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Being all things to all men

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Sunday 30 October 1664

(Lord’s day). Up, and this morning put on my new, fine, coloured cloth suit, with my cloake lined with plush, which is a dear and noble suit, costing me about 17l..1 To church, and then home to dinner, and after dinner to a little musique with my boy, and so to church with my wife, and so home, and with her all the evening reading and at musique with my boy with great pleasure, and so to supper, prayers, and to bed.

Confession: I am fully aware that I do not listen to good music enough. It is balm to the soul. I can give an excuse that there is too much on my mind but when all said and done I am too restless to sit down for an hour or so and listen to auditory material. I can however listen to news as in Radio5Live because they are always jumping from subject to subject.

I like Charles Darwin’s quote “If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week” or Albert Einstein “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician”. I read that listening to music releases the “feel good” neurotransmitter dopamine and I feel intuitively that it lessens stress and boosts the immune system. It has reduced depression and discourages me from compensatory eating. I know some surgeons played music during operations to diminish stress but knowing our luck the NHS has banned this practice on some ground or other though private surgeons can do as they wish.

Mozart

I understand that if people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease are played music from previous eras, their memories are stimulated to remember previously known songs. Music improves intelligence, so studies show. I need to do some work on slowing down, which may be connected to the need to drop the idea that I am indispensable. It’s a hard one for a Gemini as we live on nervous energy.

But wait, even cows give more milk when classical music is played to them . Go on, your can google that phenomenon to your hearts content.

*****

My webmaster asked me today who my website was intended for. He asked me because I felt I needed to reach more people. I was tempted to say ‘everyone’ but then that reminds me of being all things to all men, and nothing to yourself’.  The derivation of this phrase comes from the King James bible, Corinthians 9:22. “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made All things to all men, that I might by all means save some” This is a huge and ambitious statement and is about flexibility and adaption without compromise – you can figure out the rest.
It gained a certain derogatory meaning in modern times in terms of the futility of ‘being all things to all people’ because that causes unacceptable compromise in behaviour which is hypocritical.  We need  to stop this habit because one person cannot embrace all the requirements of your friends or your customers. We are best sticking to what we are passionate about, or simply good at.

This brings me back to my webmaster’s question. I want to attract diarists or bloggers and encourage them to write, people thinking of moving away from big cities to the south-west particularly Somerset, and people who like to be stimulated by new ideas or ways of looking at the world. I am coming up to 300 blogs now and nearly 250k words with no sign of slowing down. Rather, it has become part of my end of day routine, something that I enjoy doing and learning from, and an activity that my wife regularly reads and corrects my spelling mistakes and syntax errors.

Lord Mayor’s Show – risk taking – is it bad for the health?

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Saturday 29 October 1664

The first Lord’s Mayor’s shows were not held annually

Up, and it being my Lord Mayor’s show, my boy and three mayds went out; but it being a very foule, rainy day, from morning till night, I was sorry my wife let them go out. …Here I staid three hours, and eat a barrel of very fine oysters of Wolfe’s giving me, and so, it raining hard, home and to my office, and then home to bed. Read the full diary entry by clicking on the date, above.

Yes they did have weather in those days. We forget what a historic event is the Lord Mayor’s show, manifesting as it did in 1189 but annually from 1751. The Lord Mayor is elected annually and is to be distinguished from the Mayor of London, a political and administrative post which has only existed since 2000. Prominent among the floats are the 12 great Livery companies such as the Grocers, Fishmongers, Goldsmiths etc.

*****

Matias Ventura or just plain Matt, the lead of editor focus for WordPress, writes about innovation

……Which is scary! Because change always is, and this is a big one. But a scary thing is usually a thing that leads to growth, if you can push through it. Ten years ago, agencies and developers worried that software like WordPress would ruin their business because clients wouldn’t need help updating their sites any more, and would maybe even just start building their own sites. But their worse fears didn’t come true — instead, it created new opportunities for everyone.

I find this very helpful. We hear of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. I wonder why people including myself are afraid of risk taking. Maybe we should think of all the things that could go right, rather than the converse. I always have a Plan B, for what to do if things go wrong but you cannot plan for all unexpected events. I have noticed that people with the fuel of will power melt all opposition and create a tidal wave of self belief that conquers all. Perhaps vision is the limiting factor or it could be sheer cowardliness or laziness. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” Proverbs 29:18

*****

Francoise went on a trip with Age UK seniors and passed Chew Magna Reservoir which is part of the system that supplies Bristol with water. It was very much down; this  being surprising as we have had so much rain. Dips in level occur over the summer so maybe it will restore in the winter.

*****

Our allotment a few years ago. It’s not bad but could be improved.

Just a short blog today. I spent most of the time digging on my allotment  so that the rain and frost could break up the soil.
A new committee member, Will, is turning an unused and unloved plot into a trial bed. He is killing the weeds by putting carpet on the ground and will leave them for six months to die for want of light. What a perfect day. Not a cloud in the sky.

Silence

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Friday 28 October 1664

Slept ill all night, having got a very great cold the other day at Woolwich in [my] head, which makes me full of snot. Up in the morning, and my tailor brings me home my fine, new, coloured cloth suit, my cloake lined with plush, as good a suit as ever I wore in my life, and mighty neat, to my great content.
Click date above for full content

*****

the world’s quietest room

The more I experience silence the more is the outcome rich and productive. There are very slight overtones, quiet hums, rumbles and these are not all due to pulsing of the blood activity in my eardrums, maybe the vibration of the head itself.  I was sitting particularly quietly and meditating on silence about which a lot has been written.

I remember reading that existence in an anechoic room is  very difficult to bear for a long time and it can send people out of their mind. I believe the record is 45 minutes in the ‘Worlds quietest place’ which is in the Orfield Laboratories in South Minnepolis.

The Quietists were a movement of Catholic monks based in France, Italy and Spain starting in the 1670’s. It was later dismissed as heretical as it elevated contemplation over meditation, intellectual stillness over vocal prayer, interior passivity over action, spiritual growth and union with God.

The quietest place I have every experienced was in Northern Finland which is well beyond the arctic circle. Ice and snow are good absorbers of sound and you can literally hear yourself breathing, and even see your breath due to the intense cold.

Silence! vs Sit quietly! There is a difference in meaning and implication. The first is the vocative tense, and order. The second is descriptive. The former contains an element of duress. We can  be ‘silenced’ by something but not ‘quietened’.

Noise is a physical thing, the pressure of sound waves,  measured by decibels, named after Alexander Graham Bell of the USA. However, peace is an entirely different animal. This is about the harmony of the mind body spirit enabling a human being to conduct themselves with equanimity (lovely word). I find the human psyche to be robust and enduring but we need to give it the circumstances it needs to function but then you did not need me to tell you that.

Sunday is my day of rest and the computer was not even switched on until 5pm. I did not miss it though <confession> after 24 hours I would probably get a bit twitchy.

I was tempted to have a log fire this evening. Our worthy chimney sweeper came on Friday to do his annual deed. He has all the latest gear and makes no mess. The brushes are operated by an electric drill. The whole process took 25 minutes.  It is useful also to have an official certificate for the insurance company as many house fires are caused by an accumulation of soot in the chimney (4,193 incidents in 2015-2016). I did not know that temperatures can rise to 1000 degrees centigrade

Now to watch  David Attenborough’s latest nature offering, Blue Planet II

 

 

The best things in life are free?

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Thursday 27 October 1664

… At noon, Sir G. Carteret, Sir J. Minnes, Sir W. Batten, Sir W. Pen, and myself, were treated at the Dolphin by Mr. Foly, the ironmonger, where a good plain dinner, but I expected musique, the missing of which spoiled my dinner, only very good merry discourse at dinner….

Well Mr Pepys you can’t have it perfect 100% of the time. If the discourse was merry is that not a type of music?

*****

Today’s reflection:

The best things in life are free,
Now that I’ve discovered what you mean to me
The best things in life are free,
Now that we’ve got each other
The best things in life are free

but are they? I disagree with the premise that a relationship is an essential prerequisite but hey that’s one view point. Many of us are prisoners of our own inertia and we have blocked ourselves from our own power. It is a form of self induced mind control or light trance to think we have to pay for something to get enjoyment
1. feel restless or unsatisfied
2. find something ‘to do’
3. fill the car with petrol, off you go, spend more money at the destination. 4. go home and rest.
5. repeat the above.

Let’s think outside the box. What is already available to you ? I thought I would make a list of what I enjoy with no monetisation attached i.e. it does not cost you anything. Why not make your own list?

* The lovely peppery taste of nasturtiums. I can eat about a dozen flowers at a sitting. Don’t believe me? Try some.
* My  partner coming home and hearing her voice after hours of silence
* hearing an item of music I first listened to years ago and remembering every note.
* the smell of newly mown grass
* the sound of crickets
* retrieving a file thought lost on my PC
* sunsets
* sitting in a hot sun with a slight breeze, looking forward to a drink
* receiving an E-mail from someone you have not heard of for ages
* having a conversation with a complete stranger and finding you have something in common
* coming indoors out of the wind and cold and sitting in front of an open fire
* being praised / appreciated for a piece of work I have done for someone
* when working as a gardener, hearing the customer saying during the job ‘my, what a difference you have already made’.
* talking to someone and realising that they are actually listening to you (quite a shock, eh?)
* hearing about the birth of a friend’s child.
* paddling on a beach
* crawling into bed after a good day
* making a good pun and having someone laugh at it
* the smell of Sunday roast
* holding hands whilst walking with my partner
* balancing my accounts
* looking at a pile of books, each one of which I long to read
* getting a book on Amazon which I ordered the previous day.
* being able to thank someone spontaneously and sincerely for something they did
* taking freshly baked bread out of the oven and smelling it

* and finally if any of you can send me a pleasure example greater than this then let me know. Click here.
We are all children at heart.
A – speak for yourself
Q – I am speaking for myself.

Is watching TV worthwhile?

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Wednesday 26 October 1664

Up, my people rising mighty betimes, to fit themselves to go by water; and my boy, he could not sleep, but wakes about four o’clock, and in bed lay playing on his lute till daylight, and, it seems, did the like last night till twelve o’clock.

Better playing the lute than fiddling with an electronic device. My goodness what a day our Pepys had. It makes me exhausted just reading it. Click on the link above for the lurid details.

*****

Today dawns bright and sunny. I am further resolved to make a collective appeal to my fellow allotment holders to keep neat and tidy for everyone’s sake.

how not to watch TV

At the last count I have a choice of about 500 TV channels not to mention numerous unwatched videos, many books that I need to complete, and I wont even go to Netflix which I could watch for 24 hours a day and still not see every worthwhile offering. What did I watch last night, what did I not watch, and what did I gain? Are you ready for this gripping item of news?
6.30 PM – BBC1 Points West. I like my fix of gossip. Not sure how and where a rocket can go on land at 1,000 MPH. Seems like a suicide mission….. 330,000 people are absent from work due to mental problems. So  get rid of American type companies who drive people to work for minimum wage under inhuman conditions….. Someone try to wake up Jeremy Hunt (our health minister) to actually campaign for people instead of feeding the pharmaceutical companies….. When is this wretched chancellor of Bath University on her £450k salary plus grace and favour house going to resign? …. Must have the local weather.

Now let’s have a look at the evening which for me starts at 7 pm.

7 pm Channel 5, All new traffic cops. I started to watch but found myself getting so irritated with the moronic idiots trying to escape from the police that I switched off. There was nothing new about it – more of the same – Brian -what are you doing?
7.55 PM Channel 4 Grand Designs.  Listed in my national paper but did not show. I must remember that different regions have different schedules. I love that programme particularly the measured comments of the long serving presenter and the manic enthusiasm of the property owners.
8.00 PM Channel 5, Bargain Loving Brits in Blackpool. This brings scraping the bottom of the barrel to a fine art. I know people need to save money and in a town with such a high level of unemployment (about twice the national average, more stats here) there will be enough to make a programme. I doubt if my knowledge of human nature will be enhanced so that’s a ‘no’.
9.00 PM Channel 4, Feral Families will tell us how children are allowed to grow up without rules. I can see enough of that on the street thank you. An aspect of Political Correctness? Possibly. I pass on that one. ‘no’
9.00PM – Film 4 Fast and Furious 6. I’ll give it a go but set the recorder so I can fast forward through the innumerable ads. Have you noticed that the more popular the film, the more ads there are? It’s about MONEY. The allowance was 12 minutes an hour but now the arrangements are more flexible – 20% of viewing time spread over the time period 7AM to 11PM

and now to what we did watch.

BBC4 is what BBC2 used to be a decade or so ago. We spent out evening watching three hour programmes in succession.
900PM Retreat: Meditations from a Monastery. This is part of the channels peace and meditation week. It showed monks from a Benedictine Monastery going about their business. There was a Peruvian monk making an icon; I was struck with his dedication and calmness. There was  very little commentary – actually now I come to think of it, none.   What a blessing. It reminded me of Slow TV in Norway. We got an undistorted view of the daily round, the common task and could form our own opinions. I would like to try that for a week or so to detox myself from all forms of technology
10.00 PM Confucius: Genius of the Ancient World. Taoism, the expression of Confucianism, was attacked by Chairman Mao in the 1960’s but so embedded was the culture that it rose from the brutalist destruction and is as strong today as it ever was.  These people have a different quality of life, a different disposition, a calmness. Magnetic viewing.
11.00 PM The Work – Four Days to Redemption – Storyville. Every six months in a high security US prison, outsiders are invited in to meet the prisoners and interact with them. We see violent men with terrible records being reduced to sobbing children. We hear how they never learned to be men and suffered from a complete lack of example in their early life. Amazing how people can counsel each other and that both prisoners and visitor were equally affected. The enhanced perception that manifested as a survival skill in violent gangs can be turned to good effect to perceive the inner depths of brothers who are suffering similarly.

So, a brilliant evening, and all because – don’t say it – the lady loves milk tray (archive of useless memories/advertising jingles) no actually because our time is valuable and I want to fill my mind with good things. It has enough junk in it already without adding to it. ’nuff said.

I have recently discovered and am enjoying Trans World Radio which is a hub for many Christian broadcasting networks. I like it’s straightforward no nonsense explanations. No preaching, no fluff, no ego-centred personalities.

So folks to state the blindingly obvious, choose carefully and there is a feast out there. I do not think TV should be passive but something you actively watch, think about and compare views. This cuts out most of main stream media which alas is a perception management and control mechanism for the most part but there are still avenues of hope for the living human spirits amongst us.

*****

Like father, like son — a group tipping point

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Tuesday 25 October 1664

...After a little stay I left them and to the Committee of the Fishery, and there did make my report of the late public collections for the Fishery, much to the satisfaction of the Committee, and I think much to my reputation, for good notice was taken of it and much it was commended.

So home, in my way taking care of a piece of plate for Mr. Christopher Pett, against the launching of his new great ship tomorrow at Woolwich, which I singly did move to His Royall Highness, and did obtain it for him, to the value of twenty pieces. And he, under his hand, do acknowledge to me that he did never receive so great a kindness from any man in the world as from me herein….

Pepys worked hard to grow and maintain his relationships in business. In today’s diary example he has pleased two groups of influential persons. Flaws he may have, but he has a good heart. The cynic would say ‘shrewd business man’ but some of his actions show considerable effort going out of his way to achieve something on others’ behalf so I am persuaded by him.

