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Ingmar Bergman – flowers – Red vs Blue pill

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When watching any film by the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman I am transported into another world. It is a place where real people exist and challenges us to face them and thus face ourselves. As he informed us in the documentary I’ve just been watching about the film “persona”, this movie saved his life. Until that time he had lost his inspiration, and felt that he could never make another film again. ‘Persona’ gave him the incentive and the stimulus to leave everything connected with his previous methods behind and start afresh. I think this reflects our life. It is not a bad thing when we had to leave everything behind and make a fresh start. We can take our wisdom and experience with this. All films and that all media should ask a question as indeed life itself should. What have we learnt? Do we tend to duplicate our mistakes? Have the years really made us why so?

If I think of most of the so-called entertainment that I watch on TV and in the movie theatre, every second is filled with noise, so-called action, dialogue, violence, disagreements, bad behaviour in that imagery for the sake of it. It flits through our sensory mechanisms at such a rate that we become bedazzled and dazed. One of the many things I love about Bergman films is that there are periods of silence where you are invited to think, reflect, have a moment to yourself, allow yourself to be challenged by the human beings in front of you. In ‘The Seventh Seal’ the image shown here is a tremendous symbolism in the figure of death who invites you to come into his cloak and be wrapped within it. Who has not sought to embrace death, escape from the humdrum and relentless reality?

I think the art of reflection and contemplation should apply to our own lives. Why should we have to “do” something every day. Are we frightened of silence? I would love to take a group of teenagers into the country with strict instructions to leave their mobile phones behind to see what they would do. I suspect that after the initial shock has died down, they would start talking to each other and would thoroughly enjoy the day.

*****

Today I have finished a completely new presentation which I’m going to send out to 1200 people via e-mail on Tuesday. It is the first time I’ve attempted a newsletter, Mailchimp variety, which has links to an accompanying website. The message is all about becoming a full human being and retaining one’s humanity. In view of all the entropic forces around us I think that is almost a full-time job. I was watching a rather dystopian video last night showing how Hewlett-Packard manufacture trillions of dust size particles which function as RFDI chips that can land on people and track their movements. Who needs to inject people with chips when the same thing can be done through the atmosphere. The problem is that these situations are with us but no one tells us. The recent leaking of data from Facebook is nothing compared to what is happening

*****

Francoise loves flowers and a couple of nights ago they had a flower arranging evening at the Gardening club and she brought home a couple of examples.A table decoration with various artefacts beloved of the Snellgrove household.

*****

Deepak Chopra may be the name known to most of you. He’s currently doing a free series on healing and centering and so on. This is generously offered for a period of about a week after it is published and is produced with Oprah Winfrey. It is high-quality audio material. Today’s Centring Thought was “embrace my role as both healer and healed”. Opera introduces Deepack with some thoughts about healing, he then speaks and there is a period when music is played and we are supposed to meditate and breathe in and out as you do normally but more consciously. The mantra that we are asked to chant (with eyes closed) is “Har  Haray Haree” which is a mantra helping us to focus on intentions and thus repatern the mind to higher goals and energies.

At the other end of the spectrum, my very good and courageous friend who runs the Forbidden Knowledge.TV website expressed her horror and disgust at the mentality that breeds the 9/11 event and the creatures that control America. She is certainly in a very fighting mood at the moment.

This is from today’s newsletter:

Looking at that explosion, I see the Seven Deadly Sins writ large. I see a greed for power that is unfathomable and a lust for blood that is incomprehensible. I see the wrath of an elite that hates humanity. I see the envy of those who would deprive us of our God-given rights. I see the gluttony of those who stole everything that wasn’t nailed down. I see the pride of those who think they can get away with this – and I see the sloth of all of us who allow this perverse chicanery to persist.

Its red pill vs blue pill time. Check this video out. Sooner or later we will all have to face reality and its not what most of us want to think.

 

 

Is there any positive news?

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doing the business

This is the time where Christians celebrate the rising of Jesus from the dead. I don’t know about you but when I bang my thumb with a nail I complain like mad and wait for what seems like an eternity while pain diminishes. In the example of 2000 years ago we have three people being nailed to a post with a cross- member through their wrists and through their feet. We are told that Jesus remained on the cross for about six hours before giving up the ghost. This is the ultimate ‘bad news good news’ story depending on your degree of understanding of the whole life-and-death interface, the nature of the human spirit, the nature of suffering and so on.

Interestingly, although he and all his disciples were killed in various gruesome ways, the faith devoted to Jesus’ name lives on with not just millions but billions of adherents all over the planet.

In order for there to be good news, and there’s plenty of it, it is necessary to actually get together. It is difficult to create a good news item on your own. There are certain magazines devoted to good news not the least of which is ‘Positive.news‘. Yes, that is the name of the website. I pinched one of the images that they used to illustrate what I think communication is all about. The subject matter is about the Italian branch of the Trodos Bank where people are trying to do ethical things with money.People, please look at the faces and the body language. There is a good-natured communication between people who are thinking about something outside themselves. There are no leaders of followers. There is a common goal that the woman in orange on the left is obviously thinking deeply about. That is what society should be doing. I fear we have lost our ability to think let alone become individuated. Thank you Political Correctness putting so much damage but then it does take two to tango.

In the mainstream media we get occasional bouts of good news in fact it’s feelgood news is not quite the same thing. Feel good news is the assurance, calming the people that human nature isn’t so bad for example someone saves someone from being run over by a train. Actual good news is a decision that has been made in the interests of the public devoid of political trickery and manipulation. 95% of so-called news is about people who have done something wrong, killed somebody, cheated with somebody, declared war on another nation, gone bust, made $100 million, but this is not actual news, it is noise.

I consider most of the utterances of government to be lies, mainly USA and alas not excluding UK. The problem is, once you have told a lie one time, you have to tell another lie to cover it up. In particular and financially in the longer term all the quantitative easing in the world cannot disguise vast spending of money that is not there and for which there is no security. The consequences are wide reaching. The financial services of the world are in general a con trick, charging interest on money that never existed in the first place. What a thing to think about on Good Friday but what a thing to think about on any day come to that.

*****

Making a complaint – Soundcloud.com

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My Volvo chose the perfect time to break down just before the long holiday weekend. The obliging RAC man turned up and quickly (50 seconds) discovered that the alternator had packed up. He accompanied me to my local garage where I left the car for action next week. Interesting synchronicity here. I returned to my home after having been told it would be a three hour wait but 45 minutes later I got a text message saying that Chris, the engineer, would be with me in 20 minutes. There was no way I could get back to the car in that time. At that very moment, someone who I did not know, a carer for the old lady across the road, just happened to be leaving the place where they were working. I explained my plight and they took me straight away arriving just 2 minutes after the RAC man turned up. I’m so grateful for the so-called little events. They do affect the stress level quite a lot, at least with me they do. I’m the person who likes things to be in order. It wasn’t an absolute A1 total disaster but it does disturb my day.

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I forgot to mention that I have been a frequent contributor to Soundcloud and have about 85 three-minute recordings on various philosophical matters and 64,000 followers. I need to make an audio for another purpose so I just revisited my past life and I thought you might like to hear one or two examples.

*****

I wanted to mull over the subject of making a complaint. I love the word ‘mull’ which is a verb without an object. It means to study or ruminate or ponder or think about carefully. I have been reflecting on the last half a dozen times that I made a complaint or thought of making one.

The word “complaint” has two types of meaning. The word itself originates in the 14th century where it meant “lamentation, expression of grief” and also “expression of dissatisfaction of disapproval”. Its roots lie in the Old French complainte. The use of the word to describe a body ailment, a cause of pain or uneasiness dates from about 1700. We now talk about something “giving me grief” said that could be seen as the modern equivalent. Anyway, back to my examples.

I thought about complaining that my car was taking rather long time to service. I then decided to turn the complaint into a question to ask if there was any particular problem with the car and tried through gritted teeth to give the garage the benefit of the doubt. In all honesty they have been pretty good to me over the years. It appeared that they were waiting for a part so my patience was tested but that was the extent of it. The receptionist is quite a nice girl and has to deal with all sorts of chauvinist men and I really didn’t want to upset her and as it happened it was not necessary.

I did actually complain to my bank that it took a long time for my text alerts about the incomings and outgoings of my account to be sent. I wrote a secure letter in the normal way and received no reply. I found that I could not bring myself to telephone the wretched banking system where you have to press lots of buttons, being told that the call will be recorded for quality control purposes, listening to the most chinless music you could probably imagine and then finally talk to an 18-year-old girl who just reads a script and uses standard language of apologies and assurances. I dread hearing the standard phrase “is there anything else I can help you with”

I commented adversely about the quality of a photograph of the managing director of a company with whom I deal. I wanted to do my Good Samaritan ‘concerned citizen’ bit and say that the image portrayed would not do the company any good. I disguised the complaint as customer feedback and was very nice about it. I did not complain to the editor of the magazine of which the photograph was a part since she did not know me. I spoke to the manager of my local branch and I know that he had a word with her. Shortly after which she left her position and someone else who has come along seems to be doing a better job.

I made a very minor complaint about papers not arriving during the time of the snow. I have to be careful how I speak to the local newsagents for two reasons. First, I need to keep on good terms with them anyway because they do me a service and secondly this is a gossipy neighbourhood and the word gets around. The parents of the newsagent live opposite me and I don’t want to get a bad reputation with my neighbours. I entered the shop and made a very bland comment about the non-delivery and they said that they themselves had not had a delivery for two days because of the weather so I ended up commiserating with them.

I complained, or should I say asked, someone to provide a mailing list because I wanted to do a large mail out but in spite of being asked four or five times, the person concerned could not to summon up the willpower, the time or the energy to comply. Since I do not know them, there is very little I can do and it is all done on a voluntary basis anyway so I just had to accept the fact that this is an imperfect world and find other things to do. I’m now trying to work through an intermediary who does know them.

In public, I do hear people complaining or should I say ranting and it is quite obvious to a bystander like myself that this is a complete waste of energy because the shop assistant or whoever just stands there smiling and taking it in their stride because they have to. Increasingly, I’ve seen traders and so forth give as good as they get. They would dearly love to punch someone in the face I’m sure but it’s not worth it and they would probably get sued. I do feel sorry for young girls trying their best who get abused because they’re not yet tough enough to avoid taking it personally. Our Doctors surgery has a zero tolerance towards any sort of aggression and they can and do throw people out if they misbehave.

Overall, my wife and I have very little to complain about. We ritually complain about the lack of good weather particularly during March that is more a grumble than anything else. I try to remember that others have far more complicated lives than we do and they have far greater burdens to bear, financially and psychologically no doubt. I trained to be a Professional Life Coach and we were encouraged to draw information from people and not tell them what to do and this has stood me in good stead on more than one occasion.

I think deep down, people in public service want to do a good job but sometimes they are victims of the system. Their wife could have just asked for a divorce the previous evening you just never know.

Something out of nothing – is it possible?

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This is what I think will be a brief diary entry (famous last words). I have just finished an hour-long teleconference meeting with 11 other people. I think there are advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that you can get some impression and have some communication with people that live at the other end of the world. Dragging your body here and there to have a conversation with someone is time, energy and money draining.

The problem is that we miss out on the sensory information of the five senses. We can see, we can hear, but we cannot feel, we cannot touch and the whole experience is rather two-dimensional. Is it possible to get to know 10 other people for the purposes of establishing working relationship. I think the much more efficient way of doing this is to have a personal and spontaneous face-to-face meeting where if someone says something that particularly interests you, you can take them off into a corner and have a chat with them without someone else listening.

The session lasted an hour. Most of the time was spent by the focaliser or the organiser giving news and  saying necessary things. It is very difficult to have a conversation about what the main speaker has said even though you agree with it because as soon as you start to speak, someone else. Everyone speaking tends to degenerate into a noise machine and it is difficult to moderate. My conclusion is that remote group conferencing works for up to four people and no more. We see people having conference calls in hospitals but that is where there is a very specific term of reference for example we are fault and we cannot take any more patients or we are going to cancel all non-essential operations. The method is pretty hopeless for open-ended discussion and freethinking.

Nevertheless, something is better than nothing and our weekly meetings always give people some incentive, and some feel that there are other people around on the same wavelength so I would not discourage such meetings but try to limit their size, and not to have too much expectation of them.

My point about something out of nothing. You cannot have nothing. You have an idea which is present on another level, but which doesn’t have the discipline and form, but you know that it can be manifested on the physical practical level if it is discussed. Otherwise there would be no point in having the discussion with other people in the first place. I love the idea that you can start a conversation not knowing where it will end.

