Saturday, August 30, 2008

Barking mad or Rocky is innocent ok?

Barking mad or Rocky is innocent ok?

Link to the story

[fannie and freddie] the couple who might bring it all down

The WSJ had this to say about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:

In Henry M. Paulson's first month as Treasury secretary, two deputies flagged Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as significant risks to the economy. He didn't share their level of concern. When he was at Goldman Sachs, he told the aides, the mortgage giants weren't on the list of things that kept him up at night.

Two years later, they're at the top of his list. Mr. Paulson is embroiled in emergency planning on ways to shore up the companies to avert a destabilizing jolt to the U.S. economy and the world's financial system.

Moving obliquely from the big crash, it makes one think about whether to own property or whether to rent and take your chances.

Methinks it is going to be increasingly the case that more and more people will be keeping their assets, such as they are, as cash. Advice is to put it in commodities but the average Jo can't do these things.

I wonder how much my own current situation is the worst available option. Looks like it at the moment but mobility might become a key factor in a few years or even earlier.

Brick Bridge over Beverley and Barmston Drain

Brick Bridge over Beverley and Barmston Drain

It's along this embankment where you can find the blackberries if the council has not destroyed most of the brambles in its slash and burn policy. In my view there is no difference between council workers and vandals. Those brambles that you can see on the bridge on the last photo have now been destroyed by council workmen.

All photos subjected to Creative Commons Licence.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Beverley and Barmston Drain Blackberry Jam 2008

A unique product from the kitchens of JHL.

Step 1 – Out with Mrs. Beeton’s Cookbook and a cursory glance to brush up after last year’s effort.

Preserves [Jam-making]

“The fruits from which jams are made vary in their content of sugar, acid and pectin [a natural gum like substance]. All three of these make an essential contribution to the set and finished results.”

* Fruits very easy to make into well-set jam include apples, blackcurrants, damsons, gooseberries, plums, redcurrants.

* Fruits of medium setting quality include apricots blackberries, raspberries, and loganberries

* Fruits of poor setting quality include cherries , strawberries.

Blackberry jam

3 pound blackberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 lb sugar

Place berries in pan with lemon juice and simmer gently until the fruit is cooked and well softened. Add the sugar and stir over a low heat until dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly until setting point is reached. Skim. Pour into hot, dry jars. Cover. Yield – 5lb.

Step 2 – Pans, scales, sugar, berries jars, chef and chief bottle washer at the ready and JHL is away. In with the berries and sugar, the required flame beneath, checks with the special jam thermometer and things are bubbling. Tension mounts as the temperature crept towards the magic 220 Fahrenheit, along with a bare minimum of salty language, the heated bottles at the ready, great tension, the temperature comes up and the pan is lifted from the stove.

Plop, slop – the jam goes in but there’s something wrong – too thin, clearly the fault of the bottle-washer as he wasn’t around for last year’s masterpieces. [The definition of a masterpiece is when you can turn the jar upside down and nothing falls out.] At this point the smoke alarm goes off, which requires the bottle-washer rushing into the dining room with the broom handle to push the button on the ceiling.

Step 3 – Retire to the living room with cups of tea and start the post-mortem. Maybe best to re-check Mrs. Beeton’s. Oh, b—ger. Should have put the fruit in first and softened it.

Not to worry.

Step 4 – Second batch and this one is slick and professional. Bottles at the ready, jam bubbling, temperature reached, pan off the stove and a warmed pyrex measuring jug used to slop it into the jars, bottle-washer following up with the cloth, wiping the bottoms clean [of the jars] – all well.

Step 5 – Jars placed in refrigerator, JHL reflecting that there’s far less swearing in this kitchen than in Gordon Ramsay’s.

However, this was not the case when that journalist was here. For a fuller and more balanced account, read this and scratch your head.

Step 6 – Take Rocky for a walk and get more sugar from Tesco. Finish first half of pork pie and then get ready for Round 3 – The Master Round.