*****

My son has inherited from me the ability to always look on the bright side of life (thank you Life of Brian, Monty Python) no matter how dire the external circumstances are. This is part of his account of finding an hotel in south Sri Lanka

My friends and I went with two other people to Tangalle, a beach down the south coast. However, the trip was not particularly stress-free as hoped. First of all, we tried going along a small beach road which should have got us close to the hotel we had booked, but then we got out of our three wheeler too early and walked a bit only to find that the road had collapsed so we had to get another three-wheeler to go back to the main road then find the beach road again. However, rejoining the beach road we came across another section that had collapsed, but this time a pull chain ferry had been organised for transporting people at least. After crossing with the ferry, Google maps led us a little astray but we eventually found our hotel which was locked up.

However, we found another entry point by the water and explored the hotel which wasn’t in a great state. Eventually a security guard turned up and told us that no staff were there as the hotel hadn’t been booked. I don’t know why booking.com said the booking was confirmed. Anyway, we started looking for a place and eventually found a reasonable place. Then we went to the beach and watched the sunset whilst drinking beer.

That’s my boy!

*****

A group assembled for any purpose has a balance of order and disorder, or I could say harmony and chaos. A little bit of chaos can be tolerated but when it gets beyond a certain level the nature of the venture changes and becomes less pleasant to be a part of. The trick is to see something coming and nip it in the bud, not by military means but by correcting the problem on a case by case basis.

Our allotment has been going pretty well this year, not helped by the lack of summer and high rainfall, but more plot holders than is ideal are not maintaining their areas though they are paying their fees. Now is the time before winter hibernation sets in to create as much horticultural harmony as possible – by that I mean getting everyone to tidy their plots. This is not done by sending a circular but by communicating with each person and asking if I can be of any assistance. Gently does it, as people’s circumstances can be changed by factors over which they have no control such as illness in the family, change of job or just plain and simple too much on their plate.

Gardening is demanding because you cannot leave it for a month especially in the season.  We have eight non-payers out of 65, and five vacant plots. If I were to leave this until next year I would have to work twice as hard to remedy it. A stitch in time saves nine, as my mother used to say. Another one I remember was ‘one years seeding, seven years weeding’. It’s one of the best pieces of advice I have taken.

*****

I shall go into complete vegetable mode this evening. There are no less than 5 programmes starting at 9 pm that I want to watch. I shall record the ones on commercial TV otherwise I will spend half my time starting at ads for sofas, and others showing ridiculous people grinning at each other because they have bought the right life insurance.

*****

Adieu

Timing is all – when trustees go bad – meetings

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Monday 24 October 1664

… and though not very well yet up late about the Fishery business, wherein I hope to give an account how I find the Collections to have been managed, which I did finish to my great content...

A long entry from Pepys today (click the date above to read) mostly about business dealings. I remember a BBC reporter once saying that he could not work unless he was given a deadline. I have something of this in my own psychology. I am incentivized by knowing about a meeting on a certain date so I plan well ahead and try to anticipate what qualities will be required of me.

not quite relevant but I like the thought.

With regard to meeting preparation, there is a certain lack of dignity in rushing around at the last moment chasing your own tail as we say (orig: a phrase likening us to a dog running around in circles trying to catch its own tail).
In other words, lack of time means that you tend to repeat and regurgitate rather than innovate and extend your understanding of the subject in hand and – dare I say – do not enjoy the task as much.

Jumping topics a bit, management of anything – a business – a meeting – even a family – is not always pleasant.  People are sometimes their own worst enemies and when their behavior affects others adversely, the manager must take a firm hand even if the atmosphere will be made more brittle in the short term. What is the point of meetings when there is no challenge, no growth, no questions?

Timing is all.

*****

A salutary tale – Good quote – Helen Keller (born deaf and blind) and – as you might expect – a political activist said that ‘there is only one thing worse than being blind, that is seeing and having no vision’.

I could apply this to a story I heard this morning about trustees of a building where I was having a meeting. I looked outside and saw the large garden area was a mess – brambles, long grass- flowers choked with weeds. What had happened? A local gardening group who loved working together and improving the environment offered their help to the trustees. The garden was improved over the years until it was a delight to all who saw it.

One day the trustees sent a letter to the workers saying that they would have to pay extra for water they were using during the summer season. They refused. The trustees did not budge. ‘We want the money to look after the building.’ The harmonious atmosphere was destroyed. The gardeners were disgusted and found another property to look after. The garden now lies in ruins.

There is a certain ‘type’ of individual who acts as a trustee because I think they like the power. Had these good folks come and talked with the gardeners and seen with their own eyes what the volunteers had done I believe they would have gladly paid the modest amount for the water bill. This is a warning to us all not to judge from afar. Get involved and see both sides of the situation. See who is doing what and who benefits, then make your decision. It is possible for one dominating or bullying or prejudiced person on a committee to influence all the others. This unfortunate type of outcome would be less likely if they had as a group all visited the situation they were adjudicating.

*****

Russell Brand has a reputation which does not adequately represent his ability to think, and perceive changes in society. I love his comments today in an interview with the BBC (whatever next!)

Addiction and mental health may not be the kinds of issues you’d normally expect to be addressed at a stand-up comedy gig.

But Russell Brand has never been your conventional comedian – and it’s precisely these subjects that he’s tackling in his new book and at one of his upcoming London shows.

“Society is collapsing,” the comedian tells the BBC, “and people are starting to recognise that the reason they feel like they’re mentally ill is that they’re living in a system that’s not designed to suit the human spirit.

“People are realising ‘Hold on a minute, is it natural to work 12 hours a day? Is it natural that I live in an environment that is designed for human beings from one perspective but not from a holistic perspective?’ Breathing dirty air, eating dirty food, thinking dirty thoughts. So really what this is, is a time of transition.

“Yes, the conversation is changing because the communication is becoming so much more expedient, but what’s really changing is people are starting to notice that the system is not working for them”

all I can say is “yes, yes, yes”

*****

To the sounds of Al Jarreau (thank you Spotify) may his soul rest in peace .

Time to roll on to the sofa, a hot chocolate, then to bed.

The genre of garden centres- Congresbury being one such

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Sunday 23 October 1664

..(Lord’s day). Up and to church. At noon comes unexpected Mr. Fuller, the minister, and dines with me, and also I had invited Mr. Cooper with one I judge come from sea, and he and I spent the whole afternoon together, he teaching me some things in understanding of plates. ..

I admire Pepys’s public acknowledgement and lack of pride saying that he learned from someone else. I get the impression that in most cases once people have left school/university and reached a comfortable position in their job, learning for learning’s sake is of secondary concern. Learning is a thing of beauty. It refines your knowledge and understanding of our society and also our ability to communicate meaningfully with our fellow humans.

Pepys is also a very sociable creature. The minister would only turn up at his place for lunch if he was confident that it was his life style to receive guests under such conditions. I remember when I was young our family household was very conservative and my father would expect to receive notice in the form of a letter if someone wanted to visit. Times have certainly moved on, then backwards. Many teenagers spend more time on their own with their devices than going out and hanging out with friends. People will lose the ability to talk in full sentences before you know where you are.

*****

This diary has a variety of purposes and one of them is to describe what life is like in S(pronounced z)omerset and what gives it it’s distinctive character. My plumber Robert was enthusing about the Congresbury Garden Centre so we thought ‘why not?’. It is not raining today anyway so a spin in the car would be a nice way of relaxing after the meeting last evening.  This will  be mostly a photo essay with comments at the end (scroll down) about what constitutes a good outlet and what to look out for in both senses of the word. Use Ctrl and + to increase the size of the 17 images.

a warm greeting to the centre
a trifle expensive for a 3′ example. Also you need to plant them so you would have to buy another for display the next year or drag the growing tree back into the living room.
a thoughtful touch in the entrance lobby
a good set piece to advertise the furniture
but they might drive you mad in a wind
Christmas wrapping paper Sir? Take your pick from a few hundred examples
certainly different
Prize for the most expensive kindling wood
excellent display of different stone types available
Now that is a good deal indeed if you see what is included.
a new one on me
good clear sharing of info.
Give out the message loud and clear
yes you can do it “The dot connector”
ornamental Kale – but where would it fit in your garden? Veg or flowers?
well done that PR person you know your stuff
a lovely autumn colour spread on the way to our car.

Conclusions and observations:

This recently renovated centre is amongst the top quality in variety and sheer range of product.
* Right from the start, the impression is excellent and reminds me a bit of IKEA in the walk through.
* This has been designed for families with special entertainment for children
* The restaurant is a large c 200 seater with an adjacent area thoughtfully provided for those who want to eat their own sandwiches. I noticed the queues for ordering were long. You order and pay Wetherspoon style and the food is bought to your table.
* some of the prices are higher than I would expect but in the main you get what you pay for.
* There is by the way an excellent butchers section with very well dressed meat. There is also a pet and I think a fish area hence the need to explore. I was missing a map at the entrance. Obvious when you know the place but not if you are there for the first time.
* I admire the effort to communicate via chalk board and to bring the subject alive. People read written material more than printed (in my observation anyway) and this store is lucky to have someone with good writing.
* in the main areas the staff were difficult to spot. If you have a question and look around, you may be looking a long time. Items do not sell themselves and I get the feel that this is a vast show room too big for its own good. Could staff stations be made clear.
* there are offers going on which you need to spot e.g. off season sales for sheds
* come along and be prepared to spend most of the day there; you might include a visit to the restaurant. Avoid Saturdays if you don’t like crowds.
* at the very least you will get some ideas for what you really want but you will probably go away with an item you did not expect to purchase. There it was with your name on. ha ha, that’s as good an excuse as any.

Well done brave investors for putting millions in to this. I enjoyed the experience but felt a bit intimidated by the sheer size. Maybe that will diminish on my subsequent visits. Those around me were enjoying themselves and the buzz in the cafe was good.

*****

Into Congresbury itself, a village little more than a T junction with a thousand or so inhabitants. In the entree is is a small square with a restaurant/bakery, fish and chip shop and one or two others. Fish and chips were good enough. We went to the bakery for coffee and cakes.

anything that prevents loneliness is a good thing. 40 million Americans are on anti-depressants. Give me a good conversation any time.

I was attracted to a leaflet on the table. Its a great idea to have a two aspect event – having a good breakfast Saturday morning and meeting people at a weekend which can  be lonely for those living on their own.

*****

Londoners will not be aware of the Ticknell Country Store chain. It specializes in clothes for the outdoor country person, gardeners, DIY people and horse lovers.

Definitely a country feel about it AND the salespeople know what they are talking about.

*****

Not the most eye-catching entrance. Huge car park. Dedicated staff.

On the way home we stopped at the Blagdon Water Garden store which I had never been to before having passed it scores of times. It is mainly for anything to do with water, garden ponds, fountains and they stock a very large variety of fish. We bought some goldfish to make up for those eaten by a heron or was it a kingfisher (we never saw them) who has our pond on his GPS and visits us once a year to feast where he can….<pantomine season coming ‘Oh no you don’t‘>  Not this coming period. We bought a net which now covers the whole pond and the said heron will get his feet well and truly caught. Mind you, these are clever creatures.
We released our six little goldfish and within minutes they were swimming with the existing inhabitants of the pond. We asked if their sex could be determined and were told that they can only be sexed in the spring. Males have small white spots (tubercles) on their gill shields and tend to be thinner than females. Males will chase females again in spring. So now you know.

not quite sure what a police box is doing in the tank but each to his taste.

The little ‘uns integrated easily enough. They are not territorial.

And so to supper, TV, and to bed.

Neither a lender or a borrower be

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Saturday 22 October 1664

… At noon comes my uncle Thomas and his daughter Mary about getting me to pay them the 30l. due now, but payable in law to her husband. I did give them the best answer I could, and so parted, they not desiring to stay to dinner

This reminds me of the importance of clarity with any form of financial transaction, business or private, especially the latter. I would say never lend money to friends because the status changes from a friend to a debtor. It does change the vibes, bringing a certain awkwardness even when the money is repaid. There is a good argument for putting things in writing in any event as some people are forgetful, or choose to forget.

When asked for a loan you might do your friend a favour by helping them to find out why they need a loan in the first place. The excuse will be plausible and fanciful ‘just for a couple days’, or ‘until I get paid’. These are not to be relied on.  It could be bad money management or bad decisions.  In that case the problem will re-occur and they will be unable to pay what they owe you.

There are excellent debt counseling services in the UK. Sadly, there have to be. You could start by suggesting the Citizens Advice Bureau who by the way deal with 3,846 new debt problems every day. What is unfortunate is that allowances for unemployed people are sent directly to them, leaving them to pay the rent. The temptation to buy that big screen TV is sometimes too much to resist. The average debt per adult in the UK is £30,012 and that’s without mortgage. Bearing this in mind you may find that giving a loan to your friend does not address the problem and just delays the day when they have to face reality. I support Christians Against Poverty which addresses people’s emotional difficulties as well as their financial situation.

*****

If I may be permitted to pass on a few observations about preparing for a meeting. Assuming that the room is booked, I want to talk about content. I run through the meeting in my head and figure out all the papers that might be required. Most important, I finish all my preparations a few hours before the event including things that will ‘just take a few moments’. One time I wanted to print off the agenda and the computer chose that very moment to freeze meaning that I had to recreate my document (No, it did not save it in full).  Since I had plenty of time in hand, this could be accommodated in a fairly calm state of mind. If I am using PowerPoint or any electronic apparatus I always check it, not relying on the argument that it worked well three months ago when last used. I always arrive well before the event and delegate small jobs so that I can pay full attention to the guests as they dribble in, then come in a rush at five minutes to the event start. I always start on time. Those who are late will catch up from the others.

I have reminded everyone twice of the AGM by E-mail and a MailChimp bulletin. It is bad to overdo it otherwise irritation is caused.  Last year we had 18 plot holders out of 64 allotments. I hope we will do better this time though it must be said that last time was useful. I try to create – even before the day itself – a positive and pleasant atmosphere of expectation.
Asking people if they wish to serve on a committee is a bit like asking someone if they want a parking ticket but that is partly what AGM’s are all about. There are three of us at the moment which is below the safety limit as in the case of one person falling ill or dropping out for personal reasons.

people are happy to chat after the formal meeting if they had a good time.

<after the meeting> the key thing is to work together with people and see  others as making a contribution even though they may be critical. We had about 30 people – double of last year – and maintained a jolly atmosphere throughout. Ending with wine and cheese, what could be better than an AGM designed not to be like one. We actually got two volunteers for the committee! That’s a turn up for the books.  One of the measures of a good meeting is how long people remain behind afterwards to chat. We had one hour of meeting and one hour of chat. Not bad.

I cannot think of anything profound to say so maybe watch some trash TV and then to bed.

Night night

The F*** word, The A*** word, The S*** word

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Friday 21 October 1664

..but most I doubt his not lending my Lord money, and Mr. Moore’s reporting what his answer was I doubt in the worst manner. But, however, a very unworthy rogue he is, and, therefore, let him go for one good for nothing, though wise to the height above most men I converse with.

In the evening (W. Howe being gone) comes Mr. Martin, to trouble me again to get him a Lieutenant’s place for which he is as fit as a foole can be. But I put him off like an arse, as he is, and so setting my papers and books in order: I home to supper and to bed….

It is on my list to report how I believe we should deal with difficult or idiotic people but that will have to wait. It was a mild shock to me that Mr Pepys would use the word ‘arse’. OK it’s use goes back to around 1500 AD but I still find it more offensive than many other vulgar and swear words I can think of.  I tend to translate words into smells. A relation of synesthesia probably.

