Sunday, 28 November 2010

Scenes from Horseback

I had a brief sojourn into the old town of Hull this morning to meet an old friend who showed me round an old building which goes back to 1698. I am going to lead a paranormal investigation there in January and it gave me a chance to have a look round to get my bearings and soak in a bit of the atmosphere. It promises to be a good one. The picture above shows the church this morning bathed in winter sunlight in the reflection of the bank windows on Market Place.

While there, I decided to have a short wander around, not dwelling too long because of the freezing weather - the only advantage of which was the fact that there was no-one around. I used to work in the old town centered by Holy Trinity Church in the mid to late 1970s and some of my ancestors were baptised and married in the magnificent church, originally built in 1285, just down the road from St Marys which featured on a blog a few weeks ago.

The statue of King William lll sits, unceremoniously in some ways, next to a public toilet in Market Place, just a few yards from Holy Trinity. This is a remarkable statue of a king who was relatively unloved and unmourned. Were it not for his missus, Mary, who was indeed loved at the time, he would be William the Obscure. The statue of him was erected in 1734, and apart from the war years, his gilded figure has remained there ever since, vigilant and proud. It is said that the sculptor committed suicide after realising, following his completion of the statue that he had not included any stirrups for the King's royal tootsies. The truth is that the Sculptor, Dutchman Peter Scheemaker died in 1781 at the grand old age of 90. The statue was probably designed that way to represent a 'classic' style of bareback horsemanship.

I haven't walked down Prince Street opposite Holy Trinity for 30 years plus and although there is a lot of restoration down there, the cobbled streets, the curved nature of the building line, the arched entrance and the old shuttered buildings takes you back centuries; I guess it hasn't changed massively - ghosts from yesteryear would recognise the scene.

On the way home, thankful for a warm car, the Humber Bridge presented a fascinating vista being half covered in a fog bank. Fog of course is no stranger to the Humber basin and with a still cold morning, there were attractive wisps of vapour all over the place as the water was considerably warmer than the air! The only problem was that the main A63, Clive Sullivan Way provides nowhere safe to stop and get a good photo.

From a bland chill morning with minus 5 on the car clock and no overnight snow, at the time of writing, an hours continual snow has now turned my village into a winter wonderland. This picture was taken at 12.35 today.

All the pictures were taken today - I love the immediacy of blogs.

Keep warm!

Chat soon


Saturday, 27 November 2010

300 Not Out - Will Potter Survive?

Welcome to my 300th post.

Let no-one say that JK Rowling has no talent as a story teller. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is the coming of age of Harry James Potter now aged 17 years at the beginning of the end. This much anticipated film (there are no spoilers here) panned by critics who frankly know nothing about what audiences want or like was a wake up call for those who think Potter is just a pink and fluffy children's fantasy dream. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I guess Harry Potter is a bit like Marmite, you hate it, you love it or frankly you don't care about it. There are shades of Lord of the Rings, where Ronald Weasley, played by Rupert Grint is given a light device in the will of Albus Dumbledore (his deceased headmaster) to show him the way in times of darkness. There are clear references to the rise of the Nazi empire in the way those destructive and dark forces are trying to seize control. The propaganda machine, brainwashing and subjugation of the citizenry by any means fair or foul - usually foul, the grey, dank stench of death in the air makes this film one to sit up and take notice.

This is a film about three children growing up in a changing world, changing toward something they passionately don't believe in and they are prepared to go the extra mile, make sacrifices, take difficult courageous decisions to fight for what they believe, and yet they are children, and this is what the critics don't understand. This is life from their point of view - young people growing up, not the authors and not the viewer.

We've been on a journey through the fairy tales, fantasy scenes of a gentler time, humour, fluffy magic, weird creatures, great characters to the dark realism of the need to survive. The classic good versus the evil and at the end of the film, we are left with the stark reality that the dark side is defintely ready to triumph; the wait for the conclusion is unbearable and therein lies the success of the transformation from book to film. The characters are now well known; we, as the audience can relate to them as they feel emotion at every level, experience personal loss, despair, love, a glimpse of hope in the gloom. Our favourite characters are at the final cross roads. Who will survive, who will succumb to the power of the dark lord.