Everything goes like clockwork this time, jars ready, sugar in at the right time, thermometer registering that this jam is on song, as per the video and there we finally are – bottled and settling in to its new home already.

Ice-cream with hot blackberry jam sauce - extremely yummy!


Name: __________________________________

Address: ________________________________

Sexual orientation: ________________________

£1.75 per jar via email or you can enter the Great Jam Contest. Simply complete the above form, send a pic of your own favourite jar of jam and the winning entry will be sent one of these unique offerings asap.

[interim report] hopes and expectations

Have to admit I was hopeful of one reply in particular when I logged on at the library just now. It wasn't there and that was mortifying. Perhaps it was all an illusion, perhaps it was real, I don't know. One of our fellow bloggers did write and there might be a blogger meet-up tomorrow.

Another tireless lady helped with some excellent links and they are definitely worth pursuing. John is long suffering at his end and today cooked up the best bacon butties imaginable.

Bit down just now but it might be better by the evening. Hope your Friday is good. They just warned they're logging me off now. Bye.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

[lovely pic] my contribution to the fad

OK, everyone's posting beautiful pics of animals so here's my contribution above.

And don't forget the latest news through a few minutes ago - someone is trying to assassinate Gordon Brown. Not exactly relevant but thought I'd put it in anyway.

OK - tea's up.

[sarajevo,1914] you'd think they'd change the script

Mikhail A Molchanov, professor of political science at St Thomas University, Canada writes:
During the whole Boris Yeltsin decade, Russia's foreign policy did not significantly deviate from the master plan devised in Washington. The country was ruled by the oligarchs, not by the elected government.

The West has called this "democracy". While the two small Caucasian nations were clamouring for protection, Moscow's hands were tied by the fear of Western disapproval.

The slightest sign of independent orientation in foreign policy was cited as a proof of Russian "imperialism".
I’m not endorsing this because it ignores certain naughtiness on the Russian side but I think this comment by Tony Sharp:
This was supposed to be about South Ossetian independence and interests. The Russian actions are those of a country determined to control its satellites and impose its will on a sovereign state - Georgia. Whatever the rights and wrongs of Georgia's position, Russia has taken advantage of them. Where next? Ukraine?
… is fairly typical of the Brit reaction, as opposed to Wolfie’s:
Go Vladimir! Thankfully Georgia isn't on our doorstep or we'd dither until everyone was dead.
Richard Havers was close to it, in my eyes, in saying:
Nothing can be quite that simple.
All right, so let’s not get into the rights and wrongs of this side of it for the moment because we’ll be arguing till the cows come home but let’s look instead at what the overall game plan entails, given that the heads of governments are not actually the primary agenda setters.

In other words, where is this thing headed?

The U.S., through NATO, lays down an ultimatum, Putin lays down a counter ultimatum, some ‘statesmen’ like Sarkozy broker a peace, Milliband gets his bit in, China backs Russia, along with Iran and India, the EU imposes sanctions, troops are massed.

Yet the cutters and dicers are all part of the same team, grim-faced and defiant all the way to the round table but there it ends over cocktails. Methinks we need to look at where the current stand-off fits into the overall game plan of creating super-blocs. Does anyone actually deny that the political map is now oriented towards blocs?

That’s what this thing is all about – jostling for position – and it has sfa to do with the good of the common man inside whatever you want to call those republics or however you draw up the map.

You’ll find me in uniform in Dad’s Army within weeks of hostilities breaking out, along with most of my vintage but that doesn’t mean I can’t ask people not to blithely accept the simplistic ‘enemy is evil’ blandishments they’d love us to accept.

Don’t forget this is exactly what the average Russian is saying in reverse.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

[conkers] the crime of having fun

In the park just now and the leaves are starting to fall.

People were walking dogs on fancy leads, the grass had been half mown by a council worker but then he'd obviously knocked off, as the rubbish collectors also seemed to do today. Big mistake putting the bin out last night in the hope that when they said they'd come early, they would.

