Monday, 28 February 2011

Film Fun

Tonight I write this blog from my room in south east Coventry as I go through the last week of three of my leadership course. A comfortable room with power shower, TV and Internet connection, the view is less satisfactory as it overlooks a caravan storage park. Small cheese, I never look out of the window. It's not home from home, but it's good for four nights.

Tonight however, for a break I went to the pictures at the Showcase in Coventry to see Paul starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and an Alien called 'Paul'. This is a fun road movie with two nerdy Englishmen who are on an alien trail across south of the USA. A car crash one night unites them with the said alien who happened to be driving a car (badly) whilst escaping from 60 years of incarceration by the American authorities. No spoilers here, but once over the shock of meeting Paul they embark on a chase across the countryside coming across ridiculous and hilarious situations.

There is excellent support from Seth Rogen as the voice of Paul, Kirsten Wiig, Jason Bateman and a cameo from Sigourney Weaver.
The film should be enjoyed for what it is, fun, daft comedy, good script, juvenile humour and LOTS of swearing. The film will never win an Oscar but it's good value light entertainment with excellent CGI. Recommended.

Back to the course. The day started with meeting some new people and being reunited with some familiar faces. This is a week which brings together everything that we've learned in the previous two weekly modules. This week will finish with a 'hydra' exercise. This is a live exercise which last two days where a team of four will act as a senior management team dealing with a critical incident (a serious reputation damaging incident) hoping to bring it to a successful conclusion using all the skills and abilities at our disposal. Theory into action.

We worked on 'command and control' issues today and how to construct strategic plans. We did an exercise on negotiation and tomorrow we'll look at risk and a bit of historical context.

Well, it's late and I've got an hours work before turning in.

Chat soon


Thursday, 24 February 2011

Light in the Darkness

My son tells me that his colleagues from his workplace in York (North Yorkshire, UK) saw the Northern Lights last night (Wednesday), as predicted by scientists. I've had a look out tonight and despite a warm night (well no frost anyway) and a clear sky, I can't see much at all through the light pollution, just the odd twinkling star.

I recall about 1993-ish seeing the sky turn purple one night here in Yorkshire and thought it was a fire somewhere only to read in the papers the next day it was the Northern Lights. Some pictures of the Northern Lights can be found here at the BBC.

Like many I guess, I am watching with horror the scenes from New Zealand south island following their second earthquake in five months, this one more devastating than the last. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased and the community there who will take many years to get over this disaster. My line manager was in Christchurch airport waiting for his flight home when the earthquake struck and he says they never felt or heard anything and only found out about it when they landed in Australia four hours later.

Amazing. He had been to see the Cathedral only 17 hours prior to the collapse of this great building and had lunch at a cafe opposite that is now under rubble.

A work colleague today pointed out a 'Christian' web site in America who blamed the disaster on homosexuals citing it was God's revenge upon them and society for allowing homosexuality. If it wasn't so fundamentally serious, it would be laughable. How any right minded modern Christian worshiping a loving and forgiving God could think such twisted thoughts I have no idea. I pity them.

My last week module of my three week leadership course looms ever near and next week, I shall be ensconced near Coventry in the Midlands for four days where my colleagues and I put into practice everything we have learned about leadership and business. I am both excited and nervous. Work is so busy at the moment that I can't really afford to take the time off, but hopefully the longer term benefits for me and the organisation will bear fruit. I have already learned so much.

Looking forward to the weekend!

Chat soon

Picture by Varjisakka courtesy Wikipedia

Sunday, 20 February 2011


Welcome to Christopher Dos Santos to the follow list. Christopher describes himself as a "lover of knowledge and truth." Well truth I have in abundance, the knowledge bit is questionable. Welcome anyway.

As a family, we tend to be fairly traditional with food, British cooking with the occasional venture into the exotic world of the culinary unknown. In the last couple of months however, my two oldest sons, who watch lots of cooking programmes have come up with recipes they see and like the look of, print them off from the Internet and we proceed to experiment and have produced some surprisingly good meals.

Last night we did Chicken Skewers with Satay Sauce. We had to buy a lot of the ingredients which we don't stock for example: Fresh coriander, limes, red chilli, fresh ginger, egg noodles, sesame oil, fish sauce and unsalted cashews.