Why do we swear? Is not the English language with its 40,000 words sufficient to express what we think? We are supposed to swear to release anger or frustration but is that really the best way? Many swearers seem to get more and more out of control so they have to use swearing more and more frequently to get the supposed cathartic effect.  It seems to lose its impact for example when you say a pop band is awesome. Isn’t awesome a definitive word? How can you be more than ‘awed?’. If I say, the pop band was f***ing awesome, what addition to ‘awe’ can there be. I suppose we could use ‘outstanding’, ‘astonishing’, ‘fascinating’, or ‘technically brilliant’ which might convey to the listener useful information, some nuance of the band that had not been experienced before.

We could be old fashioned and construct a full sentence (steady on, Brian) e.g. “I had heard a lot about this band but when they started playing I realised how technically advanced they were and I found the whole experience mesmerizing and outstanding”. That takes a long time to say (more than 160 characters) but it conveys something meaningful and gives a context.

Interestingly you cannot imitate the syntax of ‘he was far, far away’ by saying they were f***ing f***ing good.  It does not work does it. Any word can get overused. It also reflects on the utterer because it implies that they don’t think much of the people around them or their situation and they are perhaps quite miserable and in general unable to handle life. i.e. a LOSER. I note that swearers are on the defensive against real or imagined foes. I also note that swearers lack a sense of humour. If you want to ridicule another party, it is much more fun to say that them could not ‘organize a piss up in a brewery’, or you could call them a ‘Ninny‘ (short for nincompoop) or a plonker or even a pleb. I find that ‘plonker’ has a more satisfying sound to it as in ‘What a plonker!’ That says so much more.

The problem with the use of ‘pleb’ is that true plebs (Latin = the common people) would not have the vocabulary to know what you were talking about so that defeats its own object. How about ‘he shoots himself in the foot by opening his mouth’. That has rich imagery and is quite funny. If you leave the group in a state of laughter have you not ‘won’ the battle more than F-ing and B-ing. While on the F-word if you say ‘F-you’ it sounds very much like you are in the same category and that you are just as bad as they are.

I once tried insulting someone which worked well enough to silence him. I think it was a disruptive person at a talk I was giving so as a last resort I said ‘If you are ignorant then don’t advertise the fact‘.

Compared with this, the F-ford is just – well er – boring. So come on people, let’s be more creative, let them try to work out what we were implying. When the penny drops, it will drop with a thud. A friend used to call women of a certain disposition ‘a bitch de luxe‘. Beautiful. Says it all.

But if you really want to have fun, use another language.

Hey folks you can actually comment on my views by using the reply form below.

*****

We witnessed today the aftermath of storm Brian who has blown himself out for the most part. The next one is Caroline, as yet unidentified. The Independent newspaper tells us that 10 more storms are on their way.
It is Sunday and we have spent the Lord’s Day relaxing, cooking a fine lunch (I never knew Whitebaits were that delicious), and not watching TV. The latter, strangely, a relief. Tomorrow, Monday,  the AGM of the Allotment Association of which I am secretary and general dogsbody.

*****

My dear friend from Germany spoke with me. Her boss who has returned from maternity leave is a ‘stupid cow’ according to her but my friend has developed a method of survival – she distances herself. She refuses to get caught up in the emotional nonsense and the politics otherwise she says she would be ‘in pieces’. I reminded her of Shakespeare’s ‘All the world is a stage’ and said that this employment was a ‘bad movie’ that she would be out of eventually. So, my friend does her job, goes home, gets (well) paid. She knows that there are those who have to work far harder for less money. She and I are grateful for what we have, our stability etc. We respect each other’s gifts.

On that note

Good night.

Celebrating my namesake in Portland

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Thursday 20 October 1664

Up and to the office, where all the morning. At noon my uncle Thomas came, dined with me, and received some money of me. Then I to my office, where I took in with me Bagwell’s wife, and there I caressed her, and find her every day more and more coming with good words and promises of getting her husband a place, which I will do.

We cannot accuse Samuel P of being inhibited with his affections for women. If FB and Twitter had been around I wonder how long the marriage would have lasted. Perhaps he sees his behavior as part of softening people up for some sort of selling opportunity be it an idea or material goods. In his own mind, therefore, such behavior would be justified.

*****

Today is Saturday 21st October, the day that my name, Brian,  is attached to a wind storm, or the tail end of a hurricane, giving its attention to Ireland and the West of England. Around 8AM I got the idea that we should drive to the south coast, Portland Bill no less, and see for ourselves the effect of the wind and the elements in general on our southern coast. It was indeed a magnificent display – bright blue sky – rain at 45 degrees – wind that made it impossible to stand straight – inky black skies – the sun sending beams of light towards the landscape – all this on the straight forward but boring route southwards on the A37 (Bristol to Dorchester).

We arrived on the promontory to see many sightseers with the same idea. We were not disappointed. High tide had been about 7.30 am so it was going down but you could never guess. I will let the pictures speak for themselves. The wind was about 55-60 mph

The lighthouse

We did not go round as we did not have time or inclination but Trip Advisor reports are good. I have stopped writing reports for them as in my 6 years of writing I feel I have done my fair share. Trip Advisor are turning into a travel agency with reviews as secondary but their show goes on its in own sweet capitalist way. They have changed the landscape and have done a lot of good. I have benefited from them and since checking reviews before I travel I have not had one disappointment.

Obelisk

No I have not removed the colouration this is how it looked.

boiling sea
braving the elements
from the cliff edge

I could not help noticing that the quality of the grass was almost as good as that on a bowling green. Weedless and even. How come when it is so close to saltbearing water.

an unglamorous picture of yours truly trying to keep upright
a very definitely ‘off season’  row of beach huts or should they be cliff huts
Not easy to capture the moment when a wave breaks.

After an hour of this we had had enough of being blown to death. We glanced at the cafe, The Lobster Pot, DT5 2JT and decided against having lunch on the grounds that it was completely and utterly full of people, and that at 11.30 am. So it may be stratospherically fine and brilliant but that is not the type of environment that I enjoy so we moved on.

*****

I love old rail tracks, old machines, anything old really so this caught my eye.

mysterious machine
any guesses anybody?

Being the home of the famous Portland stone, it was probably for lifting or cutting or processing said stone. It is a form of limestone but has interesting properties. It is like a sponge and will partly absorb rainwater but after a day or so the stone dries out again.

*****

The man himself. He is there on Saturdays

We then came across the Portland ‘Grove Prison’, and the museum associated with it. The guide was all too keen to talk with us and we had to make the difficult decision to break him off in mid conversation because we were very hungry not having eaten. He recommended us to a cafe, the Sugar Loaf, in Easton DT5 2AL.  People round here certainly know each other’s business. He felt it necessary to give some background to the introduction.  It was run by Dawn, who was a New Zealander and came back here to UK to settle. She eventually married her friend Ivan. The establishment was at one time a Fish and Chip shop. He recommended it highly for its reasonable prices and boy was he right. He asked us to say that he had suggested the cafe.

unpretentious exterior don’t be fooled

I paid £6.95 for a large smoked haddock which I could just about finish. That was with chips and salad. That was followed by a raspberry crumble with lots of custard.  Total yum yum.  I was particularly glad to find this as I do not care to pay in the £12.95 region for what can be very ordinary food with a fancy title. ‘covered with home made sauce’. I don’t care where it is made so long as it is healthy i.e. not full of chemicals. When the time came to pay I asked the waitress why there were no credit card facilities. She shrugged and said that that is the way it has always been. Who am I to argue. I left a tip anyway.

*****

Back to the prison museum. The chap had waited for us because we said that we would be back by 2PM. We failed in this objective. He was just locking up.  We shall return. The opening times are a reflection that this is an entirely voluntary effort. No funding from anywhere.

Opening times : Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 10.00am – 2.00pm throughout the year. Closed for a fortnight before Christmas, including Christmas week and a fortnight after New Year.

There were some intriguing memorials in the grounds.

The micro climate supports these palm species. We saw quite a few fig trees.
Memorials to those prisoners who passed on
rather unusual decor to say the least.

This was one of the first prisons to focus on the rehabilitation of the prisoners. To do it justice we shall return probably early next year.

an attractive way of supporting a bed of greenery. They are logs not stone
looking 150 feet down from the cliffs.
so how many of you have heard about Portland Goats. Read this by pressing Ctrl (bottom left) and + keys top right.

Hmm. Starting to rain so off we go back home. I love going out but I love returning to base just as much. To be rendered homeless must tear your heart out.

Bed time – a movable feast? – Storm – garden safety

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Wednesday 19 October 1664

… To supper and to bed, my wife coming in by and by, which though I know there was no hurt in it; I do not like...

So who feels sleepy at the same time of the evening for the same reasons? Our circadian rhythms are seldom the same. I know of couples who retreat into separate beds or even in different rooms so they can get a good night’s sleep. It does not mean that they are not in love with each other. They just need rest and – activity such as snoring or restlessness – keeps the partner awake.

*****

Last night I attended our local garden group and was teased on my arrival by people saying ‘Brian is coming on Saturday’. I had no idea what they were talking about until I realised that that was the name of the next storm. I love high tides and waves and tempest but decided against going to Weston Super Mare or the south coast in general as the day will be accompanied by incessant rain, so tomorrow we will hunker down at home but knowing us there may be a change of plan.

*****

The recently delivered firewood sits by the stove in our living room. It smells of dampness, not surprising since it arrives fresh with 25% moisture content and takes about a month to become usable – ideally three months – and that only if it is kept in dry conditions.
We switched on the central heating for the first time yesterday. Sad.

*****

Today’s topic is ‘safety in the garden”. Sounds boring. Actually its a life and death discussion. Did you know that 87,000 people a year in UK land up in hospital due to gardening accidents? The main culprits are cuts of the body followed by falls and being struck by objects.

If you really want to know the list by category it is thus:
Lawn mowers 6,500 accidents
Flower pots (vicious things) 5,300
Secateurs and pruners (4,400)
Spade (3,800) – what do you call a spade?
Electric hedge trimmers (3,100)
Shears (2,100)
Garden forks (2,000)
Hoses and sprinklers (1,900) don’t ask
Garden canes and sticks (1,800)

A little over a year ago I sustained 7 broken ribs and a collapsed lung arising from stepping back to admire my handiwork when cutting a hedge which was situated in a bank. This has affected me mostly for the good. When I am stepping up off the ground I make sure that a) there is someone with me b) I think before I act.

I now act as a slow witted fool (yes really). If I am climbing a ladder I talk myself through each stage e.g. is the ladder safely anchored, what do I do with my left foot, what must I carry with me and will it compromise safety. Am I wearing the right clothing including headgear. Branches falling on you from even one metre above you can cause a nasty gash. Chain saws can bounce up in an instant and mess up your leg. Each and every time I turn on a chainsaw I look around to see who is there, look again for what would happen if a branch falls the wrong way or if my power tool became uncontrollable.

See the illustration above. It looks harmless enough. It could be a death trap. Go trim the top is the instruction. Guess what. The top of the hedge is 12′ high. I have a hedge trimmer with a long shaft but it still cannot reach. If I go up a ladder I would have to let go of it and use two hands and a pair of shears to cut the growth. It is too high to bring an ordinary hand held electric trimmer and most petrol ones are too heavy. In this case I did a ‘dress rehearsal’ and went up by ladder without tools to see how safe I felt. It was very marginal. In the end I took up some secateurs and snipped away at some of the more serious culprits whilst holding the ladder with the other hand.
Conclusion – I could not do the job to completion as it would have entered into the category of danger. I abandoned the task for this particular part of the hedge, which was about 2-3m in length. I told the customer I could not do it and she understood. Result – I did not have an accident. I did live to fight another day.

Problem: If you fall, gravity acts faster than you can react making gravity the winner each and every time. So, people, this gardening lark is not a race or a competition. Take it easy and do not rush. Work twice as slowly and twice as safely. AND we are all getting older so activity that we could do with ease 5 years ago is now beyond us. It is not a failure or a weakness; it is AGE.   AAGGGGHHHHH

A rainy day – buying books I will likely never read

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Tuesday 18 October 1664

….that Sir Ellis Layton is,  for a speech of forty words, the wittiest man that ever he knew in his life, but longer he is nothing, his judgment being nothing at all, but his wit most absolute

It takes all sorts to make a world. We cannot expect everyone to have all qualities. ‘We are all members one of another’, as I have remarked before. We need to combine our assets be they practical skills or intellectual property. The moment that we forget that without each other we die in all senses of that word, then we ourselves are lost or at best, stuck.

*****

I must have about a thousand books. They are in the spare room, the living room and my office. Except when I fell in and out of love with  kindle I am a regular customer of Amazon. Books have a look, a feel and a smell particularly new ones. I will never lend a book because on the one or two occasions when I did so, I never got them back. I will give a duplicate away. In a fit of enthusiasm I bought two copies of Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’. Americans pronounce his surname ‘Tolly’.

I have no protocol for throwing away or giving away books. I might need them. I have about 50 biographies, Lots of Jung, Nearly all Carlos Castaneda book – be they myth or fast I know not. These are part of my life and were very important to me when I read them. I have long ago tried to sort them Dewey classification style. When I hunt for them I remember the colour, size and shape. There are certain books I feel I should buy. These include political ones i.e. Main Stream Media vs Alternative media though funnily enough the importance is being reversed as more and more people get disillusioned with reading half truths and lies.

If you asked me to repeat the substance of a book that I have read, I would only have the sketchiest idea but I know the book has changed me, modified my opinions, changed my prejudices, widened my understanding of human nature in general and my health in particular.

The Book Barn, Somerset

When I ascend from this mortal coil what will happen  to them. I might bequeath them to a second hand book shop. There is an enormous place near here called ‘The Book Barn‘ which really is a barn of a place. They claim there are a million books there. I could not stand the thought of the books being grabbed in a heap and pulped. They deserve respect.

This winter I plan to hibernate and read, read and more reading.

Long live the book and – yes – I would love a library in my house but that must wait until I win the lotto or some such. I better make Plan B in the meantime.

Night all

Another unexpected hug – Loving Vincent part 2

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So, we leave the Methodist centre (see previous entry). There is a nice reward here. If you give your name and e-mail to be kept in touch, you can return as many times as you want within a year. For £6 (£5) entry that is not too bad, as we English say in our understated way.

Bristol is a place that you can never tire of, if even remotely interested in architecture or quirky creativity. See my numerous previous entries by typing in ‘Bristol’ in the search box on the top right of this page.

an old passage that has seen many centuries
half a pig…. don’t ask

And now to ‘hugs in my life’, part 2. We sat in the central area see image. Next to us was a young lady of Swedish origin if I got my accents right. She was about 22 and was talking to a slim young student type and asking him, of all things, if he wanted some lipstick (as you do).
Across the way, some school boys were kicking a foot ball across an area of water in front of the building (The Science Museum). Inevitably the ball landed in the water. The boys tried to fish it out using long objects, but unsuccessfully. The girl joked ‘ just get your shoes and socks off and get it. It’s only water. I disappeared to try and find a long plank of wood but meanwhile she had done just that, walked over and rescued the ball.

Anyway, me being me, we chatted about the English and how backward they are in some ways, the fear of being thought stupid etc. I said ‘the ball is in the water so you just get it out’. There is no ethics here. No one to blame. No harm done. She laughed and as I turned to leave to see the movie she said ‘have a good rest of your day’. I said, ‘now you have a good afternoon, evening, week, year, lifetime’. For some reason she found this very funny and she said ‘I am going to give you a hug’ which she did, then she hugged  Francoise. The young man saw this and said ‘I want some of this’ so bless him this young man came and gave someone who was old enough to be his grandfather a lovely hug, and repeated it to Francoise. So sweet and I was so touched.   Off to the Watershed, quality cinema among the Odeons of this world (no disrespect).