So how about this woman who was taken to court for dropping a sausage roll meant for her daughter? Or the one who waited five years for a house that catered for her disabled son which she never wanted until the council blocked a plan to reconstruct the front of their house?

The one I love is that doing cartwheels is now banned. Girls and boys must now desist because it is highly dangerous to do a cartwheel, as you know. Like playing conkers, there is a very real danger of having fun.

But people still do have fun - they stroll in the park, share a joke, sip a pint, visit the garden centre, go to the conservatory or bicycle to the station and chain the bike up there before taking the train to work.

Carthorses still haul the rag and bone men down Steptoe Lane and people are still polite and helpful, especially in community facilities like libraries.

And the colour is something else again- that rich, soft green and it doesn't really matter a damn what the killjoys are doing - this is still a green and pleasant land.

And we're all going to have fun at Bridlington or Notting Hill or wherever.


[blogosphere] the power of friendship

With ten minutes to go on this one hour internet time I'm allowed at Hull library [and they are very nice people here], I've just checked my email and not yet the post below and have to make a statement.

I don't feel alone with that sort of practical advice and encouragement. I thank you from the bottom of the heart and now, to make you thoroughly sick, I'm going to celebrate this by going out and having fish, chips and mushy peas.

The blogosphere works, it's wonderful and the moment I can get a breather and set up basically, I'm turning round and helping you in return. No doubt on earth about that.

Thanks again.

Proper post this evening.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

[the rat race] where are you situated?

Someone recently said that success begets success but once it goes the other way, it all comes over you in waves and you can’t take a trick.

It’s true and an example of my own I can offer is in the mid 90s when I was my lowest ebb ever to that point – unemployed and trying to qualify for ue and housing benefits, once the cash ran out. I don’t really count that one though as I still had the car, clothing, iron and so on and I could compete for jobs. I was shopping for food at M&S.

Still, there were some numbing experiences. Had an interview in south London and it involved calculating the amount of fuel needed to get there, what food could be consumed that day to keep under the budget and so on. Turned out they weren’t interested anyway but just wanted to see me out of interest.

When the break came, it was almost an anti-climax. A teaching job became a housemaster’s then the head’s job itself. As the money moved steadily into the coffers, more smiles greeted me, people sought my company, allowances were made and little things like reserved parking spaces were made available and so on.

Riding relatively high, it all came abruptly to an end due to some issues from the school’s past; it limped on another couple of years but I didn’t.

So, back to square one in Russia and the long slow climb again, to the point where, in Russian terms, I was again right up there, with a thriving practice and coming into the lucrative summer. Contacts were exponentially expanding and I was even being a bit lazy and knocking back offers.

Most readers know what happened from May to August which was stressful but nothing to what it is now. You could well say ‘serve you right’ as I let everything back home slip away, dropped out of the credit system, dispensed with the mobile, failed to renew things like the drivers’ licence etc.

Result being that having returned, there is no recent credit history or any other history for that matter and those that officially bestow things on you don’t like that. They suspect you’re a terrorist, I think. So they refuse you bank accounts, benefits and other little goodies, which in turn means that overseas drafts are stopped dead in the water and a steady stream of refusals result.

Now it only needs one lucky break – one – and the nexus is broken.

I could point to a position I now hold or property I’m renting and everything then expands again. But without that first break, nothing at all comes – it’s scorched earth and meanwhile the clock counts down on largesse shown by certain kind people.

So it comes down to just one break, providing the groundwork is being done thoroughly and we’re up and running. Sound familiar to you, this story?

Incidentally - because the jameshigham email is not working on this computer due to javascript problems, then I also cannot access the address book to write to people nor can I check emails in. The address to use now is

Also also - we were in the park just now and the first clump of leaves were under the tree and the brown leaves were in the trees. Autumn is upon us, folks and it is beautiful.

Monday, August 25, 2008

[criminalization] innocent and guilty alike

This must be of great concern to every one of us.