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe and of course as a professional, Jamie runs through it, mainly without thinking too much - he's a natural and he has the four stages of this recipe all going in preparation at the same time. I can't do that!

As the chicken skewers are finally laid in the pan ready for grilling, my kitchen looks like a bomb's hit it. Several pans, two blenders - hand held and kitchen top one, bowls - several, utensils - dozens, ingredients - a shop full.

Considering I'm not a chilli lover, except exceptionally mild and sweet only, I was looking forward to the meal not without some trepidation. However, it smelt lovely and the taste (one has to try the flavours during preparation haven't you?) were surprisingly pleasant and not at all 'hot,' considering the chilli and ginger involved.

The noodles were a faff but when it was all laid out on the plates it looked - well, fantastic.

I am delighted to report that all the hard work and cleaning up and cost was worth it and it was very nice indeed. Highly recommended. We finished it off with a pineapple mint pudding which consisted of pineapple rings (we forgot to take the core out!) with a paste of fresh mint and caster sugar and topped with blueberries and Greek coconut yoghurt. Yummy.

The recipe can be found at Channel 4 website.

Roast pork for tea tonight - very traditional with crackling, stuffing, roast potatoesand parsnips and fresh British vegetables, with gravy of course. What did you have for tea?

Cry for Help by John C Desmond

To whoever finds this note.

Me and twenty-three others
are trapped in a large pie
at King's.
Take this to Special Branch
and earn yourself a
nest egg reward.

Chat soon


Saturday, 19 February 2011

Pitter-patter, pitter-patter, can you hear the rain?

There are miserable days and there are miserable days. Today is a miserable day. It began to rain during the night and we woke up to a steady down pouring and it's got heavier as the day has gone on. Weaver, a fellow blogger has snow further up in the Yorkshire Dales and on the television this afternoon, there is snow on the pitch at Elland Road in Leeds. Making it more miserable is the chill and dark grey skies.

The photo above taken this afternoon is a bit cliche but just how it feels.

How do you describe rain? I wrote on someones blog today that it had been 'chucking it down' all day. 'Belting down' is another phrase I use along with 'persisting it down,' trying to be polite.

My mother, a cockney, says 'It's raining cats and dogs.' The derivation of this is almost certainly the experience of heavy rain in olden days (17th/18th century) washing dead dogs and dead cats down the gutters in the streets - yuk.

The northern phrase we'll be used to up here, is 'it's raining stair rods.'

It's amazing how much liquid precipitation (which includes rain) dominates the topic of conversation and it's more often than not taken as a negative context at this time of year - too much too often. The poet WH Auden once said that his face "...looks like a wedding cake left out in the rain." And yet after a drought - we pray for bloomin rain. Can't win.

This poem is a common one from my childhood:

It's raining, it's pouring,
The old man's snoring.
He banged his head, he went to bed,
And he couldn't get up in the morning.

I hope you are keeping warm, dry and cosy today.

Chat soon


Thursday, 17 February 2011

Goodbye to a Private Man

Welcome IsabelleGoLightly from New York to my blog as a follower. She describes herself: "I am a very pretty Pygmy/Boer goat. I'm soft and cuddly and love my family and friends." It's a first for me, but I've learned not to ask too many questions. There are lots of 'awwwww' photographs on her site - recommended. Welcome anyway and have many enjoyable visits.

Today in many ways was a sombre occasion, not necessarily for me but for a friend and his partner. My friend's father has recently passed and today was the old gentleman's funeral.

The crematorium is very isolated in the middle of the countryside but is in a wonderful location high on the Wolds, north of Driffield in East Yorkshire, just below the border with North Yorkshire.
The countryside is beautiful and rolling and the crematorium is modern red brick built with hospitality suite with a room where families can have refreshments set in many acres of well kept grassland with a memorial lake with fountain, all surrounded by mature trees alive with cawing crows.

There weren't many there at the humanist funeral, but he had those that mattered there to send him off.
'The deceased had been a sailor who spent all his time looking at, thinking about, or sailing on the sea.' The service, according to the order sheet, mirrored what was close to his heart.