*****

Yesterday I did a telephone reading on a lady who had many problems in her life including ill-health, self-doubt, inability to make decisions and inability to sleep.  This morning I received a thank you letter of which I will quote in part ”

Thank you for our talk yesterday and for your email. I do understand that on the whole things can’t happen overnight but I have to tell you I slept nine hours last night and feel a lot more grounded and human today!
What was particularly useful to me was that you showed me how to help my mother without ripping out my heart for her. And your unjudging support for my healing process is hugely welcome and valuable. I feel I have a companion in dragonland who can see the way more clearly than I can at present.

I myself found this encouraging for a number of reasons. When I read her initial letters which was very long and convoluted, I had my serious doubts whether I could help at all but I decided to attend conversation by telephone anyway and see what happened.
As it happened I found myself inspired and was able to say the right things to her including the relationship between her and her deceased mother and what to do about it. When I do such psychic readings I am in an altered state of consciousness and I get all sorts of pictures and impressions which I pass on to the person that I’m talking to.

According to the normal rules of counselling I’m pretty outrageous in my methods but on each occasion I grit my teeth and describe what I see or feel and each time the client confirms what I’ve said makes sense.

A good and full day with plenty of writing and updating my website which I don’t mind telling you is www.ubuntu.news

Photo or Photoshop clone?

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The more bumps in the green lens as in the one on the top right then the worse the condition

To RUH in Bath for my monthly macular checkup. Doctors do not have the time to tell you everything; I did not know until today that there is no cure for dry macular but that it comes on unspectacularly over a period of time. Wet macular, which is what I have, comes on suddenly but is treatable. This is about my 16th monthly visit. You go along, your eye is photographed, if it is getting worse you get an injection in the eye concerned. Each time the injection is given in a different quadrant of the eye. My left eye is fairly stable now and only needs doing once every couple of months. Without the NHS I would have probably paid out about £16,000 by now. Something to meditate on if you find yourself irritated by a wait of a couple of hours. Try going private.

As my regular readers will know, numerous photographs and drawings and paintings are posted in the main corridors I suppose to cheer people up and give the place a good feel. By the way, any member of the public can wander in. Just look as if you have a purpose and no one will question you. There is a good Friends coffee room off the main corridor and well signposted.

I really don’t know what you think about this photograph. Forgive me but from being a complete cynic but I think this one was photoshopped. Photo shop is one of Adobe’s the most successful products. It has been available for 28 years now with an estimated 15 million users worldwide.

I see so many photographs “processed to sell” and I find them slightly annoying. Are the trees really that degree of green? Was the shot above made at a slow shutter speed? I don’t know what to trust. If you want a pretty picture that’s fine but what is a picture supposed to do? I must admit I love black-and-white photographs more than any other type. Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) was a brilliant portrait photographer and you believe the results. He knows how to win the confidence of the sitter to get the absolute best out of them. I am missing my favourite one of Leonard Bernstein but look at this one. I believe it. Karsh has caught the soul of the person.

Ernest Hemmingway. This is him. You see the determination and vision in his eyes, almost a peep into his soul. Now look at this one photographed by Annie Leibovitz, for whom I have the highest respect by the way.Sorry guys, this is not in the same category. It is poorly produced. I admit I have not seen the original so forgive me spirit of Annie. It’s the attitude, the lighting, the state of mind they are in, it should all stand out a mile.

What about Cartier Bresson’s photograph of Albert Camus?  To capture the soul of someone you had to be a really great photographer. This example includes a apposite context which I believe helps us to understand something of the man who was a philosopher, author and journalist.

In my opinion, black-and-white photography is enormously underestimated. I think you capture the nuances better then colour because in a way I find colour a distraction. I could say it does too much of the work for you.

 

Going further down the corridor, I found another image. This work is called “Eastbourne Pier” by Eva Woroblec. It is a framed print on archival fine art paper. There is a good article about types of paper which you may care to read. I find this one genuine because I can almost feel the effects of the recent rain shower, the cold, damp, the almost derelict look of the place which in the summer sees children playing games and eat ice creams.

So, whoever manages the photographs for the Royal United Hospital, Bath you certainly have an effect on me anyway.

Back home to watch yet another Sir David Attenborough nature film. Where he gets the time I have no idea. Maybe he doesn’t go to places any more but just records the voice-over. How old is he? . Let me think now. He was born on 8 May 1926 so that makes him 91 coming up to 92. Not bad.

 

Up to you vs down to you vs over to you

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I note from my stats that there are some readers for whom English is probably their first language. This blog is written for everybody but particularly for those who are bemused or confused about the peculiarities of English.
I just love the English language in all its subtleties. I have quoted the three phrases above simply because they came into my head and this is before writing my diary for the three days prior.
I do have some sympathy with those who attempt to learn English. You can learn ‘mechanical’ English without too much difficulty, but the subtleties must take most of a lifetime to learn.

The first duty of my day, which I might add is bright with a clear blue sky with no wind and just a touch of frost, was to consider writing a response to a complaining partner of an allotment tenant that I had to kick out without the usual formalities of warning letters. The tenant had defaulted twice on failing to maintain their patch in a workable condition. The major mistake the tenant made was to allow the partner to write a letter pretending to be the tenant themselves and mixing in their own views with that of the tenant. Plus, the partner felt it necessary to throw in a few personal comments and accusations. Once you do this, you have blown yourself out of the water. If  anyone has been tempted to do this, my suggestion is that you write such a letter, leave it a bit and then throw it in the fire. Then having got rid of your anger, write a proper professional letter and that will probably get you further.

I made my decision on what to do. The complainant wrote me a letter late Thursday night effing and b..ing, wanting to speak to my superior (there isn’t one), accusing me of victimising someone and I realised that this complainant did not have any point to make. The decision was ….to do nothing. I think the storm will probably have blown itself out. Sometimes more harm than good can come if you continue correspondence on a tit for tat basis.

*****

To return to my linguistic theme I would like to play around a bit and see where we go. What do we mean when we say “it’s up to you”. This arises in situations where we have a choice of what to do by way of entertainment or watching a TV programme. I do not think it is necessarily a very empowering thing. It means that I, little me, don’t really mind what I do so long as the other person is contented. I don’t want to stand out in any way as a person having opinions. I will put myself second so, it’s up to you what we do. However, this phrase is not necessarily meant in a derogatory or negative way and it can imply that the other person has indeed the capability of making a decision. Shall we put up a tent now or later? In other words it has to be done, I don’t really mind, but out of courtesy to you do feel up to it at the moment?

We say “what are you up to?” In other words, what have you planned to do. This is an informal question and the opposite is not apply.  You would not say ‘what are you down to’. “what are you up to? demands an informal response for example “not much” or “just hanging out”. A more formal way of saying this is “what are you doing” or more emphatically “what do you think you are doing?” with the implication that you’re doing something untoward which requires an explanation. What are you doing tonight could be seen by some people as being a bit nosy and without an explanation of why you were asking you might get a short sharp response. “Mind your own business” is a retort that springs to mind.

On the other hand, “it’s down to you” implies some sort of responsibility. It is a sort of charge sheet or to-do list. You probably wouldn’t say it’s down to you to do the washing up because that is one step too trivial. An action is down to you because it was your responsibility. You messed up; It’s down to you. It is down to you to check the gas meter. In other words, it is your duty.

Over to you” is even more direct. I cannot continue this radio commentary so it is over to you. I hand over a task. I have done my hour of driving and it’s over to you to carry on driving. The politician has given people the choice, it’s now over to them to make a decision. The implied responsibility or collective responsibility is quite clear. It is a transfer. The person who says “over to you” has had enough of what they’re doing or completed their part of things; they have come to the end of their time. It is clinical and immediate. However, the phrase can be used in a sarcastic manner saying “it’s your problem”.

We speak of “washing our hands” when we hand the responsibility for  judgement over to another party as Pontius Pilate did with asking the crowd to decide who should be crucified, Jesus or Barabbas.

old friends and memories

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Sunday morning. A final chat with my sister about family matters and then off to London to see my oldest friend. No time for the Tate Gallery; I will have to return. My goodness, the rail companies are catching up with technology. On the Thames Link train from East Croydon to Blackfriars what do I see? A rolling information screen in each carriage which tells me how full the carriages are, where we are situated on the train, the status of the lines on the London underground system and which of the toilets are vacant.

And so, on to Camden. This is a magnet for tourists. You know that if you get on the Northern line going north, 75% of people will get off at Camden. It does have a unique ambience and is always very busy. There is always something to entertain you at Camden Market which is  good for a takeaway snack from one of the food stands. Competition drives the price down and you can get a decent take away box of food to keep you going for £5.

Graffiti is an art form. Any idea where this is? It’s near the Roundhouse London NW5, opposite Chalk Farm station. Worth increasing the size of the image on your PC to see detail.  I now find myself in my old stamping ground or one of them, Camden Town, Haverstock Hill where my wife used to live. By coincidence, it is the residence of one of my oldest friends if not the oldest. We first met when we were both doing temporary work at Streatham sorting office in London on about 15 December 1964. Our relationship has continued since then albeit with gaps. I make that 54 years which is not a bad record. I think that the person who can understand you most is the person who sees you by default with a vision of and memory of a number of stages both personally and professionally. Very few new friends would have the ability, the wisdom or simply the knowledge to give a wise comment arising from perspective and thus would be limited in the advice they could give.

We decided to go to Hampstead Heath for a walk and to have some lunch. Hampstead Heath is an area of London upon which no building is allowed. If anyone dared to even talk about encroaching on it the penalty for hanging would be introduced immediately by infuriated Hampstedians. The park  is run quite strictly by the City of London and won’t betide you if you even think of using drones. Londoners are fiercely loyal to this area which contains an historic house called Kenwood House which contains a cafe presided over by jovial and sophisticated restauranteurs I think from Spain. I have to face the fact that main courses in London, especially in Hampstead, cost £15 and no less. That is the market rate, take it or leave it. I had a pretty good quarter size chicken, cauliflower cheese, lashings of gravy, lots of mixed vegetables al dente, and roast potatoes to die for.

The place was heaving with people. There were à la mode families with children called Deirdre and Griselda or Josh who were behaving fairly well. The best gauge as to the weather is the number of people that venture on this beloved Heath and so we engaged in conversation, my old friend and myself. One of the features of sophisticated people is that you can engage in conversation with them, intelligent conversation at that, and they are quite happy to take part at the drop of a hat. The same is not true in Midsomer Norton, as you would expect, nor even in Bath which tends to be a bit snobby. I love cosmopolitan people. They may be prejudiced, but they are open to anything and everything especially if it presents a chance for new knowledge which they can add to their collection.

Afterwards, we went to have coffee in one of the upmarket establishments in Hampstead. Me being me, I had to have a slice of cake. You know when you are in upper-class territory by the cost of a portion.

My friend was kind enough to take me to Victoria Coach Station. Travellers please note – as I have said before don’t be snobby about coaches. If you are clever you will have the privilege of paying 25% of what you would normally paid to do the same journey by train. It may take an hour longer but why not use the money you will save on a lovely meal. For example, if I book at the right time I can get a return ticket from Bath to London for £11. A same-day single is £21. Try that on the train. Sometimes, during busy periods, National Express lay on two coaches to depart at the advertised time. We had a choice of going to Bath direct or the coach that went via intermediate stops – in other words the advertised route. I chose the former and we whizzed straight down the motorway then to Bath in 2 hours 30 minutes.Goodbye London, see you again soon. (picture taken going West on the elevated section of the M4 @ 19.25). The coach in front was the stopping coach to Bath, ours was the quick one.

 

A work of art to die for

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J D Wetherspoon’s  “The George” in Croydon is not where you expect to find works of art. This establishment early on a Saturday morning had a very quiet ” the morning after”  feel to it. There was a couple with their child eating breakfast, two people sitting on their own having a coffee and reading the paper and one person of indeterminate age staring into space. I had been looking round for somewhere to have a decent breakfast and because I’m basically a Wetherspoon’s fan I decided to give this one a go. I don’t know what it is about this chain but I feel a type of family atmosphere where you can go in with others or on your own and you will still feel comfortable. I’m sure the spirit of the founder hovers over all his establishments.