Tom Paine once mentioned the 3000 new crimes under Blair. Now we have the criminalization of youth and not just them either. There is something wrong when you are turned in by someone and then prosecuted for putting a bottle in the wrong bin or waling in the cycle lane or whatever.

What is happening?

[bank holiday] blackberrying and soaking up the sun

Old gear donned, we headed down the canal in the steamy hot, balmy 20 degrees but I still kept my long sleeve winter sweat top on against the thorns, nettles and thistles which, seeing through this ploy, decided to attack the wrists and face instead.

Deep in shrubbery on the bank, plucking away at juicy berries, the scene sitting beside San Georgio on the curving steps under the hot Sicilian sun was beginning to fade. Oh to have Welshcakes here now, fearlessly charging into the brambles for us, [because all men are wimps, you know], picking the six tubs in far less time than our two and a half hours.

The cuppa cha afterwards was like the nectar of the gods. Plus the cheese sandwich. Piradina con formaggio is also sliding into the medium term memory.

[bank holiday] the long-suffering heroes return

The scene – the Olympic plane lands, the gangway is rolled over and the athletes are rudely torn from their bag collecting and last drinks to line up in formation, attractively arranged down the steps.

Fiona Fatwah [BBC]: Andrew and Sally, come over here please. Well, I’ve simply run out of superlatives. What can I say?

Andrew: Er … I don’t know.

Fiona [recovering her composure]: Well Sally, when you were about to step up onto that podium, how did you feel?

Sally: Awful. I never wanted that medal; I wanted the gold - I could have scratched her bitchy eyes out.

Fiona: Andrew, how did you feel when you won that gold?

Andrew: Sick in my stomach, Fiona. Never wanted that gold.

Fiona: How was the flight back? How would you describe it?

Sally: Ah, there were these three seats, you see and there was a stain on the antimacassar in front of me and I read the in flight magazine twice and had a g&t.

Andrew: Mine was a Carlings.

Fiona: Well guys, do you have a message for the teeming millions watching this because there’s nowt else to do this bank holiday Monday except extend the Olympic fix as long as we can through interviews like this?

Sally: Yes, Fiona – we’d just like to thank everyone and see you in 2012, guys.

[They rush for the team bus which takes off, the camera lovingly trained on the exhaust pipe disappearing round the corner.]

Fiona: And now we cross live to the team reception where Emma Hamilton is awaiting to ambush the luckless athletes.

Emma: And here comes the team bus now. Let me call over Andrew and Sally. Hi guys. Oh gosh, what can I say to you that hasn’t already been said a thousand times already?

Andrew: I have not the shadow of a clue.

Emma: How was the bus trip back from the aeroplane? How would you describe it?

Andrew: Sally, you do this.

Sally: Ah, there were these three seats, you see and there was a stain on Andrew’s uniform in front of me and I and couldn’t get a g&t.

Andrew: I couldn’t get a Carlings.

Emma: Well guys, do you have a message for the teeming millions watching this because there’s nowt else to do this bank holiday Monday except create a feel-good factor as a buffer against the cries of outrage at the £10 billion bill for 2012?

Andrew and Sally: Er … ah … [rush inside for the reception].

Emma [turning to the camera crew]: What did I say? What did I say?

Must I wear shades too?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

[need a shave] of metal seats, tube fights and blackberries

Some images above of first impressions.

Question- have you ever spent a night in an airport? Interesting experience, especially the way they do the slippery metal seats with metal armrests in such a way that you can't lie on them. The other guy with me found a way though- put the head on the table effect at the end, the neck under the first armrest and the waist under the second and so on.

There was a chapel in the airport, just as there is a Madonna in every shop and it was nice to spend some time in, that chapel, with it's cleverly backlit crucifixion scene at the front. On the right at the front was a plush velvet chair, presumably for the priest to sit on. When I came back later in the night, there was a shopping trolley in there with plastic bags of someone's worldly goods. In the priest seat was an unfortunate who'd ended up on the street and I thought - there but for the grace ... left a few coins and departed. Hope the airport authorities don't read this post.