I've never actually met the deceased. Ever. I knew a lot about him because my friend spoke about him often and his partner cared for him in his latter years. I was there to support my friend and his partner.

The funeral was bright, short and had some lovely touches. There was a slide show of family photographs of the deceased and his family - so I could finally put a face to the character. There were a couple of modern pieces of music which acknowledged the deceaseds' time at sea and a poem from a younger son written in the funeral programme. My friend, the eldest of four brothers gave a eulogy that was both factual, touching and with occasional humour. He told the truth about his father's life talking about the man's real character, but he told it with dignity and composure. A fitting tribute.

The day has been damp and misty. I've been on the Wolds many times, but hit the day wrong and you get damp, raw conditions. Today was such a day. The weather of the day will soon be forgotten, the man will not.

The family chose a poem by John Masefield today in recognition of the time the deceased spent at sea and what it meant to him:
Sea Fever.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,

And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,

And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

Chat soon


Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Wise Old Bird

As is my custom, welcome to new follower Elizabeth who has already left some comments on previous blogs, may you come here often and I hope I can give you something to muse about every now and then.

You may remember I spoke recently about a dunnock singing through the night in the tree near our bedroom window?

Well last night I heard the eerie and sustained shrieking of an owl. Now this is a common occurrence, we are surrounded by mature trees in the neighbourhood and owls are regular screeching visitors around us, usually in the early hours. I have no idea what kind of owl it could be - I've never seen it but the books say it's probably a Barn Owl, 'Tyto alba.' Chaucer (the second time I've mentioned him in two days) described the Barn Owl in the 14th century as a 'prophet of woe and mischance.' A bit over the top do you think?

At the same time the owl was shrieking away (it's breeding season for them by the way) a crow lazily cawed away in clear protest at being woken up and disturbed. So three night time birds heard in recent days, one to be expected, two definitely not.

I learned, through Weaver, a exceptional and knowledgeable blogger the difference between a crow and a raven for example. The crow, not liked by some, I'm not sure why, is a most comical bird when the one who lives near us is prancing about on my neighbour's bungalow roof, rooting about in the moss on the tiles.

However in spiritual terms, the birds the owl and the crow feature large in what they represent in the animal world and how their behaviour can be attributed as signs or portents. I have some animal 'Medicine Cards' which I use in my spiritual work and here is a few thoughts about what they represent.

The crow is thought to be the keeper of the sacred law and has the ability to shape shift and be in two places at once - a keen observer of what is going on in the neighbourhood and in the universe as a whole. Crows are thought to be an omen of change and teach us to speak the truth and they teach us to be prepared to carry through on our words, in other words, don't just 'talk the talk' but 'walk the walk.' A powerful animal in medicine.

The owl is another bird of enormous power in the spirit world (remember what Chaucer said about them?) The owl is associated with clairvoyance and magic and sits in a place of illumination, hence a 'wise old bird.' Ancients thought the owl was dangerous because it hunted at night and because it was silent (both of which are true of course.) Owls are often associated with witches and sorcerers - you only have to look at how JK Rowling depicted them in Harry Potter books, as 'familiars' and messengers. They are birds of wisdom because they can see, especially at night, what others cannot. Owls are truth, intuition and keen observers.

Phew - you can breath again or open your eyes now. Strange stuff over with.

Mr. Owl

I saw an owl up in a tree,
I looked at him, he looked at me;
I couldn't tell you of his size,
For all I saw were two big eyes;
As soon as I could make a dash,
Straight home I ran, quick as a flash!

By: Edna Hamilton

I hope you enjoy the rest of your week.

Chat soon

Picture of the barn owl taken by [ Stevie B] *Source [])

Monday, 14 February 2011

Valentinus - Worthy, Strong and Powerful

I heard on the radio this morning on the way to work that Valentine's Day (14th February) was the commercial invention of a famous card company 'Hallmark'. I knew there was a Saint Valentine, but couldn't make my mind up whether or not the Hallmark story was true. Needless to say, a bit of research debunks that theory.

In fact this day is Saint Valentine's Day. Little is known of Valentinus (means worthy, strong and powerful) who gives his name to this day save to say he is buried in Via Flaminia in Italy, just north of Rome. Indeed just to complicate matters, there could have been several Saint Valentines and they were all Martyred saints of ancient Rome.