There has been a transformation to the real world by quality acting from the young cast, Radcliffe, Grint and the excellent Emma Watson supported by stunningly talented actors and actresses. The sets and scenery are now almost monotone and sparse adding to the tone and despair; the special effects continue to be special; the evil one is becoming more powerful, the good - on their knees.

Who will triumph?

This is a quality film by Warner Bros, rated at 12A, a measure of the emotion generated by this excellent production. Highly recommended.

The weather on the other hand is a bleak as the film, minus 3 degrees Celsius on the way home at dusk, snow laying on the ground, the roads icy.

I hope my colleague and her partner managed to get to Pickering in North Yorkshire this weekend for a long weekend break in a log cabin with real fire and a hot tub which I hope they enjoy along with the bottle of Champagne they've taken with them.

Another colleague flies out to Spain to be with her parents for a week today or tomorrow from Manchester and although I guess she wont be sunbathing, it won't be minus 3 either!

I hope you've had a good weekend so far. Keep warm

Chat soon


Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Snow Time to Prepare...

Is this what to expect in the morning (Thursday) - it is if you believe the BBC weather forecast?

Student riots (my son couldn't get into the Uni library today to study because they were occupying it), Comprehensive Spending Review, North Korea fires on South Korea and the talking point at work today? It's going to snow.

Let's get life into context. I'll have to get up early in the morning although I only live five miles from where I work because the roads are traditionally quite poor in bad weather. Generally, I don't do mornings much although I rarely sleep in because I think the day is wasted if I do. The car I have, a diesel, takes ages to warm up unlike my old version which was petrol and the screen on this one takes forever to clear. Since losing weight, the cold affects me more so it gets very uncomfortable sometimes when I'm clearing ice and frost.

A very good friend has bronchitis, another has his version of man flu and there are sniffles and sneezes all over my workplace. My son has a cough. Woe is me - how long before I submit to man flu?
I've stopped feeding the fish in the ponds now, they can't digest food in cold weather and to feed them does more damage than good. The warmth of the living room this weekend is very attractive as opposed to my usual enthusiasm to get outside at every opportunity when the sun shines bright and warm.

I posted the following warning on Facebook a couple of nights ago...
WARNING, PLEASE READ. If someone comes to your front door and asks you to remove
your clothes and dance with your arms in the air, DO NOT do this, it is
a SCAM, they just want to see you naked. please copy and paste this to
your status, I wish I had received this yesterday, I feel stupid now :(
Enjoy the rest of the week and take care in the cold!

Chat soon


Sunday, 21 November 2010

An Alternative Dimension...

This the Cottingham Railway station on the Hull to Scarborough line. A steam train is just about to come in from the Beverley direction - well it did in 1908.

Listening to the rain on the windows this quiet Sunday morning took me into a reflective mood. A trip to Cottingham in East Yorkshire yesterday (Saturday) to take some photographs for our latest hobby assignment brought back some memories of the village where I was brought up. I even parked outside the house I lived in for the first half of my life as my middle son and I wandered around with a book of old photographs of the village.

We took some photographs from the exact position that the original photographer used and my son merged the old with the new, a couple of which I've put on here. You should be able to click on any of them to enlarge them.

This is the shopping street in Hallgate, Cottingham. The ghostly images of horses pulling tree trunks transforms this scene. Cottingham was once said to have every species of European tree within the village boundaries due to having some keen collectors as residents. Those horses would have been heard clip clopping down the street about 1912.

The memories came back more so when we went to the railway station. I spend many happy pre-teen years hanging around the station watching the trains and at one point can clearly remember standing on the bridge over the lines being covered in smoke from the steam trains passing underneath on the Scarborough to Hull line. The line escaped the Beeching cuts of the late 1960s and I remember doing a petition in my school to save the line.

The flower beds were tended, coal fires raged in the waiting rooms, one for ladies and one for the gentlemen. Linoleum covered the floors producing squeaks from your shoes. As diesel trains took over from steam, the pervading smell of oil from the tracks would fill the air most days. I recall one porter, Ernie, a small rotund man who used to disappear down the lines every afternoon to replace the oil lamps on the signals, so the train drivers could see whether the signal was a go or stop after dark. Red fire buckets with sand lined the platform in the case of fire and wooden trolleys for luggage stood idly about.