We would to breakfast on offer one was an all dancing or jumping breakfast but the other one was a traditional breakfast which I thought I would try which came out at the princely sum or £3.40. I decided to have a self-service coffee which cost £1.25. This is an excellent idea. You pay your £1.25 and get an empty cup to make whatever sort of tea or coffee you want. After a few minutes, the breakfast came. This was not just any old breakfast (see image)This was not a question of someone applying a formula but someone plating something so attractive as to be virtually a work of art. I love the touch of the half a fried slice of bread plus another slice of nutty bread together with a hash browns, decent sausage, generous amount of baked beans, slightly under cooked tomato but never mind and it was a pleasure to eat. You would think there is a limit to what you can say about a breakfast but I called the manager over and congratulated him on the quality of the food and the service. He beamed, and said, ” that’s what we do”. Indeed you do sir and I shall be back for more

*****

Walk to East Croydon station via the Croydon underpass. I must be at Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, at 10 AMI came across a really admirable piece of landscaping to brighten up an otherwise brutalist 60s and featureless walkway. The pigeons obviously thought highly of it but the idea of “brighter streets” sat very well with me and brightened my journey. I’m very much reminded of all the hundreds of paintings that are hung in the Royal United Hospital in Bath. It does raise the spirit, mine anyway, when you pass them.

East Croydon station is one of the busiest in the southern region of our rather chaotic and expensive transport system (sorry visitors from Europe we are the most expensive and the most incompetently run but we manage somehow). I love the idea you don’t have to bother with tickets any more. You just fish out any credit or debit card with the touchless sign. It does just the same job as Oyster Card for the same price. It is important that you use the same card at the end of your journey at the beginning, it’s called touching out, otherwise the system would charge you the maximum fare for the distance you might have travelled. At the end of the day, the system will figure out the number of journeys you made within the zones which will be capped at a certain maximum figure. You can use the card as much as you like and it will not break you. Do not even think of using cash because you will pay a fortune.

*****

We met at the Friends Meeting House. This is the headquarters of the Quaker movement and its size and influence should not be underestimated. We had our meeting courtesy of one of the staff in the offices for which we therefore paid no rent. There must have been about 40 desk positions. Religious and spiritual groups get virtually no press coverage. I was listening to the news this morning and it is more or less a collection of disastrous events, people making falls themselves, people behaving badly, extremist and polarise groups clashing with each other, I have made it a rule to start and end each day with a reading from the Bible or listening to uplifting material such as classical music or a sermon on my favourite radio station, Trans-World International.

The meeting today took 7 1/2 hours, about 10 hours less than the inaugural flight from Perth to Heathrow. A little bit of history in the making. I hear they are going to try a Heathrow to Sydney route. It is a great relief when attendees at a meeting are on the same wavelength, where there is no impediment of politics and infighting, where there is no point scoring, where everyone believes in the supremacy of love and caring for others.

Our main job was to figure out a constitution for Ubuntu which is our sharing of skills, abilities and energy which is designed to be a substitute for money. The main task was to find a form of wording that would be acceptable to the Charities Commission. There are 13 criteria for charitable organisations. We decided to choose one, which was the advancement of education. The Charities Commission is a very conservative organisation and you have to make sure that the wording of your application will not raise any red flags. You would for example hesitate using such words as “consciousness” or “awareness”. They are wary of political movements disguised as innocuous meetings for example.

We also had to figure out the name of the charity. I’m a great believer in cooking time. The brain loves to work but it needs time. We went about as far as we could go but decided that in the forthcoming days we would think about a name. As I often remind myself, there is a time for everything and for everything there is a time.

The London Underground system has been redesigned to accommodate the new crossrail system and I lingered at Tottenham Court Road station to see the changes which will become fully operational sometime this year 2018.

Whoever thought of introducing pianos at stations and other public places needs an award. It provides a gathering point of community, a bit like a flash mob, which appears and disappears. You could call it an instant art installation. On my way back to Croydon I stopped off at Wetherspoon’s, Victoria branch. I have never known this pub to be anything other than full but as I walked around with my drink I espied a table with one man sitting at it of middle east origin. I nodded, got a lot back saying that the place was free and started to enjoy my drink. I think it was he who opened the conversation. He told me he was from Kuwait and when I nodded he asked me if I knew where Kuwait was. I suppose he’s not used to knowing where his country is that I most certainly did. in case you need reminding, here it is, one of the lesser-known countries bordering the Persian Gulf and adjacent to Iraqi.

The man had worked in the Kuwaiti Army for 20 years, to the day he proudly told me, and was entitled to a pension. He chooses to come to England frequently because he likes the people. I asked him how much oil reserves there were and he said ‘about 150 years’. He said that the ratio of visitors and workers to in the indigenous population is about 4 to 1. Had I not needed to catch a train I would certainly continued conversation but he was so friendly I could not resist shaking his hand with both of my hands and wishing him all the best.  This is one of the reasons why London is brilliant. You get people from all over the world who have their story which is normally interesting and different.

Victoria and Albert Museum makeover

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When visiting London, we always take the same bus to Bath and always visit the same coffee bar which is that of the Methodist Church a stones throw from the station. I saw a feature in the coffee bar that delighted me. May I refer you to one of my previous diary entries about loneliness
To my amazement I saw a version of the ideaI was given the little stone with a heart on to give to other people and pass on the blessing. There was also a very lovely table placer with lots of encouraging words on.

I believe that there are many ideas that people would adopt if only they knew about them. I think they got this one is slightly wrong because you’re supposed to take a spoon and put it on your table to signify that you would be happy for someone to talk to you but this is almost the very place they don’t need it because everyone talks anyway. I would rather see it in a more impersonal place where more encouragement is needed. Anyway, 10 out of 10 for trying.

The particular bus we normally take, the 403 at 11:15 AM from Bath, takes about three hours as opposed to the train which takes one hour 30 minutes. As discussed elsewhere, the train is more expensive. I can get an off-peak return by train for £79.80 if I  book in advance as opposed to the £11 I paid for this trip. Enough said.

On arriving at Victoria Coach Station I took the C1 bus towards South Kensington. For those of you that are unfamiliar with London, South Kensington has the science Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. I was aiming for the latter because there was an exhibition of AA Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh”.

On the way, I noticed that people were queueing up for something that seemed like afternoon tea and I realise this must be a new fashion amongst the darlings of Chelsea.It is very pink and girly and just the sort of thing that Japanese tourists would love. It is strange to see queues at three o’clock in the afternoon.

So here am I swanning into the main entrance of the glorious Victoria and Albert Museum, named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. I go up to the desk and see that the beloved exhibition that I was looking forward to seeing is fully booked. It is also fully booked tomorrow Saturday. It is also fully booked on Sunday but there is a chance that if I turn up at 10 AM on the dot I may get one or two tickets if I am lucky. The lady on the desk strongly recommended me to buy in advance on the Internet in future.. It is clear that a visit is not possible and to cap it all the exhibition closes in two weeks time so I am well and truly out of luck. I tried to get some benefit by finding an accompanying book which often accompanies an exhibition but no, no such luck. Not even a postcard

Anyway I decided to wander around and refresh my memory of this museum that I last visited about five years ago I think. I notice that this establishment is always updating itself, new facilities, bigger and better bookshops, all to better serve the very large numbers of visitors they have each year. If I recall,  the numbers are 3.4 million. There was a lot of footfall today and much animated conversation and it is obviously ‘the place to be’ for locals. The tea rooms are extensive an expensive. There are about four types of seating area; you can help yourself to different genres of food anything from coffee to a quite expensive salmon salad.

definitely the place for afternoon tea my dear. enlarge to view.
I have always found the inner courtyard very gracious and well proportioned

This work is entitled “The lamentation over the dead Christ”, a glazed and painted terracotta work of about 1510 – 1515

huge works as you see from the person standing on the left

anyway, after a time, I got indigestion from the sheer number and glory of the works. By the way, admission to 90% of the gallery is free if you do get plenty of value.

I departed and wandered around the French Quarter of South Kensington where there is a large French lycee. I took a picture of some bears to compensate for not be able to see the actual show.And so to South Croydon where lives my sister.

Gloucester Cathedral has a makeover

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This is a special day. My wife is treating me to a day out. It is a special day for another reason. She has been invited to a donors’ event for an organisation called World Vision which encourages individuals to sponsor particular children in various parts of the world, and also gives sponsorship to people in country areas in for example Africa who have no water. She has been sponsoring regularly for the last 30 years. This was her first live contact with the organisation as such.

The venue was the Chapter House in Gloucester Cathedral. I was very impressed by the makeover of the exterior has and the call to the mentality of the modern materialist person. Quite frankly, Gloucester itself is a dump. There are the usual allocation of empty properties but there is a lot of unemployment, drug use, apathy I would say which tends to give the centre a rather scruffy look of the county council would be horrified if I said that.

Prior to the event we went to Witherspoon’s which has taken over and converted a huge theatre in the central square just by the bus garage. The food was adequate but no more and the place was very busy indeed. I suspect that Witherspoon’s could well threaten the numerous local pubs that still survive in the various side streets.  Apparently, in the UK about 20 pubs are closing each week.

a goodly crowd gathered in the Chapter House

The world vision event was timed to be from 2 PM to 4 PM we turned up at 1:58 PM  to find everyone seated at circular tables with name tags  immaculately printed with our names. A nice touch.  Tea and coffee had been served prior to the event so we were one of the last to arrive. I learnt a lot from the presentations such as their work but before that I will mention the person with whom I was allocated to sit. She was called Jane. I don’t know whether she had had some sort of advanced neuro disease or had a brain aneurysm or heart attack but she was unable to speak.

She was attended to by her very loving husband who cuddled her 90% of the time. She made strange noises and burst out laughing in a rather maniacal fashion. The husband responded by again putting his arms around her. I was very impressed by the quality of his love. She was in a wheelchair by the way and her right arm kept on flopping over the rest so I gave myself, jokingly, the unofficial task of arm rescuer. Jane was unable to respond to any of my fairly banal conversations so her husband John filled in for her. They had apparently been all over the place doing good work and taking part in projects including several visits to Zimbabwe .

I learned quite a lot from the talks themselves of which there were three, not so much the content of the manner of delivery. The first lady who spoke wanted to tell us about all her life history before and after she came into the movement. I felt there were some personal elements her life that we did not need to know. I feel that sometimes people can become a little bit self-indulgent in what they say. The talk can drag on a little bit. However I think it was about 20 min and it was not so bad. One thing that did irritate me was her description of her own situation and then asking the audience “has anyone had an experience like that?”. It did not really matter quite frankly and seemed to me a little bit contrived but the most important point is that the talk came from the heart and this woman has obviously given an enormous amount.

We had another talk from an Australian who gave many examples of how groups of people sponsored projects and how the life of the recipients increases in quality. He said he had learnt to think in the long term and they would typically make a 15 year plan for a given project or area during which they would come on the scene, evaluate and engage and then review and reflect on what had been achieved. I found his delivery very measured, a bit like music, and not once did he refer to notes.

an apology of a logo

The third person who spoke was fairly high up in the organisation I didn’t catch his name. He had to face the inevitable questions arising from the current scandal with Oxfam and was disappointed that a popular paper had chosen to intermix old with current activities to make an implication about World Vision. He says they always have security checks but that some other people who were accused of bad behaviour had some time ago managed to get into the organisation as temporary staff. Finally, he complained about the invisible profile of this very large organisation.

a complete waste of time as a visual (no connection with World Vision)

I the went up to him afterwards after I realised something. World Vision has no logo. I said that a logo is the most recognisable being and gives out subconscious messages and associations. One picture is worth 1000 words. Without a logo they were at a big disadvantage. People always go defensive so I did say to him beforehand, please don’t hit me. He was not defensive.

What a truly dreadful logo, bad wording, ambiguous, are young women monitoring each other. Is daddy doing the monitoring? (No connection with World Vision)

The boss said that he was aware of internal initiatives to beef up the public relations and the image and I said not before time though not in those words. I said that if they got a logo and a new image even though it would be expensive, they would recoup the cost within six months. Most of the charity logos are not very good in fact very ambiguous and amateurish because the people who run the charity don’t want to spend money or waste money as they would consider it. The artwork is often produced by volunteers or friends who offer to ‘have to go’ and they are then judged by other people who haven’t a clue about anything. This is not the way to go folks.

What impressed me about the whole presentation was the attention to detail. The place names on the tables were lovely. The circular tables were laid out with napkins made from batique by some ladies in Africa. The speakers spoke clearly, kept to the point and did not ramble on. The images on the screen were not big enough to see detail from the back of the hall but then that was not their fault. The speakers were fulsome in their praise for us as sponsors keep the whole show on the road. The meeting started on time and ended on time. Well done, people. Look after your sponsors and people will go on giving. Sponsors need to be valued not taken for granted even though that would never be the intention of the Charity.