The feast day of this anonymous man dates back as far as 496 AD, established by Pope Gelasius the first (remember him - the name trips off the tongue) who included Valentinus among those "... whose names are justly revered among men but whose acts are known only to God." So we don't know what he did nor will we ever know why he became famous.

A woodcut of Saint Valentine appeared in 1493 - the first 'picture' of the man. The connection to romantic love only became popular in Geoffrey Chaucer's day in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries and it wasn't until the late 1700s that hand written cards expressing love for your partner became more popular after the British publication of The Young Man's Valentine Writer which gave a number of examples of romantic verses that people might try.

Since the 19th century, commercial cards have flourished and these days - anything goes in terms of how Valentines day is expressed - red roses, choccies, red plastic baloons, romantic dinners etc etc. Awwwww.

So there you have it - a potted history thanks to various pages on Wikipedia.

As for this fifty something Yorkshireman? Haven't celebrated it for what seems like forever. Why? Who knows - I can remember giving cards to girlfriends in my teens, perhaps I've just grown out of the need to be dictated to by commercial sector and express my feelings on just one day of the year. Still, for hopeless romantics, I hope they enjoy it and have a fabulous day.

*The rose is red, the violet's blue
The honey's sweet, and so are you
Thou are my love and I am thine
I drew thee to my Valentine
The lot was cast and then I drew
And Fortune said it shou'd be you.

Chat soon


*Gammer Gurton's Garland (London, 1784) in I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), p. 375.
** Valentine's Day card courtesy of Wikipedia - origin unknown.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Little Brown Things...

Mornings are still fairly dark and the evenings get dark early still too. So why does the dunnock who lives in my hedge sing and trill right through until about 2 a.m? His (or her) song is absolutely delightful and cuts right through the silence of the sacred night. Bill Oddie calls such birds 'LBTs' - little brown things, and the dunnock is one of those anonymous sort of birds I guess, but they are real characters.

Many years ago, when I worked the occasional night shift, I used to watch birds flying and singing at night in the bright lights of an industrial estate in Hull where night was lit up almost as bright as day (what a waste - no-one worked there on a night.)

We don't have the amusing spectacle of flocks of sparrows in the garden, we've never had any for donkey's years, but watching them in mother's garden is both funny and entertaining as they sit around the bird bath and play and interact.

The dunnocks bob along on the ground usually in twos, under bushes, scrabbling around in the leaves, pecking in the grass and spend very little time on the bird table where there is food aplenty. Their thin reddish legs and brown plump bodies (sounds familiar - I must go on a diet again) don't quite match their ability to produce beautiful and entertaining song.

The photograph above was taken in my mother's garden yesterday because my snowdrops have yet to flower although I notice that the white buds are not far away from opening. There are some readers of this blog who also come from God's own county - Yorkshire and it is amazing that in just a few miles, the behaviours of flowers and nature can be so different in their timings.

I can't do much in the garden at the moment; I walked down to the greenhouse yesterday to find a new pot for a house plant that had a cracked pot and the grass was sodden. We've had loads of rain and I really need to start tidying up, but the grass is easily damaged right now. It's normally toward the beginning of March that I give the grass it's first high cut, but there is no sign of growth at all. A local company has come and put some moss killer down because some of the grass sees very little sun and that's started to work already.

My other half has just brought some walnut cake and a cuppa to keep me going with all this energy I'm expending typing. Lots to do today, so hope you enjoy your Sunday.

Chat soon


Saturday, 12 February 2011

King's 'Extraordinary' Speech

Time to play at film critic again and it's a while since I've been to the cinema, which is unlike me, but a family trip out to see the King's Speech was how I spent my Saturday evening.

No bangs, no explosions, no fantasy figures apparating; just exceptional acting, production and direction.

This film has 12 Oscar nominations and it is easy to understand why. This film presents itself in muted colour and I don't even think it is in HD. 118 minutes long and rated 12A (there is a little bad language but nothing gratuitous or unnecessary and totally in context to the plot,) it provides the cinema goer with a range of emotional experiences. There is a huge and high quality supporting cast - too many to mention.