This establishment is a really cool place. Adjacent is a social area bar etc where people can have small meetings apart from the usual bar, coffee etc.

Buzz
you can write what you think about the films (expand to read)
one caught my eye in particular

We were the first in the cinema and enjoyed the social service announcements scrolled on the screen.

our own private show
this cinema caters for people with brains.
and edgy too

The cinema soon filled up to about 90% capacity. Blessed be we did not have crisp and popcorn eaters. The patrons respected the movie and sat in silence all through. This exquisitely crafted film was the result of 120 artists hand drawing or painting 62,500 pictures which were put together like cartoons in the old days. If I could give this film 11 out of 10 then I would. So sensitive and just plain beautiful (mixed metaphors there). A great end to the day.

Off to stroll through the entertainment area to the bus station. We entered to the sound of a tinkling piano. One of these ‘play me’ ideas. very good. We talked to the man after he finished. He is a part time teacher and loves to play to others whenever he can. Three of us spontaneously came forward and thanked him. He has a broad smile or a face that always smiles.

Sitting on the top deck of the  bus to Street. A drunk female comes up the stairs, bum half hanging out with a tall chap slobbering over her, voice too loud. We move forward out of the way. Ride through the dark countryside. Fog. Autumn is here.

John Wesley – Bristol unhinged – another unexpected hug – Loving Vincent

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Monday 17 October 1664

….Thence to my office doing some business, but it being very cold, I, for fear of getting cold, went early home to bed, my wife not being come home from my Lady Jemimah, with whom she hath been at a play and at Court to-day.

I wonder if was damp as well as cold. It was after all only October.

*****

well, that’s honest …only in Bristol…which is actually quite an edgy and cool city
yes, and…..?

In today’s special Bristol edition – visit to our buffet – visit the world’s oldest Methodist building – walking around a shopping mall – another unexpected hug – review of ‘Loving Vincent’ – the pianist in the bus station – drunk bus passengers on the 376

*****

Trivial matters first.

The all-you-can-eat buffet the Cosmo did not let us down. It is within reach of two art galleries and with easy connection to the centre of Bristol by many buses (unless you like climbing steep hills). I again remind newcomers to the buffet scene – the connoisseur will case the joint before selecting any food. The ratio of excellence between the starters including salad, the main courses and the sweet course will show you how much room you allocate to each. There is no need to rush and fill your plate with all manner of things at one go. Take your time and make several visits. The dirty plates are normally taken away whilst you visit the food.

depleted supplies – get there early

Bear in mind – the management do not want to waste food  and so do not plan on replenishing the lunch tureens much after 1.30 pm. The best idea is to get there about 12.30 – after the first rush and before the food supplies have become depleted otherwise your choice will be limited. This particularly applies to fish for some unknown reason.

*****

Edmund Burke 1729-1797

The centre of Bristol seems to be a permanent building site / road works. For the last three years the road system has been subject to one type of repair or renovation after another.
I did notice a rather fine sculpture of Edmund Burke, an MP for Bristol in 1774-1778. The words on the foundation stone ‘I wish to be a member of parliament to have my share of doing good and resisting evil’ were theoretically impressive and noble, but he had to answer charges that he neglected his constituency.

very impressed by the ‘in your face’ challenge to us about how we look at ‘different’ people

So on to the one and only John Wesley the founder of Methodism (don’t forget his brother Charles). The oldest Wesleyan church and building has had a massive renovation courtesy of some very generous philanthropists, and the National Lottery. What a shining example of good design which any gallerist(?) or exhibitor would benefit from visiting irrespective of their interest in religions.

the entrance 36 The Horsefair BS1 3JE 0117 926 4740 open 10.30 -4pm.  use Ctrl and + to enlarge
John Wesley on his famous horse (or one of them)
250,000 miles is scarcely believable but then are so many aspects of his life (enlarge to read)
the original chapel – benches were used. The pews are a recent addition.

Through the back behind the pulpit, an extra building has been constructed. It consists of meetings rooms (smaller), a bookshop, a small coffee bar, and an extension of the upstairs rooms which have been so cleverly converted into a top class quality museum. I am so frustrated at this point knowing what photographs to leave out, so for the majority you are just going to have to go along and see for yourself. but meanwhile here is a taster.

one of his most famous observations

I can’t remember the typeface but it is absolutely spot on. Traditional yet dynamic. By the way, did you know that the term ‘Methodism’ was originally a term of ridicule.

read on (enlarge to read)
an engraving

Visitors are offered a most up to date and ingenious way of using the recorded voice DIY Guide. You just point the device at the icon and it recognizes where you are and starts speaking. No numbers to press.

point and listen
an austere life to say the least. He seems blind. Maybe a blind trust in God.
an outstanding illustration of his productivity. You will have to go and see more.
not bad advice for today’s preachers
and some indication of the resistance that Methodism experienced in the USA.
and so say all of us…

This page is as long as any decent page should be so for part two, scroll up and click the entry above this one.

Record purchase of film tickets – loneliness – being encouraged

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Sunday 16 October 1664

(Lord’s day). It raining, we set out, and about nine o’clock got to Hatfield in church-time; and I ‘light and saw my simple Lord Salsbury sit there in his gallery. Staid not in the Church, but thence mounted again and to Barnett by the end of sermon, and there dined at the Red Lyon very weary again, but all my weariness yesterday night and to-day in my thighs only, the rest of my weariness in my shoulders and arms being quite gone. Thence home, parting company at my cozen Anth. Joyce’s, by four o’clock, weary, but very well, to bed at home, where I find all well. Anon my wife came to bed, but for my ease rose again and lay with her woman.

To keep the context: this is the last day of Pepys’ travels….customs and relationships are beyond me. Lay with her woman? Don’t get it.

*****

Watch TV and all the wonderful red skyscapes of yesterday.

To Bath and spotted a really original and brave poster, trying to popularise football and  get people to come along and have fun.

well done that designer

Today is slated to be a  busy day. I must speak with the manager of Bath and area Creativity Works events which I attended last week (see recent entries relating to art).
Note to myself:
it is easy to forget the following:
1 those who encourage others also need people to encourage them.
2 If participants have had a good experience it does need repetition sufficient to change the brain connections (mind set).
3 Trust in anything is not automatic to put it mildly so a safe space needs to be created for the shy or alienated ones to ‘come out’.

This applies to any group meeting for any purpose. I hope to invite people from the workshops to come to our place in Midsomer Norton for a day of story telling and creative work in general. It is good for people, especially those who are self employed and / or do not have regular contact with others, to experience a change from their normal environment. This can be a healing thing in itself.

*****

The Bath Film Festival is coming up 2-12 November. I always leave things until late in the day with the result that many of the films I want to see are booked. Its not so bad here in Bath but at the London Film Festival (BFI) it is even more important to book early. The number of films was far greater – over 100 – as is the frustration when two ‘must see’ films clash. I have booked for 8 films and have spent the grand sum of £140 for the two of us, a record in my life for a single purchase of entertainment. However this is nothing compared with other entertainment, London shows such as The Book of Mormon. Stall tickets are between £115 and £177. Circle tickets can be bought for £53 each.  That makes our eight shows for the two of us seem positively cheap.

*****

To a writing group based in Bath. The group is peer group run and there is no manager though there is a facilitator for each meeting. One of the classic challenges, if not the key challenge, is to strike a balance between ‘leading’ the meeting i.e. functioning as a motivator and a catalyst on the one hand, and on the other hand making yourself invisible and focusing on those who might have a contribution. Sometimes the shy ones are the ones who have a gift of seeing things differently and they are the very people that need the most coaxing. You almost need to be a mind reader to do this properly but I can imagine it is a very rewarding (volunteer) job. People need to allow silence to be. Silence is creative. Silence is nothing to be afraid of. Leaders – don’t panic if no one says anything for a few seconds. They are processing.

I found it interesting to think of the difference between supporter, listener, diagnostician, therapist, coach or counselor.  To have a therapeutic effect, you do not need to be a trained therapist or counselor. A person who listens and provides the right environment is creating a therapeutic situation. That may be just as relevant to the mental landscape of the client and produce just as good results as a trained person (no disrespect intended to anyone). If I take a friend out fishing on a river away from the phone and in peace and silence I have provided a service for them in that the situation is capable of having a beneficial effect on the friend’s mental state.
In real life what is required is a mixture of help: listening,  a supportive and safe environment, and someone who has been trained to give advice in specific situations. A big factor is a client’s willingness to listen and not to be afraid of losing their old habits of thinking. ‘better the devil you know’ is alas an all too common preference.

Someone read out a number of meanings of names of people translated from other languages.
‘one who lives alone’
I chose to continue the idea
.. is not lonely unless they chose.
being alone is being separate not lonely…

I said there was no reason for anyone to be lonely because so much was going on ‘out there’ but I fully acknowledge that some have difficulty with themselves but also ‘out there’ are people who could help if asked. I suggested that some married people were lonelier than some single folk insofar as they did not share any interests or affinities with their partner. They might as well be in prison. Do two lonely people together make two contented people?  What about those who want to separate but are tied down by a mortgage? There are those who like their own company and I am one such. I closed by saying that we should give daily thanks for the freedom that we have.

*****

Logs collected – wind, the great non-event – an unexpected cuddle

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Saturday 15 October 1664

my mother called me into the garden, and there but all to no purpose desiring me to be friends with John, but I told her I cannot, nor indeed easily shall, which afflicted the poor woman, but I cannot help it. 

This could provoke an interesting discussion but not today. I am still fuming at the ‘controller’ daughter who insisted on ‘no speeches’ at her mother’s 80th birthday celebration. Had I known earlier I would have spoken with her in no uncertain terms.  Maybe there was something wrong with her, a bit ‘dark’ we could say.
Question to us all: What is the minimum pre-requisite for reconciliation with someone with whom you have had a difference?

.. In the Inn…We lay all in several beds in the same room, and W. Joyce full of his impertinent tricks and talk, which then made us merry, as any other fool would have done. So to sleep.

Lovely to see Pepys’ human side and his observations. I enjoy the thought of W. Joyce making wisecracks in the dark when they are all dog tired. Some people you can never keep quiet and in this case who would want to.

*****

What a strange sun. It looks like its a foggy winter afternoon but there is no fog. Later: It was due to a combination of smoke from fires in Portugal, and dust from the Sahara desert being sucked up by Ophelia and acting as a light filter.

Off to my favourite value-for-money forestry centre adjacent to Longleat. They have various types of logs – kiln dried, hard and soft, small and large sizes. You drive your car on to a ramp, it is weighed, and then you drive into one of the bays, fill up, and get your car weighed again. Follow the signs for Longleat, Warminster. BA12 7JS if you really need to know.

And now the story of the hug. At the sales window there is normally a Chinese woman who is forever helpful and always smiling and welcoming. This morning she was not there. I asked the young girl where she was to be told she was in the back office. “Would you like to see her”. I readily agreed. I said I missed her and I was not happy about buying anything without knowing she was there.  She was visibly moved and announced to everyone that she would give me a hug. I am not used to Chinese women hugging me (the first ever if I am not mistaken) but hug she did. It is so terribly important to value people. After all we could not get along without each other so why not give a bit of extra value and tell them. Go on, be Un-British.
Regarding the logs, for those who like detail, the picture of logs (left) shows what 100 kg looks like for which I paid the princely sum of £14.50 (DIY price). They deliver for an extra charge. You get at least twice as much as you would do buying nets of wood in the supermarket. They reckon the logs need about a month drying time  before use. In cold weather the supply shown will keep our dual fuel stove going for about nine days, though I admit that we do occasionally add coal as that heat produced is more stable and lasts a longer time.

clear and informative. You get what you pay for.

 

through the front window of a coffee bar in Frome.

To ASDA in Frome. I cannot resist special offers for petrol £1.13 as opposed to £1.21 elsewhere. I don’t think its worth it if you are going miles out of your way to get it but it is worth it to fill up before a long journey.

I wandered round ASDA itself and found it dispiriting knowing that everything on sale was of the minimum quality, minimum health, maximum profit. Even the coffee bar area was uninspiring; a coffee machine and a few non-descript buns and cakes. I would rather buy from someone who can either vouch for or who has produced items. I went to a small traditional bakery in Frome and bought a delicious frangipani tart. Yum Yum. No chemicals there. Baked this morning. Fresh as a daisy.

Well now this promised great rain wind and pestilence must have passed us by though it was unseasonably warm, humid almost.  At the supposed height of the proceedings, 3 pm, there were a couple of big gusts of wind and that was that. Ireland did not have it so good.

I hate filling in forms. Name, address, date of birth, telephone number, how many times have I done this. Too many. However,  I had to do this one. It was an insurance form to claim for a holiday I was unable to take earlier this month. Pages and pages. Doctors’ letters for which you have to pay (no problem with that). Evidence of this and that. Original documents only. Mind you, I can understand.

The insurance companies do actually read social media as part of their checks.

The couple that were sent to jail for trying to defraud the company for supposed stomach problems on holidays over two successive years were a bit cheeky. They were caught through social media particularly when they were saying what wonderful holidays they had had. Not a smart move.
Funny how French, Germans Spanish, Italians and Russians do not get food poisoning. Part of the English disease I guess.

*****

To the Old Down Inn for drinks, whitebait and salad. We were the only patrons in the bar. Others came and went in the restaurant. A seasonal touch methinks in the decor. Maxine the owner, or Max as she is called, singing her heart out in a karaoke.

The plastic beer glass has to be amongst the worst taste designs I have ever seen. This  image below reminds me of the Day of the Dead as celebrated in Mexico.

..
the (un)lucky black cat
Halloween teddy

Anyway, enough of this gay banter. Good night everyone on the day that the hurricane passed us by.

Pepys’ soft side – people who don’t fit in – manure – 80th birthday

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Friday 14 October 1664

Up by break of day, and got to Brampton by three o’clock, where my father and mother overjoyed to see me, my mother, ready to weepe every time she looked upon me. After dinner my father and I to the Court, and there did all our business to my mind, as I have set down in a paper particularly expressing our proceedings at this court. So home, where W. Joyce full of talk and pleased with his journey, and after supper I to bed and left my father, mother, and him laughing.

I am missing mention of Elizabeth his wife but no matter.

but this is another fake photo – hey hey

Thinking of yesterday’s workshop proceedings (see diary) I realise how much affinity I have for people who do not fit in. ‘Consumer people’ or simply ‘non-thinking or reflexive people’ are so boring, predictable and empty at least on the surface. It seems that, unbeknown to them, their individuality has been eroded from without – and within – by the relentless drive of ‘needing to be popular’ i.e. getting lots of ‘likes’ on social media.

If I reflect on the topic, I find most ‘normal’ people are like shadows thought pleasant enough and I feel uncomfortable or shall I say ‘partly alienated’ or stretching the idea ‘not able to fully engage’ in their company. I can make momentary conversation but I know there is going to be nothing of lasting value and I suppose so do they. Having said that, I have had delightful conversations with complete strangers so this observation does not always apply.
Ah well, its all about being on the same wavelength, methinks

It comes down to the famous scene in The Matrix.

“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” The term ‘red pill’ refers to a human that is aware of the true nature of the Matrix”

I would slightly amend this quote and say ‘…refers to a human that is aware of an alternative reality’ (hello Carlos Castaneda).