I must have looked like a shady character as I got the shakedown on trying to check in and it was my first half-strip in public - hope the public enjoyed it but the paws all over the bod didn't endear it to me too much. The airline quite thoughtfully had provided copies of newspapers with the Madrid disaster plastered over them so that made good reading.

First experience this side was a helpful railway employee called Mark who not only suggested that if I went to the ticket machine round the corner there was no mile-long queue but then he stayed around to ask if I was "all right then" after that. Wish I'd taken his name and sent a letter to the authorities about him - he was exactly the image the railways need.

Of course this was counterbalanced. An old chap couldn't read the signs and was trying to get to the Victoria line so he asked me what it said and I said that I also had trouble with my eyes but I'd ask. As it happens, we were in the right place so we helped each other get to the right train just as it pulled in, which infuriated a nutter with wife and daughter standing in prime position to get on the train.

He threw a tantrum, shouting he was going to put me in hospital and then came at me while the old man looked on in disbelief. I told the nutter he was a f---- imbecile. " Something wrong with your brain, i'n there, eh?" I grinned at him, which seemed to infuriate him more and wife and daughter kept right out of the way. W-e-l-l, why do nutters keep coming at me? I mean ...

So he continued:

"Yeah, you!" he shouted. "Wot you calling me names for?"

"The stress, friend, the stress."

"You got no f----- manners," he shouted.

"Yes I have - I stepped back and let you on first, din I?"

"You wotchit, mate."

"Yeah, yeah, you 'ave a good day too, me china."

The old man had enjoyed this and now asked me if I was travelling to join a boat. "Pardon?" I asked.

"A boot like. Merchant navy. Anyway, they employ Filipinos these days."

"Ah." Turns out he was twenty years in the merchant navy and I thought to myself, that sounds like not a bad idea, really. Either that or become a Benedictine monk.

Still might too but first some blackberry picking tomorrow and another thing - why do councils insist on lopping them down when they're doing no one any harm? This is the sort of out-of-spite thing and then they send in teams of loppers who know nothing whatever about trees and things and they hack at them.

Reminds me up on the moorland some years back when some Dutch company got the right to hack swathes of heather for padding in dam walls in such a way that it could not regrow. Everyone knows that heather needs burning. Still, it was a nice little money spinner for someone.

And another thing- did you see the way McFly hacked up Winner Takes it All today but the version of We Can Be Heroes was pretty good. And what did you think of Jimmy Page and that girl, by the way? And how do you like the way Boris was standing, waving the flag?

I need my winter clothes, even though the ice cream van was out today.

More in the next few days.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Depending upon there being no problem with no passport...

Depending upon there being no problem with no passport...

Saturday Departures from London
24/05/08 to 13/12/08
London King's Cross 09:34 11:48 13:38 17:05 19:41
Grantham 10:44 12:48 14:44 18:10 20:43
Retford 11:06 13:14 15:10 18:31 21:05
Doncaster 11:24 13:27 15:25 18:48 21:20
Selby 11:40 13:43 15:41 19:08 21:36
Howden 11:50 13:53 15:51 19:18 21:46
Brough 12:03 14:05 16:03 19:30 21:58
Hull 12:20 14:22 16:20 19:47 22:15

Sorry, no shower only bath...

UPDATE: Just received a phone call. The Eagle has landed at Gatwick and is crossing London heading for King's X, and should see him arrive in Hull at 19:47.

