Sunday 29 July 2007

I'm losing patience with my neighbours, Mr Bush

Just to clarify, I did NOT write this. It is By Terry Jones, one-time Monty Python member, and was published in the Observer on Sunday January 26, 2003.

I'm really excited by George Bush's latest reason for bombing Iraq: he's running out of patience. And so am I! For some time now I've been really pissed off with Mr Johnson, who lives a couple of doors down the street. Well, him and Mr Patel, who runs the health food shop. They both give me queer looks, and I'm sure Mr Johnson is planning something nasty for me, but so far I haven't been able to discover what. I've been round to his place a few times to see what he's up to, but he's got everything well hidden. That's how devious he is. As for Mr Patel, don't ask me how I know, I just know - from very good sources - that he is, in reality, a Mass Murderer. I have leafleted the street telling them that if we don't act first, he'll pick us off one by one. Some of my neighbours say, if I've got proof, why don't I go to the police? But that's simply ridiculous. The police will say that they need evidence of a crime with which to charge my neighbours. They'll come up with endless red tape and quibbling about the rights and wrongs of a pre-emptive strike and all the while Mr Johnson will be finalising his plans to do terrible things to me, while Mr Patel will be secretly murdering people. Since I'm the only one in the street with a decent range of automatic firearms, I reckon it's up to me to keep the peace. But until recently that's been a little difficult. Now, however, George W. Bush has made it clear that all I need to do is run out of patience, and then I can wade in and do whatever I want! And let's face it, Mr Bush's carefully thought-out policy towards Iraq is the only way to bring about international peace and security. The one certain way to stop Muslim fundamentalist suicide bombers targeting the US or the UK is to bomb a few Muslim countries that have never threatened us. That's why I want to blow up Mr Johnson's garage and kill his wife and children. Strike first! That'll teach him a lesson. Then he'll leave us in peace and stop peering at me in that totally unacceptable way. Mr Bush makes it clear that all he needs to know before bombing Iraq is that Saddam is a really nasty man and that he has weapons of mass destruction - even if no one can find them. I'm certain I've just as much justification for killing Mr Johnson's wife and children as Mr Bush has for bombing Iraq. Mr Bush's long-term aim is to make the world a safer place by eliminating 'rogue states' and 'terrorism'. It's such a clever long-term aim because how can you ever know when you've achieved it? How will Mr Bush know when he's wiped out all terrorists? When every single terrorist is dead? But then a terrorist is only a terrorist once he's committed an act of terror. What about would-be terrorists? These are the ones you really want to eliminate, since most of the known terrorists, being suicide bombers, have already eliminated themselves. Perhaps Mr Bush needs to wipe out everyone who could possibly be a future terrorist? Maybe he can't be sure he's achieved his objective until every Muslim fundamentalist is dead? But then some moderate Muslims might convert to fundamentalism. Maybe the only really safe thing to do would be for Mr Bush to eliminate all Muslims? It's the same in my street. Mr Johnson and Mr Patel are just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of other people in the street who I don't like and who - quite frankly - look at me in odd ways. No one will be really safe until I've wiped them all out. My wife says I might be going too far but I tell her I'm simply using the same logic as the President of the United States. That shuts her up. Like Mr Bush, I've run out of patience, and if that's a good enough reason for the President, it's good enough for me. I'm going to give the whole street two weeks - no, 10 days - to come out in the open and hand over all aliens and interplanetary hijackers, galactic outlaws and interstellar terrorist masterminds, and if they don't hand them over nicely and say 'Thank you', I'm going to bomb the entire street to kingdom come. It's just as sane as what George W. Bush is proposing - and, in contrast to what he's intending, my policy will destroy only one street.

Declaration of Revocation

This has been going around the internet in various forms since 2000 or so. It's often attributed to John Cleese. It is not by him. has an article giving the details. As with all things which circulate, it mutates quite often.
I'd like to invite my American readers to write a rebuttal. I have seen one on the internet, and was not very impressed.

Declaration of Revocation

To the citizens of the United States of America, in the light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy. Your new Prime Minister (The Right Honourable Gordon Brown, MP, -for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a Minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.

A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect :

1. You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up "aluminium." Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. The letter ’U’ will be reinstated in words such as ’favour’ and ’neighbour’ ; skipping the letter ’U’ is nothing more than laziness on your part. Likewise, you will learn to spell ’doughnut’ without skipping half the letters. You will end your love affair with the letter ’Z’ (pronounced ’zed’ not ’zee’) and the suffix "ize" will be replaced by the suffix "ise." You will learn that the suffix ’burgh’ is pronounced ’burra’ e.g. Edinburgh. You are welcome to re-spell Pittsburgh as ’Pittsberg’ if you can’t cope with correct pronunciation. Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up “vocabulary." Using the same thirty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "uhh", "like", and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up "interspersed." There will be no more ’bleeps’ in the Jerry Springer show. If you’re not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn’t have chat shows. When you learn to develop your vocabulary, then you won’t have to use bad language as often.

2. There is no such thing as "US English." We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter ’u’ and the elimination of "-ize."

3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn’t that hard. English accents are not limited to cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier). You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents --- Scottish dramas such as "Taggart" will no longer be broadcast with subtitles. While we’re talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is "Devon." If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American States will become "shires" e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire.