The Duke of York has a speech impediment - a bad stammer. He is second in line to the throne when his brother King Edward ascends who then subsequently abdicates because of his love for a divorcee American, Wallis Simpson. War is just around the corner. The Duke of York didn't want to be King and he never expected to be King. The story is simply how the future King George VI, the Duke of York attempts to cure his stammer or control it at least to enable him to take up his public duties and make speeches without losing any credibility with his people.

Oscar nominated Colin Firth commands this picture with his very presence supported by Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) and the exceptional Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist. Both Bonham Carter and Rush are Oscar nominated for best supporting actor.

The heart aches for the Duke as he attempts to make public speeches, the embarrassment is palpable and the looks on the faces of the Duke's audiences is both subtle, respectful but telling of their real thoughts. There is humour in adversity and there are surprisingly some laughs as the Duke and Lionel Logue spar with each other and the dialogue is sharp. There is the trauma of the Duke of York being berated by his father, King George V for not being able to read a radio broadcast speech and his nasty brother, the future King Edward jibes him cruelly.

No spoilers here so you'll have to go and see it to see what happens, but for me, the film gets 10/10 for sheer quality with a history lesson of the time thrown in. This film might even slip into my top ten best film list.

So, what does the film tell us? It tells me that for some, a stammer can be debilitating to the point of bringing on depression and creates isolation and withdrawal. This film is an inspiration - it makes me understand in no uncertain terms what having a stammer means, and perhaps for those with a stammer, gives hope and belief.

If you've seen it let me know what you think, if you haven't seen it - take a trip to the pictures before it goes. I understand that the cinema run has been extended because of its popularity and the increasing age groups that are now flocking to see it. This isn't just an older person's film.

Chat soon

Picture of Colin Firth as King George VI from IMDB

Friday, 11 February 2011

Spring Nearly Here (Don't Hold Breath!)

Friday is here and the weekend is nigh - where on earth has the week gone? The pansies, despite being covered in a pile of snow in their hanging basket are now in flower and seem to be in pretty good condition giving some much needed colour to the drab landscape.

There are some people in the area whose snowdrops are showing already however the varieties I've seen are the very small type, whereas mine are still just spikes and although the flowers don't last long, they are most delightful to see.

This has been a busy week with meetings and work done and sadly my colleague has left work today to enjoy what I hope is a long, healthy and happy retirement. He took advantage of an enhanced early voluntary retirement thereby in effect saving someone from being made compulsorily redundant.

Spring is just around the corner though; have you noticed average temperatures have been exceeded with 12 degrees C this week? The fish in the ponds have had their first feed of wheatgerm (low protein) and the leaf nets have been taken off.

I've ordered seeds from Sutton Seeds for about 31 years now but as we move into the 21st Century, I don't use a catalogue any more and I don't buy seeds, I buy tiny small plants from their Internet site, already germinated and almost guaranteed successful growth. That however is pure lazy! I loved sowing seeds, pricking out and growing on, but there isn't enough hours in a day for me to do that now, but sadly it is a more expensive way to put flowers in the garden.

Today a book arrived from Amazon (another failing - ordering books on the Internet). It is 'The little Book of the Green Man' by Mike Harding (BBC Radio 2 host of folk music and comedian and entertainer). This was on the recommendation of good blogger friend Jarmara who had read my blog on the Green Man. What a little gem this book appears to be and I shall enjoy reading it I'm sure. Great choice Jarmara.

My mother (73) is due home tomorrow after having her second hip operation. She had the other one done last year. This hasn't been as straight forward and she'll take longer to recuperate, but then I would expect she would. She will be disappointed of course - she'll want to be running around like nobodies business, but it's time to slow down and take a more considered view of what she can do. Her wedding anniversary arrived while she was in hospital, so when she arrives home, a welcome home will include a few thoughts about their anniversary too.

Occasionally, I try to give you a list for the weekend to consider, this week, just a handful of favourite short poems with a hint of humour to get us going for the leisure days ahead...

My Father by Kaye Umansky

My father is a werewolf,
Right now, he's busy moulting.
He leaves his hairs on stairs and chairs.
It's really quite revolting.
And if my friends make comments
(for some of them are faddy),
I tell them it's the cat or dog.
I never say it's daddy.