Most people have taken the blue pill by default. End of. They just have. (I’m like – uuur – is all that remains).  The people who don’t fit in, such as myself, may be reminding the ‘normals’ of who they could have been if they had dared to individuate. The fact is, folks, they will not do so whilst the main stream media keeps them afraid. Us red pill people are destined to be on an existential desert island for most of the time. Oh by the way I am not talking about ‘weird’ behaviour which is rightly marginalized by sensitive souls.

In my dreams I would assemble all the people I know who do not fit in (quite a number actually) and I reckon that more interesting discoveries and realizations would happen in a few days than happens in six months in the world of ‘normality’. Sociologically. the attempt to align yourself with an entropic entity (society) that is in itself warped and twisted by greed, fear etc. is doomed to failure.

Lady Gaga sans makeup and wig

Youngsters with make up plastered on their face actually alienate me because it is a mask and I do not know what if anything lies underneath. As an example, Lady Gaga has a very ordinary face when seen minus makeup and if you saw her in the street you would not look twice. … who do we relate to? The mask or the person who lies beneath?

When I was in hospital (Southmead) I found it more meaningful when interacting with the nurses  inter alia because they are not allowed to wear make up and you can actually see their faces.

*****

Oh dear I made a blunder (or did I?). I asked a local farmer to deliver some horse manure from local stables. He bought along a load which seemed OK but on closer examination when he had gone we found a lot of weeds, but more seriously lumps of solid clay and large thick slate, plus a wooden board. There were a few wheel barrows of good stuff but the rest was ‘taking the mickey’. Non UK readers this means ” To minimize someone by ridicule, mockery or derision, especially if the clueless subject does not realize he or she is the target of ridicule. British in origin and similar to “taking the piss” out of someone.
Urban Directory

crime scene (well, that’s a bit strong I know)

Francoise and I went along to see what he had done and he had plainly been there but had just dug straight into the pile as if he was earth moving while taking no notice of the layers of ‘the good the bad and the ugly’ (thank you Clint Eastwood).  My problem is that I tend to trust everyone unless proven otherwise which can take time. I have to say that this policy works on balance. It is very common in service industries for people to start off by delivering good quality stuff and then for what ever reason allowing the service to deteriorate.

You can’t win ’em all.

*****

A decidedly incomplete 80th birthday celebration.

Midsomer Town Hall – to be modernised but usable for social events.

This afternoon we celebrated as a town in the Town Hall the 80th birthday of the consort of the Mayor, Patricia Flagg. She is active in most of the town’s activities as a volunteer. The mayor or someone used his photographic skills to put together a rotating slide show of Pat at various stages in her life. High tea was laid out. This was a surprise for Pat. Someone went to get her at her home on some pretext and she turned up and was genuinely overcome by all the people there. She was given a  microphone and stuttered a few words such as ‘I am completely overcome – I had no idea etc.’ Then, silence. She went around thanking people. Us guests were not sure when to tuck into the sandwiches and scones. As no signal was given first it was one table then another starting to eat. Tea was bought round in cups. Eventually the cake was cut to the singing of Happy Birthday.

candle with attitude – it hissed like a rocket for at least a minute. I thought it might take off.

I was amazed that no one from the family or friends responded to Pat’s thanks. e.g.’On behalf of everyone here, we do appreciate everything you have done for us …. etc.’ so I had a chat with one of the councilors about this. Evidently her daughter had specifically requested ‘no speeches, its just a family thing’. Oh really?  Sounds like someone being possessive and controlling. Here is a link to what is normally done at such events.

Supposing someone wants to speak on behalf of others. At all similar events I have been to there is a reply or speech – weddings, funerals, you name it. Also it is common to propose a toast – even if it is orange juice. It is also normal for a family member to congratulate Pat and recall one or two examples of behaviour in her life (preferably with some humour) and also things that have bought joy to the family. The decision to exclude speeches took the shine off the event for me, anyway, but being Brits we make the best of it.

Pat talking to Francoise my other half
smitten

For some reason, some eagle handlers turned up, maybe to amuse the kids. As it happened the adults were also interested. You will understand that I am never off duty when awake. Here is the business card of the group who bought the eagles.

spot the deliberate mistakes. This does not make a good impression and they have no web site.

Apostrophes are to be used with care or should I say with a knowledge of the English language. If this was a printer originating this they should be ashamed. I suspect it was a do it yourself job. i.e. design your own art work, approve it yourself and get it printed on the internet. It is not even consistent. Why not have “Animal’s” as well. <Gets out loud hailer>  You never apostrophise the plural of a noun (but there are different rules with names).
I asked the chap in charge of the eagles what was the collective name for them (e.g. a murder of crows, a murmuration of starlings). He said he did not know but admitted he ‘should’ know. Never mind.

It is actually a convocation of eagles. I like that. con=with; vocation=calling in life. Hunting is the vocation I guess.   If you want the whole list here it is.

Anyway, I made the best out of a wasted opportunity and met a couple of interesting people. We went home in warm sunshine, being aware that tomorrow Monday 16th October 2017 the remains of hurricane Ophelia will cause winds to blow at 60 mph. Will they huff and puff and blow the house down? [The story of three little pigs).]

Of course, Ophelia could go off course and it could be a balmy day.

Time to turn off the computer and r e l a x.  Don’t ask me to define that word.

Pepy’s horse ride to Welling – karma – more art – more Bath – Pt. 2

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It helps to have read Pt. 1 to see this entry in context.

En route, I overheard a snatch of conversation. These can be literary gems of mystery inviting you to finish the story as your imagination allows. The two people involved were working in a sales department. One said to the other “how are things?”. The second one “we have the normal number of complaints”. “Still” he said reflectively “We mustn’t complain” I shall never know why complaints about complainants are considered inappropriate.

On we go to the BRSLI, Queens Square. It is a fine building used for lectures and small exhibitions. I had been to see the watercolour exhibition on trees which is still running.  There was a talk by a tree expert on the previous night. The number of people who wanted to come exactly fitted the number of seats available, surely a ‘meant’ thing to happen. The big hall can accommodate 110 people and is useful and reasonable for any type of erudite meeting. The reason for my going was to take my other half. I sat in a chair for a breather. It is quite interesting to be below normal eye level. Perspectives change. It reminds me of how a child must feel.

distant figures
pondering
This must have been a splendid town house in centuries of yore. (Ctrl and + to enlarge)
visitors book – you can tell a lot about the clientele from reading the entries.
a good or a confusing poster?

This must have seemed a good idea at the time but it is very difficult to focus on the words as there are so many conflicting cues, or calls on the attention. You have the light effect from the transparent background, the patterns and the shadows and it requires an act of will to read the text. If I wanted to camouflage the text I could not have done a better job.
A lovely show well done all.

*****

On now to collect my ‘head’ art work.  We passed some roses which during the reason must beautify the basement and immediate environment. We called in at THE cookery supplies shop in the area. They only stock quality materials and you can easily drop £200-£300 on a few saucepans or pots.

the frontage – ask anyone where it is
the front window a la Halloween – these cost a few bob but last a life time.

We went in to buy a couple of things. The chap behind the till asked if we would like a five pound token e-mailed to us. I said yes (who would not) and he asked me for my email which happens to be brian @ pobox.com which he loved. I said that he must get some difficult ones and he said yes, especially people who say the familiar (to them) address at high speed. He has to ask them to say it slower. He then admitted to being dyslexic. He cannot deal with people who say  A for apple C for Charlie etc. Too much noise. His mind puts things together in a different way. Autistic people are affected by the speed, clarity and rhythm of the spoken word and indeed of individual characters. This sounds a fascinating topic but not for this occasion.

*****

Off to the City Art Gallery where a new exhibition ‘India on Paper’ has just opened. I think you can read this descriptor (Ctrl and + to enlarge)

this descriptor greets you on entry

My goodness, was I bored with this show. There is only a limited amount of time I can spend looking at a washy colour without being pretentious.

Another Rainbow, Indian Waves
‘Sky from ‘more Indian views – landscape glimpsed through windows of a moving train’
Indian Room, from ‘Five Rooms’.
The dribble of people on the first day found something to distract them, a movie of the great man
says it all

A strange thing happened. I thought I heard the volunteer attendant block a sneeze. I went up to her and said “I wonder if it is a cultural thing to block sneezes”. She asked me to repeat myself. She said ‘I have absolutely no idea and had not thought of the question until you asked me’. I said ‘Neither did I give it a thought until I spoke to you’. ‘Never mind’ said I. ‘Art is supposed to be a catalyst’.  I then realised I was still in the mind set of the art workshop of the morning. I expected everyone to listen to me whatever I said. I exited stage left.

12. End Game, Oil on panel £2650

This work greeted me in the main foyer. I think that gave me more pleasure than all the rest in the paid show.

*****

unique in the UK is Pulteney Weir

Off to the art gallery where my  bought work resides awaiting collection. The river is not in flood and the flow is therefore very symmetrical. The birds are enjoying sitting in the water free from predators. You can see them in the middle if you enlarge the image.

Tourists make the place noisy and don’t know where they are half the time. Ah well, I am the same when I travel.

Back to the 44c Art Gallery where some artists are chatting.

We have christened her ‘Henrietta’

So, carrying my purchased ‘head’ art work in a plastic bag, off to home and to write this diary.

 

 

 

 

Pepy’s horse ride to Welling – karma – more art – more Bath – Pt. 1

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Thursday 13 October 1664

After being at the office all the morning, I home and dined, and taking leave of my wife with my mind not a little troubled how she would look after herself or house in my absence, especially, too, leaving a considerable sum of money in the office, I by coach to the Red Lyon in Aldersgate Street, and there, by agreement, met W. Joyce and Tom Trice, and mounted, I upon a very fine mare that Sir W. Warren helps me to, and so very merrily rode till it was very darke, I leading the way through the darke to Welling, …. (of a friend) He says the hand of God is much to be seen; that all his children are in good condition enough as to estate, and that their relations that betrayed their family are all now either hanged or very miserable.

For a full reading of Pepys diary you need to click on the date at the top where the full exposition will be revealed. I take something to inspire me and extrapolate it using my daily experience.
I was struck by the last sentence about miscreants being either hanged or very miserable. ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’ is the rule here.  Depak Chopra has had a go at giving guidance but in the meantime this diagram is a clue

*****

I have forsaken my monthly Men’s Breakfast meeting to go to Bath for the final day of the workshops about which I have written. The title today was ‘Moving Stories’ – our bodies have a story to tell. With movement, meditation and art work. Francoise decided to come with me.

I discovered that Clive, one member of the writing group, had persuaded his wife to come by telling her it was a shopping trip. She did not seem to mind and I guess was used to having surprises. There were more of us, a total of 11. Our facilitator Catherine was an art tutor and also a movement therapist.

After introductions we received an outline of the session, not necessary in my view. If we trust the situation enough to come along then we trust the presenter to guide us correctly through the process.

We were asked to draw the effect of a brief meditation on either a blank sheet of paper or on a format of an outline of a body. We then went into the adjoining room for some stretching and loosening up exercises. After that someone innovative. We had to make a movement which said something – a raising of the arm, a twirl, a stamping of the feet, any movement or action that we felt relevant to how we were feeling. One person squatted on the floor. Another did a Kung Fu Fighting lance-like movement of the arms.

part of the mental health exhibition

We then went into the original room and did a 15 minute meditation in which we focused on parts of the body, starting at the feet. After a pause we were asked to do another drawing either using the same piece of paper or another, to show how we felt after the work.

We were asked to make a comment on our drawing, with particular reference to before and after the meditation and other group exercises. Clive responded in the form of a poem which he had written during the time given to work on the paintings.

October in Georgian Bath

Autumn colours redolent in parks and verges
Unseasonably warm and dry – almost temperate
Will winter ever return to Bath?
Soft bells peaking in the distance
Music cascading from classical guitar
Tinkling from the abbey square
Visitors searching streets for Roman influence
Pre – Georgian Bath evident in the leaded windows
No sign of springs or acorns or hogs any more
The motor car and the train have forced the layout
and architects have forced a facade.

Various people chimed in and gave their views of the session. There was an exceptionally high level of trust, with the result that we were able to be ‘just us’, we all felt that we had supported each other without conscious intention, just by focus and listening to other people and giving them space.

The course leader was too politically correct (PC = dreadful pre-programming) for my liking, and kept on asking us if it was all right to do this or do that, or telling us that we could stop participating at any time, and that should respect others’ space.  That would have been fine in the 1990’s when people were naive about group work, but now we are quite sophisticated and do not need to be ‘told’ the rules. Had the session gone on for much longer I would have ‘come to blows’ with her in the nicest possible way but she was starting to grate.  However I grumble not because we all got a lot out of it and she did make the space for us to bring out what we felt, and she was adaptable to our preferences. Basically I think in such situations you get what you need to get out of them but only if you are ready.

Furthermore we felt that the total number in the room, 11, was jut right and if there had been a few more people the intimate atmosphere would have been compromised.

The project organiser said that it was a great relief to her to get out and about as a participant instead of an administrator and that she felt so energised and refreshed. So, everybody benefited. That’s what I call a ‘result’.

Funding for this venture will hopefully continue after next April.  Virgin have a part in it, good for them. It is clearly far-sighted ‘prevention is better than cure’ stuff, and if we can encourage people to retain the will to  communicate and their social relationships to thrive then bills will be saved on therapy, breakdowns and most of all, reliance on these wonderful brain altering chemical poison tablets that are called ‘medication’.
DID YOU KNOW <stun horror shock> that doctors made more than 64 million prescriptions in 2016 so that’s about 1 per person. Interesting that the highest proportion are along the east coast, Norfolk and Suffolk, The Wash, Tyneside – (Newcastle Upon Tyne) and Blackpool. Compare this with 9 million in 1991 and 47 million in 2012

*****

Off to Jimmy’s for lunch. As is the case with ‘all you can eat’ buffets at the weekend, prices are higher but the food range is greater. This establishment is very accommodating. We had crowds of children coming in who apparently seemed to be on their own. They just wanted a sweet course and shouted and jostled round excitedly but were well behaved. It is good to see children being introduced to such situations and learning how to behave. As a child I was never taken to restaurants, and the first time I saw my father drink in a pub was when I was 22 years of age, in the Lake District if I recall. He had an apple juice. My father was a vicar (C of E) and he did not know how to relax though my goodness he tried.

*****

And now on our walkabout on a pleasant enough autumn day. Saturday being Saturday the crowds were out. Entertainers abound and the local council tolerate them even encourage them as they keep the tourists amused. By the way, Bath is on the tourist ticket due to its architecture, the Baths themselves and the ease of getting from London. London > Stonehenge > Bath then on somewhere else overnight. Japanese are to  be seen in abundance, plus noisy crowds of youngsters from Italy and France and the odd tourist from USA or Oz holding their maps upside down.

Crowds love spectacle

This chap (you cant see him) was working the crowds outside Primark by climbing up a  pole and hanging on with his legs. He spun it out so much that people cheered and whooped. EG “Who wants to see something dangerous? Say YES”. They dutifully did.

*****

On my ‘to do’ list is the artistically created Van Gough film, ‘Loving Vincent’ and I popped into the Little Theatre, actually converted to a movie house usage from a theatre, to enquire about it’s availability. The lady in the coffee bar said that they had many requests but it was  a question of getting confirmation from The Powers That Be. This is the nearest arts cinema to our base that we have. The other one is the Watershed in Bristol. I go to both as often as I can.

a summary of the history of this house (Ctrl and + repeatedly to increase the size)

The rest of this afternoon walkabout can be found in part 2. Scroll up on this page and click on the diary entry above this one.