The Death of Ann Sadler: Murder by over enthusiastic Dancing

I have been as readers of my own blog can see, musing on the Old Bailey records this morning. Amongst those records one finds interesting cases- and one that I thought the readers of this blog might be interested in was a case of murder by over enthusiastic dancing: here it is
Simon Durrant , was Tryed for Killing Ann Sadler at Leather-sellers Hall , on the 9th of August last, by brusing, rowling and throwing down the said Sadler, of which she languished till the 3d of September and then dyed . The Proof was, that there being a Feast heald there that day and a Dancing Bout ensuing, whilst Durrant was Acting the Countryman, Ann Sadler came in to call her Mistresses Son from thence, when upon intimation Durrant caught hold of her and obliged her to Dance, which she did for almost a quarter of an hour, and then she being about to make her escape from him, he pursued her and puling her back by force threw her down, and tumbled with her over and over; so that being bruised thereby, she went home and sickned and languishing to the day aforesaid, dyed, to which he plaaded that her Dancing was with her own consent and as for the rest it was but a Frolick, and he intended no harm and bringing credible persons to testifie it, and that he laid her down very easily, and further, it appearing upon the Testimony of two Chirurgeons that she dyed not by any Bruise thereby occasioned, he was acquitted , as also upon the Coroners inquisition for Manslaughter.

What lies behind this record? It seems odd at first sight. Let me set up the situation in modern English- what Simon Durrant was accused of was grabbing this young girl, dancing with her, throwing her to the ground, tumbling over her and bruising her so much that she died. It sounds implausible and the two doctors who visited her agreed with my modern impression, that 'she dyed not by any bruise thereby occasioned'. One interpretation sees this case as emerging from something else: Ann Sadler died and her friends hung this charge around the neck of Simon Durrant. He seems to have been a lively young man- and perhaps one that people wanted to bring down, to hang a noose and a murder round his neck.

But look at it again and the evidence changes- its possible to see something there that we might describe as sexual assault- Simon Durrant's excuses are very much in that mould- I did it with her consent, it was just a bit of fun etc etc. That was obviously not the opinion of Ann Sadler's friends when they brought this case to the attention of the court, nor does it seem to be her opinion- she 'languished' for several days before dying. There may have been internal injuries- possibly a little more than a tumble in the hay- that seventeenth century post mortems could not find. Furthermore Sadler may well have faced depression from her ordeal- if we presume that what this account masks is a sexual assault- and that may have assisted her death.

We will never know. Both accounts make sense. A spurious charge invented by Simon Durrant's enemies or a sexual assault that the prejudice and ignorance of the time could not properly judge: its up to you to decide. The evidence is fragmentary and I hope this suggests one of the problems of being a historian, you have a fragment like this and you have to work out what happened from it. Sometimes it is uncertain and you just cannot know- this case is one of those.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

[this blog] brought up to date

Seem to write this type of thing every few days but this weekend, whichever way it falls, is a change of life for the Higham. If I don't get back here to this blog, there are other team members I'd invite to contribute.

If I do come back, it will be a metamorphosed Bigglesworth you'll be seeing. This is living by the seat of the pants and you can keep it. I'm more for the quiet life.

'Nuff till we meet again, dear reader.

The temple of tame tigers

The temple of tame tigers

The Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno Monastery in Thailand is home to a family of tigers raised by a monk and living alongside human visitors

After poachers killed its mother, villagers brought the first tiger cub to the monastery in 1999

Since then Abbot Chan has created a wildlife sanctuary where tourists can touch resting tigers

There are around 40 tigers in the temple, all of whom have been hand-raised by the monk and have learnt to control their aggressive behaviour

Chan says there is no secret to their friendliness toward humans...

...after four hours of swimming and a good meal of boiled chicken, the nocturnal animals want to sleep through the heat of the day

Tourists can attend, at short distance, the tigers' morning programme which includes exercising their hunting skills in the pool

It is a great tourist spot and a potential death trap, but there have been no accidents yet

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Boy in hospital after 'gas lighting' stunt backfires

Boy in hospital after 'gas lighting' stunt backfires

A 12-year-old has been taken to hospital with burns after blowing up a petrol can while breaking wind.

"The boy was attempting to set fire to his farts as part of a competition against his cousin in the garden of a house in Tipton when the accident occurred".