An Invisible Man's Invisible Dog by Brian Patten

My invisible dog is not much fun.
I don't know if he's sad or glum.
I don't if, when I pat his head,
I'm really patting his bum instead.

Somewhere! by Ian Deal

Somewhere in the halls of wisdom
Lies the largest box.
Filled with all life's little mysteries
And my missing socks!

fr xmas' txt msg by Mike Harding

where r u? mrsx
lost. frx
where lost? mrsx
fi nu i wunt be lost. frx
nt funny. diner n'ly redi. mrsx
rudolph nose went out in fog. lost. frx
told u it ws goin dim!!! still fogi? mrsx
no - fog gone bt dunt recognise were am now. frx
describe. mrsx
big pointy stone things and camels. frx
u in egypt. mrsx
2morrow i sack rudolph. frx
i give dinner to elves. mrsx
i is sorry. frx
nt hlf as sorry as u will be!!! mrsx

Have a great weekend

Chat soon


Monday, 7 February 2011

The Green Man

Few months ago I bought a Green Man for the garden. Just in case you think it's a guy who eats too much grass, its a physical representation of a man surrounded by leaves and vegetation, in this case, made of concrete.

I've been looking for one for ages, and although there were lots of plastic and wooden ones, I wanted a concrete one that would last and weather naturally. My intention is to put him on a tree somewhere where he has a vista over the garden, but while the grass is sodden, he now sits with pride of place on the rockery.

In short, the Green Man is a symbol, a symbol of nature, of rebirth, the cycle of spring and how apt that I put him out now as the signs of spring start to show ever so tentatively. My rose bushes in their pots have red sprouting shoots and the bulbs have been peeking through the soil for a while now.

I guess I always thought that he was a Pagan symbol and that may be true, but he can also surprisingly be found on churches in carvings, some I've seen are round the doorways with other symbols such as fruits and vegetables. I saw a programme some time ago that suggested that when the church began to have more influence and power, that as a compromise to the traditional pre-christian traditions, his image was placed outside churches to allow for an easier transition to the new religion of Christianity.

Now this is something I have learned today in researching this interesting character; I mentioned a Pagan connection. In Wicca (which I know little about but should find out more) the Green Man is a representation of syncretism. This word (a new one to me) means to bring together contrary ideas - I suppose it's similar to synchronicity. If this is true, it explains why the figure can be seen on churches from centuries ago - the bringing together the belief in nature with the beliefs in Christ. Why not? They are certainly not mutually exclusive.

For me however, he is about nature - the very essence of where we live, how we live, who we are and the inextricable link between us humans and this home we call Earth.

So in short, I hope he works with the Elemental spirits that are around looking after nature to make our environment safer, more productive and a more pleasant place to live. A simple belief.

Wow, has it been windy today. Locally up here 'up north' the winds got to 66 mph today (106 kph) and while I was visiting one of our sitesat work, I was literally blown from my car in the car park to the front door of the building. Anyway, a mixed week ahead with a hint, just a hint of colder weather returning next week although there has been disruptive snow in Scotland today.

The trouble with the wind is that it has blown loads of leaves from under bushes and from other people's gardens onto my drive and front door step after I'd cleared it when the snows went!

Monday is virtually out of the way and I hope you enjoy the rest of your week.

Chat soon


Saturday, 5 February 2011

Spare a Tanner Gov'nor?

Decimalisation came to the UK in February 1971. Our old pounds, shillings and pence (L.S.D. - librae, solidi, denarii) disappeared although some of the coins remained for a time and in instead of 240 pennies to the pound, in came 100 'new pence' to the pound.

Going metric wasn't new to the Commonwealth with Canada and Australia, New Zealand and South Africa going metric long before the UK. I collected coins as a kid, nothing serious, just foreign coins that people brought home from holiday, that sort of thing, but I did collect one or two nice British pre-decimal coins which I still have today. I was often given the gift of a Crown (five shillings) for birthdays

The school I was at at the time refused to 'teach' us about decimalisation. That was something we had to take on on our own. So when the transition period came along moving to the new system, shop keepers and the retail trade took advantage and raised their prices at the same time conning the public out of millions.