*****

News at night – overcoming mental illness via art

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Wednesday 12 October 1664

A short entry from our Samuel Pepys but including
…and there at my office late doing business against my journey to clear my hands of every thing for two days.
we are given some idea of the pressure on Pepys. He seems to have no one to delegate to. Even a two day break is a challenge. In our modern world we can be ‘in touch’ all the time but does this give us genuine ‘breaks?’

Yours truly sleeps very little these days (or should I say nights). I don’t suffer much as I am always bright and breezy during the day. Radio5Live keeps me going with fascinating tit bits such as –  an American court  validated a will typed on a male suicide’s mobile phone although it was not sent. His wife was not pleased as she had been excluded. – a 14 cm dover sole kissed by a a proud fisherman that then wriggled and jumped down his throat. He nearly died but the offending fish was removed at the Royal Hospital Bournemouth – a 40 year old mum and her 9 year old daughter survived after nine days in the bush in Australia by ingenious methods including sharing their shoes.

The irrepressible Rico, part of the Radio5Live broadcasting team.

Rico Hizon from Singapore tells us about a new genre of take-away establishment selling ingredients for cooking, which you just finish off on a wok at home.

The mind boggles.
*****

I return to Bath for the forth time this week in as many days. This time the Creativity Works hop is “Writing and Art Making -How to make it work” focalised by David Davies, who works at hospitals and with any client group requiring his skills. Seven of us arrived to find tables full of miscellaneous items, other tables with pictures, cards, pens, glue, stationary items, angel cards with words on – you name it. It was there.

a truly miscellaneous collection of items

We were first asked to pick an item and write about it using whatever descriptors we chose.

We were then given a set of poems which we were asked to read. We were then asked to chose a line from our poem and embody it using the materials with which we were surrounded. Finally we showed everyone what we had done. This took 2 hours. See results below.

the inspiration for my choice of object

So, I chose an item below. I chose it because I had seen a YouTube vid. on launching the largest ship in the world, an oil tanker which cost $100m. It will pay for itself in four round trips. During the actual launch, men with large ropes were assisting. I was impressed by their strength and beauty.

plastic rope and not beautiful

We had to describe it. I found the words ‘counterfeit’, ‘flexible’, ‘strong together’ came to me.  The others did the same.

We then went on to the poetry. Each one of us was asked to read a poem. I chose a brief one
Stay out of the sun:
we can all see you:
stop picking fights above your weight
From The Moult – Jen Hadfields b 1978.

This reminded me that with an advice or an admonishment should come an explanation of why you said it, otherwise it is unfinished business and unsatisfactory. I wonder how many thousands of pieces of such business.

Many others were written.
Stars
Not set like necklaces
or broaches, not pulsing quietly
through atmospheric velvets,
chiffons of mist,

ROARING

These…
fix a kind of harvest – a leaf, a child, love.

From Engineering – Isobel Thrilling (a very prolific poet)

We spent more time discussing this than any other poem. It has to be read many times and also I feel discussed to get the most out of it.

The last part of the session consisted of our assembling materials which we felt represented a line or stanza in our poems.

However, I was still focusing on the rope to launch the largest ship in the world, so have a peep below to see what came.

see text for explanation

First I found a card on which I drew some childish circles. I then found some stick-on motives and put them on. I did not think of ‘reasons’ for affixing them. I then found a rising or was it a setting sun. This reminded me to ask if an idea or a life was starting (a new phase) or was it ending its life. I then found an image of a fence which invites division but at the same time is easy to climb over. I then found a timetable which reminded me that time and timetables are not so important in the grand scheme of things.  I then stuck a square of red paper with more affixations.
Finally a rectangular piece of paper with the word ‘rope’ on. I wrote the word slowly and carefully. I then extrapolated it and cheapened it G R O P E D (reference to Harvey Weinstein), then R O A D, then H E A R D, then G A D, then D A D.  That seemed to finish a process and I knew I was finished or ‘done’ as Americans would say or ‘complet’, the French version.

Others showed their work. I am sorry I cannot do justice to the detail.

Discussing Morgan’s work. She is a student writing a paper on mental health and art. Clive on the left. He is a member of a creative writing group. She will go far, no doubt about it.
Sarah with an h deeply involved. Inger and Dee to her right. David to her left.

We were over time, so Colin asked us all what types of benefit we got out of this particular session.
In my recollection:
* common objects can be  shared experience and a catalyst.
* We can en-joy the inspirational nature of an object
* It stops us being a scientist, helps us to be a poet or creator
* it felt very easy to make connections in each others presence
* what a contrast between this and the way art is normally ‘taught’
* you could not make up this event, unique in the whole world

In the room there was a collage designed to help those with Anorexia Nervosa. The way it is designed is so much easier to read than lines of text. Well done someone. Use Ctrl and the + key repeatedly to enlarge.

whole collage
detail
that’s all, folks

The title of the diary entry is ‘overcoming mental illness via art’. Mental illness is so misunderstood but an element of it is not being able to express yourself, bottling things up leading to loneliness and delusions. ‘We are members one of another” as the Good Book says.

Any group activity that takes the pressure off the endless circle of thinking about yourself and your problems is a move towards a healthy mind or shall we say a mind available to others.

I shall explore mental health and its implications as we go along.

..and so to the bus and home.

Loneliness is expensive – continual creativity at GUH Bath

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Tuesday 11 October 1664

….My wife tells me the sad news of my Lady Castlemayne’s being now become so decayed, that one would not know her; at least far from a beauty, which I am sorry for…..

The Health Secretary actually speaking

Jeremy Hunt the Health Secretary actually deigned to make an appearance on TV during which he spoke words. They were about the golden hello to encourage doctors to areas where there was more difficulty in recruiting. He was also speaking about nurses and their declining numbers.

I am not trained to do everything

This morning, on BBC1, one of the topics was loneliness. A GP and Chair was saying that she had not  been trained to do social work but rather practice medicine and that as people got more lonely so they became more demanding, increasing the pressure on an already overloaded GP service.

Tommy

Tommy, a frequent visitor and spokes person spoke of his efforts to reach out to lonely people via his doctor. He said that when you close the curtains at 5pm, the world closes in on you and its a long time before the morning. He urges people to ‘join something’ and meet others in a similar situation. The problem is that if you have lost the will to live, this is very difficult.

*****

A few feet from the TV sit RUNNER BEANS. Do we a) eat them b) freeze them c) let them dry and use the beans within the beans d) throw them away e) give them to neighbours (again)

*****

A neighbour from No.2 came to my front door, responding to my letter in the local paper about new black bins with which we have been issued. I wrote that since they could only be used for very limited items e.g. cat litter, dog poo, sanitary products etc most of us would have no need of it. My neighbour had previously tried to get the council to take it back and replace it with a bag, but they refused on the grounds that there was easy access to her bungalow. They were deaf to her protestations that her husband was disabled and that they could not get the bin through the garage without removing the car.
Right, this is war. If the council want to waste money on unwanted items and at the same time call for reductions then we have to do something. When I have the energy I shall call them up and say I don’t want it.  If they will not take back their own property then I shall take it to the recycle and tell them that that is what I am going to do.

*****

Off to do admin and secretarial type tasks at the allotment. Today we have a delivery of horse manure of a very rich and ancient variety. Tenants pay £1 per barrow load which covers the cost of delivery by a local farmer. Primrose the local  garden contractors came to strimm the paths. There were about eight people working happily in the sun.

*****

Off to the hospital for my monthly eye check. There now follow many images which comprise my alternative view of the world.  Digression:   One picture is worth a thousand words. The original quote was actually
A picture is worth ten thousand words” as opined by a Fred R Barnard, of the publication ‘Printers’ Ink’, 10th March 1927. It probably goes back to an ancient Chinese proverb. Chinese proverbs  can be found for most subjects . Variations include Napoleon’s “A good sketch is better than a long speech” or how about the Russian writer Ivan Turgenev, 1861 “The drawing shows me at one glance what might be spread over ten pages in a book”.

Now that’s what I call an autumn picture, a tree redolent in sunshine. (Park and Ride, Odd Down)

I never know what I am going to find on entering the hospital grounds. A perfectly functional car park has been torn up for some reason. There is an enormous churn of photographs, art works and art installations that adorn the corridors on all the floors. They are for sale, and the proceeds or part of them are used to fund hospital projects.

You can have a coffee in the main foyer but the queues are long and I don’t like coffee out of a machine so I wended my way to the Friends Coffee Shop, some way down one of the long corridors. It was worth the walk. ‘Friends’ have served in the hospital system since shortly after WW2. This one has been around since 1957, having been progressively modified and enlarged. I found it much more intimate and friendly than the big one in the foyer. It is where patients can be taken to talk with their families without being in a large area or having to suffer drafts. Volunteerism is quite a culture here.

The Friends Coffee Shop, staffed by volunteers for the most part.
bad quality photography but you get the message I hope
Every attempt is made to make the visitor experience personal

Young Patients on the Children’s Ward have been working with Artist in Residence Edwina Bridgeman and have made both 2D and 3D work for large box frames based around the four seasons.

Summer
winter

Private Lives in Public Spaces
Sophie White
“My sculptures are observations of human action and interaction. I am interested in capturing a moment that I find perhaps poignant or subtly humorous. I am particularly fascinated by people engrossed in their own world unaware of themselves and oblivious to the people around them.

in one of the open spaces at the hospital

My work is a direct and instinctive response to the life around me: observations of human behavior, reflecting comradeship, intimacy, vulnerability and different states of mind. The stance and gestures make up an important part of my work. The example above:  ‘Girl on Bike”

The hospital try to get the message across of health.

good eye contact here
you may not expect to see this poster

So, off to my appointment. There was no deterioration in my macular eye condition so fingers crossed we have some stability in the left eye.
This is the examination room (below).

where I go to see the consultant

*****

This week is National Library Week and all libraries are putting on special events including a coordinated event for children this coming Saturday. We went along to the library at Midsomer Norton where the Mendip Stoytelling group were having an outreach evening. I believe we all have the need for stories built into us, probably from our mothers knee. All cultures have such a culture. 

The group normally meets in Chewton Mendip Village Hall. We had two story tellers, Colin Emmett the organiser and Janet, one of the co-story tellers. The theme for tonight was trees. Janet had a reproduction plucked stringed Finnish instrument called a Kantele, which she used to illustrate her stories.

A Kantele. Example of the sound here

made in Shepton Mallet by someone who was inspired to encourage as many people as possible to ply a musical instrument. She told us two mythical stories.

Carrying case

She made the case from felt. It was too big so in  moment of inspiration she put it in the washing machine. It emerged t the end of the cycle having shrunk just enough to contain the instrument snugly.

Colin telling a story about boys scrumping apples

Colin says he never tells a story the same way twice. Like good wine stories mature with the telling. The group do not have a website which is a pity. Here is Janet telling her stories. She has good contact with the audience. Colin does too but in a different way.

Janet

I put in a plug for the aforementioned tree exhibition in Bath and encouraged people to attend. It was here that I decided to have diary readings for people which would have a simple formula. Bring along your old diaries and keepsakes. Read from them or talk about your object. I shall start in the new year.

Home and watched TV, the last of the ‘Ambulance’ series on BBC1. A women of 29 had been killed during high winds – hurricane Doris – when a building block fell on her. More creative stuff tomorrow. I cant wait.

Journey in a strange land

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Monday 10 October 1664

Pepys engages in many matters of business in this entertaining entry. Click the link above for the full entry.

….This day, by the blessing of God, my wife and I have been married nine years: but my head being full of business, I did not think of it to keep it in any extraordinary manner. But bless God for our long lives and loves and health together, which the same God long continue, I wish, from my very heart!

In spite of his weaknesses and temperamental difficulties it is good to see that Pepys still values his wife though he did forget to make special arrangements for their anniversary.

*****

Off to a course in Bath under the overall title ‘How I make it’. This session was ‘Story Making and Walking – making it up as you go along’. There were five of us. Philippa, Sarah with an h, Elizabeth, Olly who focalised the course and myself. It took place in the room of the gallery 44a. Today’s diary entry was not intended as a photographic session but it has partly turned into one.

Olly is part of ‘Kilter, Beyond Theatre‘, a Bath based venture that creates events out of interesting, beautiful and unique people and places. They facilitate site specific plays, and create workshops for all ages. We started the two hour session by imagining we were carrying a tray of champagne glasses (full) and we had to move the trays around our head in a circle without spilling the imaginary bubbly.
We then had to recite some tongue twisters, then point to objects and describe them by their textures and colours, then we had to talk for a minute on a given subject, then with interruptions.

SaraH, Liz, Olly, Philippa

This developed into a two by two three minute walk in any direction in the midst of Bath. On the return journey we had to describe any feature that was interesting, unique or original. My own journey is described below. We then were taken on another journey and each of us had to show the other the features that we they had spotted the first time. We found that focusing on the detail rather than what was pushed into our face by the commercial world propelled us into a new dimension. I observed that the so called ‘normal’ activity may be the surreal, and what we did in our journeys was the real. Reference Carlos Castaneda or his website.

this is called ‘communication’

So off we go, me as the guest, my partner as the guide. She draws my attention to all the anomalies and details. I purposefully de-focus from everything except the unusual, the remarkable.

a mysterious shop front and a very niche shop
Nose hair extensions are the next hot beauty trend everyone needs to try. Ed. _ I can’t wait
This small bath fed via a spring can be hired privately. Nice birthday present.
assisted by solar power, this gobbles up waste. Solar vs belly? Ugh
slow seller toys waiting to be sold – somehow
lovely symmetry

Bricks on the walkway surrounded by gravel stuck on a porous surface. An aluminum ring surrounding slate chips again stuck on a porous surface. In the middle, a larch tree, a living thing.

artificial windblown stone. clever
Seagull droppings blown by the wind
lovely plane tree hundreds of years old Ctrl and + repeated to view larger
let’s look up into this wonderful old tree
that’s all folks save one below
our first piece of publicity in the local paper

 

A day in the life of Bath Part *Deux – foreign accents

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*a tribute to Leslie Nielsen

So, I continue my walk. I should add that everything in the day was unscripted, apart from the film. I find that if you are in ‘The Zone’ you meet the right things and the right people as if by magic.

only in Bath. Someone had dropped a jacket and it had been artistically draped round a street post
a fine imaginative roller poster.

On a corner there is gallery space that is rented out to various organizations. This week it was the turn of Creativity Works. Very clever double meaning. I love the English language. The venture works with people who could ‘use more creativity in their lives’ with emphasis on those experiencing mental health problems. Well done people.  I met the organiser, Philippa, and we chatted on about the exhibition. The quality of the work did not seem to be like that produced by disadvantaged people. Putting it another way, if you had told me the ‘client group’ I would have had difficulty in believing it. How’s that for prejudice? Herewith some examples:

work by Inga Sumann

The artist was there, a diminutive lady who was born in Austria. She has lived in Bath for six years and discovered an organisation ‘”Art for Hearts Sake” which helps build creative confidence. Check their web site.   Inga’s interest in heads evolved from her passion for sci-fi films and comics. In her imagination as a child she would give people Alien heads of assorted shapes and colours, adhered with strange and odd things. We had a lovely chat and I think I will buy one of her works.  I discussed the similarity between writing as an art form, and fine art itself. I said that people do not believe they can write because they have never tried. I say, sit in front of a computer and type a sentence and then another will follow. She said she starts her work by drawing an eye or a mouth and the rest follows.