4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys. Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters. British sit-coms such as "Men Behaving Badly" or "Red Dwarf" will not be re-cast and watered down for a wishy-washy American audience who can’t cope with the humour of occasional political incorrectness.

5. You should relearn your original national anthem, "God Save The Queen", but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.

6. You should stop playing American "football." There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American "football" is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays "American" football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American "football", but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies). We are hoping to get together at least a US Rugby sevens side by 2005. You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the ’World Series’ for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls’ game called "rounders," which is baseball without fancy team strip, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.

7. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don’t believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

8. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called "Indecisive Day."

9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap, and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean. All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call ’French fries’ are not real chips. Fries aren’t even French, they are Belgian though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called "crisps." Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat. Waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

11. As a sign of penance 5 grams of sea salt per cup will be added to all tea made within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this quantity to be doubled for tea made within the city of Boston itself.

12. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling "beer" is not actually beer at all, it is lager . From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as "beer," and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as "Lager." The substances formerly known as "American Beer" will henceforth be referred to as "Near-Frozen Gnat’s Piss," with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as "Weak Near-Frozen Gnat’s Piss." This will allow true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in the Czech Republic) to be sold without risk of confusion.

13. From November 10th the UK will harmonise petrol (or "gasoline," as you will be permitted to keep calling it until April 1st 2005) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the Former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices (roughly $6/US gallon -- get used to it).

14. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you’re not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you’re not grown up enough to handle a gun.

15. Please tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us crazy.

16. Tax collectors from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to 1776).

Thank you for your co-operation.

Friday 27 July 2007

Ship's Navigator Seeks Career Change

You're supposed to go around the lighthouse, -give it plenty of clearance.
Wrong side.

Addendum: This happened on June 8th 2007, off the port of Newcastle, Australia.
The worst storms in living memory hit the area, on land nine people lost their lives.
Pasha Bulker, a coal carrier, was awaiting its turn to load in the port, along with fifty or so ships offshore. The grounding on the reef off Nobby's Beach was not navigational error, it seems, more the overwhelming forces of nature. The coastguard had sent out a call to the waiting ships make way further out to sea.
Pasha Bulker, in ballast, high sided and presenting a huge sail area to the sixty mile per hour+ winds, failed to heed that warning and was unable to hold position.
After 25 days she was hauled off the reef, and towed to harbour, two giant staples stitching a crack in her hull. The official report has not yet been published.
More pics HERE

This is NOT the Pasha Bulker, but it's a guide to the sort of weather a ship like that encounters.

Tuesday 24 July 2007

Run, Giraffe, Run

Red Dirt Girl posted a beautiful picture of a gazelle, titled Run, Gazelle, Run!
Here's my reply.

Aurora Australis, from space,

Duck Escapes Bathtub.......

No comment.


An update is necessary.
I have been accused of Photoshoppage.
So, I'd better explain. First, thanks Red Dirt Girl and Rod, for believing me capable of such a feat, truth is my photoshop skills are non-existent.
Twelve years and counting —On January 10, 1992, 28,800 turtles, ducks, beavers and frogs packed in a cargo container — called Floatees by the manufacturer — splashed into the mid-Pacific, where the 45th parallel intersects the International Date Line (44.7°N, 178.1°E). During August- September, 1992, after 2,200 miles adrift, hundreds beached near Sitka, Alaska. Twelve years later, in 2004, beachcombers were still finding the bath-time critters."
Now it's fifteen years... The first ducks to cross the atlantic are drifting towards Europe, expected to hit the beaches of Cornwall, and Normandy any time now. Dr Curtis Ebbermayer has been tracking them, and other drifting cargoes, which have become an unexpected tool in tracking ocean currents. ""It's amazing what a duck can teach you," Ebbesmeyer says. "There was one container load of turtles, ducks, beavers and frogs, twenty-nine thousand in a single container that went overboard in the middle of the Pacific," he says.

The small, plastic adventurers were accidentally dumped into the ocean in January 1992. Pushed by winds and currents the ducks were carried to Alaska where thousands washed ashore.

But hundreds more would have been swept up thru Bering Straight and so far north they would be frozen in the Arctic icepack. Moving slowly with the ice across the Pole, Ebbesmeyer predicted the frozen flotilla would take five or six years to reach the North Atlantic and thaw."
Here's a link to a website.
It's worth noting the manufacturers offer a reward for each drift-duck returned with details of its capture position and date.
However, they are worth much bigger money on ebay. Allegedly $1,000!
I'd like to claim the giant one in my blog was a mutant ocean wanderer. But if I'm honest, I'll confess it is part of an art installation on the Loire Estuary, in France. The artist's site is HERE.


(I had a pic of a truckload of spilled apples here, but somehow I lost it. These are potatoes, pretend they're apples, okay?)

The picture made me think of another fruity incident:- Harry Chapin, long ago, sang a song about a crash in Scranton, Pennsylvania. On his Album, Verities and Balderdash.