This is St Mary's Church in Hallgate, where I was married 31 and a half years ago. This is a really spooky photograph in so many ways and I guess that none of the boys in the photograph from 1906 are alive today.

Racing pigeons would arrive at the station in lorries once a week and dozens of baskets of birds would be off loaded, fitted with rings and they would be let loose from the platform and dozens of birds would fly up, circle the station a couple of times and head off for home - a miracle of nature.

Porters would signal to the train guards with green flags when the train was safe to set off and off loaded passengers would wend their weary way home.

I used to help the porters when it became time to turn on the gas lamps on the platform and over the bridge on darker nights. The hiss of gas and bright flame on the mantels comes back to me as clear now as it was then.

Fun to look back over more innocent and simpler times.

My sincere thanks to John who put these photographs together for me. It's been a real pleasure to bring these photographs to life - enjoy.

Chat soon


Friday, 19 November 2010

Last of the Summer Flowers...

You may remember in my blog earlier in the week, I told you I had to do an end of course presentation? Well that happened first thing this morning.

Four groups of five or six people had to present a high level strategic plan of an imaginary major change within a community.
This used all the learning from the course and the previous weeks course earlier in the year and it took us all week to prepare it in our own time. It taught me a lot about teamwork, research, creating presentations, presenting, with a tight time scale to a high powered individual who asked some very pertinent questions, and us responding without using bullshit.

I have to say, the feedback was sensational for all the groups who presented. There was no prizes - that wasn't the point, but all the presentations were different, exciting, imaginative and hit the button. What a great end to the week. I have a lot of people to thank for cajoling me and encouraging me, including some fellow bloggers.

The third and final week of this course will be next year in late winter when all the elements of what we've learned so far will come together in what they call a 'Hydra' style scenario. This appears to be a real time playing of an exercise over a few days where we will have to be part of a management team using leadership skills to manage a difficult and challenging developing situation. Excited and terrified are the two words that come to mind.

The journey home was mainly at 50 or 60 miles per hour on the motorways due to the patchy and often thick fog. Boy am I glad to be home. Unpacked, had tea and watched a film with the family (Dead Poet's Society with Robin Williams - never seen it before) and just getting paperwork up to date so I can enjoy my weekend off.

I'm still waiting for the EuroMillions ticket to come my way!
I haven't seen anything of Children in Need this year on the TV, I'm trying not to watch too much TV, but the radio in the car on the way home today was brilliantly entertaining. Rolf Harris was a guest on the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 and he was superb followed by the smooth and funny Richard Allinson supported by Amanda Holden They raised a huge amount - well done you as well as Radio 2.

The picture above is the last of the flowers, a rudbeckia amongst a sedum, fairly well protected from the frost by the pergola.

Have a GREAT weekend


Thursday, 18 November 2010

Business Imagination

It's grey and dull, dull, dull in Warwickshire today, damp and chill is all around. There are some beautiful spots still with rich brown fallen leaf, bright pink late afternoon skies, interesting lights on an evening but unlike some supporters in the crowd at Wembley last night, this is not shirt-off weather.

I won't bore my non-football readers, but the England footballers underperformed last night against a young and inexperienced French side. Were it not for the underrated Peter Crouch scoring one minute after he came on as a substitute, it would have been a whitewash. Therefore my prediction that there may be something to cheer about today was woefully misguided.

There are times in every course where the day seems long and irrelevant. Today was close to one of those days. A visiting speaker got a difficult time because he represents a dysfunctional government quango who was trying ever so hard to justify their existence and purports them to be perfect and value for money - whilst treated with respect, he got the message that they ain't!

We also talked about 'futures,' which is about what's coming round the corner in the short and longer term and how to 'Scenario Plan.' That's thinking about and anticipating the unknown future through analysis, trends, statistics, history etc., what will be coming and allows the organisation to adapt and change in readiness using experts and imagination to get ahead of the game. The official phrase used is "The philosophy is to proactively think and plan for future developments instead of being a passive victim of change."

