Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What a Week Part Deux

Actually, after Monday, it started to get a bit better. Let's face it, it would be difficult for it to get worse. Though, (thinks off stage right) maybe that is no quite accurate.

Clint has been fabulous, and I really think that without him we might have fallen to bits. Clint, by dint of living no more than 75 metres away from us, has a tendency to arrive at about 7.30 in the morning, with an enormous cup of tea in his hand. He arrived on Tuesday Morning and I was still sitting around in my jimjams. Clint isn't perplexed by anything it seems. "Right", he said, " I think we'll get that door down and then they can take the Skip away. You are throwing this carpet away aren't you. It'll only get destroyed with all the plaster dust when I start plastering, and it will fit on the skip just perfect!"

You can see the logic, though I must admit that I had not actually given thought at that moment to the concept of replacing the lounge carpet. Oh, to hell with the carpet, you only stop working once, I hope, so there will be some lump sum money to pay for a new carpet ....... I hope.

Ever since we moved into the house we have been plagued by the door between the lounge and the dining room. These two huge pieces of wood and glass, one fixed and one which slides, depending on the phase of the moon and, whenever the patio door is open wafts in the slightest breeze making a booming noise reminiscent of Big Bertha in World War I.

We ripped it out. It took about three quarters of an hour, it nearly brought the wall down. There was plaster everywhere, but, Oh how good it felt to have the verdammtetur gone on the skip.

You don't know how liberating it is having a plastered in the house helping you to demolish walls and things. There were holes in the wall, plaster everywhere and both Clint and I looking like we had been in a snowstorm, and Clint just looked at it and said, "Right, have you ordered the new doors yet. We need to see how they are going in. Don't worry about the holes, they are easily fixed!"

The doors were actually being delivered that morning. When they arrived Clint went out to help carry them in, and I'm so glad he did as each door weighed a ton, or seemed to. Clint was so impressed that he decided that, contrary to the original plan, he would not install the new doors. He said that while he didn't mind fitting ordinary doors he was worried about spoiling these.

The doors had to be installed in the next three days, because Clint had to be able to plaster up to them. Have you ever tried to get hold of a carpenter at three days notice, without him wanting you to take out an extra mortgage to pay for his services. Well you don't know Clint. "Oh, leave it with me, I'll give Phil a ring, he'll call round this evening"

And he did!

Yes, he could install the doors, build a case to fit them in, create a new stud wall to fill in the gap that would be left behind, provide all the fixtures and fittings needed to install the doors. Would the day after tomorrow do? How much, amazingly little for a whole days very hard work! Let's put it this way, the mechanics at the Ford Garage down the road charge more to service my car than Phil the Carpenter charged.

And, by the end of the day, we had two whole walls skimmed and starting the slow process of drying out. Two lovely walls. All smooth and pink.

Maybe Hell isn't so bad after all!

But then, that was only Tuesday. More to follow on this story. I'll have to try and find you a picture!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Quelle Semaine (Part I)

Whoeeeee. What a week that was.

First, the backstory. Couple of weeks or a bit more ago, one rainy, rainy evening in June, your hero, Kev the Magnificent, was alone in the house with only a small Springer Spaniel puppy to keep him company. It was a wild and stormy night when he discovered that water was drip, drip, drippety drip, drip, dripping through the kitchen ceiling. With great aplomb our hero put a bucket under the drip. Next day, a phone call to the mighty Alf got a visit and some mastic tipped into the hole that had appeared in the roof.

The next day there was a new leak in the dining room. Two different leaks in two different parts of the flat roofed extension. Alf came out again and put some blue tarpaulin over the whole roof.

Over the following two weeks it quickly became apparent that, despite the blue tarpaulin, whenever it rained the rain came on an extended visit to the Dining Room. We begaan to get used to a life that featured buckets littered around the floor. Two weeks ago today, Paul the Stripper came to remove the wallpaper in the Living Room. Redecorating the Living Room has been in planning since before our Superhero fell down the stairs with such winning style and rupturing speed. All the paper was stripped off by the end of Tuesday th July. That gets us up to the start of the week from ............

drum roll at this point from the looney drummer who lives across the back lane and who gives us a virtuoso performance on the drums on every occasion when the sun shines.

from ....................................................... HELL

or at least Stevenage! (Don't ask, Danielle, I've gone INSANE. I cannot explain it either.)

So twas on the Monday Morning that the Plasterer came round,
with his trowel and his Float and his Merry Plasterer's Song.

Well, Clint arrived!

No, not Clint Eastwood, Clint the Plasterer and, YES, before you ask that really is his name.

Clint lives just across the Close from us and, when we decided that we wanted to replaster the Lounge, he was recommended to us by the quality of his work in other houses in the Close.

The week began by Clint inspecting the ceiling in the Dining Room and Kitchen and deciding that the best thing to do was to begin by pulling down what remained of the ceiling. So Pat, Me and the Doggie went off to live in the Summer House (It's really a big shed in the garden but Summer House sounds better.

We'd been sitting there about an hour when Clint popped out and said, "We have a bit of a problem. You have a couple of Wasps Nests in the Kitchen Ceiling and they were not best pleased when I pulled the ceiling down." The kitchen and Dining Room were now filled with very energetic wasps out to kill, or at least sting mightily.

I pointed out that there was no problem because we were covered by a special vermin insurance policy taken out with a local Utility Company.

So I rang them. I'll cut a very long, involved and aggravating period of time down to size. After a couple of hours of aggravation the Insurance Company told me that the Vermin Extermination Company could deal with my Wasp infestation on ..... Wednesday. So there we were, three of us and a Spaniel sitting in the rain, in the garden, while the House was occupied by a couple of swarms of mad wasps, and the extermination company were suggesting that they solve the problem by killing the little BEEs (sorry, Wasps) a couple of days later.

I think I will leave it to you to work out what I told them to do with their Insurance contract, but it involved folding it into a multi-pointed tesseract and sticking it somewhere interesting!

Clint, bless his soul, went off to the local builder's merchants and bought a paper suit and a can of wasp destroyer spray mousse (also sold as hair gel in a similar but subtly different can) and, after a merry chase obliterating the wasp nest. I feel sorry for the wasps, but not very sorry.

So Monday ended in a house with no ceiling in the kitchen or Dining Room and a leaky roof above the no ceiling, together with a faint smell of wasp destroying chemicals.

But at least it wasn't raining.


PAUSE


Sound of Thunder and Lightning right over head. Oh Bu****.

Pitter, patter, pitterpatterpitterpatter splosh! Drip


Drip



Drip



Tell you about the rest of the week tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Maps of Manchester - I quite fancy going to see this!

Saved from www.library.manchester.ac.uk quote link screenshot

Mapping Manchester: Cartographic Stories of the City

Historic Reading Room of John Rylands Library in Manchester
25 June 2009 to 17 January 2010

Maps can tell us many different stories about the places where we live and work. This exhibition shows how mapping is particularly ingrained into urban life; it demonstrates how maps work and how they have evolved over time - reflecting changes in technology, society and economic conditions.

Mapping Manchester explores the growth of the city, road networks and public transport, Manchester as the industrial powerhouse of the nineteenth century, the social geography of housing, changing moralities illustrated by statistical maps, and leisure mapping such as plans of Belle Vue - arguably the world's first theme park.

On display are maps, plans and photographs of Manchester published over the last two hundred and fifty years. These range from the first large-scale survey of the city, published in 1794, to a 2008 statistical map of binge-drinking hotspots.

