Friday, 22 November 2013

Hull, City of Culture 2017 - Don't Miss the Boat

A rain shower just passes at sunset over the fields in West Hull. The bath to the right is for the horses to drink from

I hope you are getting used to the weather if you are in the UK, some regular ground frosts now appearing and icy windscreens to clear in a morning. On the flip side, it's certainly invigorating to go for a walk in this wintry sunshine.

There have been some interesting developments locally in so far as the neighbouring town of Kingston upon Hull is concerned, it's been chosen as the City of Culture 2017.

I am absolutely delighted for the city. The local use of social media to promote the City has been truly stunning when you look at the statistics compared to the other cities in the race. 

There have been, and are, so many detractors, whingers, moaners, bad mouthing ignorant miserable... people (for want of a better word) who delight in their own negativity.

And yet, they are so short sighted not to realise that the city is now going to start to develop a better feeling about itself and whilst Government does not put any cash into the initiative, inward investment and benefits through additional visitors and publicity through events for example will make the city feel much better about itself and enable it to lift itself out of the doldrums. Jobs and cash will come as a result.

Someone said Hull is a city, "coming out of the darkness," and that is possibly true. I would rather like to think it's been in a bit of a twilight. There are so many positives and yet so many negatives which has created that sense of stalemate for so long. I'm not going to make a case for the positives the city has nor discuss the negatives because no city is perfect, balanced and wholly positive. 

None the less - there is an opportunity now to move forward with grace and dignity and with a positive frame of mind. 

The armchair critics who sit on their backsides and moan all day long and use the anonymity of the net to be destructive either need to put up or shut up now. Contribute or bugger off, I don't want to hear you any more. Use your freedom of speech to talk to the mirror - you just love to hear yourself speak.

The City Council, in dire difficulties due to Government cuts in public spending now needs to be supportive and innovative to encourage its citizenry and visitors to make 2017 and the run up to it something to remember and leave a positive lasting legacy to move this city finally into the 21st century.

Over the few years I've been doing this blog, you will have hopefully seen some sense of balance about the place near where I live and where I have worked all my adult life barring four years. It is both an interesting place to live, work and to spend leisure time and it's been an interesting journey watching it slowly and painfully rise out of the rubble of the second World War.

When I started to work in the city in 1973, there were still bomb damaged building sites and gaps in streets where houses had been demolished. No more thank goodness. The strides forward made have been tremendous, but now the time has come to press the accelerator firmly to the floor and drive us all, neighbours, inhabitants and visitors toward greater things. Time and tide waits for no-man, start working at making life better for this wonderful old city now or miss the boat for ever.

Chat soon


Sunday, 17 November 2013

What the Papers Say

Rushes and reeds highlighted in the low autumnal sun
The first real signs of winter may be coming to the UK next week around Tuesday with more widespread snow. The Scottish highlands, as would be expected have already had some - the rest of us are getting some of our own. Oh joy and it's still only November; having said that, snow here at this time of the year is not as rare as people think.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to review the Sunday papers on BBC Radio Humberside this morning on Andy Comfort's Sunday Brunch from 10 am to midday. It's something I am invited to so occasionally and it's thoroughly enjoyable. Andy is a wonderful host and professional presenter who engenders a relaxed atmosphere mixed with great music and a bit of fun.

The secret to reviewing papers is picking a story about which you are interested - not necessarily knowledgeable about, and treat the whole thing like a chat with a mate over a cuppa. Pick a mix of serious and off beat stories of broad interest as possible. Give a precis of the story, give an opinion if you have one and don't swear! I always go fairly early to give myself plenty of time to read the eight or nine papers that are presented to me and I scan them all from front to back looking for headlines and stories that people may be interested in.
Local tree with leaves highlighted by the low powerful autumn sun
I have no idea what the demographics are of the audience to this station nowadays, but they are not at all young I guess, but they are knowledgeable about music and local issues and are very loyal listeners. The radio station recently won the Sony Radio Station of the Year (300K to 1M listeners) award. No mean feat.

My stories today were:

Sunday Telegraph - Children in Need

£31 million raised for good causes and although I never saw it, the writer comments that it was one of the best Children in Need BBC shows she had seen.