The lack of imagination was demonstrated by the following famous quotes:
  • "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" HM Warner, 1927.
  • "Space travel is utter bilge." Woolley, 1956, Space Advisor to HM Government.
  • "Atomic energy might be as good as present day explosives, but it's unlikely to produce anything more dangerous." Churchill, 1939.
  • "The telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication." Western Union, 1876.
  • "X-rays are a hoax." Lord Kelvin, 1900.
  • "640k ought to be enough for anyone." Bill Gates 1981.
  • "Everything that can be invented has been invented." Commissioner of Patents, 1900.
Looking forward to the weekend!

Chat soon


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Time for Leisure Business

Following the theme of 'business' while I am on a course this week, I've taken time out to go the Cinema for some leisure business.

In fact, I took a trip to the Showcase Cinema in Coventry last night to get away from my residential course and saw Burke and Hare starring Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis ('Gollum' in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.)

Despite critics not giving it a very complimentary review, I found it entertaining and funny in places with Pegg on top form. Yes it is a little predictable, but I've always said, if done with style and class, it's fine by me.

1820s Edinburgh sees two famous surgeons struggling to find bodies for dissection to educate medical students. By accident, Burke and Hare deliver a body to the surgeon and they earn the princely sum of £5 and there starts a business that proves profitable if not somewhat dangerous and in the end fatal for one of them. There were some great ham cameo performances from Christopher Lee, Jenny Agutter and Michael Winner the latter of which is an uncredited role.

Veteran actors Ronnie Corbett and John Woodvine support the rival surgeons Tim Curry and Tom Wilkinson and the sex interest is Pegg's girlfriend Isla Fisher. Comedian Bill Bailey makes a creditable hangman and narrator.

I guess dealing with dead bodies might be an uncomfortable subject and in all honesty, if you are sensitive to this for any reason, the film is probably best to be avoided - there is a certain degree of indelicacy about it.

The film moves along with pace and the story keeps you interested right to the very ironic end.

All in all, if you like Simon Pegg, you'll like this film with all the little extras waiting to be spotted by the sharp eyed cinema goer. Recommended.

Today's element of the course dealt with the 'fascinating' subject of finance management and people management including controversial topics such as annual appraisals and less meaty but equally as important employee engagement. The preparation for the presentation at the end of the course marches on despite some severe IT issues which are doing their best to scupper our attempts at producing a simple PowerPoint presentation.

England football on the television tonight, so hopefully, something to really cheer about tomorrow.

Chat soon


Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Foggy Business...

November fog and frost greeted me this morning in what turned out to be a sunny day in Warwickshire.

The course is not getting any easier and today's subjects were around performance management and resource and demand management. The days are so long and the content of the course is largely front loaded - lots of talking from the course tutors. We have exercises to do based on the day's subject and there is a big exercise which we are working on during the week which we have to present on Friday morning before we depart for home.

I've done my 'homework,' got changed and after tea, which is served at 6 pm., I'm going to toddle off into Coventry, well the outskirts anyway to watch a film, Burke & Hare with Simon Penn. Now this film has had some average or poor reviews, but having seen the trailers, I am really happy with obvious comedy when it's done well and the production values look good, so I'll report on the film tomorrow; I just need a break from the rigours of this ever so steep learning curve!

I'm not sleeping either at the moment and I'm not sure why, but I'm hoping that the venture out in the fresh air and change of scenery will help.

I was delighted with the announcement today that Prince William will marry Kate Middleton in 2011 and I wish them well. I hope dear readers you will forgive me for this comment, but I hope that the couple will learn from the mistakes that we made, as a nation, of how we handled Diana, Princess of Wales. Having Diana's ring on her finger will be a reminder what Kate must avoid in allowing the media to pry, magnify, dissect and analyse her life in minuscule detail. The country would never forgive the media for a repeat performance.

The final picture today greeted me as I left the classroom, and although you'll have to click on the picture to enlarge it, there was a line of dancing dolphins in the clouds, much clearer than the picture has turned out.