The cathedral itself is making great strides as the following pictures will show. The courtyard has been embellished with amazing blocks of stone.Touchscreen controls enable you to find out about more of the history of the Cathedral.

a sculpture of a homeless person lying in the street
above the average quality bench by a long way

A ‘no diary’ day

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For many people in the world, the daily routine is punishing. They find the strength to get up, make some sort of breakfast, deal with children, go off to work often at the national minimum wage, go along to an evening job while the husband looks after the children, and come in at 10 PM exhausted. After a simple meal just designed to keep body and soul together to bed and up again next morning at 5:30 AM

After a few weeks of that, never mind a few years, I would be a nervous wreck. I have no such complaints and live in comparative luxury. Our time is our own and we do more or less what we feel is important. When I get up I have to steel myself to the next bout of Russia bashing. Boris Johnson is likening the state of mind of Putin with the football World Cup to Hitler at the 1936 Olympic Games. I think he has taken leave of his senses. I have never seen one person being so abused without any evidence whatsoever.

Today’s task was to make a website. This is the occasion where you have to clear your mind of every single being and focus on the task in hand. Even with a do-it-yourself sites such as WordPress where no HTML is required the architecture of the site is very important. You are not writing the site yourself but for the readers and the question is what will they find interesting and relevant. We have to deal with a very short attention span, say four seconds, before someone moves on to the next entertainment. How do we keep someone’s attention never mind getting them to focus on something important.

Anyway at about a 10:45 yesterday morning I started having been given the basic details by my web provider – WP template, login details etc.By 3:30 PM I had finished and it was published and out there.  No one ever gets something right the first time and the best plan in my view is not trying to do the whole thing to perfect standard but makers start so that people can see what you’re doing and make comments and suggestions. The age of the lonely martyr is over or should be. I’m not talking about writers and Artisans and these people are not martyrs.

The results of my efforts can be seen here. I was very lucky to get a xxx.news domain name. I am bored with .com so although a xxx.news one costs a few pounds more it is much easier to remember. The whole site was introduced at a core tele-meeting of Ubuntu last night where there were 10 of us linked via ZOOM ( like Skype only better) and I was able to show the website via screen sharing. I know that Ubuntu is a platform as well but for some reason the name was chosen to represent a new type of socially conscious back to nature type of group.

I did flop into bed quite late but preceded this by watching Michael Portillo travel round India in his inimitable style. I think Michael will stand out in any country because of his mode of dress and that is a sort of compliment because he wears what he likes.

So, ‘no diary’ has turned into a diary of sorts. It is shorter than my usual offerings but tomorrow will more than make up for it.

An email from Mrs Fathiea Al Bitar

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Just imagine my surprise when I received a lovely letter from the above lady that I haven’t heard of with an unpronounceable name.

My name is Mrs. Fathiea Al Bitar, I would have like to have a private discussion with you, If you don’t mind. Please let me know if my letter is welcome, I will tell you more about my self with my photo and why I contacted you.

Mrs. Fathiea Al Bitar

I remember many many years ago before I got used to this sort of thing, it’s called a 419 scam. For a the moment, I thought of responding just for fun but the trouble is that once you respond even once, you will be tagged as a gullible person and you will be pursued for evermore. It is almost impossible to avoid spam these days. I registered a new domain name yesterday and immediately I got a good dozen companies from India or offering to do my SEO or ‘complete web design’. They are obviously individuals. Their companies with an URL are never mentioned which means they’re going on fishing expeditions and will get a small commission if they introduce new client to a proper web development firm. So someone has paid someone else for information. This data leak has happened in spite of the fact that I’m applying for a web domain through official channels.

The 419 scam of which the above letter is the first stage is named after the section of the Nigerian criminal code that outlaws fraud. The writer claims that you have won a lottery, or someone needs to get rid of some money because of cancer and their impeding death, and for any other plausible sounding reason you can think of. However in order to process your claim which of course you were not aware of, it will be necessary to pay an advance fee. After you have paid the fee and of course having given your bank details, they ask you for more and then when you finally start to smell a rat they disappear off the face of the earth with your money and there is no redress from your bank alas.

You may wonder why 30,000 people each year from America alone are conned in this way. They say that hope springs eternal and if you are let’s say of a certain age, not very used to the Internet, lonely, not able to ask advice, you are the sort of person they are after. Once you get drawn into the trap even by answering, letters get more a more seductive. The same thing happens with romances. You can get fooled into sending money for travel for people who do not exist. It’s amazing how people who are intelligent can be fooled, that is the nature and extent of human need.

From the exploiters point of view, the idea is to work up the level of trust and create a level of psychological dependency. These e-mails are not just received by English people that buy anyone capable of being scanned i.e. anyone with an Internet connection. As a scammer said recently, he knows if he meets a Saudi Arabian person he is in luck. ‘They don’t know what to do with money‘. Nigeria is not the only country to do this. Ghana enjoys a better reputation and sometimes fraudsters channel through them. There is a good article, Why do smart people fall for scams, it is written by the Better Business Bureau which is in the US but it’s not a bad site so worth a look when you next receive a seductive letter.

*****

This being the first day of spring, time to go to Glastonbury, Chalice Well to be precise, to celebrate. On the way there, I saw a lovely installation of a collection of sheep sculptures with a black sheep which other sheep had turned away from. The other picture was a sheep partly covered with snow which I found quite amusing.

We arrived about 11:30 AM and paced around and had a chat to people as we normally do. Please read my numerous Chalice Well reviews via the search box and you will find this is a very special place in its own spiritual bubble which represents society as it should be before commercialism and moral corruption got to it. It also shows how men and women can get along without fighting or comparing.

We gathered round the well and waited for the chimes of the church bell which signified the starting of the midday ceremony. This not was its usual self but it was spoiled by a two-year-old child who screamed at intervals accompanied by a doting self obsessed mother who clearly did not realise that her child prevented people from really concentrating. As soon as I saw this I retreated from the main group and went to stand on a path within earshot of the speaker but away from the worst predations of the child. I decided that next time this happens I will have a word with the mother and ask her or should I say tell her that a spiritual meditation is an unsuitable location for a screaming youngster.

an arch of branches and sticks, the scaffolding for providing structure for the new growth
on the way up to the well

We did our Glastonbury round afterwards, choosing to ignore the long queues of people waiting for coffee and cake after the event. The “round” consists of walking to the top of a high street, buying a wonderful slice of home made vegetarian pie for £2.60 at the organic shop on the right-hand side followed by sitting down and eating it on a bench outside the church and then buying eating and looking around and whatever else takes our fancy. The whole process probably takes about one and a half hours.  I discovered that there was an open day at the Glastonbury Goddess Temple and quickly repaired there followed by my wife and a friend. Various talks were being given. There was a lady applying henna which is a decoration of the hands. I was immediately intrigued by her accent that I thought was a mixture of two places. It was indeed, Boston in America and San Francisco. I should add that one of my useless hobbies is collecting accents. Can I detect the difference between English South African Cape Town and Johannesburg? After a time you can. The confusing thing is when people have lived in two places. I have even correctly diagnosed people who have lived in four places but that was an exceptional combination of listening and guesswork.

plenteous advertising

I do not often give psychic readings to strangers but I felt that this occasion merited it. I asked the lady who was doing the henna, Robyn, to give me her left hand palm upwards and I placed my hands above and below at about 1 cm in distance. What happens is that the energy field is excited or amplified, I’m not quite sure which and the various reactions in someone’s hand which can be heat or cold or pressure or prickles gives me the information I need to do a reading. I was very impressed by the balance I found between her male and female or yin and yang using the jargon. I said that her very presence encourages people to be themselves and not needing to apologize for being different.

I said that due to her good motivation to wish everyone the best, her staff would be very loyal to her. That and a few other facts I put in her direction caused her to become emotional. I love giving readings to people and encouraging them. Sometimes people with special powers are considered to be immune from the need for assurance and encouragement but if a person is different there is all the more need for accurate and non-flattering feedback. I was glad to do this.

*****

Francoise my wife went to a talk this evening on driverless cars. It was unfortunate that today a woman was reported as having been killed by an UBER car in self drive mode. There are evidently five stages of automation and the fifth one is not expected to mature until at least 2040. This is because there are a large number of problems which has to be overcome for example, wanting to turn left and the cyclist coming up on the inside. Although the automation works well in ideal conditions for example motorways, suburban streets are clearly another matter.

*****

Lots coming in by way of response to my e-mail announcement couple of days ago about of self sustainability and contributionism. I mailed out 1,180 Mailchimp e-mails to a fairly clean list of addresses. I was pleased because I only got 17 soft and hard bounces and so far about 260 people have read them. The number is slowly creeping up and I think when the opted in recipients get used to the idea the readership will be far greater. Everyone has wish you the best of luck in my editorship of this new E-Zine.  This is one of these evenings when I don’t feel tired but will probably go on till my eyes get too heavy.  22.54

*****

do you see passenger planes flying like this

Just watching a video about chemtrails entitled “they are spraying nanotechnology on us and it is now integrated into our brains”. Delightful chemicals such as barium and aluminium and titanium oxides have been sprayed in the skies since the late 1990s. Click here for a video.

Here is one reaction from the viewers:

Whom ever does not believe this is happening to USA is a fricken Idiot! The Chem. trails Spraying seems to be More now than ever! on New years eve in Riverside California(2017-8) We saw them spraying even after 3:00 Am? These Nano-Fibers are real. I have had what look like bug bites that did not want to heal on Scalp and arms.(I am out side a lot also). There will be skeptics that always will say “But why would Our Country do that to Us”? Like They (THE Government) need a reason to do anything??

Is it a crime to think?

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I learn lessons when I least expect them. Our living room fire had lingered overnight. Coal is much better than wood for burning slowly. First thing this morning, I put some twigs on and a few bits of the kindling and nothing happened. Suddenly, the fire started to blaze. Indeed, it roared. It was as if all the conditions were right. The grate was hot, the wind was blowing over the chimney at at least 20 miles an hour, the wood was dry. It was the perfect storm of right conditions. It is very much like this with an idea. You can have an idea and it can suddenly go viral and take off with it’s own power. It reminds me of the phrase “there’s nothing so powerful as an idea that has reached its time”. You don’t have to supply the motive force. It just goes by itself.

*****

George Orwell’s book, ‘1984’, was not a prophecy but a warning. Orwell was perfectly aware back in 1944 what was being planned.  He was friends with Aldous Huxley who was chairman of the Fabian Society. Some of you may not like to read this but the running of the world including the 7.5 billion  human beings is being given a major makeover. It is all going on gradually. We could call it the Totalitarian Tiptoe after the child’s game of that nature. I would just like to remind you what George Orwell said about thinking.

Whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference. The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed—would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper—the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.”

This is from the website of the UK Metropolitan police. It is the latest official attempt to censor speech.

If someone does something that isn’t a criminal offence but the victim, or anyone else, believes it was motivated by prejudice or hate, we would class this as a ‘hate incident’. Though what the perpetrator has done may not be against the law, their reasons for doing it are. This means it may be possible to charge them with an offence.

So if you speak or write publicly and somebody believes what you said was motivated by hate then you don’t have a leg to stand on if the police and the judge decide that that might be true. They can prosecute you and possibly send you to prison. The onus is upon you to prove that you were not speaking from basis of hatred. Good luck.

One of the reasons that the art of conversation is declining is that people are frightened to say anything which may upset other people even though the grounds on which they are speaking are impartial and neutral. The fear of this, plus the insiduous virus of Political Correctness ensures that most conversations that take place are just recycling of prejudice, rumors, talking about trivia such as the weather and the result is that the brain loses its acuity. This means that the powers that be can do what they want and no one would bat an eyelid. Once they have your mind, they have you.

My, what a selection of shapes and forms. This is our garden ‘post snow’ on a sunny day

S’now Joke – Amazon the employer from hell

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When we thought winter had gone on its way, we have another blast from the East. This is Lola, our sheep cast in stone, with an extra head-dress.

One of the things I enjoy most is dreaming up and putting into action new ideas. I may have mentioned the organization, one of these One World ventures called, confusingly, UBUNTU. Yes, I know it’s the same name as the PC operating system but this is another type of platform, not software before genuine human beings who want to make a difference to the world. This morning I had a meeting by Zoom which is a video conference app. Dream which we decided the name and the starting points to reconstitute an organisation that has suffered from lack of management. There is absolutely no criticism of anyone because with the wisdom of hindsight you can make high and mighty comments but at the moment of creation if you could have a God’s eye view you would see that everyone was doing their best.