This celebration of cartography and the city presents a unique opportunity to see highlights from the collections held by the University of Manchester alongside material generously loaned by Chetham's Library and Manchester City Library and Archives.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Jasper the Spaniel at 15 weeks old.

I finally managed to get the whole set of pictures uploaded onto Flicr. Something had gone wrong with the uploader so I had to wipe it off and reinstall. I'm sure Picasa works better than Flickr, but I don't think Danielle can use Picasa with her Mac, and I'm too lazy to upload pictures twice.

So here is the web address for my Flickr Account.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinwhall/

And here is another picture of Jasper just to keep you going.




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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Jasper at 15 weeks

I did not think that I would write about Puppy Jasper again, not until he was a good deal older anyway. Then I took my camera outside with me this morning and took some pictures. He has grown up so much in the last three weeks that I thought that I weould record this change in the blog. So here we go. Here is a picture of Jasper just three weeks ago at 12 weeks old.



I mean you can see that he's still a puppy. But look at him now.



You can really see the dog that he is going to grow into. I found this picture quite exciting.

I had a few other thoughts about the little so and so today as well. Especially when I found him merrily digging his way down through the rockery on his way to Australia. I am quite sure that he has his own agenda, but I wish I knew how to stop it. This evening, having rebuilt the rockery. (I did it standing up, very slowle, as I still cannot kneel down.) I discovered that he had dug a hole in the middle of the lawn. I say lawn but it is really a clover patch.

He manages to get up to naughty things every now and again. He is never going to sit on the chairs we said. Came into the room the other day and, yes,



At least he looks a bit guilty, wouldn't you say!

One last picture. He has loads of toys, but what does he get the most fun from? An old plant poy holder. But Oh does he have fun!




And he fills your days with joy.

Puppies leave paw prints on your heart

and on your kitchen floor, dining room floor, even the floor of the shower (and I haven't worked that one out !)

I'll try and upload all the 15 week pictures to Flickr. If I succeed I'll put a link to the page on the Blog!
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saved from news.bbc.co.uk quote link screenshot

Schools to rethink 'i before e'

Words
Some obey and some disobey (pic: wordle.net)

The spelling mantra "i before e except after c" is no longer worth teaching, according to the government.

Advice sent to teachers says there are too few words which follow the rule and recommends using more modern methods to teach spelling to schoolchildren.

The document, entitled Support for Spelling, is being distributed to more than 13,000 primary schools.

But some people believe the phrase should be retained because it is easy to remember and is broadly accurate.

Bethan Marshall, a senior English lecturer at King's College London, said: "It's a very easy rule to remember and one of the very few spelling rules that I can remember and that's why I would stick to it.

RHYME IN FULL
I before E except after C when the sound is EE
and sometimes followed by:
or when the sound is A as in neighbour and weigh

"If you change it and say we won't have this rule, we won't have any rules at all, then spelling, which is already terribly confusing, becomes more so."

Judy Parkinson, author of the best-selling book I Before E (Except After C), told the Daily Telegraph it was a phrase that struck a chord.

"There are words that it doesn't fit, but I think teachers could always get a discussion going about the 'i before e' rule and the peculiarities of the English language, and have fun with it. That's the best way to learn."

The guidance is being issued as part of the National Primary Strategy for under-11s.

Spelling bee
Spelling bees are very popular

It says: "The i before e rule is not worth teaching. It applies only to words in which the ie or ei stands for a clear ee sound. Unless this is known, words such as sufficient and veil look like exceptions.

"There are so few words where the ei spelling for the ee sounds follows the letter c that it is easier to learn the specific words." These include receive, ceiling, perceive and deceit.

The document recommends other ways to teach pupils spelling, like studying television listings for compound words, changing the tense of a poem to practise irregular verbs and learning about homophones through jokes such as "How many socks in a pair? None — because you eat a pear."

Some education experts have supported the government and questioned the effectiveness of the rule.

Jack Bovill, chairman of the Spelling Society, said words such as vein and neighbour made it a meaningless phrase.

"There are so many exceptions that it's not really a rule," he said.

He added that it would be helpful if spelling was allowed to evolve.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Parking problems

This comes under the heading of, "I found this and thought it might be of interest". This one I found on Google's Easter Eggs page. Go to Google.com, type Google Easter Eggs in the search box and click on the "I Feel Lucky" button.



Auto Antics

Think parking is tough where you live? In Westenbergstraat, Netherlands, drivers apparently have to park on the sides of walls (Google Earth coordinates 52.069207,4.3139865).

A Rainy Day in Olde Glossop

A panorama showing a rain cloud on the rightImage via Wikipedia

Oh boy did it rain yesterday evening! Despite the BBC Weather Service telling us that it was raining at 8 am yesterday morning (it wasn't - at that time we had the curtains closed to cut down on the sunlight!). Nothing stops the BBC Weather Service. Once they get it into their heads that it is raining, they keep on telling you that it is.) It did not rain all day, but about 9 pm I noticed that it seemed darker than it usually is at that time of day in this part of the year. The rain had started. I can only think that somebody had told God that the BBC had been predicting rain at this time, in this place and He decided to get straight with the BBC.

It rained and it rained and it rained. It was one of thhose rainstorms that you read about, you know, "Plixford, Lincolnshire gets the whole of its rain for 2008 in 7 minutes!". Actually, that is an exaggeration, we probably got all of our rain for an average 2 hours in 10 minutes - but it seemed a lot at the time.

I went into the kitchen to get a coffee - Pat was out being a Trefoil Leader (I think) - and I thought, "Why is the floor wet, has that damned puppy turned his drink bowl over again?" I am horrible am I not. You, dear reader, being an intelligent person, have worked it out faster than me. It was at that moment that I heard the "plink" of a drop of water dripping from the middle of the kitchen ceiling, onto the floor.

He looks up in horror. <> As you have guessed I saw the kitvchen ceiling ever so slightly bulging downwards. Two cracks run across the ceiling that was only replastered ten months ago. From the point of the dip in the ceiling, water is dripping!

Thinks, "Can we stop the ceiling coming down??"

I should be called Bob! I grab a bucket from the garage, grab a favoured paring knife (Long slim pointed blade!) and dig a hole in the ceiling just where the drip is coming from. Hey, don't knock it. The ceiling is still in place, there is now a stream of water coming from the ceiling that looks like the cold tap running. But the ceiling stays in place. It's just that it now features a large hole in the centre. No, I have not taken a picture, but I might!

Anyway, with a bit of luck our local Roofer, Alf, will come and have a look at it today. No doubt we are now going to have to buy a new roof for the kitchen extension, but, hey, what is life without the occasional mishap.
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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hobson Moor Road

So, let's start with what happened yesterday. Well, I went to Leyland. Russel & his Dad gave me a lift in their beautiful, ten year old Mercedes Classic. If you bought a ten year old Foord it would be a bit rattly to say the least, but this was a beautiful ride. Plenty of room for the leg, it was very nice.

We went to Leyland for a meeting where a group that I belong to were making a presentation, and it all went remarkably well. We were congratulated on our work and had a splendid time. So a really useful experience. Got home for about 6 pm. Pat had been to a Guide meeting in the Lake District and she got back maybe half an hour later. Jasper had spent the day with Alan and Val, their dog Barney, various cats and a lovely garden. We went to pick him up and he was so tired he just spent the rest of the evening asleep.

We blew a couple of weeks diet by having a Chinese meal from our local takeaway with a very pleasant bottle of White Wine. (It wasn't French I fear, Danielle, but it was very light, very pleasant and pretty perfect for a warm summer's evening.