Chat soon


Monday, 15 November 2010

Let's do the Business...

I've migrated to Warwickshire (south east of Coventry) for the second residential week of a three week course and this module is about strategic business, linked to the course theme of 'Strategic Leadership.' It's not as grand as it sounds, it's a foundation course. Other brighter, younger things do the full course.

It's at times like this that I realise my inadequacies and age (I'm the oldest on the course) whilst in amongst some incredibly bright cookies from around the UK, most with degrees of one sort or another and most of whom have done some of the techniques already. Ah well, the trick I guess is to get out of my comfort zone, grit my teeth and try to get as much out of it as possible, because believe it or not, it's a very interesting (if not incredibly difficult) subject particularly at this time of tremendous change in the public service.

Today's subjects were: organisational change which included models for change, organisational emotional intelligence and a few exercises to burn the lessons in. Before tea, I am now doing some reflection and analysis which involves completing a 'learning log' with what the most significant learning of the day was and how I can apply the new knowledge to the workplace.

Although it was forecast to be cold last night, imagine my surprise when I walked out of my room this morning to be confronted with a widespread and hard frost which has lingered until well after lunch; and, having disappeared, returned by the time we walked out of our delegate room at 4.30 pm tonight. The picture above was taken at 9 am.

I love the frost, but the shower in the room this morning was only lukewarm which I HATE! which did not prepare me well for the chill. However, most importantly, housekeeping have put new batteries in the television remote control!

I hope you have a great week.

Chat soon


Saturday, 13 November 2010

Now and Then...

A better day today, with wall to wall sun, little breeze to talk of and spent all of it indoors! Today was an auragraph course - learning to see people's aura and then creating a visual representation on paper (I could already see them, but had never created an auragraph before). More on what an auragraph is in a later blog.

I had seen an interesting photo set on the BBC website where old pictures of towns were superimposed on modern day pictures to represent of how it looks now and how it looked then on one photograph. So we (my son John and I) thought we would try to reproduce this effect and here are the results:

This is the original photograph taken just after 1900 of Queens Victoria's Square in Hull , so named because a statue of Her Majesty sits in the square - just to the left of the picture.

This is the modern day photograph, taken by me from, as far as we can tell from the various angles and positions of the buildings, the exact spot from where the original was taken. The difficulty is finding the right focal length of the original lens setting.

This is the fascinating result of putting the two pictures together showing John's skill using Adobe Photoshop CS4.

As you can see in comparing the pictures, there's very little left of that part of the city other than the buildings to the far right and Queen Victoria's statue to the left although the original building lines were retained. The change came not because of modern development, but because of the persistent and unremitting bombing of the city in World War ll by the Luftwaffe; 'that North Eastern town,' as the broadcasts and newspapers reported when the nation was told of the bombing, and so called to protect the identity of the strategic importance of the docks to the nation's survival.

My Grandfather was an auxiliary fireman in Hull during the war and he had some tales to tell, both harrowing and darkly funny. But that's for another day.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend

Chat soon


Friday, 12 November 2010

Wind blowing through the trees...

First of all I welcome as a follower to this modest little blog, Christopher Dos Santos who was kind enough to take the time to leave a comment on my last blog.

Wind blowing through the trees.

Wind playing in the leaves.

Wind brushing against the sky.

Wind knocking over you and I.

Extract from The Wind by Mishaal Javed Dawar

Wow, has it been windy. The local weatherman on the BBC said that this is not that unusual, we get around two of these each autumn, thank goodness it came when the bulk of leaves have gone otherwise it could have done more damage. The local TV reported on a tree falling on a house and damaging a roof, distressingly, the local council had been contacted six months ago having been told it was unsafe, and they didn't do anything about it!

The picture above is the fountain in Queens Garden in Hull City centre with spray being blown all over the area.

I've spent the day reading today, getting ready and preparing for a course next week, part two of three and this module is on 'business.' It includes such things as finance (high level strategic), business change, human resources and people issues. There'll be people from all over the UK there and the delegation will be about 20 people; we'll share experiences as well as learn. I'm not naturally gregarious, but once over the nerves, I'll enjoy it.