This is a variant of the Night of the Flaming Arseholes...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

[outdoor concert] la traviata and other pieces

Just saw the weather report for Britain below as I came up here to report on a magnificent outdoor concert I just attended beside Hotel Palazzo Failla, everyone done up to the nines and expecting great things.

It was great too. Maria Gabriella Ferroni, soprano and Giuseppe Veneziano, tenore sang from Verdi, Puccini, Tosti and Carrubba. It might have been Caruso again in a feast for the ears called "Un lieve palpitare". The outdoor concert was a one off and I am so pleased to have been invited to attend it.

The champas and eats helped a lot too, just to lower the tone a little. However, the tone was considerably lowered by people coming late, standing, blocking others and generally making pests of themselves by then talking so that during the finale, I jumped up and went forward to hear it uninterrupted.

A balmy 29 degrees ensured all were in shirt sleeves for the event. Wish Welshcakes could have been here but there was no chance to get her here at such short notice.

Last observation - my goodness, the Italians put passion into everything they do, don't they?

Weather forecast and lightning strikes

Weather forecast and lightning strikes

Summer lightning over southern England

A series of spectacular lightning strikes lit up the skies as a thunderstorm swept from Sussex through to Suffolk

Despite the London skyline experiencing the impressive light show, there was little actual rainfall in the area, with the clouds particularly high in the atmosphere for a storm

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service had a busy night, receiving 52 calls in an hour and a half as heavy rain caused floods late Wednesday night

Although not much damage was reported, firefighters from Eastbourne were called to two houses where lightning had struck roofs

Crews in Brighton and Hove were also caused to a series of small floods at houses

The Met Office said the particularly high temperature - peaking at 80F (27C) - contributed to these types of storms, as they made their way from mainland Europe

Today, they expected some more thunder, moving further north up through East Anglia, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, perhaps with some heavy downpours

Temperatures are expected to peak at 72F (22C) in the London area

Some minor showers are expected, scattered with sunny intervals, although over the weekend things could well go downhill again

Monday, August 18, 2008

What is a McCannism?

What is a McCannism?

A commenter believes this post displays a McCannism. I particularly like this post, and this comment in response:

"How “ludicrous”…

Can you spot the ten alternatives (taken from the Mac Microsoft Office thesaurus) for this popular McCannism word in my Mitchell-style rant below?

How absurd to accuse the innocent Kate McCann of being a “cold fish” and an “ice maiden”. Such a ridculous suggestion just shows how ridiculous some of the stories about the McCanns have become. The daft idea that Kate would hide Maddy’s body in a freezer just shows how farcical this smear campaign has become. The personal attacks on Philomena, with reference to “Comical Philly” are simply outrageous. It is preposterous to claim the McCanns would be so foolish as to invent an abduction to cover up their own dubious actions. Anyone who suspects the McCanns is just plain stupid.

Answers later, folks and what’s the odds on Dimmo Mitchell starting to use some of these alternatives instead of his beloved “ludicrous” from now on".

This post also claims to have the answer to what is a McCannism. Some interesting comments.

We need to ask the McCanns some questions, we also need to ask the Mainstream Media some questions.

The answers are in the details.

Previously, both the McCanns and Clarence Mitchell told reporters when they asked pertinent questions that they could not go into details because of the judicial secrecy laws in Portugal. However, as Gerry states on his blog “It is over 3 weeks since we learned that the Portuguese authorities had...ended judicial secrecy". Why is the MSM not re-asking the questions?

For me a McCannism is a lie told by the McCann camp which we are meant to swallow as truth. It's a bitter pill. Like a secondhand car sales man selling you a lemon. In a wider sense it is also words like ludicrous which the McCann camp kept repeating. They never did say why the accusations were ludicrous.

It is not just Madeleine who is missing, the freedom of the press went walkabout on the McCanns wild goose chase.


Kate McCann has said:

“To be honest, I don’t actually think that is the case. I think that is a very small minority of people that are criticising us.”

