it me? Part I

Be gentle with me, this is my first attempt at blogging and it is, hopefully, going to be my way to get a few things off my chest that are bothering me or that I see and maybe want to comment on or things that I, but maybe not you, find funny or humorous, so, here goes ...

Is it me? The sun is shining its a glorious day.. Young women are wearing short skirts and keep tugging them down to preserve their modesty and young men who look like complete TITS with the gusset of their jeans down to their knees keep pulling them up as they fall to their ankles...... is it me ?

Is it me? Part III

The sun is shining its a glorious day.. Young women are wearing short skirts and keep tugging them down to preserve their modesty and young men who look like complete TITS with the gusset of their jeans down to their knees keep pulling them up as they fall to their ankles...... is it me ?

I mean what is the point of wearing a skirt so short that you feel so uncomfortable that you have to keep tugging it down, I have two daughters and a son and two nieces.  Of the daughters one does wear short skirts and the other is a jeans 'mom'. My two nieces are, well my two nieces, and they will hit me if I say anything about them or worse still berate me publicly on 'facebook' and talking off...  if  'facebook' for my youngest and my two little darlings from the frozen north, was a skirt, it should be getting tugged down with regular frequency!

If you are old enough to remember the parody of the way some cowboys used to walk in films and on TV, with the exaggerated bent leg walk you will know what I am talking about when it comes to the boys.  Why do they do that, surely even young women walking behind them and seeing that awful picture of bow legs and the bum of the jeans looking as if they had just done a dump in them must surely be off putting, and they keep tugging them up like the skirts, but not far enough.... 

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Perfect Beef Casserole with Mushrooms

decided to make a Beef casserole today with Mushrooms.

Took One punnet of large chestnut mushrooms cut into quarters and added to hot pan with large dollop of butter.

Added: finely chopped red peppers, chilli, Garlic, Mint, Coriander and some dried tomatoes.

Crushed some Cumin and Carraway seeds cracked black pepper, sea salt   Paprika  and some Brown sugar and finished off with some dried rose petals

Sweated it all down in the butter and added a few dried rose petals

Set aside once cooked and mushrooms tender.

Beef:  Has been marinading in Worcester sauce red wine, cornflour and Paprika with salt and pepper and any dried herbs that take your fancy.

Nice hot pan and some oil: Brown of the meat in batches, not to much in the pan at one time and don't worry about the pan sticking, it tends to do this when you are browning off meat with cornflour, reduce the heat if need be.

Remove each batch of meat once browned.

Once all the meat is browned , pour in half a bottle of nice red wine and begin  to de-glaze the bottom of the pan and get all those bits of it but leave them in.  Add the meat and the mushrooms back to the pan and bring to a quick boil on the hob to burn of the alcohol.  Turn off the heat Boil the kettle and top up the casserole with boiling water. Add a couple of bay leaves.

Place in oven at 50 to 100 degrees and slow cook for a couple of hours and I guarantee you will have the tenderest casserole EVER

Sorry that there are no measurements, never use them I just add what I think will go well together and taste as I go along, usually works for me......

The whole thing took about 35 mins to prepare, cook on the hob until ready to go into the oven

Beef and Mushroom Casserole

Thursday, 13 October 2011

The Caspian Gates (Warrior of Rome 4) A (provisional) Book Review

I discovered  Harry Sidebottom  a couple of years ago after the first three Warrior of Rome novels had been published, so came to him late.  But, as is usual with some books that you stumble upon unexpectedly I was impressed and quickly took to Ballista the central character and his familia.

I have to say, to begin with, The Caspian Gates was a bit of a disappointment.  It wasn't just the irritating insertion of hyphens in names and words where previously there was none, e.g. Hippothous became Hipp-othous and then back to Hippothous. Vinegar became Vin-egar, these are just a couple of examples and I don't know if that was down to poor proof reading or in translation to Kindle format but irritating it was.

But it was the story telling itself that I found well below the standard of the first three novels.  Dr Sidebottom, to give him his proper title, is a Fellow and Director of Studies in Ancient History at St Benets Hall, and Lecturer in Ancient History at Lincoln College, Oxford.  And he clearly approached the first three novels with these lofty credentials using his immense knowledge to draw out the characters and the descriptions of the various parts of the Roman Empire where Ballista was fighting, but while drawing on his immense knowledge his lecturing and teaching credentials were tucked away and hidden from sight writing the novels as an author intent on bringing to the reader a collection of stories full of reality.  The hierarchy and inner workings of the Senate and the Empire, Roman fighting tactics, humour (great humour), and loyalty.  All of this interspersed with homilies and nods to the great writers and philosophers of the day a great combination, well written and gripping, keeping the pace at a level that made it difficult to put these books down.