I happen to love databases, lists, tidiness and order, and anything I can do to build up a sense of community among us beleaguered human beings. I have registered the name Ubuntu.news and yes that is the full domain name. It’s amazing what post scripts you can have these days. Having spent three hours doing administrative tasks I am now going to sit in front of the fire and read.

It is so tempting when Amazon offers books to read on the subject you are interested for £1.89p. How can I say no. Why should I say no? I get the PDF file on my Kindle in 3 minutes so how’s that for being spoilt.

I ordered a book called “Hired: six months undercover in low – wage Britain” written by James Bloodworth. It is about a man who sought out the most lonely and wretched jobs and one of them was in Lincolnshire working mostly with Eastern European people. He described how brutal the management were, how you were not paid for having a toilet break, how everyone had to wear a tracker and were unceasingly monitored by managers who would send them messages telling them to work harder. They were given half an hour lunch break but by the time they had checked out with security they had barely 15 min to eat their food. The average time of walking per day to fulfill the orders was 10 miles. This company was ……. Amazon.

*****

Through the day, I have been receiving nice comments from those to whom I sent the community bulletin. We should not forget that there is a lot of goodwill out there, a lot of people who really do want to see the world a better place. These people are the humans, way above in my estimation the bunch of psychopaths, the 1% of the 1% who run this planet and destroying it for their own entertainment it seems. Why add extra Mercury to vaccines intended for the African sub continent initially wanted to damage their brains. anything that weakens the immune system, and if affects the blood brain barrier, has no business in vaccines. In case you hadn’t realised, eugenics is behind this policy and Bill Gates, the donor of these vaccines and other good works so-called is an averred eugenicist.

I have today registered a new website in connection with my new editing project. I tend to work seven days a week if there is something that interests me because for better for worse I always want to be doing something and being productive. My brain does not take a day off, perhaps it should, but I like working too much to entertain this at the moment.

*****

I was looking again at some of the political women’s movements who are deriding men as a race, especially middle-aged white males. I wish they would take a look at themselves. If I said in public that I hated all women they would say quite rightly that there was something wrong with me, that I needed attention of a professional type. And yet these humorless men haters can make announcements about their global hatred of half the population of the world and everyone applauds them. Let’s face it, you have to be fairly unbalanced to even contemplate a vast client group as being your adversary or your enemy. These so-called women remind me of swarms of wasps.

War, lies and snow

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As I write, another blast of snow is coming from the East which will no doubt cause a major lock down in the whole country. Off to the butcher to get my meat supplies  for the week. Francoise is a vegetarian and buys food to suit. The butchers is truly a community place and on this occasion I prefaced my transaction by spending at least 10 minutes discussing why rabbits were not available these days, and how difficult it was to get out of bed in inclement weather. I eventually got round to ordering chicken and the various bits and pieces that keep me going.

*****

One of the truly depressing things about the news recently is seeing our Prime Minister, Teresa May, caving in to pressure both from America and from within the UK to blame Russia for absolutely everything. In a court of law, you need to be able to show beyond reasonable doubt that someone has done something for example example the poisoning of the two people in Salisbury. In this case, no actual evidence is required. If Parliament considers that it is likely that “Russia did it” then it becomes a fact. Who needs evidence? Did you know that Russia requested samples so they could analyse them, but the British government refused this. Our lovely government also burnt the table at which the couple were sitting. I thought evidence was not destroyed until the case was closed.

May I also draw your attention, a propos of what I was talking about recently, to an excellent article by Jodi Jackson in Positive News regarding the damaging effect of ingesting false and depressing news and how it affects how we see the world. Jodie is a researcher and partner at the Constructive Journalism Project.

News, or so-called news, entices us to lurch from one crisis to another so we think the whole world is mad. In a way, David Icke is right but it is not the world that is mad but those who control the system of news reporting that is so extreme and alarmist and does your thinking for you. There are lots of wonderful people doing brilliant work to improve the world and hundreds of thousands of organisations that are dedicated to the poor and the needy. The problem is, this is not newsworthy.

The effect of printed news media is decreasing as circulations plummet but the Internet-based Wikipedia and YouTube can be seem to be less and less because of their weeding out what they considered to be False News, but actually this is the very news that should be encouraging the interests of free speech so that we can make up our own minds. The article I’m referring to in the link above includes a quote by Walter Lippmann, one of the most influential journalists of the 20th century who defined news as “the publishing of new and notable information in order to engage and inform citizens in a way that empowers them to be able to act on the information presented

The problem is we are being programmed and almost told what to think. If I conceive and work through  something from square one in a rational and logical manner I will leave behind 99% of my fellow citizens certainly here in Midsomer Norton. Have you ever listened to BBC interviews? Have you noticed that they frame the questions in such a way as to suggest an answer. There is no scope for three thinking, or thinking ‘out of the box’. This is why listening to TV news, BBC in particular, is such a vacuous exercise.

The BBC will never allow discussion on really controversial subjects such as 9/11 or chemtrails because that might cause the Useless Eaters out there who actually think and say to themselves “what is going on?”. The consistent manufactured result of a BBC ‘discussion’ is the presenter  saying apologetically “well, we could go on for a long time but I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there”. I cann other words, the only result acceptable to them is no result. The BBC have long abandoned any pretense of being independent. They are beholden to and largely controlled by Israel, America, the UK government, big business and political correctness especially of the religious kind.

If the BBC had a day of real news where what had happened was reported impartially and to good quality we would reel from shock at the difference.

So well done, Jodie, and people like yourself who are separating the wheat from the chaff. I believe that deep down, this country is a decent place and doesn’t want to have anything to do with this nonsense.

The coming of spring

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a stream traversing an old road

Today Friday we decided to go for lunch in a little place in the middle of nowhere – well not quite in the middle of nowhere because it’s on the A 39 – Chewton Mendip no less. All over the countryside, there are remnants of the old road system built for horses and carts. It’s almost a ritual to go and visit this stream which today was lively in the extreme. Water takes ages to come off the hills and fields. It is as pure as anything, you could drink it, and it gushes along. Streams appear in the middle of grass.

There is something very energising about feeling the warmth of the rays of the sun and looking at the buds in the hedgerows, and enjoying the primroses and tulips.  There is something very atavistic about coming out of the darkness, enjoying the lengthening of the day and stretching one’s limbs whilst walking or exercising. I understand that in Scandinavia the rate of alcoholism and suicide is quite high and I suspect this may have to do with the darkness in the winter. However if official figures are to be believed, the highest alcohol consumption is Belarus at 17.6 L of pure alcohol equivalent per person per year followed closely by Moldova, Lithuania  and Russia. Finland is 16th at 12.3 L, the United Kingdom comes in 25th at 11.6L. Right at the bottom of the alcoholic list, we have in 191st place, Pakistan, at a mere 0.l L per person per year. I think it is safe to say that Pakistan is a teetotal country if not a peaceful one.

I don’t want to sound too self-righteous about this but I think alcohol may be an attempt to compensate ourselves for being outside the rhythms of nature. Nature speaks not with words but with vibrations and energies. Since watching the two-hour video on the hypnotic effect of mobile technology I have resisted checking my phone every few minutes to see if there is a message. If it’s really important, people will call me but most of the material can wait. Listening to nature, I mean really listening, can be a very rewarding experience because you hear the rustles of unseen creatures in the earth, the wind rustling the leaves on the trees, the birds singing their hearts out. Is this not a form of therapy.

If I may quote a lovely piece written by someone called Rachel entitled “Nature Speaks to Me”

I love to talk to birds, and I think they like to listen to. They sometimes answer back. They answer me with twitter or a tweet. I believe that everything can hear and understand me. I love to talk to nature and it sometimes answers back.

I also believe in dragons and fairies. I think that they are as alive as we are. I believe that fairies watch over you and guide you in your life . Like your outer conscience. I can sometimes hear them talking, and sometimes I answer back. I believe they are there waiting for us to figure them out. They are real.

This was written by youngster under 18 and although the style is not very profound there is an innocence there that I find very attractive. I wonder if somehow we consider ourselves too sophisticated to benefit from nature.

I read a study conducted in the UK of a month long nature challenge which involved people “doing something wild” every day for 30 consecutive days. The study was conducted by the University of Derby and The Wildlife Trust to measure the impact of this. They said “intuitively we knew that nature was good for us as humans, but the results were beyond brilliant”. The study showed that there was a scientifically significant increase in people’s health, happiness, connection to nature resulting from active nature behaviours such as feeding the birds and planting flowers – and the effects did not just last throughout the challenge but they were sustained four months after the challenge had been completed.

Effects included improvements in health and happiness, a decrease in stress, increase in self esteem, and unleashing of creativity. With children the mitigation of symptoms of so-called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder was noted.  I personally think this is a major disease describing children who are bored and restless  feud with the school curriculum. Adults reported a decrease in depression and anxiety. It is difficult to think of any disadvantages of being in nature.

Although we can theoretically enjoy long periods without nature we probably do not notice our increasing tension and dependence on artificial stimulants such as alcohol and comfort eating. I wonder what it would be like to have six months without any form of electronic apparatus especially those connected to to the Internet. I’m sure I would experience withdrawal symptoms. Maybe someone is trying to get hold of me. The advantages would be that I could spend much more time reading especially quality books, listening to Radio three which is the source of wonderful classical music and maybe focusing on people a little bit more. The problem is that we are surrounded by a cocktail of electromagnetic waves at various frequencies. I think the bigger shock would come if we were to go in areas, perhaps in a valley, where there is no mobile signal.

I discovered to my delight a place called Green Bank in West Virginia in America. All mobile phones are banned on payment of a fine and even microwave ovens are frowned upon. The reason is that in the area there is a huge telescope which is so sensitive that it enables researchers listening to exploding galaxies at the edge of the universe, a signal that is so faint it’s about 1 billionth of 1 billionth of 1 millionth of  a watt. A cell phone emits about three watts and can swamp the sounds that are teaching astronomers how the Milky Way was formed and how it is still evolving. I would love to go and stay there.

Anyway, good night to you all. We are threatened with more snow tomorrow coming from the East so we shall hunker down and survive somehow.

What is teamwork? – Anagrams – brainwashing

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Last evening, I had a most interesting videoconferencing via Zoom  which is a more appropriate platform for serious group discussion than the all dancing and jumping Skype which seems to me overloaded and unreliable. I don’t want to see a message saying “we are trying to get the contact back for you”.  There is plenty of bandwidth around, just get yourself organised. Google have enough profits to keep Skype up-to-date so get your finger out IT people. Oh, and while I’m about it, could you actually beta test your updates and tell us why you are updating because I find that fails normally happen after an update has occurred < rant over>

Anyway, there were 10 assorted people interested in the philosophy of contributionism. That’s a bit of a mouthful I know. It’s less about money, more about sharing your produce, your time and your energy. What I love is the way it attracts people who have seen for themselves the fact that they can earn money, be successful, and yet find that they have sold their soul to the system. This can happen at the age of 40 or 50 or any age come to that. We had one such chap who sounded about 35 but was actually 55 and was looking to make a new start in the field of healing. Instinctively, we all welcomed him into the fold.

We are now going to examine a ‘surely it’s obvious’ question of the day. What is a team? What do you have to do to qualify to be a team as opposed to a collection of people sitting around the same table. Are all committees teams? No, far from it. We may have a collection of people with a strong sense of commitment but will the performance be greater than the sum of the performance of its individual members. A stage that is often skipped is actually getting to know the other people. We need to understand who is good at what, and who can be relied upon, who is all mouth and no action, and who will take responsibility if things go wrong.

I have noticed at committee meetings that the situation can be presented in a way which makes certain assumptions about knowledge. In committees there are normally the core element and the outer element. If a core element is controlled by a dominating person then it is his or her views that will carry the day not necessarily to the benefit of everybody. I think it is worth checking with each and every person if they are happy with a motion and not relying on people just mumbling or putting their hands up in a desultory refashion.