Today has been another nice day. I went back to Church this morning for the first time since my accident. It was a shorter than usual service with no clergy at all, run by the people who had been on the Alpha Course. I enjoyed bits of it and other bits I didn't but then that is life.

I suppose that the biggest problem was that I wasn't really comfortable. I still cannot bend my leg more than about 20 degrees at the knee and if I push it more than that it does hurt. So I found it quite difficult to sit comfortably in the pew. It's really quite a good job that it was a shorter service as I might not have managed to sit still much longer. Maybe I should behave more like the little kids who believe that appropriate behaviour in Church is to run around screaming during prayers. Cynical, moi?

This afternoon we took Jasper for his first walk on Hobson Moor Road. It is only a couple of miles away from out house, it's nice and flat so I was able to manage with my sticks, and it has superb views. Because I was carrying the two sticks I only took a few pictures using a little pocket camera, so I'm not sure just how good they are. Here is a view, if I get manage to insert it.



If you look carefully, you can just see our Church, just to the right of the centre of the picture and about half way down. To be honest, you can't because the picture is so small, but I think that you can also find all of the pictures on Flickr and you can see a bigger copy of the picture there. It's quite funny. When you are down in the valley the Church really stands out on top of the hill, but from up there, on Hobson Moor Road, it is not so outstanding! Hmm. Interesting.

Here is a picture of a bit of the Road. It really is not all that impressive, but we rather like it and it makes a nice, and easy, walk for a puppy.




Which brings me back to the puppy. Jasper the Spaniel is now 14 weeks old. It is very easy to think that he has not grown since he first came to live with us, what, six weeks ago now. But he has grown a great deal. Unfortunately I did not measure him when he first came to see us, but the bed that he used to sleep in one corner of, is now full of Spaniel. And he is going to be big. Here is a picture of Jasper, today, at 14 weeks old.



So he had a good walk with the two of us, then I reached a point where I had gone far enough and Pat went on ahead. After about five minutes I saw the pair of them coming back, with jasper dragging Pat along. He still needs to know where we both are. Ah well. So here is the picture of Jasper towing pat towards me. You can't blame him, he's only a puppy! He doesn't know any better.



I ought to say that one reason why we like Hobson Moor Road so much is because it is nice and flat, and as such it was one of the places we took Rufus in his later years. He had his very last walk there on the last day of March in 2008. So bringing Jasper here somehow seems an appropriate thing to do. I'm ever so soft, am I not!

That will do for tonight. See you soon, maybe even tomorrow. You can find the rest of the pictures at the following address: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinwhall

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saved from www.barbados.org quote link screenshot

When I Am Old.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens,
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old
and start to wear purple!

Jenny Joseph
I love this one. It is really fun!
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Deepmemo

I found this today. I like Deepmemo - it is an application that allows you to clip pieces out of web sites and send them straight to your blog. I like it very much. You can find it at www.deepmemo.com but it does not work with Safari. So to get it to work on a Mac you would have to be using Firefox.
Saved from www.uvm.edu quote link screenshot
I grow old . . . I grow old . . .
                I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
And this quote comes from .................
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A Saturday in June

I seem to do this often. Turn on the laptop and look at the Blog and wonder why I've done nothing for, what, 6 weeks. This is just ludicrous because I actually like the Blog and regard it very much as a private diary. I thought thta sitting in enforced idleness for so long, with the leg, would allow me to do all sorts of things. Read those hundreds of books that are piled up, watch a miriad of films that are stacked on DVDs waiting to be watched. Certainly I would be writing the blog every day.

I've done none of it. I still have not read one book in the last six weeks. I've watched about half of the movies I wanted to watch, but not great movies, just tat. Well, that's the sort of Movies I like. I often read Danielle's Blog with its mix of eclectic this, that and the other, and wish that I was more like that. To add to the turmoil, I realise that once again I haven't kept up with the Blog.

Today I have too little time. I'm off to Leyland with a group of friends for the afternoon, my first real trip out since the accident. Pat has already left. She's has gone off the Ambleside for the Regional AGM of the Trefoil Guild. That's what you get for being County Chair of Trefoil, you get to go off the an AGM in distant misty Ambleside.

So puppy Jasper, who is now 14 weeks old but essentially looks the same as he did on Day Zero, is going to spend the day with a friend. He doesn't know it yet, but it is going to be an eye opener for him. Puppy Jasper is the reason that nothing else has got done. Until the last two weeks he could not go out, so he has had most of his exercise around the home, and that takes up one's attention.

Ah well, at least I've made a start on the recreation of the Blog. Hopefully I'll return to this tomorrow. We'll see.
Saved from www.google.co.uk quote link screenshot
We had a meeting at work yesterday, and it was the usual yada, yada, yada. We have a few problems that need to be addressed, but for the moment they are being solved with band-aid solutions. One person suggested fluorescent Post-it notes, someone else suggested white-out, I don't remember what some of the other suggestions were. We will try them and they will work for a while. It's just the usual growing pains, of course, but trial and error... However, at one point in the meeting I glanced across the boardroom table at one of my co-workers, and she was sound asleep. She was sitting up straight, her hands folded in front of her on the table -- asleep. It was all I could do to keep from laughing.

Today she said to me, "Did you happen to notice that I nodded off during the meeting yesterday?"

"Yes, it did not escape me entirely..."

Today I found ten excuses folks can use if they get caught sleeping at work:

1. "They told me at the blood bank this might happen."

2. "This is just a 15 minute power-nap like they raved about in the last time management course you sent me to."

3. "Whew! Guess I left the top off the liquid paper."

4. "I wasn't sleeping! I was meditating on the mission statement and envisioning a new paradigm!"

5. "This is one of the seven habits of highly effective people!"

6. "I was testing the keyboard for drool resistance."

7. "Actually I'm doing a "Stress Level Elimination Exercise Plan" (SLEEP). I learned it at the last mandatory seminar you made me attend."

8. "The coffee machine is broken."

9. "I was doing a highly specific Yoga exercise to relieve work related stress."

10. "Darn! Why did you interrupt me? I had almost figured out a solution to our biggest problem."

Number 4 is my favorite. Now it's late, and I'm off to get some sleep.
I found this snippet on a blog that I really enjoy, called "A majority of Two". I like the snippet, even though I suspect that it is not new. I wish I was as good at blogging as this person. Maybe I'm just lazy!
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Monday, May 4, 2009

Photographs

You'll find my Day Zero photographs are now on Flickr. The address of my Flickr Account is http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinwhall/

The Chronicles of Jasper, Day Zero

So here we are, ten minutes to five in the morning and here I am writing my blog. Well, I might as well. I have been up all night and it's now so late that it is just about Morning.

This is Jasper. I keep thinking that I just might start an entirely new blog and call it "The Chronicles of Jasper" but can I really keep two blogs going when I often seem to have a problem with one.

OK. Start with the back story. We had two amazing Spaniels called Rufus & Daisy. Daisy died two years and three days ago and Rufus died one year and thirty three days ago. For a long time we contemplated the fact that their deaths might mark the end of our dog owning years. Then, as the year following Rufus death went along we began to realise that we wanted another dog.

We missed out on two rehoming dogs, but that is another story. Then eight weeks ago we saw an advert on the Internet for some new puppies in Carnforth, not very far from the Auld Grey Town.