The house is busy tonight, my eldest is watching Hull City on Sky Sports, (as I finish writing this they have miraculously won 0 - 2 away at Preston); my middle lad has a friend in and they are having a jamming session; my wife has two friends round and I'm chatting to my youngest on Facebook...

My middle son and I have been working on a photographic project. We have got some old photographs of Hull in Yorkshire taken variously around the 1903 era. We have gone out and taken the identical photograph from the same position as near as we can get it to the original photographer and then we've melded the two pictures together using Adobe Photoshop CS4, overlaying them to show then and now in the same picture. I'll post the results on here shortly.

Fellow blogger Diane Parkin has a book out, Night Crawler, and you can find it on the following link...

I'm just waiting with baited breath to see if I am a Euro Millionaire - I should be - I invested a whole £2!

Today's story is about a recent trip to the barbers.

I said to the barber that it was funny watching his dog take a keen interest in him cutting his customer's hair.
"Yes," he said, "It's because I sometimes snip off a bit of my customer's ear."

Chat soon


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Coincidence or Reason?

Those of you who follow this blog will know that I am a Spiritualist and I refer to it occasionally but tonight, I'm going to devote a blog just to an incident which you may (or may not) find interesting.

I attend a psychic circle every Tuesday run by a very experienced tutor, clairvoyant medium Shirley Ann Summerwill in Hull. I take my drawing materials because I enjoy psychic art and am fortunate enough to be able to draw dead people who come into my imagination and normally they are recognised and taken by those for whom they are drawn. They are pencil drawings, often done in around five or ten minutes.

Last Tuesday I drew a man who came to me from the world of Spirit who, in life had a straggly beard and I noted certain things about his life, where he worked, his mode of transport to work, what he was like in life, the era he lived and the relationship he had to a person still living - their father. I even discovered as evidence, that he had been watching over his child in this world and had observed them 'umming and ahhing' about whether or not to get rid of a wooden chopping board.

Sadly, at the time no-one at the circle could recognise him at all, yet the image of him was vivid and he gave me some good checkable evidence. I wrote the facts on the bottom of the drawing of the man should I ever need to refer to them again, which was unlikely. Whilst disappointed, at the end of the night I put my pad and the picture of the man back in my bag and departed for home.

Last Friday night, I had previously arranged to do a Tarot card reading for a lady in a nearby town. Before setting off, I put my Tarot cards in my drawing bag and set off. What you need to know is that other than my circle, I NEVER take my drawing bag out of the house - ever - unless I am going out to do some sketching (usually on a nice warm summer's day).

Indeed the reading went well with an evidenced link to the lady's Grandmother in Spirit. At the end of the reading which went so well, although very happy with it, the lady expressed a slight sadness that her father had not come through - someone to whom she was very attached and loved a great deal.

For a reason I can't explain, I asked if her father had a beard to which she replied that he had. I reached for my bag and withdrew my drawing pad and showed her the picture I had drawn on the previous Tuesday. I have no idea why I did this or what prompted me to do it.

You know what's coming - Indeed, it was her father - quite clearly. Not only was the drawing of her father, but the facts about him were absolutely right. I had drawn him four days earlier for no obvious reason because no-one at the circle could take him. She had even been trying to decide whether or not to get rid of her wooden chopping board!

Spiritualism never ceases to amaze me and more often than not there are less than obvious explanations for coincidences and strange things happening, never-the-less I believe that they normally happen for a reason. I was delighted that the lady was reunited with her father who she so much wanted to contact again and I can't explain why the world of Spirit chose to do it this way, but she is now in possession of the picture and has it with my love.

I don't charge for Tarot readings, I ask that the sitter donate a sum they think suitable directly to their favourite charity if they think the reading was okay. I am pleased to say that the Heart Foundation will be a few bob better off as a result of the reading.

Not a remarkable story perhaps but one which gives me a glow to know that someone has benefited from a reading facilitated by the world of Spirit which for me always has four vital components: compassion, hope, truth and whenever possible, checkable or recognisable evidence.

I hope your week is going well.