Independent on Sunday - Superbugs

This was a disturbing story based on a report in the Lancet that we as a race of people facing having infections which are resistant to antibiotics because we use them too much. An unnamed doctor is quoted as saying the public and doctors need educating - "...just because you're ill, do you need a pill?"

Sunday Times - Pricier Christmas menus in the home

Based on 15 items average price across four supermarkets, some items have gone up 125% over last years prices and the 15 items in total have gone up 17%. Higher animal feed and imports as well as a lack of supermarket promotions are blamed.

Mail on Sunday - Stamp of honour for literary giant Trollope

Anthony Trollope is to be honoured with a set of stamps to commemorate him. This literary giant also had local East Yorkshire connections because he worked for the Post Office in Hull for a short while and initiated a failed bid to become an MP in the 1860s for Beverley, when the campaign he fought in was riddled with corruption and it was investigated. He was also responsible for the introduction of the Post Box in the UK. 

Sunday People - Jimmy Greaves top 50 all time footballers

This famous footballer rated John Charles as his all time number one footballer who in 1957 was sold to Juventus by Leeds United, one of the first foreign transfers, for the princely and record sum of £62,000. George Best, Booby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Stanley Matthews also appeared in his top five. 

Sunday Express - Doctor Who's 50th anniversary

The paper listed all of the Doctors and a brief history of each although they forgot to name Peter Cushing as the Doctor in two films.

A bit of fun to lighten a Sunday followed by a lovely lunch with a friend. Christmas card writing  tonight and perhaps wrapping a couple of presents.

Chat soon


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Ladybird, Ladybird Fly Away Home

As part of a memorial weekend here in the UK, centred around Remembrance Sunday I had occasion to accompany a friend today to the cemetery where her family are buried. 

Chanterlands Avenue Cemetery in Hull also known as the Western Cemetery opened in 1889 and was privately run by the Hull General Cemetery Company until 1972 when it closed for burials and the council took over its maintenance. I understand burials still take place there but only in family graves where plots have been previously paid for.

The cemerary has one 'famous' burial there and being Remembrance Weekend it is very apt, John Cunningham who died in 1941 was a British Victoria Cross War Medal Recipient. He served as a Private in the 12th Battalion of The East Yorkshire Regiment. He was awarded his Medal for service at Hebuterne, Somme, France, on November 13, 1916.

The place is large, sprawling and quiet with huge trees and a little wildlife such as squirrels. It's maintenance can be best described as a little shabby, but acceptable as far as it goes for a Victorian cemetery. There is too much subsidence of graves and memorial stones and the pathways are unclear, being covered in leaf. But at least it's locked on a night and surrounded by a substantial fencing.

Imagine my surprise when getting back into the car to see this collection of ladybirds and their larva situated on the corner of a sandstone grave memorial.  Ladybirds are the family Coccinellidae - of small beetles. In the US, you like to call them ladybugs I understand.

Ladybirds and their larva on a Hull gravestone 10 November 2013, about 1.15 pm
Although today was bitterly cold, just 6 degrees Celsius at midday, the sun was bright and the sky clear, out of the breeze, it was quite warm. These ladybirds were sunning themselves.

As part of a series of popular songs about ladybirds, this traditional rhyme (and there are many variations) was penned in English in 1744, and to be honest, I never understood it as a kid, it seemed a little macabre to say the least:

Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All except one,
And her name is Ann,
And she hid under the baking pan.

Well the explanations seems to go something like this: It's very unlucky to kill a ladybird. So, in order not to make a mistake and accidentally kill one, you were supposed to sing this verse to it and it would fly away home, presumably to look for survivors and check the insurance policy! But it would fly away, safe to continue its life for another day.

Another variation is if a ladybird lands on you, you sing the verse and when it flies away, you make a wish and it will come true, a reward for saving its life.

I hope if you are in the northern hemisphere, you are protecting yourself against the cold, winter is on its way.

Chat soon


Lest We Forget

Image courtesy Wikipedia

11th November, 11 am GMT - a couple of minutes silence is the least we can do to remember those fallen in war and conflict to protect the innocent, preserve democracy and create proper justice. Put the political arguements aside for just two minutes as a sign of respect.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Extract from The "Ode of Remembrance" taken from Laurence Binyon's poem, "For the Fallen," 1914

Chat soon