To cut a long story shorter, a long story that I will tell if I get round to starting Jasper's own blog, Jasper arrived yesterday morning. That's him in the photograph at the top of the page.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable day. Took a lot of photographs which I will put on Flickr when I get a chance. We have got a crate and decided that we were going to try Crate Training with Jasper, so we introduced him to his crate, just like the book says. While we had lunch, and later dinner, Jasper went in his crate. Both time he howled for five minutes and then settled down. That didn;t seem too bad. The problem came when we settled him down for sleeping at night. We put him in his crate, covered the crate with a blanket and went to bed. And Jasper began to cry, and cry and cry. The book says that you must ignore the crying, that you have to let him adapt, but I guess it was just too new or something. I could have lived with the howling, but our house is a semi and it was the idea that it was not just us that was being kepr awake by Jasper, but Grahame and Mavis next door as well. He howled steadily and without pause from 10.30 pm until 2.30 am.

At that point I had had enough. The book says that you must ignore the crying, or the dog has won. Well, if that is true I guess that Jasper has won, but we shall have to see. Personally, I think that it was a mistake to expect him to settle in on his first day with us. Poor lamb was lonely on his first day away from his mother and his litter. I think that we will just have to have another think about this. Maybe when Pat gets up in about three more hours, I can get a few hours of sleep to catch up, but lets face it, I'm not exactly doing a lot to get radically tired. I'll cope!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Another Week Older and Deeper in Debt!


That's our back garden and our Plum Tree full of Blossom. There was me in my last post being very negative about the chances of the blossom lasting. Usually the blossom come out and is washed away in a couple of days, but this year the weather has been remarkable really and very pleasant.

I went out on the Patio to take this picture despite dire warnings from Pat. She is quite right, the steps down from our Patio Door are quite steep, but with care I managed it, though I won't do it very often. Lovely to get outside the house, and quite stunning. Not just for the blossom, but the last time I was outside, just before my accident, there was not a great deal of green in the garden and now suddenly it all seems to be there. Still a lot of growing time for the plants, but that is OK.

So I went to the Hospital last Wednesday. When they said that they were going to take the stitches out of my operation scar, I assumed they would take the whole plaster off, but they didn't. Just a letter box shaped piece cut out of the knee of my cast. So the scar runs in a shallow S shaped curve from about 3 cm below the knee cap to about the same above it. Amazingly it was closed up with metal staples, I guess they use those all the time these days, but I would have thought it would be painful to have a cut in your skin stapled up, but it wasn't, and it didn't even hurt taking them out again. So they took out the staples, patched up the plaster with some more of the stuff and I was sent on my way rejoicing. Come back in 4 weeks and we'll see how you are doing.

So we went out for lunch at a lovely little Cafe on Woodseats lane in Charlesworth. Had a very nice Panini and a pudding and went home. They were very nice and got me a foot stool, but it still was less than comfortable. I guess that going out is really going to have to wait until my knee is better.

And that is really it. There is only so much that you get to do sitting in the house waiting for your knee to get better. I'm in the middle of my third book, though they are not anything to write home about, so I won't even mention their names. I've been watching a fair few DVDs as well, many of them recorded off the TV at a time when there was so much going on that I didn't have time to enjoy TV. My favourite so far is "John Adams" which was made by the American HBO Channel and shown here on Channel 4. The actors are brilliant and the story is subtle and gentle. Instead of trying to get a substantial story dealt with in two two hour shows they devoted seven disparately long episodes to this story. I really, really enjoyed it. I never really knew anything about John Adams, the Second President of the USA, but I have found his story to be enriching. Well done HBO!

And with that, I will leave you for a while. Hope none of you succumb to the Swine Flu pandemic!

See you soon, if we are spared!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April, Come She Will

I was just sitting there for a moment, trying to think about what to write. I said only yesterday that I was definitely going to put something on the blog every day, but sometimes I sit here and there is nothing I really want to say.

Then I just glanced out of the window for a moment and I realised what I could write. Here in Glossopdale we are well up the country, reet Northern, nehthen! And also quite high up in the air, living pretty much on the top of the hill. The last few days the weather has been gorgeous, with warm temperatures and lots of sun. Just the time to have a buggered up knee and get to sit indoors all the time.

Anyway, our next door neighbours have a plum tree in their front garden, we have one in the back garden but I cannot see our tree from where I sit. I suddenly realised that the tree has come into blossom and sitting here with the sun going down, it looks wonderful. Surely this is what the promise of Spring is all about.

It made me think, fleetingly, of the Simon & Garfunkel Song, so I did a quick Google search for the lyrics and here we go:

April come she will
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain;
May, she will stay,
Resting in my arms again.
June, she'll change her tune,
In restless walks she'll prowl the night;
July, she will fly
And give no warning to her flight.

August, die she must,
The autumn winds blow chilly and cold;
September I'll remember
A love once new has now grown old.

Rather poignant and apposite that. While I was writing about the blossom on the plum tree I realised that almost every year the blossom comes out and three days later we have storms, high winds and driving rain and after three glorious days all the blossom vanishes. My wife says that I'm a born misery guts. I always seem to be saying that the glass is half empty and the holiday is almost over before it is started. Maybe this year will be different. Who knows.

I'll report on the continuing medical condition from time to time. Not that any of you give a damn about me and my knee, but it's my blog so you can suffer.

I went out yesterday, me and my two NHS Elbow Crutches. I walked up the close as far as Wilf's House. Wilf lives in the house next to the house next to us, so I must have walked, ooooooooooooooo 40 feet (or about 12 metres for you continental types reading this. But what a sense of liberation, out of the house again, even if I was accompanied at every step by my lovely wife. She is determined that I won't make even more of a mess of my knee.

Then we managed to get me into her car, a lovely little Renault Clio called Poppy. Poppy is a three door car so the front door opens wider than it does on my car. With some hustling and bustling I got in, we went for a twenty minute car ride. Not the most comfortable way to travel, but suddenly I don't feel as if I'm going to be stuck indoors for evermore.

Spring is coming.

That makes me think of a little poem, often attrbuted to e.e.cummings, my favourite American poet. It is also attributed to Ogden Nash, but I don't think either of them actually wrote it. Does anyone know, or care????????

Here it is, a jolly little poem to finish the day.

Da Spring is sprung

Da grass is rizd

I wonder where de boidies is

Da boidies on da wing

But dat's absoid

I always toit

Da wings is on da boid.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pieces of Eight, Squawk.

This is really dreadful, isn't it. I haven't even looked at the Blog for ages and when I do, another two months have gone by without a posting. I'm fortunate in that so few people read this that they probably won't notice.

Don't have an excuse either, not really. I could say I've been too busy, but let's face it, being too busy is usually just a cop out for "I couldn't be bothered." I did look at the blog once or twice and think,"What can I write about?" then when nothing came to mind I did something else instead.

I think that I now have an extended period of time when the range of things that I can do has been vastly reduced, so the Blog may keep my Sanity together.

A week last Friday, Good Friday here in the UK, I did something remarkably silly that is going to have repercussions for several months.

We, Pat and I, had decided to redecorate the little front bedroom. Theoretically it is my study, but to be honest that is a misnomer. I call it the "Pigsty" which tells you a lot about how tidy I am. To decorate it, we have to remove all the books, hundreds and hundreds of books, and the bookcases, the computer and ADSL Router, The Filing Cabinets and so on. A huge job in itself. By tea time, most of the books were gone and I decided to take one of the fold away Oak Bookcases down and put it in the garage, out of the way. Pat told me not to be stupid and just put it in our bedroom, but I, (the man, you see, ((You know where this is going don't you!))) knew best.