On March 18, 1965, on Moosic Street in Scranton, a tractor-trailer carrying 15 tons of bananas lost control in rush hour traffic, hitting cars, houses, and wire poles before crashing into a home. The driver, Eugene P. Sesky (35), was killed and over 15 people were injured.

In 1974, Harry Chapin ( more famous for his song "Cat's in the Cradle,") told the story of the tragic events of 1965 in the city of Scranton, in his song "30,000 Pounds of Bananas."

It was just after dark when the truck started down
the hill that leads into Scranton Pennsylvania.
Carrying thirty thousand pounds of bananas.
Carrying thirty thousand pounds of bananas.

He was a young driver,
just out on his second job.
And he was carrying the next day's pasty fruits
for everyone in that coal-scarred city
where children play without despair
in backyard slag-piles and folks manage to eat each day
about thirty thousand pounds of bananas.
Yes, just about thirty thousand pounds .

He passed a sign that he should have seen,
saying shift to low gear, a fifty dollar fine my friend.
He was thinking perhaps about the warm-breathed woman
who was waiting at the journey's end.
He started down the two mile drop,
the curving road that wound from the top of the hill.
He was pushing on through the shortening miles that ran down to the depot.
Just a few more miles to go,
then he'd go home and have her ease his long, cramped day away.
and the smell of thirty thousand pounds of bananas.
Yes the smell of thirty thousand pounds of bananas.

He was picking speed as the city spread its twinkling lights below him.
But he paid no heed as the shivering thoughts of the nights
delights went through him.
His foot nudged the brakes to slow him down.
But the pedal floored easy without a sound.
He said Christ!
It was funny how he had named the only man who could save him now.
He was trapped inside a dead-end hellslide,
riding on his fear-hunched back
was every one of those yellow green
I'm telling you thirty thousand pounds of bananas.
Yes, there were thirty thousand pounds of bananas.

He barely made the sweeping curve that led into the steepest grade.
And he missed the thankful passing bus at ninety miles an hour.
And he said God, make it a dream!
as he rode his last ride down.
And he said God, make it a dream!
as he rode his last ride down.
And he sideswiped nineteen neat parked cars,
clipped off thirteen telephone poles,
hit two houses, bruised eight trees,
and Blue-Crossed seven people.
it was then he lost his head,
not to mention an arm or two before he stopped.
And he slid for four hundred yards
along the hill that leads into Scranton, Pennsylvania.
All those thirty thousand pounds of bananas.

You know the man who told me about it on the bus,
as it went up the hill out of Scranton, Pennsylvania,
he shrugged his shoulders, he shook his head,
and he said (and this is exactly what he said)
Boy that sure must've been something.
Just imagine thirty thousand pounds of bananas.
Yes, there were thirty thousand pounds of mashed bananas.
Of bananas. Just bananas. Thirty thousand pounds.
of Bananas. not no driver now. Just bananas!

A woman walks into her room where her child lies sleeping,
and when she sees his eyes are closed,
she sits there, silently weeping,
and though she lives in Scranton, Pennsylvania
She never ever eats ... Bananas
Not one of thirty thousand pounds .... of bananas

- Harry Chapin

Stop Press:
Having looked into this further.
Harry Chapin wrote this song less than ten years after the man died. There was a widow and children.
After being criticised for the song, Chapin said he would donate the proceeds from the record to the widow and children. They never got a penny.

I found a comment elsewhere:-
"As a native of Scranton's South side, I remember the day, and the man in the truck. His name was Gene Seski. Gene loved playing guitar and keeping an eye on neighbors kids. I know he watched me, and my brothers, a few times for my parents. He would also walk across the parking lot in the snow in Hilltop Manor barefoot. He was my inspiration to become a truckdriver, which I am still today after 20 years."

If you hear that song again, spare a thought for Gene Seski, a man who played guitar, looked after neighbours' kids, walked barefoot in the snow, a father, a husband, a real person, who was killed by a brake failure, never got to see his children grow up, his grandchildren too.
It's too easy just to hear the song and let it run by as a thing of fun, of comedy. Why are bananas funny?
This song isn't a funny song about a lot of bananas. When you look a little more closely, it's about a man dying.

Monday 23 July 2007

Richard Thompson...

I'm going to see Richard Thompson, and a load of other great musicmakers at Cropredy Festival....
I hope.
As at the moment, the camping fields are underwater.
Floods are devastating the Thames and Severn river valleys, and Cropredy is suffering too, as the river Cherwell passes its banks.
The route there is via Banbury... And Banbury is flooded.

StopPress! Festival organisers assure us it will go ahead.
Memo:-Buy new waterproofs....

Saturday 21 July 2007

The Road, a chapter from "The Mint" by T.E. Lawrence.

T.E.Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia (1888-1935)

Lawrence had been a Lieutenant-Colonel in the army, (and was a figure of great fame, for his exploits in the arab revolt against Turkish rule. He had been employed as an adviser to the british government). However, he deplored his fame, and, under an assumed name, (T.E.Ross), enlisted in the Royal Air Force as an ordinary aircraft mechanic.
Whilst stationed at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire, he wrote a diary, which, after his death in a motor cycle crash in 1935, was edited and published, on the instructions of his brother.