There is still today a lot of nostalgia over old style coinage and I've often wondered why. I think today, I might have had a flash and I think it's to do with language. Even to this day, both my mother (in her seventies) and me still use the phrase 'ten bob' which is the modern 50 pence. There were twenty shillings in the pound and 'bob' was slang for a shilling. It seems that the slang 'bob' might have come from a French 14th century coin of a similar size called a 'bobe,' although no-one is sure.

The BBC today have put some common used phrases on their website, which I will unashamedly 'pinch' that have their history in old coinage. Here are a few examples and I would be interested if you good readers from outside the UK have similar phrases to do with your coinage:

'Spend a penny' - it used to cost (usually women) a penny to put in the slot to use a public toilet.

'Bob-a-job week' - Boy Scouts (I don't know if Girl Guides did this - enlighten me) used to go from door to door in their neighbourhood and charge a shilling ('bob') to do small household jobs, particularly for the elderly.

'You look like you've lost half a crown and found a sixpence' - to look fed up or depressed. Clearly losing half a crown, (two shillings and sixpence), and finding a sixpence (half a shilling or slang 'tanner'*) is not in anyones best interest.

'Take the King's Shilling' - When recruiting in the 18th and 19th centuries, sailors and soldiers were offered a shilling to sign up, a sort of immediate binding contract.

'It can turn on a sixpence' - to turn quickly in a small space - relates to the small nature of a sixpence coin.

'A penny for your thoughts' - someone in deep meaningful thought. The phrase is often used to snap them out of it and an invitation to share those thoughts.

'To coin a phrase' - coining in its old meaning means creating money, so when you created a new phrase or use a particularly clever phrase for the situation, you would 'coin a phrase.'

'The other side of the coin' - the coin has two different sides, the obverse (where the head is) and the reverse - so it was said to be an alternative argument or point of view.

The western history of coins and then the start of organised money goes back to around 700BC and began in the Greek Islands.

What would we do without coins? A huge and fascinating subject.

I have enough money to last me to the end of my life - unless I actually have to buy anything!

Chat soon


Thanks to Wikipedia and BBC News On-line for some of the material today and the photo of the 'tanner' is from Wikipedia.
*Slang for a sixpence - a tanner, is from the designer of George ll coins, John Sigismund Tanner

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

All Change... for the Next Stage in the Journey of Life

Today is a little bit of a sad day at work. The organisation I work for is undergoing reorganisation and is preparing for the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) cuts to kick in.

People are moving about, people are leaving of their own accord and some are taking voluntary redundancy too - thankfully, no compulsory redundancies planned.
This person works in our administration and is one of life's good people. Helpful, competent, knowledgeable, very personable indeed and smiles a lot - will go the extra mile. At least this person will be staying in the organisation, just moving to another site completely.

The place won't look or feel the same, and not necessarily for this one person leaving, but for the several others as well who have moved on.

People definitely maketh the place.

In my office alone (of four people) one has gone on maternity leave and is unlikely to come back with us as the role has gone and one of my other colleagues retires at the end of next week after 42 years of loyal local government service. Leaving two. The work hasn't gone away - well not yet anyway.

I've moved several times in my career within the organisation through promotions and development and every time you adjust to new people, new surroundings and new challenges, but nothing quite prepares you for the people you don't get to see anymore other than by chance meetings once in a Sheffield flood.

Well the weather has turned again today - rain and strong winds and according to the Met Office, there are some stronger wind warnings for the beginning of the weekend. I bottled out of washing the car by hand (not recommended for automatic car washes according to the handbook) because it was so bitterly cold last weekend. I might miss out this weekend because of the rain.

I feel sorry once more for the folk of west Australia who are now facing 180 miles per hour winds, high seas and driving rain with Cyclone Yasi. I watch that with interest and will send my thoughts to them in my meditation tonight.

By the way, if you are ever feeling the need for some distance healing and positive thoughts sending to you, never hesitate to ask. I doesn't hurt!

My wife said to me today in a reflective mood, "Oh my goodness, my boobs have gone, my stomach has gone, my bum has gone. Tell me something good about my legs."

"Blue goes with everything dear."

I never realised black eyes were so painful!

Chat soon