I got down most of the staircase, but three steps from the bottom I felt my foot slide off the front of the step. I don't think I thought about anything, just reacted. I assume that I pushed the bookcase away from my now falling body to stop it falling on me, and instead I fell on the bookcase. When I stopped falling, and screaming (It seemed like a good idea to scream because something hurt badly) I decided first that I'd broken my leg, then I decided that my knee felt odd, so I thought that I'd dislocated my knee.

My wonderful wife grabbed the phone and dialled 999 for an ambulance. Meanwhile, I had rolled over and had sat up against the staircase - I told you, I'm a man, I'm stupid. However, I hadn't hit my head or my back and, rather curiously, nothing seemed to be hurting. My knee was aching but I thought that might be a twist or a sprain. The ambulance was there in less that 10 minutes and by that time I was already thinking that I was a fraud. My leg did'nt really hurt.

The paramedics got me sitting on the step, then they got me standing with all my weight on my right leg, the one that I hadn't hurt, then one of them said, "OK, let's try putting some weight on the other leg and see how bad it is. Dutifully, I put some weight onto my left leg and I went down like a sack of potatoes. There was no strength in my leg at all. Oooooooooooooops!

So I'll now cut the long story short. Off to Hospital in the back of an ambulance. Four hours in an assessment bay while various doctors came and prodded me at intervals. A very nice young Doctor called Nick, who looked old enough to be one of my pupils, told me that he thought I'd "broken" my Quadriceps Tendon and that was quite bad. He suggested an operation and said, "Would you like us to operate on you and put it right?" Now what would you say? I thought it was a bit of a no brainer but I asked what would be the result if I refused an operation. He smiled at me, "You wouldn't walk again!" See what I mean, at least he said it with a smile.

So I was admitted to Orthopaedics. I had an operation the following afternoon. They fitted me with a proper plaster cast three days later and sent me home after just six days in hospital.

The Consultant Surgeon, another very nice man, tells me that this is going to take time, lots of time. So I will be in plaster from my ankle to my naughty bits fot eight weeks. Oh yes, it turned out that I have not bust my Quadriceps Tendon, but "partly torn my Patellar Tendon", so it could actually have been worse, there is an awful lot of power in that Quadriceps Muscle and I rather think that you let that go at your peril.

Philip, the Vicar at my Church, popped in to the hospital on the day after my operation. Lovely to see him. In the course of our conversation he said, "Of course, you do realise that this is His way of telling you that you need to take a rest." This, of course, could well be right, but, why didn't He just send me a postcard.

Like I say, I hope that I'm going to have a lot of time to keep the Blog up to date in the next eight weeks or so. However, with a pot Leg on I cannot see me going very far at all! But we'll see. I might write a bit more this afternoon! See you then!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

And the winner is .............

I have to tell somebody, so I'll tell you all. (That's Danielle and just about nobody else in the entire world.)

We've just won the lottery! Yes, it's true, and if Patricia is reading this at the moment, we really have won. Honestly!

Ten Quid!

Ever since the lottery started we have bought a couple of tickets every Saturday. Then we check the numbers on a Saturday Evening and miss out. You can guarantee it that if we get 22 and 24 then 23 will come up. This afternoon we were looking at nice cars parked outside John Lewis' Incredible Store at Cheadle. I'd love a BMW, I've no idea why, maybe I want to pose as a poseur, who knows. So we keep saying that when we win the lottery I can have one, and a new computer and ............

We never win. But this week ...... On Thursday Night I won a litre of Johnnie Walker Red Label Whisky at Stanley House. (Admittedly I don't drink Whisky, but never mind, it's the thought that counts). So, last night we were out at a Valentine's Dinner in Whitfield (the other side of Glossop) and so I took the litre of Johnny Walker for their raffle. I won a bottle of Epernay's finest soft drink. You know the one Danielle, it comes in a green bottle, bubbles slightly when it comes out and it's manufactured by the Widow Cliquot's Heirs and Successors. Well, not the Widow's actually, in fact I don't recognise the label at all. But it does say Epernay. So hopefully it's a bit better than plain grape juice. And I do drink the big C!

Then we win ten quid on the lottery.

Maybe our luck is about to change.

Maybe we are going to win the Lottery BIGTIME.

Maybe .......................................

What's that OINK OINK OINK sound up in the sky.

Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it Superman..................................................................

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Retrospective

You'll recall that I wrote in an earlier post, a couple of weeks ago, that we had gone into Manchester on Saturday morning to see the new Gormley sculpture that had been aquired by the Manchester Art Gallery.

I took some photographs on the little, pocket Fuji Camera and I'm really glad that I didn't go swanning round with the new DSLR hanging round my neck. I'd have looked like a proper little plonker.

Still, I haven't got around to looking at the pictures that I took until today. So I have just spent half an hour working on them in the photo application.

Everyone goes on about Photoshop, but I use a program called Photo Plus 2 by Serif. I can't really see that I cannot do anything that I want with my photos, and for a fraction of the cost of Adobe's product.

Anyway, the first picture here was quite interesting. We always park in a car park at the back of Victoria Station. I think it is on Cross Street, opposite the Coop Buildings. We walked in towards St Anne's Square, across the new Square they have made outside the Corn Exchange. There was a bloke with a young boy taking photos. The adult was obviously showing the lad how to get a good picture, so when he'd moved on, I took a picture from the same place. I'm really quite pleased with it. Remember I am strictly an amateur snapshot taker, and I think that this is pretty neat.

Now, I thought that I would put two or three photos in here, but I'm struggling to get them scattered up and down the page. I still don't know how to get blogger to do what I want, so I'll stop right there and upload the pictures to my Flickr Account. They are also on my Picasa Account, but I prefer to use Flickr because people like Danielle, who insist on using Macs don't seem to be able to see Picasa (Or is it just D with her dislike of all things Google?) (She'll send me an email telling me why I'm wrong now, just you wait and see.)

So here I am going to put a link to the Flickr page. Try this and let us hope that it works

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinwhall/

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tautology and Teleology

Hmmm.

I thought that these two words were similar, but they are nothing like each other. The word I wanted was tautology. That means:

tautology is an unnecessary or unessential (and usually unintentional) repetition of meaning, using different and dissimilar words that effectively say the same thing twice (often originally from different languages). It is often regarded or thought of as a fault of style and was defined by Fowler as "saying the same thing twice".


Whereas teleology, which I seem to have spelled wrongly, means:

an argument for the existence of God or a creator based on perceived evidence of order, purpose, design, or direction — or some combination of these — in nature. The word "teleological" is derived from the Greek word telos, meaning "end" or "purpose".



So nothing at all alike, then. Never mind, they say that a daily advancement in knowledge is good for you! Well, it's good for me!

Learning Day

I do feel ever so guilty really. Haven't written a thing in the blog since last Sunday. I did have a chance to write on Monday Evening, but I couldn't think of anything to say, and since I often think it's better to say nothing than write a load of drivel, I wrote nothing. Don't worry, by the way, I may be at work, but it's still before the start of the working day and I have a few minutes to myself, so I'll use them.

Yesterday was a "Learning Day". I'm sure that must be a tautology or a teliology or something. Isn't every day in a school a Learning Day, because it ought to be. However, our Learning Days are supposed to be something a bit different.

It seems that the current idea in education in England is that teaching "old fashioned" subjects such as History, or Geography, are old hat and ought to be done away with. The new trend is to do "project work" which I think I was doing at Junior School (or was it Primary or Elementary School - I forget the changing terms for the same thing) but of course the movers and shakers in 21st Century education don't remember that.