His motorcycle was a Brough Superior, at that time probably the finest bike that could be bought, beautifully made, and capable of over a hundred miles per hour.
(He named it 'Boanerges', which was the name Jesus gave as surname to James and John, the sons of Zebedee, "Boanerges, the sons of thunder.")

The extravagance in which my surplus emotion expressed itself lay on the road. So long as roads were tarred blue and straight; not hedged; and empty and dry, so long I was rich.
Nightly I’d run up from the hangar, upon the last stroke of work, spurring my tired feet to be nimble. The very movement refreshed them, after the day-long restraint of service. In five minutes my bed would be down, ready for the night: in four more I was in breeches and puttees, pulling on my gauntlets as I walked over to my bike, which lived in a garage-hut, opposite. Its tyres never wanted air, its engine had a habit of starting at second kick: a good habit, for only by
frantic plunges upon the starting pedal could my puny weight force the engine over the seven atmospheres of its compression.

Boanerges’ first glad roar at being alive again nightly jarred the huts of Cadet College into life. ‘There he goes, the noisy bugger,’ someone would say enviously in every flight. It is part of an airman’s profession to be knowing with engines: and a thoroughbred engine is our undying satisfaction. The camp wore the virtue of my Brough like a flower in its cap. Tonight Tug and Dusty came to the step of our hut to see me off. ‘Running down to Smoke, perhaps?’ jeered Dusty; hitting at my regular game of London and back for tea on fine Wednesday afternoons.

T.E. Lawrence on Brough Superior

Boa is a top-gear machine, as sweet in that as most single-cylinders in middle. I chug lordlily past the guard-room and through the speed limit at no more than sixteen. Round the bend, past the farm, and the way straightens. Now for it. The engine’s final development is fifty-two horse-power. A miracle that all this docile strength waits behind one tiny lever for the pleasure of my hand. Another bend: and I have the honour of one of England’ straightest and fastest roads. The burble of my exhaust unwound like a long cord
behind me. Soon my speed snapped it, and I heard only the cry of the wind which my battering head split and fended aside. The cry rose with my speed to a shriek: while the air’s coldness streamed like two jets of iced water into my dissolving eyes. I screwed them to slits, and focused my sight two hundred yards ahead of me on the empty mosaic of the tar’s gravelled undulations. Like arrows the tiny flies pricked my cheeks: and sometimes a heavier body, some house-fly or beetle, would crash into face or lips like a spent bullet. A glance at the speedometer: seventy-eight.
Boanerges is warming up. I pull the throttle right open, on the top of the slope, and we swoop flying across the dip, and up-down up-down the switchback beyond: the weighty machine launching itself like a projectile with a whirr of wheels into the air at the take-off of each rise, to land lurchingly with such a snatch of the driving chain as jerks my spine like a rictus.

The next mile of road was rough. I braced my feet into the rests, thrust with my arms, and clenched my knees on the tank til its rubber grips goggled under my thighs. Over the first pot-hole Boanerges screamed in surprise, its mud-guard bottoming with a yawp upon the tyre. Through the plunges of the next ten seconds I clung on, wedging my gloved hand in the throttle lever so that no bump should close it and spoil our speed. Then the bicycle wrenched sideways into three long ruts: it swayed dizzily, wagging its tail for thirty awful yards. Out came the clutch, the engine raced freely: Boa checked and straightened his head with a shake, as a Brough should.
The bad ground was past and on the new road our flight became birdlike. My head was blown out with air so that my ears had failed and we seemed to whirl soundlessly between the sun-gilt stubble fields. I dared, on a rise, to slow imperceptibly and glance sideways into the sky. There the Bif was, two hundred yards and more back. Play with the fellow? Why not? I slowed to ninety: signalled with my hand for him to overtake. Slowed ten more: sat up. Over he rattled. His passenger, a helmeted and goggled grin, hung out of the cock-pit to pass me the ‘Up
yer’ Raf randy greeting.

They were hoping I was a flash in the pan, giving them best. Open went my throttle again. Boa crept level, fifty feet below: held them: sailed ahead into the clean and lonely country. An approaching car pulled nearly into its ditch at the sight of our race. The Bif was zooming among the trees and telegraph poles, with my scurrying spot only eighty yards ahead. I gained though, gained steadily: was perhaps five miles an hour the faster. Down went my left hand to give the
engine two extra dollops of oil, for fear that something was running hot: but an overhead Jap twin, super-tuned like this one, would carry on to the moon and back, unfaltering.

We drew near the settlement. A long mile before the first houses I closed down and coasted to the cross-roads by the hospital. Bif caught up, banked, climbed and turned for home, waving to me as long as he was in sight. Fourteen miles from camp, we are, here: and fifteen minutes
since I left Tug and Dusty at the hut door.