Chat soon


Sunday, 7 November 2010

Season of Mist and Mellow Fruitfulness

It's been a lovely autumnal Sunday here in sunny East Yorkshire with wall to wall sunshine, a light breeze, a chill in the air and that unique smell of fallen leaves and dampness. I went for a stroll around the Sunday Market at the Humber Bridge this morning and there are a few more stalls than normal including some craft stalls with gift ideas for the festive season. Visitors were a-plenty.

The two days of bonfire night celebrations have come to an end and the smell of cordite has drifted away on the breeze. For the first time in a few years, I haven't found a spent rocket in the garden.

Keats' poem on autumn with his 'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness...' is evocative of how autumns should feel and is a little romantic, but with nights drawing in and being dark by five, cozy nights in are very enjoyable.

On the way home after a brief visit to the DIY store for some picture hooks, I passed the King George V playing fields in Hessle and saw the low autumn sun shining across a playing field full of kids playing football watched by keen parents muffled up against the cold. I have spent many hours for many years watching my eldest playing football on the local playing fields.

We spent most of Saturday in the garden after a brief sojourn into Hull for some shopping and buying my first ever tuxedo for a Christmas Ball coming up in early December. In total we filled six large tonne size bags with shrub clippings and leaves from the shave we gave the garden and by the end of the day, the grass was dry enough to give a high cut.

It looks as though we might have had a fox in the garden, there are a few about in the neighbourhood because there was a hole in one of the raised borders which indicates it might have been digging for a frog or a toad. The birds are slowly coming back, the dunnocks have made their first appearance today for a couple of months and the robins are taking more notice of the work we've done in their effort to discover uncovered tasty morsels. The squirrels are now feeding more regularly at the bird table.

The final job to do in the garden is to lift the dahlias after they've been bitten by frost and indeed there is frost forecast this week.

It's going to be a lazy day for the rest of the day with a bit of reading, perhaps a football game on the TV if my other half is not watching the dross she records (she's not well poor ducks - chest infection). There's roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for tea although there is only three of us instead of the normal four (five when the boy is home from Uni) because my eldest son is spending his 24th birthday in Dublin - lucky lad. I've never been but would like to go.

Today's story revolves around a passenger plane that is in real difficulties and the Captain warns the passengers that they may have to crash land in the hills and it will be perilously dangerous. A female passenger stood up and shouted, "If I'm going to die, I want to die feeling like a woman." She took her top off and cried, "Is there anyone on the plane who is man enough to make me feel like a woman?"
A man stood up, took off his shirt and shouted, "Iron this!"

Chat soon


Thursday, 4 November 2010

Which Clint Film Rocks your Boat?

I cried today. Not for long, not publicly and recovery of dignity was quick and unnoticed. I watched tonight, for the third time, Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood, picture (above) from here. One veteran Americans dream going to rat-shit as his neighbourhood changes beyond recognition and his view of modern day kids is one of despair for the future of the country he fought and killed for.

He has his faith restored eventually by the actions and attitude of two kids who are his neighbours, brother and sister, one of whom tries to steal his car, but he comes to trust and like them but ultimately, he pays the sacrifice for wanting nothing but the best for his community and for those who restored his faith in youth.

The character teaches us about the futility of revenge, as well as what can be achieved through compromise, hard work and effort.

The film is produced and directed by the great man Eastwood and the fact that the Academy never nominated it for one single Oscar drew fierce criticism from film critics and the public alike.

Eastwood I guess is a film hero of mine because he has achieved so much in his life and has brought so much to audiences for so many years. He loves his art and is competent both in front of and behind the camera. It's really difficult to pick favourites. He is like a number of actors of his era who always play themselves. Sean Connery is another classic example of that ilk who plays himself - always.

Gran Torino comes in the top five of my personal favourite Eastwood films, Escape from Alcatraz, Pale Rider, Space Cowboys, Every Which Way but Lose, Dirty Harry and perhaps Million Dollar Baby are in there somewhere.

His list of awards is impressive; however he has only won Oscars for Best Director/Best Picture for
Unforgiven in 1992, Best Achievement in Directing and Best Picture for Million Dollar Baby in 2004.

What is/which are your most memorable Clint film(s) and why?

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