People have a magic habit of fading into the landscape and becoming invisible and if things go awry blaming the weather, or bad astrological configurations, anything but themselves. I have seen too many examples when a motion is passed without anything resembling a ‘what if’ discussion and proposal. In other words, always have a plan B even if you don’t think you we’ll need it.  (I do this with each and every holiday. I needed it once, when I had an accident and I really did need it. Lack of precautions would have cost me thousands of pounds). Anyway, I ramble on. Back to the meeting. The averred intentions of a meeting can often mask only a vague intention to do something, very tidily worded, but nevertheless inadequate for the rough-and-tumble of possible eventualities. I think it is much better to have a moderate plan, achieve it and learn from it rather than trying to build castles in the sky.

*****

And now for something completely different. Would you believe these anagrams?

EARTH
when you rearrange the letters you get
HEART
and so on, go on, check them
PRESBYTERIAN > BEST IN PRAYER
ASTRONOMER  > MOON STARER
DESPERATION > A ROPE ENDS IT
THE MORSE CODE > HERE COME DOTS
SLOT MACHINES > CASH LOST IN ME
ELECTION RESULTS > LIES – LET’S RECOUNT
A DECIMAL POINT > I’M A DOT IN PLACE
MOTHER-IN-LAW > WOMAN HITLER

*****

The day has turned into about four hours of video watching. Suddenly, two or three videos come long that are a “must watch”.

being brainwashed by images induces passivity

Firstly, a video made by David Icke asking why the newspapers are not taking any notice of all the slash and burn tactics of You tube, restricting the freedom of individuals to have a viewpoint. He entitles it “Where is the gutless media” We are indeed living in a post fact society where bashing Russia without evidence is seen as okay.
Secondly, from an excellent site called Top Documentary Films. These are all well researched documentaries and this one was called provocatively “Stare into the lights my Pretties”. This talks about the hold that technology in general and mobile devices in particular have over the mindset of the population, and how they are affecting the connections in the brain, and how technology is used as  marketing tool by the corporates and secret services. I would not normally watch a film which lasted over two hours but it was worth every moment of it.
Thirdly a video recommended by Penny Pullen, a very courageous fighter for good causes. A lady called Lisa Transcendence Brown is talking about vibrational changes and how they affect the DNA. This lady is not a professional speaker and will not impress the skeptic but for those with any transcendental  sensibility it will definitely speak to.

I don’t know where the time goes

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We both find ourselves saying this, Francoise and myself. Each day I try to analyse where the time has gone. There should be no excuse, because neither of us work though we do have voluntary commitments. I know people who divide their time up into hours but the trouble is that I cannot organise my attention span – or have not been able to up to now. Either I feel like a cup of coffee, or there’s something very interesting on the radio, post comes, or I get an unexpected e-mail which needs attention, the phone – you name it.

Okay for most people there are important things that have to be done like taking the children to school. There are necessary things to be done such as preparing meals even if you are on your own. If you are at home you need to make yourself available for other people. There are urgent tasks that you don’t particularly want to do.  Shopping. Garden fiddles. There are important tasks that can wait. There are tasks that need to be done in order that other things can happen in other words strategically important tasks. There are activities that we do just for the fun of it.

When the necessaries are out of the way I do find that I’m at my best in the mornings. I actually read half a book this morning admittedly a short book but I find my concentration span does decrease after lunch especially when I’m not averse to having a snooze. Now, as I write, it is 9:45 PM and I’m as bright as a button again . I just had a long conference talk with people who have joined UBUNTU, an idealistic movement seeking to restore a sense of community and Fellowship and humanity on the planet. It’s lovely to meet real human beings who support each other. It really cheers me up. My colleagues have a cosmopolitan nature which I do miss being around here in Midsomer Norton. Bless it’s cotton socks it is rather parochial though with a lovely heart.

And yet, when all said and done we do need to allow time for spontaneity. I am after all retired but not fully so. The gardening  season has not started. I shall be out and about, visualising and planning, trying to do the work in the most elegant fashion, and enjoying myself enormously.

So my dear people this is one of the shortest diaries in recent months. Sometimes Samuel Pepys’s diaries were about four lines and other times a whole page. As I finish this writing, the wind is gusting and we’re due for a night of lashing rain. How nice to be as snug as a bug in a rug.

*****

A serious bit of dystopian news. YouTube is going to start correcting ‘controversial’ videos with ‘approved’ facts. They will select anything they considered to be controversial or conspiratorial. Mike Adams, the author says that the Communist China roadmap for total thought control is being rolled out by the day at Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Our freedom to think is being exterminated. So, if we dare to mention such topics as mercury in vaccines, chem trails, or the globalist depopulation agenda it must be corrected. Wikipedia gets more useless by the day as it is so compromised. I read once that a musician wanted to correct his own entry but was told he was not qualified to do so.  Samsung smart TVs spying on you even when turned off? Common knowledge but we mustn’t actually tell the public. See Wikileaks for the real truth.

And so to bed.

Wisdom teeth and canals of another type

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When I’m in the dentist’s chair as  was the case today I try to think of anything but what is going to happen. Maybe the dentist will decide to drill right through my teeth and my jaw without telling me, or be so gentle that I’m scarcely aware of what is going on. I went to a Harley Street dentist a few years ago where only root canal work was performed. At the start of the treatment, he said “you will not feel any pain”. He was correct. He must’ve done so many hundreds that he knew exactly what to do and most likely was able to size up the pain threshold of each patient. When I left, he gave me his mobile phone number and told me to call if there was any problem.

The only pain I experienced was when I received the bill, but what is a few hundred I suppose when you are suffering pain and the local dentist is not quite sure whether he can deal with the complexities that he discovers. There are some things that the NHS is not geared to do. The dentist or should I say the dental practice itself only gets so much even for band three treatment and he cannot afford to give his time away if the required time and materials goes over what is allowed.

We were discussing wisdom teeth, as you tend to do in a dental room, and I asked the dentist if he knew the derivation of the word wisdom. My dear, you and I would refer to them as dens sapientae, or third molars. He thought it may have been due to the fact that the teeth appear later when presumably people are wiser. Such teeth generally appear (erupt is the rather dramatic sounding term) between the ages of 17 and 25 and we have four of them standing guard one at each corner.  I responded to him by saying that in this day and age, that was a rather weak argument since many people never become wise. So, where did the term come from? Wisdom teeth have been described in the ancient texts or Plato and Hippocrates. The Latin actually means ‘teeth of wisdom’ so, like a Ken Dodd joke, it is ages old but goes down well.

In spite of my rather cynical initial hypothesis and hopes for a derivation going back thousands of years, the dentist’s more mundane explanation was correct. I quote “Lately, science has added some credence to the idea that the third molar does indeed erupt when a person is “wiser”. Recent research has shown the brain continues to grow and develop right on through adolescence: in fact, most researchers believe the brain does not reach full maturity until the age of 25. Perhaps, then, our ancestors weren’t so far off the mark — that the eruption of “wisdom teeth” is a sign that the carefree days of childhood have given way to the responsibilities of adulthood

It will be interesting to see if genuinely wise people have more developed wisdom teeth than those who perhaps were a bit slower to develop for whatever reasons. But then, that would constitute a rather cynical view.

I’m glad that treatment methods have become more patient centred in the last couple of hundred years. It escapes me what difference the colleague is making by holding the two people with his hands.  The two of them seem to find the whole exercise quite amusing

*****

I shouldn’t really have cake before midday but the home-made cakes offered by the dear ladies at the coffee morning at churches too much to resist. They make real coffee as well. The economics of the weekly coffee mornings are interesting. They have earned enough money from donations to buy a microwave oven, coffee maker and most importantly to do the floor which was once a horror story of spilt coffee on a very stained carpet. it is now resplendent in wood, plastic wood admittedly but it looks lovely and it is easy to clean. The vicar turns up if he can.  There were 20 of us including two new people who came for the first time and who were warmly greeted. I think going to church if you haven’t been for a long time or at all is quite intimidating and this coffee event is a very good first introduction to the fellowship  on offer.

*****

Today, le ciel est bleu, as my French wife would say. The temperature  in Bath was 12°C  . The air was still and I decided on the way back from the dentist that the afternoon was ideal for a walk. Since the country is still too muddy, Francoise and I decided to go to our favourite haunt the canal – the Kennet and Avon Canal to be precise. It never fails to deliver. On the way we went to have a cup of coffee at the horse stables in Wellow. The variation in temperament of animals is remarkable. They either stand still, staring, or romping around as if there were no tomorrow.

Daisy

I think these two ponies were having a mid afternoon snooze, particularly the black one. They seemed immune to our attention and Daisy could not decide whether to sleep or yawn.

frisky and attentive

These horses, 70 in number, were forever moving around. Why the nearest horse has been trimmed like this is beyond me.Ctrl and + to enlarge.

Anyway, we drove on to the canal, parked, and walked along with tow path for about a mile each way. The winter season lasts from November until about Easter and meanwhile the boats are parked up.

parked up until the season

No matter how many times you go, you always see something of interest. It is a blessing going during the week because there are few cyclists that can be quite dangerous if you don’t hear them coming, and the number of people passing you are really quite small.

winner of the competition for the ugliest boat
this generated something at some time
you never know what you’re going to see
every square inch used
the resident steersmen
a lovely evening sight
the case of the multicoloured dog, wandering around with no owner in sight

*****

On returning home, I have given some thought to my offer of help for the person who is building the website mentioned yesterday. The best recommendation I can give is for the Webmaster to set his work before someone who doesn’t know much about the subject matter and tell them to get on with it and find their way around. He should then listen to what they have to say and make adjustments accordingly. It is very easy to miss just one step because you think it is obvious and then 90% of people drop out. Of course you only see the 10% of people who make it through and think the site is all right but in practice the attrition rate can be frighteningly high. See the whole thing is a set of stepping stones. Each one needs to be there otherwise the person will not cross the stream.

Saying something versus keeping your mouth shut

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There is a slogan in the USA with regard to security “if you see something then say something“. That works well in a paranoid and extrovert country but it does not necessarily work well in the land in which I live, the ancient island called Great Britain. In the dim and distant past it was linked to Europe so in geological time the English Channel is an upstart. For most of recorded time the island was just referred to as ‘Britain’. I am not quite sure when the ‘Great’ came along. I don’t feel there’s anything particularly great about us as I don’t think there’s anything particularly United about the United States but as they say, don’t start me on that one.

This is my problem. I tend to be a) little bit nosy and b) a perfectionist. when I see something that is not right, I want to correct it. I do not suffer from lack of courage and will immediately draw whatever it is to the attention of people if given the slightest opportunity. The problem is particularly great if I see some fault or procedural mistake which in my view will harm a business or the enterprise in which the individual is engaged. My latest challenge is the case of someone who is doing a website. This website purpose involves me to a certain extent. On each page there are mistakes and ambiguities which I know will confuse the visitor. The problem is that when I mention it to the web designer he goes into defensive mode and the conversation becomes awkward.

Sometimes I say to myself, Brian, keep your mouth shut and let everyone get on with it. I have found this to be unsuccessful. Rightly or wrongly, I feel it is my duty of care to a fellow human being to at least let them know what I have seen and give my impressions. As I have made it plain many times before, when I’m in a public place or on a journey, my antenna are twirling in the breeze for anyone’s perceived need or the possibility of something in common that we can share over a few sentences. For this reason, I find that the phenomenon of loneliness is for the most part a distant memory. The moment I realise that people like to talk,  providing it is done in a polite way, then the whole process becomes a pleasure. I realise that I’m a bit spoiled living in the countryside where everybody tends to do speak openly but I did the same in London and I never had any problem. Occasionally, I got people in a bad mood but – never mind – so they are in a bad mood so let them be. Send them a little blessing and move on.

So the question is, under what circumstances should I interfere or interpose and under what circumstances should I keep my mouth shut. Let me deal with the latter first. When two people are engaged in conversation, even though I could make a contribution I would definitely keep my mouth shut. There is such a thing as privacy in public. The second situation where I wouldn’t say anything is if they were not giving out any friendly body signals and this applies both walking in public and with someone who is doing something that is obviously inappropriate. The third situation is if a person under the age of say 16 where my talking might be misunderstood. I would only talk to young people if they were in groups.

I suppose a classic good example of interposing is when someone has their collar up or their flies undone which case they are grateful. I find that if you are critical of something they’re actually doing, even though you mean it with the best of intentions, they often get defensive. I find it very difficult to avoid defensiveness in people and the best way I’ve found around it is to make a joke, an oblique comment and have a sense of humour. I think it is a very bad mistake to start off with a negative comment. Why rush in?