Here are more works from the  gallery show:

I like the configuration of images, particularly the black frames. Excuse the rather poor detail.
‘Boxed’ by Elizabeth Jane Lovely
brilliant. Did they emerge from the ground. Are they robots.
Artist Lesley Oldaker,  ‘Outsider’   www.lesleyoldakerfineart.com  for sale see website.
“Burn Out” by Morwhenna Woolcock

Tomorrow Wednesday 11 October there is  morning workshop entitled ‘Story Making and Walking – making it up as you go along’. It is free of charge. I am going. Watch this space.

*****

Everything is within a mile or so of everything else. Look out for these maps.

 

Back to street-level again. NB Visitors to Bath will find it difficult to get lost. There are friendly maps all over the place. The last part of the day relates to an exhibition on trees. That will have to wait.

I saw a tourist struggling with an out of date map. I always stop and help people if I possibly can. He said ‘I am trying to find a place to have a cup of tea’. He said it better than an English person but with a foreign accent. I have a confession. I ‘collect’ accents. I pride myself on having a good stab at foreign accents though eastern European accents still confuse me.  Easy accents are Australian (be careful not to upset New Zealanders), German, Polish, Irish, American, South African. This chap’s was Swiss. Their sentences have a lilt at the end which you have to listen out for. My webmaster is also Swiss so I am used to the accent. I said ‘ah you are Swiss’. He beamed and said that I was the first Brit who had correctly discerned his mother tongue.

It is even worse for my other half. Local people, or people who have not traveled far from Somerset, cannot hear her French accent whereas in London when we go there, everyone can detect it instantly. Francoise now refuses to tell people where she is from. They have to guess.

*****

My final port of call is the BRLSI, or the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution. This is a splendid centre for good quality lectures and occasions. Here there is currently an event in the downstairs lobby “The Amazing World of Trees” which is an exhibition of the work of the Bath Society of Botanical Artists. What lovely delicate work they produce.

a pomegranate

Trees have so many functions. The absorb carbon dioxide – the lungs of the planet if you will, they can reduce noise pollution almost as well as a stone wall, they are a renewable resource with many applications in everyday life, they produce useful medicines, they prevent soil erosion and can absorb and concert noxious chemicals – apart from being a habitat for wildlife. It is notable that dystopian futuristic films have landscapes without trees.

This exhibit gives me a chance to indulge my obsession with tree rings. I always count them especially in the case of freshly cut wood.

years of events identified (Ctrl and + sign to enlarge. Repeat until large enough.
A slice through the trunk of a one hundred year old Oak Tree

There was an interesting lecture at the Institute this evening this evening on anger  but I did not want to sit around for another 90 minutes so back to the park and ride service. Visitors to Bath should note that the parking in the city is adequate but expensive. I also find some of the car parks limited in space and if you hate reversing in confined spaces like I do you may want to use the ParkandRide

On that note, to my house, supper and to bed. (no prayers like Samuel P)

A day in the life of Bath … plus … Blade Runner 2047 disaster

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Sunday 9 October 1664

(Lord’s day). Lay pretty long, but however up time enough with my wife to go to church. … and Mr. Fuller, my Cambridge acquaintance, told me he was to preach at Barking Church; and so I to heare him, and he preached well and neatly. Thence, it being time enough, to our owne church, and there staid wholly privately at the great doore to gaze upon a pretty lady, and from church dogged her home, whither she went to a house near Tower hill, and I think her to be one of the prettiest women I ever saw. So home, and at my office a while busy, then to my uncle Wight’s, whither it seems my wife went after sermon and there supped, but my aunt and uncle in a very ill humour one with another, but I made shift with much ado to keep them from scolding, and so after supper home and to bed without prayers, it being cold, and to-morrow washing day.

No holding back here then. Pepys sees a pretty women and follows her home and then goes to a relation to be a mediator between an arguing couple. A typical Sunday you might say.

*****

OK I had a great day today but I want to get one thing off my chest before recording in chronological order. I decided to see the updated version of Blade Runner, having seen the 1982 version. I heard that Blade Runner 2049 was a recommended film so off I went to the Odeon Bath. My only concern was why had it had fallen short of expectations when it opened in USA. So was it worth the $150,0000,000 production cost?

the nearest to daylight that we got

I went to the ‘15.30’ show which means that the film started about 15.55. The trailers were all for other violent films, all of which were of no interest to me. Trailers normally consist of flashing an image on the screen for 0.5 seconds which is enough for the brain to absorb, in effect bombarding  you with concepts to bully you into the idea that it will be a ‘good’ film to see.

The whole is a dystopian USA Californian-based setting where replicants seek out other old version replicants and terminate them or retire them. The film is violent, the scenes go on for far too long, there are too many silences, the actors mumble to each other in a cool robotic way which is actually irritating,  and as the kill list increases I am wondering to myself if this is really the best that human beings can do to entertain themselves. I lasted 40 minutes hoping the film would get better but started to feel sick and depressed so left the theatre. There were about 16 other people there. If you want to know a summary of the film, here it is.
For the time I was there it was never daylight. Good set pieces though.

This lady was a prostitute and a replicant – or maybe she was not – who was sent to find out about the bladerunner. Frankly I don’t care what happened to either of them.

Now I admit that the film may have had a few twists and turns but the meaning if there was any was lost on me.  So I crept out of the theatre and reverted to what I was doing beforehand.

*****
OK, are you sitting comfortably,  then I will begin.

My regular readers will be familiar with my affinity for Jimmy’s Restaurant which is hiding upstairs directly opposite the bus station in Bath. I spoke with the manager about improving the food. Now I have noticed an improvement, little bits here and there which all adds up to a good experience.

a new dish

I congratulated the manager on the new dish and I think he finally realizes that I really care about the place and am fulfilling my promise to give positive feedback. Strangely, he seems driven and says that ‘we will get things right little by little’. I told him that things were already right, that’s why I return time and time again, but he was beating himself up for not being perfect.  See my blog on perfectionism by typing that word in the search box.

*****

And so, on to the delightful Parade Gardens BA2 4DF in the middle of Bath by the river and the sluice. They are having some sort of flower festival at the moment (Bath is an affluent city so they can afford such things). I will let the images speak for themselves.

Quote by Jane Austin ‘Oh Who can ever be tired of Bath’ in flowers
early British Railways period type face
a splendid display
In Memorium to Mark Parnell from his mother

I very much enjoy sudden changes of weather especially when sunshine is mixed with rain. It is impossible to capture fine rain but here it is.

fine shower

On to the City Art Museum. They are between shows. In the entrance there was a lady with a clipboard. She wanted to interview people outside the BA1 and BA2 areas which were classified as ‘visitors’. I hate surveys of all types and refused point blank. However I did chat about the activity of assembling the art works and said that people do not realise the artistry and effort of placing the works in the right places to sit together, not overwhelming but complimenting each other. After a few moments she caught someone else who was prepared to spend ‘just two minutes’. It is longer than that of course but if the interviewer said 10 minutes and more, no one would cooperate.

she was good at engaging people, though.
DIY

Upstairs, there is the most unglamorous coffee area I could  imagine. Who wants to fiddle around with coffee pods and where is the milk. Some artificial sweetener cum milk lurking in the depths of the machine no doubt. I agree that real live servers would be too expensive, but with so many coffee places yards away, is it really worth it. This is in the free part of the gallery so people can pop in and out at any time.

one side of the bag

On the stairs I met a delightful lady with a shopping bag from The Body Shop.  The owners have always had good ethics and I admire them printing the slogan on the bag AND printing it in french on the other side. Not a commonplace thing by any means.

and the other side

The main square by the cathedral always has buskers and musicians performing to quite a high standard. This chap has become rather tired of waiting for a lift and has apparently expired on the job.

 

waiting and waiting
this chap was singing meaningful songs with clear words. Impressed.
not everyone was paying attention though
an art installation at the side of the cathedral. “The Casting Out” by Martin Elphick, 2016
descriptor board
Jesus Christ rising from the dead

OK folks there is quite a lot more to go so to save you endlessly scrolling I will do more in part deux. Scroll up and click the entry on the right above this one

‘to do’ lists – how can we make this topic interesting?

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Saturday 8 October 1664

….So home to bed, being weary and cold, but contented that I have made an end of that business….

brief business meetings with our redoubtable entrepreneur Mr Pepys. At least the day ends with a suggestion of contentment but cold? In October? It’s a hard life….

*****

I don’t know if ‘To Do’ lists are more trouble than they are worth. It is a standard British joke that such a list indicates that it will join many other items which will probably only be dealt with in cases of extreme need. Why not abandon them altogether and do a task when it comes into your mind? This will work on a small scale but when different types of tasks are indicated, then an element of planning and memory jogging is appropriate.

Looking at the Internet surprise surprise someone has created a public service website called todolist.com  simple and effective but I would rather use my notepad or sticky notes app.
Easy to see…
when I turn on my PC.

Kevin Kruse, an expert on such things says that to-do lists can make people more stressed out and claims than only a minority of tasks are actually completed. He says that writing lists is ‘one of the worst’ ways of making sure you take care of your work, and that they are ‘where important tasks go to die’.  Mr Kruse, the author of ’15 Secrets Successful people know about time management’ said that none of the 200 billionaires, entrepreneurs or Olympians he has interviewed use to-do lists.

Cynically I could say it is because most of them have PA’s or secretaries to remind them to do things and others to do menial work.

Back to us ordinary mortals.

It could be said that the act of writing somehow gives relief from worrying about something so you don’t actually do anything. It is good to remind ourselves that we are not equally good at doing everything. We do not have all skills or all experience. A wise person knows when to delegate.

I have noticed that I do better at certain types of activity at certain times of day. Reading is good in the evening. New types of activity in the morning.

My thoughts about ‘to-do’ lists.

Guaranteed to produce stress. This book is not written by an American by any chance?

A list is only as good as your discipline. Why is any item on it? Is it because you do not want to do it? Can you just do something without putting it on a list?

Is the task something that you can do yourself or do you need help?

Is the task fantasy or is it realistic to attain. Maybe you need a ‘dream’ list as well.
List by importance.

 

There are tasks that are important
There are tasks that are urgent
There are tasks that are important but not urgent
… you can work out the rest.

There are tasks that you could take on out of the goodness of your heart, community mindedness etc. which may become burdensome.
If you apply filters to your list, that very act may minimise stress.

 

Early morning punch-up? – a neighbor’s unkempt garden

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Friday 7 October 1664

…Lay pretty while with some discontent abed, even to the having bad words with my wife, and blows too, about the ill-serving up of our victuals yesterday; but all ended in love, and so I rose….
Early morning punch-up? Pepys must be in pain to even want to bash his wife. I can’t think of a worse way of starting the day. Still, each to his or her own.  I think it’s a good idea to have a margin of safety behavior-wise in any relationship marital or other.
*****
Francoise has been friends with someone in London for over 40 years. They have been through thick and thin but recently his psychology has deteriorated to the point that he does not know where he is living and how long he has been there. He drives those who care for him crazy but being stubborn and not using services which have been provided, for example a special shower which you can use sitting down. He find it ‘too complicated’ so refuses to use it. She was speaking or trying to speak with him this evening. He drifted off and she had to repeat herself several times until we both realised that he was probably drunk out of his mind on his favorite tipple, whiskey. There is a sense of helplessness. You can only do so much by phone. I hope I don’t go that way. Sudden and painless, or in my sleep. That will do.
*****
We in Midsomer Norton keep our gardens in good repair – house proud you could say. However, there is a neighbor round the corner who  has rented his house to his daughter. For five years it has been a mass of brambles and overgrown hedge material.   For the sake of the neighbourood I would be quite happy to do my Good Samaritan act and get the hedge sorted and the  grass mown. I have been round twice now.
The first time I went, the daughter  ‘Steff’ said that she could not afford the cost. The second time she said ‘you don’t have to bother. My dad will do it. It’s my dad’s house anyway so I will have to talk to him. Expect a call from him. He is called Jake’. I said it was not a bother. I should have said that the garden is the most scruffy in the whole area (which it is) and I am not doing it for them but for all the other neighbours who have to look at it day after day.
Somerset people are very stubborn and don’t like being told what to do. I had a previous experience with the man across the way from my house. He refused to remove junk from in front of his garage. Being sweet to him and offering to do it for him wore him down and after a few months one fine day I woke up to find all the area cleaned and tidy.  The most recent one, though, is I fear a tougher nut to crack. I’m just volunteering for goodness sake but people read all sorts of motives that are not there. So that was the drama for today.
*****
To the allotment to pull out the runner bean sticks. I have truly had enough runner beans to last me a long time. Every other day we bring back a plastic bag’s worth of them and they sit around waiting to be eaten or left to dry so that the beans inside can be used. I suppose we could make some bean soup. I reckon you could get sick of anything even salmon or caviar or – dare I say it – champagne.
*****
I have just received a very fine image from an outstanding political satirist David Dees who has been pursued by the powers that be for his dedication to what he and others see as the truth.

Can we ever waste time? – a jump in the dark to The Ritz

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Thursday 6 October 1664

… her niece came and dined with me to a rare chine of beefe and spent the afternoon very pleasantly all the afternoon, … and then home to supper and to bed, my mind coming to itself in following of my business.

Was Pepys, a busy man and rarely free of suffering in his body, wasting his time when he had a ‘to do’ list more convoluted than most people of his time? For me it is helpful to think of stirring up  earth (‘dirt’ to my USA readers) in a glass of water. It takes time to settle. Gravity and time does it. To settle ourselves we do not have to ‘do’ anything apart from diverting our mind away from the matter in hand. The mind wants to be whole but we must give it half a chance. Also, I do not think you can ever do ‘nothing’.

*****

Today, Saturday, it is cloudy, blowy and spitting with rain. Far from the ideal autumn day we had yesterday as my diary witnessed. My knee continues to trouble me. It is not ‘pain’ as such but ‘discomfort’ as the muscles and tendons try to adjust themselves to my exercises. So, will this be a day when we do ‘nothing?’ Knowing us, probably not (written at 8 am)

*****

The Mendip Times gives a very good summary of ‘What’s On’. As keen as ever not to miss out we saw this event. We don’t know a single soul and it sounds fun.

Ctrl and + to see detail

Prior to that we did our Lidling but and bought our week’s groceries etc. A small weird event happened. We arrived at the check-out and without thinking I said ‘let me guess the amount of the purchases. I hardly looked at them and said off the cuff £53.14. Guess what, it was £53.16. How did I do it. Some sort of subconscious adding machine. Maybe we make better judgements if we do not think.

*****

Anyway at 2.35 pm off we went, not having a clue what was going to happen. We had a choice of 14 events to go to but this one above jumped out at us so as we normally follow our gut we submitted to its silent prompting. Croscombe is a lovely traditional village with quaint winding  streets. The course of the River Sheppey has been substantially ‘managed’ on its way through Croscombe, as this weir area demonstrates. The Sheppey was the main power source for many of the mills which operated in Croscombe in the 18th and 19th centuries. For those thinking of moving into the area it has a literate and cultured population and is not far from Wells and Shepton Mallet. Expect to pay west of £450,000 for a decent sized traditional house. Even minute 2 bed cottages are £245,000.