I let in the clutch again, and eased Boanerges down the hill along the tram-lines through the dirty streets and up-hill to the aloof cathedral, where it stood in frigid perfection above the cowering close. No message of mercy in Lincoln. Our God is a jealous God: and man’s very best offering will fall disdainfully short of worthiness, in the sight of Saint Hugh and his angels.
Remigius, earthy old Remigius, looks with more charity on Boanerges. I stabled the steel magnificence of strength and speed at his west door and went in: to find the organist practising something slow and rhythmical, like a multiplication table in notes on the organ. The fretted, unsatisfying and unsatisfied lace-work of choir screen and spandrels drank in the main sound. Its surplus spilled thoughtfully into my ears.
By then my belly had forgotten its lunch, my eyes smarted and streamed. Out again, to sluice my head under the White Hart’s yard-pump. A cup of real chocolate and a muffin at the teashop: and Boa and I took the Newark road for the last hour of daylight. He ambles at forty-five and when roaring his utmost, surpasses the hundred. A skittish motor-bike with a touch of blood in it is better than all the riding animals on earth, because of its logical extension of our faculties, and the hint, the provocation, to excess conferred by its honeyed untiring smoothness. Because Boa loves me, he gives me five more miles of speed than a stranger would get from him.

At Nottingham I added sausages from my wholesaler to the bacon which I’d bought at Lincoln: bacon so nicely sliced that each rasher meant a penny. The solid pannier-bags behind the saddle took all this and at my next stop a (farm) took also a felt-hammocked box of fifteen eggs. Home by Sleaford, our squalid, purse-proud, local village. Its butcher had six penn’orth of dripping ready for me. For months have I been making my evening round a marketing, twice a week, riding a hundred miles for the joy of it and picking up the best food cheapest.

Friday 20 July 2007

On the Ning Nang Nong -Spike Milligan

On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go Bong!
and the monkeys all say BOO!
There's a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang
And you just can't catch 'em when they do!
So its Ning Nang Nong
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning
Trees go ping
Nong Ning Nang
The mice go Clang
What a noisy place to belong
is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!

Auguries of Innocence, by William Blake

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dove house fill'd with doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thro' all its regions.
A dog starv'd at his Master's Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus'd upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fibre from the Brain does tear.
A Skylark wounded in the wing,
A Cherubim does cease to sing.
The Game Cock clipp'd and arm'd for fight
Does the Rising Sun affright.
Every Wolf's & Lion's howl
Raises from Hell a Human Soul.
The wild deer, wand'ring here & there,
Keeps the Human Soul from Care.
The Lamb misus'd breeds public strife
And yet forgives the Butcher's Knife.
The Bat that flits at close of Eve
Has left the Brain that won't believe.
The Owl that calls upon the Night
Speaks the Unbeliever's fright.
He who shall hurt the little Wren
Shall never be belov'd by Men.
He who the Ox to wrath has mov'd
Shall never be by Woman lov'd.
The wanton Boy that kills the Fly
Shall feel the Spider's enmity.
He who torments the Chafer's sprite
Weaves a Bower in endless Night.
The Caterpillar on the Leaf
Repeats to thee thy Mother's grief.
Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly,
For the Last Judgement draweth nigh.
He who shall train the Horse to War
Shall never pass the Polar Bar.
The Beggar's Dog & Widow's Cat,
Feed them & thou wilt grow fat.
The Gnat that sings his Summer's song
Poison gets from Slander's tongue.
The poison of the Snake & Newt
Is the sweat of Envy's Foot.
The poison of the Honey Bee
Is the Artist's Jealousy.
The Prince's Robes & Beggars' Rags
Are Toadstools on the Miser's Bags.
A truth that's told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so;
Man was made for Joy & Woe;
And when this we rightly know
Thro' the World we safely go.
Joy & Woe are woven fine,
A Clothing for the Soul divine;
Under every grief & pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
The Babe is more than swaddling Bands;
Throughout all these Human Lands
Tools were made, & born were hands,
Every Farmer Understands.
Every Tear from Every Eye
Becomes a Babe in Eternity.
This is caught by Females bright
And return'd to its own delight.
The Bleat, the Bark, Bellow & Roar
Are Waves that Beat on Heaven's Shore.
The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath
Writes Revenge in realms of death.
The Beggar's Rags, fluttering in Air,
Does to Rags the Heavens tear.
The Soldier arm'd with Sword & Gun,
Palsied strikes the Summer's Sun.
The poor Man's Farthing is worth more
Than all the Gold on Afric's Shore.
One Mite wrung from the Labrer's hands
Shall buy & sell the Miser's lands:
Or, if protected from on high,
Does that whole Nation sell & buy.
He who mocks the Infant's Faith
Shall be mock'd in Age & Death.
He who shall teach the Child to Doubt
The rotting Grave shall ne'er get out.
He who respects the Infant's faith
Triumph's over Hell & Death.
The Child's Toys & the Old Man's Reasons
Are the Fruits of the Two seasons.
The Questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to Reply.
He who replies to words of Doubt
Doth put the Light of Knowledge out.
The Strongest Poison ever known
Came from Caesar's Laurel Crown.
Nought can deform the Human Race
Like the Armour's iron brace.
When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow
To peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow.
A Riddle or the Cricket's Cry
Is to Doubt a fit Reply.
The Emmet's Inch & Eagle's Mile
Make Lame Philosophy to smile.
He who Doubts from what he sees
Will ne'er believe, do what you Please.
If the Sun & Moon should doubt
They'd immediately Go out.
To be in a Passion you Good may do,
But no Good if a Passion is in you.
The Whore & Gambler, by the State
Licenc'd, build that Nation's Fate.
The Harlot's cry from Street to Street
Shall weave Old England's winding Sheet.
The Winner's Shout, the Loser's Curse,
Dance before dead England's Hearse.
Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born.
Every Morn & every Night
Some are Born to sweet Delight.
Some are Born to sweet Delight,
Some are born to Endless Night.
We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro' the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to Perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light.
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in the Night,
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day