If we start with a generalisation we will give the person time to tune into us and come to the realisation that we are benign. The next thing I would do is to start with a compliment or positive comment about what they’re doing. The next thing I would do is draw attention to something which I was confused about. It would never be ‘wrong’ – mind you – but a matter of confusion or the need for further clarity. In other words let them discover their mistake through trying to make sure that you are not confused. The chances are that they will thank you for your intercessions excepting they are inherently insecure and defensive individuals of which I know there are many examples. On these occasions I would be philosophical. I did my best. I would not want to feel later on when something untoward happens “I wish I had said something but I didn’t want to upset them”. That is a bit cowardly and I would not want to live with that.

Another category of telling people what they may not want to hear it when someone has halitosis or bad breath, or another unpleasant habit that they may not be aware of. I would restrict the attempt to tell them unless you know them. You could tell your them that you have had this problem as well and this is what you did to solve it. I would not is doing on your way to a dinner party go or anywhere in public and I would only do it if it is consistent and excessive. I have tried this once: ‘do you have anything wrong with your gums or teeth?’ or  ‘I just wondered if you were aware that it was reflecting your breath’. I think we should try and be loving and understanding and say that this affects many people who are not aware of it. You don’t have to make ultra personal remarks though it’s a good idea to be direct.

We have to face the fact that in this society nobody trusts anyone very much although they want to think of themselves as trusting people. When push comes to shove, the questioning starts. Therefore, we have to work very hard in the first few seconds to establish our self as an honest person and this is done partly by what I call the energy field or aura. In other words I  carry my smile and good attitude around me like an invisible halo. It can be done but it takes years. I believe that we all have detector mechanisms if only for self-preservation. I do rely on my own mechanism on a daily basis or rather I could say minute-for-minute basis. This makes the difference to me between life and existence.

*****

This evening I attended a small meeting of the committee of our Men’s group. It took place in a historical catholic church which in the old days was a barn. We arrived at the door to find a sleeping figure who due to the kindness of the priest was allowed to sleep for reasons best known to themselves in the porch. We entered the small committee room to find another homeless person completes with cans of lager. He excused himself and said he was not normally there. He said he was looking for a place and had some money but no one would offer him any accommodation. He said from time to time that he felt like topping himself I guess out of sheer frustration. He was a pleasant enough fellow but one of the many invisible sufferers in a so-called civilised society.

The meeting itself consisted of going through the constitution of the group. It shows to me that you never get something right the first time however good you may be and how much you understand your subject. There was a repetition no doubt due to the enthusiasm of the original writer to make a point but we realise that a lot of it could be precied without loss of meaning. At the beginning, the task the committee meeting seemed boring but we occupied ourselves for the best part of 1 1/2 hours with various bantering and teasing. Someone mistakenly volunteered themselves as secretary, “nature abhors a vacuum” someone said that this was cause of much merriment. We did achieve something because people were not afraid to state their views but in a mode of fellowship and good humour.

Mother’s Day vs. Mothering Sunday – 5G and death

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You see dear people there are two varieties. First let’s have a look at the way that one of them, Mothers Day,  developed in 19th-century America when a lady called Ann Jarvis first organised a group of mothers to help out with sanitation at camps on both sides of the Civil War during a typhoid outbreak. These were called Mothers Day Work Clubs. The campaigning of the daughter, Anna Jarvis, culminated in a proclamation in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson that the second Sunday in May be a national holiday. Other countries followed suit.

On the other hand, Mothering Sunday in the UK is the fourth Sunday of Lent and has nothing to do with the American festival of that name. This was a day when children, mainly daughters, who had gone to work as domestic servants were given a day off to visit her mother and family. This was originally and traditionally a day to honour to give thanks to the Virgin Mary, also known as Mother Mary. The modern recognition of this day came about through the efforts of Constance Adelaide Smith (1878–1938), who worked as a dispenser of medicine in Nottingham, and drew directly on pre-modern traditions.She had noted the celebrations in America but felt that there should be a deeper, more inclusive definition of mothers and mothering.

 

*****

Today I read in the Western Daily Press that they were going to introduce 5G mobile phone technology at the Roman Baths. We are informed that the government has awarded a £5 million grant to the West of England combined authority to trial the superfast 5G network. The test will see 5G infrastructure put in place at the Roman Baths in Bath, which date back to about 70 A.D. The trial will also be carried out at two sites in Bristol – at the M Shed and in and around ‘We The Curious’ (shop) and Millennium Square. They are selling it on entertaining the tourists – producing images of virtual Roman soldiers showing you around the Roman baths and enabling the same thing on your mobile phone. It says ominously that “it won’t be used to human communication alone; it will also support communication between things humans have invented, forming an Internet of things. This will have a huge impact on people’s lives.
That’s to be sure but not in the way they write. I wrote a letter which I have no doubt will be ignored but I have a duty of care to my fellow citizens to write it; the letter is below. The body is not built to deal with high frequency pulses.

Dear Sirs,
The benefits that are claimed for this proposal are spurious and dishonest.
Hear it from me or someone else. Your choice.
* 5G is a high power high frequency radiation system different from 1G 2G 3G and 4G.
* The same technology can be used to find people via their cellphones and other methods.
* The Electro Magnetic Frequencies correspond with those of the human brain, any heavy metals within our body magnify the effect of beamed EMF.
* Humans are all connected with a special Wi-Fi in our brain. The scientists call it inter-brain
* A Russian 1992 study shows that the 53-78GHz range, the same as the proposed 5G radiations can impact the stability of the heart rate.
* An English study showed that at 650 Ghz wavelength, 90% of the energy is absorbed by the epidermis of our skin.
* The present government safety limits on such systems including mobile phones are thousands of times too lenient and this applies throughout the world.
* It is possible to entrain the brains of some of the population and modify brain function by 5G.
* These are modifications or calculated abuse of ideas developed by Nikola Tesla.
These are some of the 1,340,000 returns on YouTube about the deleterious effects of 5G
introducing Wi Fi in New York $100m investment in what?
38m 24sec
3min 47sec
13min 55 sec
2h 11min 37 sec
41min27 sec
45mins 23 sec
21min55 secs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwyDCHf5iCY truth about mobile phone radiations
1hr 1min 29 secs
11 mins 52 seconds
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TVNxB-yy88   www.emfscientists.org carcinogenic effects of 5G.  Authoritative.
1 hr 06 mins 36 secs
Brian Snellgrove
01761 415473

My Neck of the Woods

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At my monthly men’s meeting which starts with a cooked breakfast at eight o’clock in the morning, the visiting speaker, John Samways, speaking with me beforehand, asked me how long I had been in ‘this neck of the woods’. This meant Midsomer Norton. I realised I’d used this term for my whole life without questioning what it meant.

Searching around, it could be that this was an attempt by the colonialists in early America to describe the geographical features of their new home  to help visitors in the forested lands to identify the geographical location of the neighbour. In English, the word is used to describe a narrow strip of land usually surrounded by water based on its resemblance to the neck of an animal but it has a number of other meanings and uses.

Such as the wonder of the English language that I can be “up to my neck in it”, I can have “an albatross around my neck”, I could be “dead from the neck up”, I can even “get it in the neck” which means to be reprimanded or punished. People may even have a “stiff neck” and that is not an anatomical description. I can be “a pain in the neck”. Two people in a race can be “neck to neck”. Someone can have a “thick neck”. I can “neck” someone if I like them very much i.e. kissing and caressing amorously.

The 40 min talk offered a huge variety of ideas from the ex-teacher, who is leader of the Men’s group in Frome. One of the first things I noticed was that his speaking was very clear and measured. He looked at the audience directly, gave his words the weight that was due to them and left us hanging to see what the next word would be. It was so easy to listen to him that challenging at the same time. That is how public speaking should be.

He commented on a certain pomposity among the clergy especially noticeable at informal gatherings. Here I go again, another word: pompous. It reminds me of Edwardian characters with huge waistlines who enjoy tucking away at their beef for breakfast. Anyway, down to business. “Pompous” means that someone is behaving or speaking in a very serious way because they think they are more important than they really are.

One of the most important things my preacher said to me in the years of yore was ” the most important thing you can do for the greater good is to be yourself”. There is implicit in that statement the requirement to be honest and to tune in with what the voice of conscience is telling you. I would not necessarily make that statement to a bank robber but then Dr Martin Israel was speaking to me personally and not to the whole world, may his soul rest in peace. He ministered in a church in Kensington, London, and maintained a curious stance. At one and the same time he was contemptible of most of the aspects of the church hierarchy and yet he chose to remain within the church to preach his sermons. I have notes of them to this day 20 years later and I thought so much of them I bound them in a book which resides a few feet away from me as I type.

The question arises, why are we pompous. Do we think that we are not good enough yet another ourselves. Do we think that we have to be an actor or some sort of artificial person to qualify in the eyes of others. Having said that, the term Pomp and Circumstance is an occasion where we let our hair down and partake in a splendid probably pretentious celebration with ceremony and with fuss. But then, everybody knows the game they are in and I don’t think they all take it too seriously.

I have written before about our uniqueness and if we had an understanding of the non-physical world to which we could add the divine world and had a full understanding of ourselves, we would not have to inflate our good sides or good as we see them and minimise our faults. Due to ignorance and insecurity, not lack of intelligence, I think we are sleepwalking around for most of the time. I note that when I speak to people in the street I have to ask a question twice. The first time, it is to register that there is a human being out there wanting to know something and the brain is switched to the on position, and the second time to activate owner of the brain who now realises that something is being demanded of them.

John asked us how we interact with important books such as reference books, the Bible etc. and made mention that it was not just a source of information but something that was designed for us to relate to. The Christian Bible makes frequent reference to the importance of a mindset. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you“. This is rather archaic in its delivery but has a profound truth associated with it. If we focus too much on our goals which are normally in the material world, it is so easy to forget our priorities of what is important and thus lose our way.

I was discussing counselling yesterday and suggested that we do not approach anyone directly without an invitation, and it seems that the speaker would certainly agree with this. There is a quote, attributed to St Francis of Assisi, which is “preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words”. Interestingly, this is at odds with the man himself who would often go to the extravagant parties of the rich and preach the gospel to them. When walking the path of Assisi, St Francis would often preach the gospel to those he met. Maybe he preached to the birds to practice preaching to the men and women he met.

Personally I think we can speak around the gospel as well as directly address it. We can discuss the state of the world and ask people what they think the remedies might be. I don’t think there’s any harm in challenging other people.  I don’t think the average person is to turn round and say “my goodness, that’s the first time anyone said anything like that to me, I’m now going to turn my life around”. It’s more likely to go into the subconscious to emerge at some future time when the context permits perhaps in a discussion.   at the very least, I think we have the duty to sow seeds.

I think Saint Francis probably adapted his technique according to the openness or lack of prejudice that he perceived in the people he met and I don’t think that’s a bad idea at all.

Talking about Social Media from the Christian point of view or the spiritual point of view if you like, I find too many carping comments or frankly trivial remarks that do not take anything forward. Why don’t we use the Internet a tool to encourage and inform people. I see very few encouraging, “well done” type comments. Anyone who is remotely interested in the Internet could help to encourage others. We all need encouragement whether we admit it or not. Yes?

There is a good section in Psalm 37 which reads “trust in the Lord and do good. Non-– Christians substitute ” the universe” for ” the Lord” and that makes you feel more comfortable. Further along in the sample it says “he will make your godly ways shine like the dawn. Be still. The patient. Wait for the Lord to act. Keep from being angry. Turn away from anger.   This is again an archaic way of saying that synchronicity is all. Don’t try to push the river. Keep your focus where it should be (your choice of course) and see what comes to you. I have found the running after things never works.

Some aspects of volunteering

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I have spoken before about the privilege of offering our services without charge and making a difference to the life of other people. You will be amazed how much the grateful clients or friends give back to you in ways that even they are not aware of. The main way they give back is by sharing their life experience.  My wife does this every Monday. She goes to spend a day with the old people at Age UK and is well appreciated for her concern and caring.

Offering your services can sometimes be the result of a split-second decision. It can go right or it can go wrong. A few weeks ago, I offered to do the reading of the lessons at our local church. Today I was incorporated into the rotor and I’m going to read on Sunday a few verses from the first book of Samuel. That was a good result.

A few weeks ago I offered to ferry someone to and from hospital because they had been advised not to take a bus for a medical reason. This was overheard by someone else who asked me to go and pick up a prescription for them at a place 10 miles away. The original offer had been misheard or misunderstood and was translated into something that was not meant. I told the person that I was not able to help them; they should just take the bus to and fro. That was not a bad result but not a good one.