So, Harry Sidebottom clearly set out, as an author who wanted to give his readers a gripping tale and he succeeded, but, in No 4 I think he forgot to take of the College Dons robe and began to write this one as a lecturer, as Dr Sidebottom, and therein lies the problem.  If you read any great or even good novel the writer writes in a way that is engaging to the reader.  The characters have a dialogue with each other and the central character has a dialogue with the reader, much the same way as Michael Caine has with the watcher in Alfie however in the first 6 chapters of The Caspian Gate the dialogue is as sparse as pimples on a new born baby's bum.  A novel with characters telling a story should be dialogue heavy it should be like a teenagers acne riddled face, you can't see the features for the plooks and spots and we shouldn't be able to see the page for the interaction between the characters.  In this book so far, I am really struggling not to just close it down on my Kindle and move on to something else.

I have just read Julian Stockwin's latest offering, Conquest, and Michael R Hicks's latest from the In Her Name series, Dead Soul.  Both are writing about a central character and both have written a number of books in the series and as always the characters engaged the readers and their books were gripping and I resented having to go to work, or go to bed, in fact to do anything that we should be doing in our daily lives, that would take me away from these books, and that is how I felt about Harry Sidebottom and the first 3 books in the Warrior of Rome series.

I've never done this before, not that I have done many reviews, but, I just felt that I had to come and do an early review of this one as I do feel let down by it.  I will not stop reading it and I will come back to this review  after I am done, when hopefully I will be able to update it with a much more positive review.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Mr Fat and the Doctor

I visited the doctor today, that's four times in the last week.  Now if you have read my blogs you will know that I am not one to visit the doctor if I can avoid it, it's a man thing, stupid.  But in my case there is another stupid reason, I don't really get on with her.

I have a fine relationship with the main receptionist and with the nurse who normally sees me for my asthma, but the doctor, no not really.

And three of the visits weren't actually visits to the doctor  but visits to the surgery.  Let me explain, I had heard a report on the BBC saying the at the NHS was not going to spend millions on advertising that the flu season was upon us and urging those at risk (me with my asthma) to go and get our flu jab.  Now again, I am normally on top of this and I usually contact the surgery in Sept at the same time as I am due my MOT for the Asthma, you know the one where you blow into the cardboard tube, have your blood pressure and weight taken etc.  Well I had the MOT and my blood pressure was normal and I was losing weight (well we all know that right!) but I forgot to ask about the flu jab.  Well, with all that nice weather we had been having it hadn't been at the forefront of my mind.

Anyway I then heard the report about the NHS not promulgating the need for it this year but that they expected the local GP's to contact their patients directly.  Well I don't think I have ever been contacted by them, but that's another story. so I decided on Monday 3rd October to pop in and ask when they would be available.  I was informed between 11 and 12  that coming Thursday or the same time on the following Monday (today 10th October).  So I began to ask when would we have been informed but without actually saying anything, I knew from the look, that they were not going to spend any money on postage or phone calls or text messages either!

Never mind, I called in, I knew, so off I went on Thursday to get my jab.  Now as it happens, on the Wednesday I had started to get an extremely painful back in the area of my right kidney and it was as if a knife was being stuck into me.  The pain had got so bad by Wednesday evening that I considered going to A and E, but I had loaded myself up with painkillers which had given some amelioration to the pain and so I thought I would just wait until Thursday, flu jab day, and see if I could get an appointment for Thursday night, or Friday.

Long story short, I spoke to another receptionist who I did not know and explained the symptons, she gave me an appointment for today, 4 days later.  I then spoke to the usual receptionist who was on queue control for the multitudes attending for the flu jab.  She then said, "hang on",  disappeared and came back with a sample bottle telling me to pee into into in the morning and come back at 9.30 am to see the nurse!

Friday morning, peed in bottle, attended the nurse who tested it and said that she couldn't find anything wrong, "although it is rather cloudy" and with that said she would send it off for testing.  Now between then and today I still had a bit of a twinge, a twinge I was aware of, but one that I would normally ignore, but having made the appointment and had my pee sent of for testing, rather than cancel the appointment I would keep it and so we come to today.

I arrived 15 minutes before the appointed time, kindle in hand, and waited.

Eventually, I got the call, went in and was told to sit down.  As usual no eye contact was made, she never makes eye contact:

"Your tests have come back, there is nothing wrong with your kidneys", says she, looking at her pc screen.
"Good" I reply, "and I can report that there is only a little bit of tenderness still there, so it was probably nothing" says I.
"Pull up your shirt and with one finger point to the area" says she. And I do.
"You probably pulled a muscle, just take some ibuprofen or something like that", she continued.
"Now we need to do something about your lifestyle", she then launched into. "That chap who was in just in front of you has a similar lifestyle to you and he has just had a heart attack", still hasn't looked at me.  "Empty your pockets and step on the scales please", she continues. I do, still fully clothed and wearing my shoes, asthma pump, step counter and car keys out of pockets!
"You are still to heavy and don't seem to be losing any weight" she says as she sits back down at her desk, "and your blood pressure is still too high", she continues.
"No, I don't think so" I respond, My weight is coming down and my blood pressure when the nurse took it in September, was normal, you haven't tested my blood pressure this morning, how can it still be high?  And as for my weight, how can you say I am not losing any weight, in the last two years I have dropped three waist sizes, the slacks I am wearing today were cleaned at the weekend and haven't been worn for over four years, even you must recognise that and also that I am not wheezing like a horse who has just ran the grand national"
"My scales aren't wrong", was the reply, "They do not have springs in them like yours at home and they are calibrated every year"! She went on. "Just look at your BMI here on the screen your ideal weight should be between 8 and 12 stone.  I pointed out that at 5' 11 inches or thereabouts that if I were 8 stones I would be anorexic. "Well it is 8st 13lbs, nearly 9 stone....." "Well that makes a difference, 13 lbs", says I and went on to point out that;
My scales did not have springs in them either, that they were digital, like hers, and they certainly showed me when I was not losing weight and when I was losing weight, but she wasn't having any of it retorting, "Well if you want to take the negative spin from my comments.....", and I am thinking 'How can I take it any other way.  With that she turned to her writing and pushed a script across to me for a blood test and turned back to her screen without another word.  I assumed we were finished, but thought I would ask and was given a peremptory dismissal.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Dear Amazon Kindle

My wife bought me a Kindle as a Christmas Gift last year .  I bought her a tablet for her birthday and she has downloaded the Kindle app to it and in a couple of weeks has already got a dozen books on it.  One of our children also has a kindle as does her husband.  We, and our daughter and her Husband have  hundreds of 'written' books and we regularly borrow books from each other.

Once we purchase a book we are pretty much free to do with them what we want, including lending to friends and family or giving them away!

The one thing, and it is the only thing that does bug me with my Kindle is, that if any of us in the family circle buy a book, unless we are prepared to borrow the device from the other family member, that's if they would allow us to borrow it, which even in my close family is doubtful and impracticable, we cannot 'borrow' the book to read and we then have to 'purchase it all over again'.

This is something that surely Amazon can resolve by setting up a separate section in the manage Kindle page where family members can be linked and books shared!

I look forward to your comments on this.


This is the reply that I received.  Now 10 out of 10 for the fairly quick response, but what they are effectively saying, unless I am reading it wrongly,  is, that if, as a family you are going to have multiple Kindles or you are going to download the app to your tablet or phone,  then you should register them under one user and of course that means one credit/bank account for all purchases!  Now I love my daughter and my wife but I refuse to pay for every single book that they might want to buy and I suspect that they would feel the same, and why should we.

They do say however, that, "we look forward to offering this feature in the future."  But, how long is a piece of string, so I find that part of the reply unsatisfactory.  I am no technophile, but I would have thought that this is something that they would be capable of putting into effect fairly easily, even if it was a simple case of the original purchaser of the book flagging it in the 'manage your kindle' area of the site with the name and email address of the family member who can access it on their device.  Amazon could then send a message to family member B stating that family member A has made one of their books available for transfer to their device, or am I just being to simplistic?

Hello Tom,

I understand your concern in this regard.

Lending of Kindle books is not yet available for Kindle or Kindle reading applications on Amazon.co.uk. We look forward to offering this feature in the future.

I am extremely sorry for the disappointment and inconvenience caused.

One of our aims is to provide a convenient and efficient service and I realise that we have not met that standard in this case. Please accept our apologies.

Customer feedback like yours helps us continue to improve the service and products we provide, and we are glad you took time to write to us. I have sent your comments to the business team.

Please feel free to forward further comments and suggestions about Kindle to kindle-feedback@amazon.co.uk . Each suggestion will be read and taken into consideration.

However, if you wish you can register multiple Kindle devices under your Amazon.co.uk account.

That means you can download and read your books on multiple Kindle devices as long you've registered each device to the Amazon.co.uk account where your Kindle library is stored. All available content will appear in the Archived Items of each device/app.

You can see all your Kindle content and send downloads to your registered Kindles or Kindle applications from the "Your Orders" section of the Manage Your Kindle page www.amazon.co.uk/manageyourkindle.

There is no limit on the number of times Kindle content can be downloaded to a registered Kindle device or application. Publishers determine how many copies of each title can be downloaded to different Kindle devices or applications at the same time so there may be limits on the number of devices (usually six) that can simultaneously have a single book or Kindle active content title. If the limit is less than six Kindles for a specific title, you'll see the message "Simultaneous Device usage: Up to X simultaneous devices, per publisher limits" on the website detail page. Currently Kindle subscriptions cannot be automatically delivered to the Home Screen of more than one device. You can download your Kindle subscription to another device from the Archived Items on that Kindle if both devices are registered to the same account.

The options for transferring content, and instructions for each option, are available in our Help pages here:


I hope this information helps.

Thank you for your interest in Kindle.

Did I solve your problem?

If yes, please click here:

If no please click here

To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our website: http://www.amazon.co.uk/help

Warmest regards,

Balaji B.
Your feedback is helping us build Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company.

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