The School that I work in was built in the early 1950s and is a really beautiful school. It has a huge entrance hall, a vast Assembly Hall with a full sized theatrical stage, wide corridors and solid wood floors. In a couple of years it is to be pulled down to make way for a new 21st Century School. When the plans to do this were first produced one of our local politicians was heard to say, "I don't care if it has a medal from the Royal Society of Architects, that was 50 years ago, we want something that can inspire in the 21st Century." With thinking like that I can only say, "God Help Michealangelo Buonarotti and Leonardo da Vinci - they were 500 years ago"

So school will probably be pulled down and replaced by a glass and breeze block school which will have narrow, harsh corridors but which will inspire minds in the 21st Century!

Anyway, back to Learning Day. We had three classes, one each from years 7, 8 & 9, so 90 girls across the 11 - 14 age range. Split into teams of 3, one from each age group, each team was given a name out of history (the names ranged across history from good old Guillaume le Conquerant to John Lennon. An eclectic mix if ever there was one. The project group was from the History, ICT and Music Departments.

So the students were asked to work together as a team, each of them having a specific role within the team. They were asked to plan their work, gather resources, create a suitable slideshow using Microsoft Moviemaker and present it to the group. Their movie had to have pictures, a narrative, suitable background music and a speech track overlayed, and it had to be 3 minutes long.

That's actually hard work, three minutes is a long time. We showed them an example that we based on one of Terry Deary's "Horrible History" CD's. The one on the Tudors. It's very funny and has the refrain

Henry the Eighth was a big fat man
He ate all the food in the frying pan
If he'd have been a little bit littler
He wouldn't have ended up like Adolph Hitler


I know. Not excactly Shakespeare, but it is pretty funny and it gave them the idea that they were allowed to be entertaining with their work.

We had a really good day, or at least I thought that we did. Everyone worked really pretty hard at it and there were some very good results. Oh, I forgot to say that the students were asked to produce a resource for use by Year 7, 11 year olds, and the results, on the whole, did that job well. Yes, we got some oddities, like the group who consistently referred to the hero of Trafalgar as "Nelson Horatio". That tells you a lot about the value placed on History by the modern education system. When MP's find out that modern British students don't know who Horatio Nelson was, they will scream blue murder and demand that History is taught properly. (By properly they usually mean lists of names and dates). Nothing changes though. History doesn't matter in Britain these days. I've probably mentioned before that only two countries in Europe do not insist that all students study History to the age of 16, those two countries are Britain and Albania. It's so nice to be in such august company. Still, let us remember George Santayana, who, in his book "Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1," wrote the often misquoted words "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Not that that ever seems to bother politicians, or bankers for that matter, and I did say BANKERS.

Okay then, off to teach. Those who can, teach, those who cannot teach go into politics and tell the teachers what to do! Sayonara!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Get Funky

Here is an entertaining looking website for those who like playing about with pictures. I'll bet that it doesn't work on Macs though.

http://www.befunky.com/

Bookcases



This is one of the pictures that is part of the "Hidden Manchester" Exhibition at URBIS in Manchester. This picture, along with all of the other ones in this exhibition is the work of Andrew Brooks. You can see more of his work at the following website: http://www.andrewbrooksphotography.com. I cannot recommend this exhibition too highly and, if you live in Manchester, go and see it. If you don't live in Manchester, then have a look at the website.

I went to see the exhibition a week ago. I was blown away by the photographs in general, but I find that this one, in particular, keeps forcing itself back to the forefront of my attention.

The information that goes with this picture reads as follows:

In the eastern spire of the Town Hall, overlooking Saint Peter’s Square, a battered pair of shelves holds the forgotten records of Manchester’s bureaucratic past.

As sunlight streams in from the hidden courtyard outside, these books lie and rot, slowly turning to dust as they see in their third century. Whether put here to be secured, or put here to be hidden, their contents, that must have at one time seemed so important, are now merely a curiosity in a forgotten corner of the city.

I think that it must be this mysterious side of things that appeals to me. Whenever I go to a "stately" home, or a Cathedral or somewhere like Manchester Town Hall, (and I have not actually visited Manchester Town Hall despite the fact that I've lived here since 1969, a lot longer than I lived in Kendal, my home town.) I always want to go through the doors that are, inevitably locked and equally inevitably marked "Strictly Staff Only"

As a matter of fact I did once get the chance to go through a locked door exactly as I describe above. It was while I was visiting an old place in the Lake District. I asked one of the Guides what was on the other side of a particular locked door and he let me look. There was no floor! So sometimes I guess that it is a good thing that you cannot always get through these doors.

Anyway, to get back to the point, what fascinates me is the fact that, somewhere in Manchester Town Hall is a door, leading to a steep set of rickety old wooden stairs leading to this room. I mean, look at the picture. Here is a huge room full of the dust of ages and these two rickety (must be a favourite word) old sets of shelves full of crumbling old books of documents. Don't you just want to pull the books off those shelves and read them, 'cos I most assuredly do.

And look at all those windows running floor to ceiling. The room is full of light, unless it's one of Andrew Brooks' trick photos. I want to walk up to those windows and look down. In the exhibition there are pictures of the hidden courtyard in the centre of the Town Hall. I mean, I didn't even realise that there was a hidden courtyard. In the exhibition all of the pictures show places that people like you and me never get to go, and I want to.

It also leaves me wondering if Mr Brooks sneaked into this room to take this photograph, or was he allowed in to take the photo in this hidden place. I mean, how many people in Manchester actually know about these secret, hidden places.

As I say, I desperately want to go and see these places, but I realise that I probably never will. I've looked at a couple of websites that talk about "Urban Explorers" but they are all young and fit and have names like Jazz and Bazz and Shazz. Something tells me that a 58 year old History Teacher who is fat, bald and called Kevin is never going to get the chance to go urban exploring. But I can dream.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Matter of Logic

I wrote a bit about my faith the other day. My friend Danielle wrote me an email after reading it, part of which reads as follows. Bear in mind that this is only a little of her email and it is taken out of context. Danielle wrote,"I don't know about England but in France, the churches are almost empty, and the last Christians who go to mass on Sundays are oldies. Which means that catholicism might soon or later disappear. Protestants are not a great many, and apparently, apart from the great ceremonies, temples are not full either.. Which seems to demonstrate that there is a crisis."

I won't dispute that at all. Back in the 1960s I was a Church Choirboy and every Sunday there would be two or three services and the Church, Kendal Holy Trinity (which is a big church) was full. But that was in the days when there was nothing else to do on a Sunday. The boozers had very limited opening hours. The only TV Channels didn't start till 7 at night. No shops, none at all, were open.

Over the intervening years all that has changed. We now have 24 hour a day boozing in pubs that never close. The TV is never off and the shops are open every day of the week. So we all worship the great god mamon by going shopping.

As a result, the churches are, as Danielle says, empty. The Church that I attend now has a regular congregation of about 90 for the one and only service that is held on a Sunday. Numbers are really on the decline, and maybe we are seeing the beginning of the end of religion as it has been in this country for hundreds of years.

I don't think that it is necessarily so, or at least I hope not.

Then, almost on the same day that I got that email from Danielle I found the following. I am currently reading a Science Fiction Novel, and military Sci-Fi at that. In this rather strange place, lying in bed reading my novel, I read the following.

"Staynair laughed softly. "It isn't a matter of faith, it's a matter of logic. Either God exists or he doesn't. Those are really the only two possibilities. If he does exist, as I believe, then ultimately anything that promotes truth will only tend to demonstrate His existence. If he exists then whatever happens will be what he chooses to allow to happen - even if what he chooses is to have mankind turn against him, for a time."

"And what if he doesn't exist?", Merlin asked quietly.