Tuesday 17 July 2007

Roads to Moscow -Al Stewart

They crossed over the border the hour before dawn,
Moving in lines through the day
Most of our planes were destroyed on the ground where they lay
Waiting for orders we held in the wood
Word from the front never came
By evening the sound of the gunfire was miles away

Softly we move through the shadows, slip away through the trees
Crossing their lines in the mist in the fields on our hands and our knees

All that I ever
Was able to see
The fire in the air, glowing red
Silhouetting the dust on the breeze

All summer they drove us back through the Ukraine
Smolensk and Viasma soon fell
By autumn we stood with backs to the town of Orel
Closer and closer to Moscow they come
Riding the wind like a bell
General Guderian stands at the crest of the hill

Winter brought with it the rains, oceans of mud filled the roads
Glueing the tracks of their tanks to the ground, while the skies filled with snow

All that I ever
Was able to see
The fire in the air, glowing red
Silhouetting the snow on the breeze

In the footsteps of Napoleon, the shadow figures stagger through the winter
Falling back before the gates of Moscow, standing in the wings like an avenger
And far away behind their lines, the partisans are stirring in the forest
Coming unexpectedly upon their outpost, growing like a promise
You'll never know, you'll never know, which way to turn, which way to look you'll never see us
As we're stealing through the blackness of the night you'll never know, you'll never hear us

And evening sings in a voice of amber, the dawn is surely coming
The morning road leads to Stalingrad, and the sky is softly humming

Two broken Tigers on fire in the night
Flicker their souls to the wind
We wait in the lines for the final approach to begin
It's been almost four years that I've carried your gun
At home, it will almost be spring
The flames of the Tigers are lighting the road to Berlin

I quickly move through the ruins that bow to the ground
The old men and children they send out to face us, they can't slow us down

All that I ever
Was able to see
The eyes of the city are opening
Now it's the end of a dream

I'm coming home, I'm coming home, now you can taste it in the wind the war is over
And I listen to the clicking of the train wheels as we roll across the border
And now they ask about the time that we were caught behind their lines and taken prisoner
They only held me for a day, a lucky break I say
They turn and listen closer
I'll never know, I'll never know, why I was taken from the line and all the others
to board a special train and journey deep into the heart of holy Russia

And it's cold and damp in the transit camp and the air is still and sullen
and the pale sun of october whispers the snows will soon be coming
And I wonder when, I'll be home again and the morning answers "Never".
The evening sighs and the steely, Russian skies go on,

Amelia:- it was just a false alarm.

Not the hexagram of the heavens, nor the strings of my guitar...more like a fraction of the pentagram of the heavens perhaps, But it's a sign. -I knew it was 'a sign'......
Yep. A sign that airliners will be important in my life soon.....................

Friday 13 July 2007

Of Beauty, in Unexpected Places

These, as most of my photos, are taken with my phone, a Sony Ericsson K800i. (3.2 megapixel).
As the phone has no optical zoom, I tend to crop and tweak them a bit, using Google's free photomanagement suite, Picasa.
I recommend Picasa wholeheartedly. It's easy to use, and outperforms some other systems, it has Email tools and web albums built-in. And no, they don't pay me anything for this commendation.
The drawback to the phone is SonyEricsson's diabolical software interface, which took forever to install on my computer, and often crashes it. It has conflicts with other device drivers, and frequently crashes Windows XP Pro.
My previous Sony phone, a K750i had none of these problems... connect to the computer and the phone drives are mapped as external storage devices.
This one....
Well, sometimes it works okay.....
And when it's in 'Data Transfer Mode'... the phone part is disabled. How very annoying....

Waiting, at the hospital pharmacy, I read the walls.

Sunday 8 July 2007

Okay, What's This About Lighthouses?

Bell Rock, Inchcape, Angus, Scotland
I originally labelled this incorrectly, somehow placed it on the west coast.
The Bell Rock Lighthouse is on the Inchcape Rock, part of a reef about twelve miles east of Arbroath, Angus.

Inchcape Rock

No stir in the air, no stir in the sea,
The Ship was still as she could be;
Her sails from heaven received no motion,
Her keel was steady in the ocean.

Without either sign or sound of their shock,
The waves flow’d over the Inchcape Rock;
So little they rose, so little they fell,
They did not move the Inchcape Bell.

The Abbot of Aberbrothok
Had placed that bell on the Inchcape Rock;
On a buoy in the storm it floated and swung,
And over the waves its warning rung.

When the Rock was hid by the surge’s swell,
The Mariners heard the warning Bell;
And then they knew the perilous Rock,
And blest the Abbot of Aberbrothok

The Sun in the heaven was shining gay,
All things were joyful on that day;
The sea-birds scream’d as they wheel’d round,
And there was joyaunce in their sound.