Anyway we found the Village Hall. The usual inspection of the notice board took place (you can tell so much about the level of activity from the notices)

The Village Hall notice board – Ctrl plus + repeatedly to enlarge  the image.
there were some splendid large rose hips at the entrance

The theme of the event was Afternoon Tea @ The Ritz. The aim was to raise money for an expanded bar for which they needed £30,000. We entered and there it was splendidly laid out complete with towers of sandwiches and cakes and miniatures just like the real Ritz. We were not sure where to sit as there were six full tables and four unoccupied. It’s a bit awkward knowing where to go or whether you would be left sitting on your own but after a few moments hesitation we decided to join a couple sitting at the front. We asked if we could join them and they readily acquiesced. As it happened they were a couple who had worked in the army for 35 years on telecommunications which included a spell in Cyprus where I had also lived. Alan the husband specialised in writing scripts for Christmas Pantomimes.

We had plenty to talk about so off we went. I was unable to resist digging in to the food. Tea and coffee came around served by two immaculately dressed sisters who were so proud of what they were doing.  Well done parents. Sheila Ross, the grande dame of musical arrangement in the area played background music on the electronic piano.

After about an hour we had a splendid talk by Jim Scott, announced in grand style by the compare, Mike Dowell.

Mike at the Mike

Jim the speaker is a world wide traveler and sailor, an ex-navy man who used this occasion to tell stories and read some of his poems from his books. I recorded them as videos and here they are. They are all about 2 minutes in length. First poem, second poem, third poem, forth poem.

Jim’s children live on the British Virgin Islands, now a virtual wreck after the hurricane (tornado) and he has formed a charity at great speed from nothing in a few weeks to encourage people to support the rebuilding. If you want to see his website here it is. Well done for getting so many notable people on board so quickly.

Anyway he shared his travel experiences from all over the world. Jim said that his cat always knew when an earthquake was coming for he went under the settee dragging a pillow with him. He and I had both lived in South Africa so I prompted a few quote and stories from him, to the entertainment of all. I noticed that many of the 30 people in the hall were too shy to ask questions. Francoise thought that this was because they had not traveled much.

the audience listening with rapt attention

We agreed that the most exciting thing about travel was the unexpected, particularly meeting friends completely out of context and by ‘coincidence’. He said he had been planning to go to Australia but never made it as he got shipwrecked on the way. I like these people. He said he would not return to most of the places he had been not because they were disappointing but because he had an insatiable desire for new things.

After the talk we chatted with our table friends and I arranged to see Alan’s band playing at the local pub in Burton Bradstock, Dorset.

every Village Hall worth the name has an historical map of the area. Use Ctrl, + to view the detail.
and on the wall was a remarkably sensitive and atmospheric work by ??? could not read the name of the artist. not a good photo but this was reflective glass.

So the lessons learned for us anyway

  1. follow your gut 2. it does not matter if you don’t know anyone. People neither know nor care if you have a partner or friend.  3. the other people who show up are friendly otherwise they would not come. They want the stimulus of human contact just like you do. 4. the evening or occasion may be far more interesting that you dreamed but you wont know unless you show up. 5. the worst thing that can happen is nothing.

 

 

Reflections on my diary thus far ..plus.. knead, kneed, knee, need is the problem

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Wednesday 5 October 1664

A long discourse from Pepys – So to Trinity House, and there I dined among the old dull fellows, and so home and to my office a while, and then comes Mr. Cocker to see me, and I discoursed with him about his writing and ability of sight, and how I shall do to get some glasse or other to helpe my eyes by candlelight; and he tells me he will bring me the helps he hath within a day or two, and shew me what he do.

Pepys wife Elizabeth with whom he had a fractious relationship but he seemed to love her.

The reason that Pepys stopped writing his diaries after 10 years in 1669 was the fear of going blind, a fear that did not materialise. He started 1st January 1660 and wrote more than a million words. His much admired writing style – which I try to emulate – is partly due to his frankness in writing concerning his own weaknesses and the accuracy with which he records events of daily British life and major events (I am not so interested in the latter) rather the quirky and unusual events and scenes here in Zomerset.

I have been writing almost daily since 1st February this Year of our Lord 2017 and am nearly up to 200,000 words so at the present rate will make the million words in a couple of years. Volume is nothing without substance but hopefully my work has acted as a catalyst for thinking and perhaps the odd bit of wisdom here and there. As a Gemini my attention span is normally quite short but curiously my diary habit is achieved without any effort or feeling of duty on my part. A good or bad thing I know not, but it is fun. More than that, it is very rewarding and is sharpens my observatory mind. When I go out and about, I am not just going for me, but on behalf of my diary and those who may read it.

Thank you Samuel Pepys for being my inspiration.

As for key words, searching is easy. It narrows down the field of enquiry. However with regard to the hundreds of images there is no way of searching for them and your best bet is to do a word search on ‘art’ or ‘cars’ or any word associated with images. I started back in February without images but then discovered how easy it was to insert them (thank you WP developer) and they are now liberally sprinkled in the body of text but not for the sake of imagery. I use mainly captured images from my mobile phone which have a specific meaning related to the article and do not rely on the inane grins of models that can be so easily found on the Internet.

fake fake fake

Most images expressing emotions are fake and of no value. You can tell the difference between a person being paid to pull a fearful expression and one who genuinely is.

*****

I have had to cancel my proposed two week vacation in Morocco due to a misbehaving knee. Really rotten timing. After 30 minutes or so of walking it heats up and feels like an elephant leg, not that I have had any experience in this life of being elephantine but maybe a past life. On second thoughts, entropy normally degrades. I wonder about dolphins. They seem more compassionate and aware than most of us human beings.

a sophisticated body member of which a lot is asked

Whatever the cause I am doing the doctors’ recommended exercises and taking some so called pain killers i.e. masking the messages from the local nerves but the reality is that my poor old left knee is missing some cartilage and I must treat myself with more care. The knee joint is more complicated than at first glance (as most things are ha ha). I believe the joint can be replaced though how the surgeons do it I cant imagine. Are there lots of knees sitting in some laboratory waiting for owners.  At the age of 73 I am having a good innings but have no intention of slowing down (what would I do?).

The knee damage was a blessing in disguise. I had my doubts about the travel company, RSD Travel offering a 14 day tour of Morocco, coach tour and flight included from only £249 pp. Our tour was £360 pp Later on I realised that on arrival you would have to buy the extra package of evening meals £230 per person plus other packages, all reduced to special prices, but payable on arrival in other words ‘hard sell’.  The total value of the extra packages were £414 pp. So adding it all up the total would be £774 pp still not too bad but a shock to have to get out your credit card after a long journey. There were many reviews from Trip Advisor travellers who said that they would not travel again with the company.

Anyway today Friday the flight was due to leave from Stansted at 8.20 AM  I kept an eye on all the flights via flightradar.com which shows the flight details, destination, departure and arrival of all flights in the world. The Turkish flight that was due to take us to Marrakesh did not appear, though it was ‘scheduled’ to fly there was no times given. The airline was Corendon Dutch Airlines,  a company with 3 Boeing 737-800NG aircraft based in Antalya, Turkey. I watched my computer screen periodically throughout the day. No departure notice. I looked from the arrival airport aspect. Nothing.

This site (free by the way) includes all aircraft even Cessnas. I shall never know what befell them. Were the luckless passengers transferred to another flight, Ryanair or Easyjet perhaps? Were they abducted by aliens or was the tour cancelled at the last moment. As they say, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. …….I will just check again before posting this part of the piece……. <some time later> not a dicky bird. Nothing. De nada. Zero. Null. vide.

*****

Ctrl and + keys hit repeatedly for larger image.

Today is the perfect day for outdoor activities particularly for cycling. We visited Mells Post office / shop / restaurant for lunch. I had a huge salad, basics plus feta cheese and olives plus salmon for about £8.50  This is one of those places where by entering you are instant family. A cyclist dressed in the full gear – yellow jersey to boot – who without much persuasion told us that 2 years ago he had been diagnosed with diabetes. He refused to have pills, injections, and any type of chemical therapy. Instead he decided to turn his life around and get fit. In the intervening period he has lost 2 and a half stones. More than that his entire family have become cyclists and are all fit and well. He said his son was not with him due to having to work. Much congratulation and smiles all around.

card at the till in the restaurant

So nice to see people offering their services. I heard of another chap on my nightly vigil on Radio5Live last night. He goes by the name of Fevzi Turkalp, The Gadget Detective,  and offers free advice on his website. I was so interested I got out of bed – 3.30 am it was – and turned on my computer.  There are some good community minded people around who are happy to share what they have. WordPress is full of such people. I forgot to look for the harvest moon. Here it is anyway.

Phillip Simpkin captured this shot at 9.30pm last night in Leicester, stunning!

Anyway, on from Mells to Nunney. I have written many other reviews of these places here as well as writing in Trip Advisor (bsnellgrove) which can be seen by typing for example Mells in the search button on the top right of the home page screen. We have been to Mells many times.  I want to make a point about rural buses. They may be few and far between – one or two hourly – but they are a life line and they do run, normally on time. I can get to Mells from either Frome or my home town of Midsomer Norton with ease, being dropped right outside the door so to speak. Look for the timetable.

Us seniors don’t have to pay anything (cue for smug grins).

*****

Off to our favourite cafe in Nunney (actually the only one). You will find it a few yards north of the bridge that is in the middle of this very small village. If you need to, its BA11 4NZ. It was closed while the owners took a well earned break so we decided to wander round the Castle and the moat. By the way, you can tell a lot from a village by checking the notice boards. This is quite important if you are looking for somewhere to live. The posters will give a good idea of the kind of people you will meet. NB wealthy does not equal community mindedness. You can have small villages with snobby people or larger villages where everyone knows everyone else.

a view from the main square and the coop, the castle being in the background.
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looks romantic from a distance but….
green algae taking over and becoming an eye sore.

This can be treated but someone has to have the money and the motivation to do it. For a commentary on different types of algae, see algae.info

It must have taken a lot of canon power to destroy this stone structure
4 stories high – a dystopian view
short and sweet history

*****

Clutton Village hall used for a wide variety of social purposes

To Clutton Horticultural Society, in the Village Hall where we heard bulb expert Alan Street from Avon Bulbs talk about activity behind the scenes at the Chelsea Flower Show.His firm have attended 38 shows but are taking a break this year. They have won 19 gold medals and one silver. The silver was due to wrong timing when the bulbs did not bloom on the days that the judges were due to view.

We were entertained for a full hour and time flew by as he was obviously so much in love with the subject. These are the kinds of talk I cannot resist and am drawn to. I don’t mind what the subject matter is.  For me, the speaker must walk his talk otherwise the material does not come alive and I find myself getting bored. The group itself consists of about 25 members, mostly ladies, but a  good sprinkling of men.  We are all over 55 years of age. No young people darken the door. In another room in the building there is a social club where they are heavily into gambling – mainly horses. The atmosphere is raucous and occasionally disturbs the proceedings but no one seems to mind or if they do they don’t say anything.

Membership is £2 a year and the meetings are £4 which includes wine/soft drinks and a good buffet. Gill the organiser makes the most wonderful chutneys, sweet and tasty. I love going along though I know some people find me a little forward with asking questions. We meet in the first Friday of the month.
Alan got straight on with the facts with which he was overloaded but gave them out in an interesting way. He has met Princess Anne and the Queen Mother who was more knowledgeable than the Queen herself. HRH has not visited their stall to Alan’s pique. For shows you take three times the number of bulbs you want to show s the slightest imperfections must be rejected. When bulbs are planted they must be a certain depth otherwise they will get too cold and will die. They turn their energies to rooting and stabilising, then the tip reaches up to seek light.

Alan could not resist taking a pop at certain TV personalities but he remained good humored and he impressed us all with his knowledge of varieties and their Latin names. Holland is per-eminent because they have been perfecting their art for 400 years, because the soil, the temperature and the climate are suited and the flat land enables the use of large harvesting machinery. They aim to produce 2 billion bulbs this year 2017. In the earlier shows they used to take 800 orders but this has diminished by about 100 each year as people are more used to ordering through the Internet.

Alan chatted enthusiastically with us as we munched our way through the buffet. After farewells, off into the night which was for the first time this autumn quite nippy. The full moon was partly visible through the scudding black clouds. We drove through the dark lanes back home. Francoise says it is time to get some wood for our stove.

As Pepys would say ‘ and so to bed’

Michael Jackson – why do adults not tell the truth?

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Tuesday 4 October 1664

….and thence home, where I found my aunt James and the two she joyces. They dined and were merry with us. Thence after dinner to a play, to see “The Generall;” which is so dull and so ill-acted, that I think it is the worst I ever saw or heard in all my days. I happened to sit near to Sir Charles Sidly; who I find a very witty man, and he did at every line take notice of the dullness of the poet and badness of the action….Thence-setting all them at home, I home with my wife and Mercer, vexed at my losing my time and above 20s. in money, and neglecting my business to see so bad a play. To-morrow they told us should be acted, or the day after, a new play, called “The Parson’s Dreame,” acted all by women.

I do most enjoy the quality of candidness, and no one can accuse Pepys of beating about the bush. This phrase was originally associated with hunting. In medieval times, hunters hired men to beat the area around bushes with sticks in order to flush out game taking cover underneath. However its meaning has morphed and indeed reversed to people who try and avoid talking about an embarrassing or difficult topics. Funny old thing, the English language.

My Thought for the Day is a reflection on why people do not tell the truth

I heard a lovely quote about Michael Jackson, much beleaguered and abused by those who tried to take advantage of his good nature. “You know why I like having kids around me? They are the only ones that tell me the truth

I can think of reasons why people are not truthful in their conversations and dialogues.

Fallacy:  we assume that people will be so upset or offended that they will distance themselves from our remark.
Fact: if said in the right (polite) way people will be grateful (I had no idea…. thank you for telling me …. etc)
Fallacy: our friends would not be able to handle it
Fact: your remark may have raised a subject that they have been troubled about for some time and your words may be a valuable catalyst for change.
Fallacy (in part): it is not the right time to mention something
Fact: Alas for some people there is never a right time as they continually defend themselves from all possibilities of attack. However, there is a time and a place for everything, and challenging someone when they have lots on their mind may be one step too far and will cause an adverse reaction
Fallacy: I will not speak to my friend about xx  because I do not have all the facts
Fact: then start from what you do know and ask your friend to correct you if you are under a misapprehension.
Fallacy: I did not want to bother you so I did not mention x
Fact: the earlier a problem is tackled the easier it is to remedy (credit card debt for example, of a failing relationship)
Fallacy: my friend will reject me if I tell them what I think
Fact: if they know you care for them and you do it gently, it is vanishingly unlikely that they will take umbridge.

However there is another class of reasons why people are dishonest. I call it ‘window dressing’ and includes people who wish to create an impression which is at variance with their true nature. I suppose you could call it a con trick. Such are the pressures on the young in particular that they do not dare step out of line for fear of being marginalised or ridiculed. So sad. I bemoan the loss of individuality.

A defect or problem is not a weakness. It is part of the human condition. If you do not understand something, it does not mean you are stupid. It means that you are unfamiliar with that particular subject matter. No one is expected to be familiar with everything. We all have to start somewhere.

If you are frightened of doing something then just tell your friend. You will open up avenues of help that would otherwise not be offered. Honesty really is the best policy. (first said by Benjamin Franklin). While on the subject of wise quotes, how about the one below.

A president with integrity

*****

goldfish basking

Amazingly,  we do get occasional sun here in Somerset (blame the jet stream). Here are the goldfish sunning themselves in our pool.

amusing take on dog’s need for water (local pub)