If that isn't a McCannism is I don't know what is. Between 73 and 82% criticise the McCanns to some greater or lesser degree.

Thought for the Week!

To see the whole world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and in eternity in an hour.

William Blake

Sunday, August 17, 2008

[making gelato] and the dangers of creativity

There are some very interesting people around and sometimes they’re right beside us all along.

I’d include Welshcakes in this, fluent in French and Italian and with immense knowledge of those cultures as well. Her CV, her early years and later moves have shaped her character and now she’s carved out a niche which is sustainable and it’s where she wants to be, as long as health remains good and bureaucracy allows.

Into this came I, some time back, privileged to share a portion of her life but unable, at that point in time, to put very much back in, to my chagrin, a matter I intend to resolve when I can find my own sustainable base. For two such individual characters of different backgrounds, politics and genders, I don’t think it was total disaster and I hope she doesn’t regret the time spent together [too much].

On the other side of town I’ve come to know a young man, Georgio, who has his own talents in his own modest way and he’s interesting on the topic of cuisine/kuchina, gelato making and pizza design, with his own take on language, culture and many other topics. From another town, he’s carved a niche for himself in both places and lives not far from where I am currently holed up.

I think what I like most about him is that he is solitary, not entirely by choice and at the same time enjoys great warmth from those about him. He’s creative and recognizes and respects that in others. Whilst he’s a humble barman on one level, a person the crass would dismiss out of hand, his solitariness does not exclude others - it’s just that people are wary of someone like that who’s done it his own way and for whom every step forward, every break he gets, is accompanied by an opposite vicissitude.

The net effect though is that he does go forward.

Italy seems to me admirably suited to accommodate human tragedy. Sitting, drinking Nasto Azzurra and nibbling on nibbles, discussing shades of difference in the Italian language, discussing architecture, painting and kuchina on a 40 degree plus day, when virtually the whole population was at the beach enjoying what they saw and we both didn’t as la dolce vita; in the early evening, with the periphery of the northern Italian storms arriving, the umbrellas and awnings flapping wildly in the wind to the point we all had to race outside and batten them down – this was no ordinary experience.

Some people live lives of quiet desperation and wish and hope, in that Walter Mitty way, for some excitement or break from the tedium. Some live from tragedy to tragedy, blow to blow, punctuated by bouts of joy. Some might even be happy and contented, surrounded by family and friends – I wouldn’t know about such people but I wish them well.

Then there are those fey characters we meet, ships out on the sea who come into port for a brief time and then must move on again – think of the experiences they’ve accumulated, like barnacles which can’t be scratched off, not willingly itinerant by any means but ready to meet that someone and to settle down - yet something in the firmament will not allow this to ever happen.

You can’t call such people depressed, as they usually bounce back but they are, ultimately, tragic and a little cold, a little unapproachable until they themselves find a way to interface with others at a personal level. I find such people not sociopathic; there are few skeletons in the cupboard of any consequence – they’re just appreciative of the chance of human warmth though they don’t really know what to do with it once they are extended it. In the end, they’re nice people but will never be part of any circle of friends.

Everyone hopes they find what they’re looking for - normal people always like to demand concrete goals of others - but their goals are just to find a sustainable base and some human warmth, as with “normal” people, yet somehow things manage to get in the way to prevent that, quite rotten luck really, in part a product of their own unusual and interesting lives.

And as they grow older, what was once seen as a life of adventure is now viewed with a jaundiced eye and as they fail to settle into the wife, home, car and two kids life-in-hock, people say, ‘Nice man, kind face,’ but secretly resolve he’ll never marry their daughter. They almost resent his bad luck and think, perhaps with an element of truth, that he brought it all on himself.

These are things I saw in the future yesterday for my young friend and hope to goodness it doesn’t go that way. Fine thing to be creative, to sit on the steps beside limestone churches and admire the baroque period but it hardly puts bread on the table, does it?

Also, he’s not getting any younger but at least he’s in the country of his upbringing.