The buoy of the Inchcpe Bell was seen
A darker speck on the ocean green;
Sir Ralph the Rover walk’d his deck,
And fix’d his eye on the darker speck.

He felt the cheering power of spring,
It made him whistle, it made him sing;
His heart was mirthful to excess,
But the Rover’s mirth was wickedness.

His eye was on the Inchcape Float;
Quoth he, “My men, put out the boat,
And row me to the Inchcape Rock,
And I’ll plague the Abbot of Aberbrothok.”

The boat is lower’d, the boatmen row,
And to the Inchcape Rock they go;
Sir Ralph bent over from the boat,
And he cut the bell from the Inchcape Float.

Down sank the Bell with a gurgling sound,
The bubbles rose and burst around;
Quoth Sir Ralph, “The next who comes to the Rock,
Won’t bless the Abbot of Aberbrothok.”

Sir ralph the Rover sail’d away,
He scour’d the seas for many a day;
And now grown rich with plunder’d store,
He steers his course for Scotland’s shore.

So thick a haze o’erspreads the sky,
They cannot see the sun on high;
The wind hath blown a gale all day,
At evening it hath died away.

On the deck the Rover takes his stand,
So dark it is they see no land.
Quoth Sir Ralph, “It will be lighter soon,
For there is the dawn of the rising Moon.”

“Canst hear,” said one, “the breakers roar?
For methinks we should be near the shore.”
“Now, where we are I cannot tell,
But I wish we could hear the Inchcape Bell.”

They hear no sound, the swell is strong,
Though the wind hath fallen they drift along;
Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock,
“Oh Christ! It is the Inchcape Rock!”

Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair,
He curst himself in his despair;
The waves rush in on every side,
The ship is sinking beneath the tide.

But even is his dying fear,
One dreadful sound could the Rover hear;
A sound as if with the Inchcape Bell,
The Devil below was ringing his knell.

Robert Southey

Flamborough Light, Yorkshire

Well, I'm not obsessed, it's not my hobby or anything. but I remember going as a kid to visit a lighthouse. A fairly small one, climbing all those spiral stairs, up to the lantern at the top.
The lighthouse was on the top of a cliff, I remember being very impressed that it could be seen from 24 miles out to sea.. I remember the great glass fresnel lenses, and the fact that the huge lamp assembly could be turned with hardly any effort. Though it weighs over a ton, it floats on a bath of mercury, which makes a near perfect bearing.Flamborough Light, Yorkshire
Later, probably because John Smeaton, the designer was from my home town, I learned of the very different nature of offshore lights, perched on rock, and needing to withstand the roughest seas, and how, in 1696, Henry Winstanley resolved to put a light on the deadly Eddystone Rock, 14 miles offshore in the English channel. Only a few years later, in the Great Storm of 1703, it was swept away in a storm, and Winstanley with it.
Then a Captain Lovett built a great wooden tower on the rock, designed by an engineer called Rudyard. This lasted almost fifty years before the lantern house caught fire, and the keepers were unable to save it.
So a new light was needed, Yorkshire engineer John Smeaton was given the task to design a structure that would endure where others had failed. He thought of the task, and modelled his tower on the broad base and tapering trunk of an old english oak tree.
He came up with a design that required a heavy stone construction, wherein each stone interlocked with others, both side to side, and above and below. Marble dowels, oak wedges, granite blocks, created an immensely strong structure.
Stone plan, Base of Bell Rock Light, Scotland
To make it he had to invent a new type of crane, and further, to invent a new form of fast setting mortar, that would even set underwater. All these things he did. This lighthouse was to be the model system that most later lighthouses would follow, and was exactly what was needed.

Interlocking stone courses in the Bell Rock Lighthouse, Scotland

Bell Rock, Stephenson/Rennie design, (after Smeaton) Angus, Scotland
It weathered the worst the sea could throw at it, for over a hundred and twenty years.
Then it became noted the tower could be felt to move in a storm. Nothing wrong with Smeaton's work, but the rock beneath it had started to crack. A new tower was built then, close by on the reef. Smeaton's was dismantled and re-erected on the clifftop at Plymouth. That is, the upper part. His base section proved so well constructed that it could not be dismantled, and remains standing today.
The next tower to be built (using Smeaton's techniques) is still in use, Douglas's tower, (now has a helipad on the top). Near it can be seen the base of Smeaton's tower.

Yo ho, Here's a tale
That's fair and dear to the hearts of those that sail
'Bout a lighthouse keeper and his bare faced wife
Who joined together for a different life
Yo ho, The winds and water tell the tale

My father was the keeper of the Eddystone light
He married a mermaid one fine night
From this union there came three
A porpoise and a porgy and the other one me!

Yo ho ho, the wind blows free,
Oh, for the life on the rolling sea!

Late one night, I was a-trimming of the glim
While singing a verse from the evening hymn
A voice on the starboard shouted "Ahoy!"
And there was my mother, a-sitting on a buoy.

Yo ho ho, the wind blows free,
Oh, for the life on the rolling sea!

"Tell me what has become of my children three?"
My mother she did asked of me.
One was exhibited as a talking fish
The other was served on a chafing dish.

Yo ho ho, the wind blows free,
Oh, for the life on the rolling sea!