"If he doesn't, then he doesn't. But if he doesn't then none of it will matter anyway, will it? If it turns out that I've been wrong all my life, what have I really lost? I will have done my best to live as a good man, loving people, serving them as I might, and if there is no God, then at the end of my life I'll simply close my eyes and sleep. Is there truly anything dreadful, anything to terrify any man, in that possibility? I don't fear oblivion, I simply hope for, and believe in so much more."

This is back to me again. I have edited that passage but only very slightly and only to remove a few things that were not germane to this posting.

I thought it was amazing that, just at the point when I needed an answer to a philosophic question, an answer popped up in the most unlikely of places. Strange!

I will admit that I think that passage is rather appropriate. I found it, personally, very satisfying. I think that it kind of speaks for me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wednesday

I'm going out in a minute or fifteen and I've been sitting here trying to think of something to write. After not posting anything for about three months I am trying to posrt something every day. I didn't get a chance in work today, just too much work, and I'm out in a bit. So this is really just a short post to keep me going.

Isn't that miserable.

Tomorrow will be worse as I have even less time.

Makes me think. I read a lovely novel a few years ago. It is called "The Dark Is Rising" by one Susan Cooper and it belongs to the genre of fantasy. I remember it because it's quite a convoluted story about a young boy who effectively travels in time. I remember it because it features a line "For tonight will be bad and tomorrow will be beyond imagining." Of course, being teenage fiction it never lives up to its promise. No that sounds horrible. There are a lot of brilliant books in that genre and The dark is Rising is actually pretty good, certainly a page turner for me. They made a film of it the other year and I watched it on Sky over Christmas.

Total Mess. I wish they had left it alone.

See you all tomorrow, if we are spared!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Walking in the Way

Okay, I'll start with a bit of a declaration, then you can ignore this post if it makes you uncomfortable. I plan to talk about religion or faith, tonight. So if you don't want to read about that or pretend that I never said any of this, come back tomorrow and see if I've talked about something else in the meantime.

It seems to be a bad week for being a Christian, this week. I've no idea why this might be the case, but I'm beginning to feel that way.

So as a starting point, I'd better put my cards on the table. I'm a Christian. There, I've said it. I don't see myself as being a red hot Christian. I'm not a fundamentalist. I don't even have a fish on the back of my car. I go to Church most weeks and I love the feeling of reverence that I get when I'm in Church. I'm not good at praying so I usually end up having a chat with God when I get the chance. I just hope that He is listening, and I'm assured that He is.

I sometimes lie there in those bleak, lonely hours in the middle of the night and wonder if I've got it wrong. Maybe there is no God, maybe the whole thing is one huge cosmic joke. But I just don't believe that at all. I really do believe in God and, with a bit of luck, s(he) believes in me. I also rather like the reassurance that while I am not that clever, there have been, and are, a whole host of very much cleverer people than me who also believe(d) in God, so I guess I'm not in bad company. I'll cite people like Miles Coverdale, Desmond Tutu, Thomas More, Thomas Cranmer, Bishops Latimer and Ridley, Archbishop John Sentamu and Martin Luther. So if I have got it wrong, then I'm not on my own.

But it isn't cool to be a Christian is it. You hear Meeja People on the Babble Box sniggering about people who are Christians. I rather object to that, after all, I don't snigger about them!

Somehow, my bad week for being a Christian seemed to start on Sunday when I was watching Andrew Marr's political show. I usually like him as he talks sense most of the time. On Sunday he was talking to Sir David Attenborough about Darwin and Natural Selection. At one point he asked Attenborough if Natural Selection finally disproved the existence of God and then, in a sort of throw away remark, he said something like "or perhaps it allows for wormholes to faith." I won't pretend to understand the point that the pair of them were making, but I rather resent the implication that all truly clever people don't believe in God, but worms might.

Okay, I'm a worm! Proud of it by the way!

Tonight I was watching "The One Show" which for those of you French People who aren't reading this, is a lightweight magazine program which is on at 7pm on weekday nights. Tonight the guest was Robert Winston who is a well known scientist working in the fields of Gynaecology and such like things.

At one point in the programme they ran a piece about declining Church Attendance in the UK and made a point that lots of people seem to be embarrassed to admit to being Christian, or believing in God. They did a VoxPop and seemed to decide that there were a lot of people who admitted to believing in God but not wanting to go to Church. Fair Dos - it's a free Universe. Anyway, back in the studio the conversation got around to Richard Dawkins, the Scientist who pours scorn of anyone with faith. He wrote a book called "The God Delusion". A best seller.

I thought that Winston might agree with Dawkins, but he didn't. He said that Science was really only one interpretation of life, the universe and everything. He also said that he was pretty sure that scientists were beginning to admit that religion or faith might well be "hardwired into our genes" and had been for hundreds of thousands of years. Doesn't mean that I'm in any better position vis a vis Dawkins, but it made me feel a touch better.

I'm not any sort of scientist but I do quite like reading scientisty books, as long as they are not too technical. I read the description of The Big Bang in Bill Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything - which is based on more technical sciencey books. I really don't see a lot od difference between the creation story in Genesis and the description of the Big Bang in Bryson.

Is anyone absolutely certain that God did not "push the button" that started the Big Bang.

I'm not a creationist. I do not deny Darwin or Natural Selection. But I am yet to be convinced that God does not have a hand in the way that the world works.

Okay, you canlaugh at me, but to quote the original Martin Luther, "Here I stand, I can do no other!"

Except, of course, that he said it in German.

Nighty Night.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Living in the Arctic Circle

Once upon a time I lived in North Derbyshire, but tonight I returned home (Yes fans, I got home safe) to find that my house has magically moved to just inside the Arctic Circle, probably on Spitzbergen.

Parked on the drive, got out of the car, opened the front door and turned around in time to watch my car slide down the drive and bump into Pats Clio.

So the car is now parked at the top of the drive. Bugger the next door neighbours tonight. So they cannot get on their drive. They never think about us.

I do love sitting in the warm inside, watching the cold, cold snow falling outside. But how do I get to work tomorrow if this keeps up. I'll have to wait till tomorrow to find that out, and so will you.

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow

You know, it never ceases to amaze me. In the UK a bit of snow seems to close the country down. Up in Norway, Sweden and Finland the same amount of snow that we've had today would be cause for a good giggle. I understand that the Inuit have five hundred words for snow (I am exaggerating!!!). So here I am sitting in front of my year 8 class. We are now up to about 80% attendance 45 minutes into the lesson, and these students have mostly travelled less than 5 miles (8 km for you Danielle). They were supposed to be here by 8.30 but, because of the snow, today it has taken an extra hour.

I must say that I watched the news last night with trepidation. News of massive amounts of snow coming over to England from Russia. It was clearly particularly bad because it was going to hit the South East of England and London. We get this amount of snow fairly regularly oop North, but when it affects London the BBC seems to believe that the end of the world is nigh. So we knew, in advance, that there was going to be "heavy snow". They even put out a "SEVERE WEATHER WARNING" from the Meteorological Office to say how heavy the snow was going to be.

So when I got up this morning I looked out the window and there it was, exceptionally heavy snow. It must have been at least, ooooooooh, 3 cm deep. I have to drive up a hill to get out of our road and, since we traded in our bigger, heavier Ford Focus for a more economical but smaller and lighter Fiesta, it has been noticeable harder to get out of the Road when it snows. To get to work I decided I needed to leave early, so I set off on my interepid adventure a quarter hour early.

I should not have bothered! I got out of the Road with a little slipping and sliding, but once on the main road things were a lot clearer. So I'm in School by 7.20. By 8.30 when we are due to open there are still 14 staff missing and hundreds of girls. Apparently the buses are having problems, they can't get from Ashton to Droylsden, but I drove through Ashton on my way in. So my little Fiesta can make it, but the buses cannot.

Makes you think, doesn't it. maybe I should have gone back to bed. The problem will be getting home as the bad weather is due to come back again.

Tonight I must write up the Minutes from the last PCC Meeting at Church, I'm Secretary of the PCC, but I'll find time to let you know whether I got home, or not!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Matthew Shardlake Rocks!

I don't usually write about the books I read, the films I watch or the Music that I listen to. I don't pretend to know anything about literary criticism or any other sort either. I belong to that class of people who know what they like.

I like Matthew Shardlake.

Matthew Shardlake is a lawyer at Lincoln's Inn in the England of Henry VIII. He lives in a series of books by C. J. Sansom, and I believe that Mr Sansom is a god!

I think that Mr Sansom must have been writing these books for a considerable time now, but I came upon them much more recently.

I first came upon Matthew in the book "Dissolution" when he was sent to investigate some curious happenings at Scarnsea Monastery by Thomas Cromwell. I don't know how often I pick up a book only to be ultimately disappointed by it, but from the moment that I turned the first page, I was hooked by Matthew Shardlake and his world.

My next visit to Matthew Shardlake's world found him at home in London in the book "Dark Fire", investigating the rumours of Greek Fire being sold to somebody, by somebody else. This time he has help in the person of the redoubtable Jack Barak, a kind of 16th Century James Bond without the gadgets.

I'm currently three quarters of the way through the third of Matthew's adventures. "Sovereign" is set in York during Henry VIII's Great Progress in the North. This time the story revolves around strange goings on in royal circles.

These books are complex, involved, full of twists and turns. I like a good thriller, but I usually have a good idea who has done what by the halfway point. I don't have that feeling with Matthew Shardlake. He isn't the most sympathetic of characters. The hunchback lawyer who seems to be despised by everyone in power, but his humanity is palpable, his intelligence remarkable.

I am very happy to say that I have the fourth book, "Revelation" sitting under the coffee table waiting to be read, just as soon as I finish "Sovereign". And with a bit of luck Matthew Shardlake's creator is thinking up another 600 page turner, just for me!

Automatic Comments

I wrote a piece, below, about the new President of the U.S.' Inauguaration Speech and received a comment. I've said before that I don't get many comments, so I was quite excited. Sad, aren't I. When I read the comment from someone called mberenis I discovered that it had nothing whatsoever to do with what I had written. It was just some electronic crawl that the President will never read, and I assume that it was an automatically generated comment which resulted from me using the word Obama in the heading of my post.

Well, just to say, if you ever read this
mberenis, your comment was not appreciated. Stay away!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Obama's Speech

I read the following in my NetUser Computer Magazine.

Last week, in his Inaugural Address, President Obama said, "To those who cling to power through deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history."

Apparently this part of President Obama's address was excluded by many websites in China.

I have only one comment to make. Shame on you, China. If you want to be part of the modern world, you have to live with the modern world, not try to pretend that the world is really the way you wish that it was.

Gormley


Went to see the new Anthony Gormley piece in Manchester Art gallery, I didn't realise that they had bought it. It hangs in the air right at the top of the atrium. Made of mild stell hula hoops, it's life size and is full of air, and a heart. I'll try to edit some more photos of Kevin and Patricia go to Manchester tomorrow. Right now I'm going to watch Teevee with my darling wife, I just cannot stand the excitement of writing in my blog three days running!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Here is something that looks like fun

Just read an article in Computeractive Magazine. I love it, lots of news and its not expensive like most techie computer mags. Anyway, I found a link to this web based application called "Wordle".

Wordle does "Word Clouds" that look like this and I think it is pretty damned neat.

Here is the link www.wordle.net

This is what it does


By the way, this isn't mine, just an example that I copied from the Gallery. But I will certainly have a go with it at some future time. It really looks like fun.

Hidden Manchester




I watched a short program on the BBC last week. "Inside Out" is a magazine programme done by BBC North West and usually features bits and bobs about the North West. Usually I avoid it like the plague. Last week I spotted this little piece about Underground Manchester - so I recorded it on Sky+.

I have known about the Secret Telephone Exchange under Piccadilly Gardens for doneys years, but this piece on Hidden Manchester really amazed me. The best bit was about a place called "Victoria Arches" which must be around Victoria Station. Apparently it was build in the 1830's to support a new road into Manchester. So underground is this unbelievably huge open space, but you cannot get into it. They didn't show any external shots of entrances, presumably to keep the hoi polloi out.

During World War II Victoria Arches was used as a major Air Raid Shelter for Manchester. They showed one of the Gents Toilets. Huge. But after the war it must have been closed up again. It's silly really, it could be a real tourist attraction if only someone in Manchester had the foresight. I've been to Stockport's Air Raid Shelters with the kids today, and they attract a lot of visitors. So why shouldn't something similar in Manchester do the same.

Anyway, now, thanks to my friend Dianne, you can have a look as well. I mentioned, on facebook, that Pat and I are going into Manchester tomorrow to see the new Anthony Gormley statue in the Museum. He's the bloke who did the standing statues on Crosby Beach. This looks positively amazing on the tele. Diane replied with a message about the Underground Manchester exhibition at Urbis. She gave me the web address so I'll share it with you - Have a look at this:

http://www.urbis.org.uk/page.asp?id=3282

My comment to Diane was "These are exceptional aren't they. There was a 10 minute piece about these piccies on "Inside Out" on the Beeb, just over a week ago. I watched it. This bloke, Andrew Paul Brooks, took the photos by wandering about these hidden spaces with a flash gun. By triggering the camera remotely he built up hundreds of photos and then overlayed them over each other using something like Photoshop. Some of these photos are phenomenal. I might try to coax Pat to go to Urbis as well tomorrow morning to see this exhibition.

Just as an experiment, I've put the address of this blog onto my Facebook Page, so it will be interesting to see if anyone from Facebook has a look at the blog. I'm fed up of the idea of writing a blog that is only for me and Danielle to read. We shall see.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

OMG

OMG

I discovered from one of my friends on Facebook that this means "Oh My God" which I should have worked out on my own. Thatnks DMG if you should ever happen to read this. maybe I should put the address of this blog on facebook and let the cognoscienti read it. Now there is a thought!

I didn't think it was so long since I last wrote on this, but then It is. Oh dear. I'm just not doing any of the things that I really like doing at the moment, so I'd better get my act together again, hadn't I.

Today. Today we had a presentation from the new Principal of the new Academy that our school is going to turn into at the end of Summer. Our new Principal is an interesting bloke, who looks deeply scary at the moment. He looks several things as well as scary, but I have a feeling that he might actually be good for the school, in a scary sort of way.

The bad new is that his Curriculum Plan for the Academy does not appear to have any room for History in it, though I am prepared to wait and see. maybe when he gets a chance to explain things we might discover that History is still there, but disguised. I don't really see why I am so upset as I won't be there for very much longer really, at fifty seven (soon to be eight) I am within leaping distance of retirement. Who knows.

I discovered, a few years ago, that there are just two countries in Europe where History is not a required subject in some form for all students up to 16. The two countries where it isn't required are Albania and the good old United Kingdom. Sob, it makes me so proud to belong to a plonking country that wants to forget its heritage.

Anyway, we shall see as we go along what the future brings.

I'll be sure to keep you up to date.