Then the phosphorous flashed in her seaweed hair.
I looked again, and me mother wasn't there
A voice came echoing out from the night
"To Hell with the keeper of the Eddystone Light!"

Yo ho ho, the wind blows free,
Oh, for the life on the rolling sea!

Yo ho, Yo ho
Yo ho, Yo ho, Yo ho...

Friday 6 July 2007

Finnish Lighthouses 1909

And because Trollop 23 left a comment about "what about the ones that that were just begun"....... Here's a pic of Start Point lighthouse, in Devon, England, pinched, I confess from Mat Dickson, here .
I'll email and retroask his permission.

Mice, and the Lighthouse -Updated...

At the lighthouse, the cat can rest, -the population of mice brave and intelligent enough to build boats out of lashed-together sardine cans and discarded chopsticks is small. Only a few of these mice land here, most go on, toward the west, the setting sun lures them. They dream of cheese, and rumoured cities where houses tower further into the sky than even lighthouses. A land where cheese is plentiful, where a mouse, a humble mouse has made it big, and has two magic kingdoms. O, brave mice, only a torn-out sail, ripped in the gale, might make them seek shelter on the lighthouse rock....

Once there, they search for a fragment of cloth to remake their sail. The perfect prize would be silk lingerie, (not much hope in the lighthouse of that....) -Lingerie of silk, light, strong, perfumed, it is prized above all others by mouse-navigators, who will recount how, long ago (in mouse terms, about five years in human ones), the great Fernando Mus, scavenging in the bedrooms of a grand Scottish mansion, discovered the grail of silken lingerie.

He was the first to hoist a triangular lateen sail, curved, perfectly proportioned.... The great storm of '02 ripped to shreds the sails of the flotilla, but Fernando Mus, brave leader of rodents, sailed to windward, picking up survivors, and later told how he owed his life to the extra strength of a double-stitched gusset.

A year later, he arrived in New York on his third voyage in record time, with an entirely new silken sail of his own devising, the Powder-Blue "C" Cup Spinnaker.
Sadly, it was at the termination of that voyage that he lost his life to a passing cat, and thus, we will never know if the Fishnet Fish-net was a success, nor whether it is true that he was once catapulted from a heaving bosom from which he was attempting to steal the bra.

Fernando's descendants, it is rumoured, are seeking to build a great new vessel.. A Sardine-can catamaran, twin hulled, twin masted.... see the logic of that?

(I so wish I had an illustrator for this.....)

Updated! Stop Press:
Look! An illustration. I'm delighted! This just in from Minx, to whom much thanks, she's pretty much got the scenario.... I envisaged a slightly more diagonal roll to the foredeck, and a slightly slimmer, more wiry crew, but WOW! Who'd have thought it! wish for an illustrator and Bzzzt! An illustrator responds! She says it's only a rough draft, and being short of a mouse, a hamster posed for the artwork. The full colour 6'X8' oil painting is at sketch stage, and I should receive it in three months or so...

Red Dirt Girl.... (-am I allowed to link?) suggests this may all be just a figtree of my fevered imagination, a fragment of fantasy prompted by cough medicine and cheese sandwich interaction.Nothing could be furthermore from the truth. If you, R.D.G., were to come out here; knock on the lighthouse door, I would take you climbing, up to the lantern gallery, and there we could sit, watching a twinkling myriad of tiny silk sails, catching the evening light, scattered across the sunset sea, all heading west. As the great orb settles on the horizon, and the light of those multicoloured sails goes dark, (From passionate mulberry, chocolate, powder blue, dramatic purple, black lace, flesh, to grubby many-times washed white....), a constellation of tiny sardine-oil lights twinkle upward, we would listen, in the darkness, to a thousand mouse voices, raised in a chanty,

" O shenandoah, I love your daughter
Look away, you rollin’ river
It was for her I’d cross the water.
Look away, we’re bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri

For seven long years I courted sally
Look away, you rollin’ river
Seven more years I longed to have her
Look away, we’re bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri "

Fading away, into the warm ocean night......

p.s. Any takers for further illustrations?

Wednesday 4 July 2007

Helium Horses Now Available!

Soubriquet Labs is happy to announce that the new lightweight horses are now available.
We recommend the carrying of sandbags and water-ballast during all long distance rides. Customers are warned against riding over water without wearing suitable flotation aids, as any outbursts of equine flatulence can result in a sudden loss of altitude.

Walrus Gets His Birthday Gift

via: across the board blogspot

Steampunk Zeppelin?

No, it's The Corn Exchange in Leeds, (Yorkshire, England). In the 1970s the interior was a big open space, with the desks of the corn merchants in rows. Time moves on. Corn selling is by different means now, and this lovely building is now full of shops.
It was built in 1862, and was seen then as a stunning piece of modern architecture. The same architect, Cuthbert Broderick, designed the Leeds Town Hall, an altogether more conventional building. In the Corn Exchange, though, he excelled, using an altogether new technology to create the broad pillarless span of the roof. This was a period where Victorian engineers were creating wide arched railway stations, and also circular domes, but this, an elliptical dome, to me this is a masterwork, before its time. And if Broderick had lived to see the great airships, I think he'd have been well placed to become an aviation designer.