Yesterday, I offered to help our local vicar to clear up some material in his garden and do some streaming and trimming. Before finally offering, I went round with him and discussed exactly what I was going to do and then told him what I was going to do it. some time later..I have apparently exceeded his limitations and I’m only halfway through so I will continue when I have time. The situation has been like this for the last few years so another week or so won’t make any difference.

Among the many problems can be the offer to help someone in a offguarded moment and before you know where you are you are committed to a regular job which you eventually resent because it is so time-consuming. Example: during snow, you can offer to collect someone’s groceries from a local shop and then you discover that they are disabled and find it difficult to get about in the winter. You find yourself offering to do the job on a regular basis. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this but if you find yourself resenting having to do this and being tied down by it then there is a need for discussion.

Sometimes, the person that you offer help to does not themselves know what the job involves. In this case, there is a good argument for looking at the job and discussing it together. It is also a good idea to see whether the circumstances are temporary or permanent, or if the other person is just using your goodwill to avoid doing certain things on their own and their perfectly capable of so doing. For example, some people are quite capable of changing a fuse or replacing a lightbulb and they can do it themselves but are just plain and simple lazy. In this case, asking someone else to do it is an abuse.

Sometimes, in a difficult situation, we volunteer our services by saying “if there is anything I can do”. This can be too general to be of any use and when I hear people say that sometimes I question the sincerity of the commitment.  Obvious point here – do not promise anything if you’re not prepared to carry it through. I would be inclined to make a more specific offer for example “if you need anyone to take you to the chemist then call me and if I’m free I will help”.  This states the terms and conditions in a friendly way.

Offering help at times of bereavement can be very awkward.  the most important thing is to be available for someone, the sharing of positive memories and how much you appreciated the person who is deceased. There is nothing wrong with sharing a bereavement story about how you got over something eventually but didn’t hesitate about saying things like ” they are probably in a better place now” because you don’t know what their faith is what it is not. Maybe your job is to just be with them when they cry or give them a hug when they need it.

I notice that women who have been very dependent upon their husbands find it difficult to do the simplest tasks so there is a good case for offering to accompany them to a doctor or the local register, or to help them at the funeral. There is no such thing as a little way of helping someone, either you are there you are not there. If they don’t need the help that you are offering, at least you made the gesture and that is the main thing. In the UK at least people are still throttled by this ” I didn’t want to bother you” syndrome so you have to think of some way around that.

Hopefully, if you’ve known them a long time, that won’t be an issue. A big factor is whether the death was expected or not and whether the surviving spouse or partner had the time to prepare. I would imagine that violent deaths are the most difficult to deal with and the least difficult when the person knows they have a limited timespan, and has made their peace with people and will pass in the knowledge that they are loved and cared for by those around them. When I read of someone dying surrounded by their family I get a good feeling. There is closure.

Volunteering to help with your grandchildren on a regular basis is another league of volunteering and I have very little experience of this since I have no grandchildren. The problem is with child care costs the way they are people don’t want to spend their entire income on having their children looked after professionally.

Volunteering for a well-known organisation like the National Trust is in another league. They have 60,000 volunteers contributing 3.1 million hours of their time, the equivalent of 1,590 full-time staff. They have excellent and appropriate training facilities so you know what are letting yourself in for. I thet is clear that this organisation could not survive without volunteers so you can be sure your services will be appreciated.

When you volunteer, to avoid awkwardness, it is better to say that you are glad to do this as a volunteer and there are no strings attached. A person should not feel obliged to for example buy you a drink though they may want to return the favour in another way as for example when you yourself need help. This trading of time and energy is all part and parcel of living in a community and I’m sure people think nothing of it.

As regards being a good neighbour, I would focus on making yourself the sort of person that people can feel free to ask if they need help. You would be surprised how difficult some people find it to actually ask for anything never mind someone else to do something for nothing so make it easy for them. Be approachable and chatty so that a request for help can dovetail in with a normal conversation without any embarrassment.

Theophany – timing is all – a private consultation

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What a lovely word almost onomatopoeic. I heard it at 7:45 AM this morning when I was making my coffee. It reminds me of a musical instrument,  of an imagined Theophone family. The theophone is a bit like a trombone but would emit a soft, almost maudlin, tone. But I jest. The word theophany is a manifestation of God that is tangible to the human senses. In its most restrictive sense, it is a visible appearance of God in the Old Testament period, often, but not always, in human form.    So there we are, you can now carry on with your day having gained this essential gem of information. I suppose the non-religious version of the word is revelation.

For everything there is time, and there is time for everything.

This is paraphrased from the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3 verse 1-8 .The actual words are

“there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down the time to build
etc. 

You can read the rest if you like.  Strange that there is so much repetition. Okay you say, I get the point, there is no need to repeat yourself 16 times. Why so? At a wild guess, because the author wanted to make the point as strongly as he could. Timing is important nay vital. I’m sure that all of us can recall a situation when we get an idea, think about it a bit and maybe put it aside, then try and put it into action and fail. You were given the inspiration for the idea but unbeknown to you it was time sensitive. We unfortunately did not have the trust to action it immediately. A small example of this is when someone’s picture comes into your head, it maybe a sign that work needs to be done or contact needs to be made. What happens?  We ignore it or put it aside. The person contacts us and then we are reduced to saying lamely “funny, I was just thinking about you”. Note to self – next time I really must do something about it.

When I think of this quote I attain a quasi meditation state which means that my degree of worrying goes down a couple of notches. We have been asking for about a year now for the trees the bottom of our allotment to be trimmed because those allotment holders near the trees are suffering loss of light. Finally, things came together, the personnel came together, and subject to agreement the trees should be down in a few weeks. There are some things that take far longer than you would wish. We would like things done instantly but unfortunately, connected with everyone that we deal with is a chain of cause and effect over which we have no control and we cannot perceive. A person may want to help you but may be hamstrung by circumstances and you just have to wait for those conditions to become propitious for your particular request.

*****

This afternoon I went to see my spiritual adviser for what I call a “fill in the gaps” session. My request of the adviser was just to listen to me. I need a counselor to be a sounding board. I find that I can get all sorts of fantasies and imaginations but I can only test them out when I speak it out of my mouth to someone else. If it is genuine, the other person feels it. If it is false, then it bounces back. I discussed my early life and the influences of my parents and although experientially it was a grim and un-remitting experience, at the same time I have to admit that it strengthened my character and gave me a degree of independence which has served me well. We discussed the sharing of beliefs especially of a Christian religious sort. The same principle applies to anything really. In order for you to open your mouth you need to have some indication of the interest from the other party. If a person has had a bad experience with someone who claimed to be a Christian, mentioning the topic will merely set them off and they will get angry at you and retreat even more. As the above says, timing is all.

Funny, this video popped up when I was looking at LinkedIn for something else. It’s about getting permission before you try to sell anything an idea or a service. Pretty simple when you know how and very apposite to what I’ve just been talking about above. I proved my point as I go along.

I think the ideal counsellor or friend is someone who is prepared to listen and empty his or her mind of all prejudices, someone who is neutral and will not instinctively take sides (in this excludes most friends) and someone who is knowledgeable enough to detect when someone is going on a false trail. I do not score very highly on the first point because the statements made by the client cause great mental activity on my part and I can scarcely find it within myself to close my mouth and let them finish what they have to say. PS you don’t have to be particularly intelligent to listen. You just have to have an interest in someone else. The reason is that when you talk the act of articulating helps the brain to function in higher gear and figure out what it should be doing or should not be doing.

This involves thinking – I recommend it.

*****

Playing golf in the snow

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One day I must write a book talking about all the snatches of conversation I have heard in my travels. We arrived at the Wednesday market in Wells. A stallholder was telling one or two passers that him and a friend had played golf last Saturday when everything was redolent with snow. It gave him much amusement to tell them that he had lost 12 balls and that his friend had lost 13. It was quite a mental teaser for me to figure out why a supposedly intelligent man would play with small light coloured balls in white snow. The probability of losing them what I would have thought 100 to 1 and still they did it. I should have retraced my steps and engaged to him but I went into minor shell shock and the moment passed.

I expect many of you have visited Wells, which is a picturesque and compact City containing all the essentials: good restaurants, Cathedral, lovely gardens, a cinema, the obligatory Wetherspoon’s and every attraction is within about 300 m of everything else. I was shocked to see that no less than seven established shops were no longer trading. This does leave quite a hole in the high Street. There was a furniture shop, a watch shop, a sports shop which you would have thought would attract enough people in a busy city but no it was probably the threat of an increase in rates that was the last straw.

I went to my favourite pub. They serve double house whisky for £3. As the pictures will show, this is a pub where the landlord has made an extra effort to make his house attractive. Here’s what we can call a down-to-earth person but he’s very conscientious and his heart is definitely in the right place. There is a lovely garden / patio area at the rear.

rather clever little cartoon of this old pub
Busy chatting. This area is a class conscious ‘arty farty’ place. There is un peu of snobbery.

We went to lunch at the Good Earth restaurant. I thought that as it was only slightly after midday it would not be busy but the place was full and there was a queue to get served. That’s what you get for offering home-cooked food, vegetarian as it happens, with staff who know what they’re doing and love their work. We have to share our table with a fairly senior couple. She commented that my food had the appearance of ” a mess of pottage“.  I had forgotten what that meant. It is from the old Testament. Do you dear reader know what it means? It is “something very little trivial or of inferior value – used especially of something accepted instead of a rightful thing of far greater value”. The Bible story refers to the addition of lentils for which the hungry Esau sold his birthright to his younger brother Jacob (Genesis 25). I cannot recall having heard it used at least in the last 10 years of my memory.

very well manured gardens round the back of the Cathedral
snowdrops in full glory
the church as it looked in the 14th century (excuse the reflection of spotlights in the background)

We then went to the Cathedral Gardens for which we pay a joint admission of £52 per year. I enclose some images to show the beauty of this feature several times of year. It is very well tended by gardeners who love their job; there is something for everyone including a play area for children. A bonus is that there are some allotments abutting on the gardens and the friendliness and openness of the local people is there for all to see. On one occasion, after a brief chat, a woman offered me some cuttings to take home. Strangers, do not hesitate to engage. If they are living and  breathing, that will do as a start.

We went to see the film “The Shape of Water”. As it was a matinee performance, we were entitled to coffee and biscuits.  I can see why this  film won so many Oscars last Sunday. The Oscars were, by the way, the best Picture, best actress in a leading role,  best actress in a supporting role, and actor in a supporting role.  It also obtained the prize for best director and also the best original score. In case you hadn’t gathered, the acting was excellent. It’s about a mute lady who falls in love with an alien being. It’s a most original film where the theme has been treated with great respect and imagination. I won’t spoil the story but it is definitely in a class of its own in cinematography and presence. Even the violence is artistic so close your eyes if you must.

We walked back to our car and on the way I was able to capture some lovely pictures of our shadows in the setting sun. Back to a home fire and to writing this diary which has become part of my end of day routine. I seldom get comments. If you don’t like filling in forms just write to me at   brian @ pobox.com

With a clear blue sky turning pink I expect the temperature will go down to about zero again.

Eat breakfast like a King… Latte or Lartte?

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 “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”.

They say that when you get older, you tend to eat less. I can’t say I’ve noticed. The world of calories is still a closed book to me. I freely admit that I eat too fast and too much. The problem is that I enjoy it. There now, confession over and it’s only eight o’clock in the morning. What does strike me however is the common sense of filling up your car with petrol (gas to USA readers) before you start your journey not at the end.

What I have noticed is that I’m increasingly intolerant of certain chemicals within bread and that is why, for the last three years, we have baked our own bread and I would never go back to buying bread from a shop. About chemicals, I have stopped buying ready-made foods such as trifles because I discovered that chemicals have been put in them to prolong their life. It also makes me sick and the food repeats on me. This is not a pleasant experience, which counteracts the delight of eating the food in the first place, tickling the taste buds you could say.

I don’t think I’ve ever discussed the baking of bread  in these diaries before. I reckon I could go my whole life through and never experience the whole gamut of this art. There are over 300 different types of bread. It’s not only the ingredients which on the face of them are fairly simple, but it’s getting the proportions right, figuring out how long to let the yeast do its work, how long and at what temperature to cook. After two years, I reckon I’ve made most of the mistakes that I could have done including making a local bread whose interior looked a bit like the caves at Cheddar Gorge, bread that simply refused to rise and sat there in a hard lump, and bread that crumbled as soon as you looked at it.

I do use a bread making machine but mainly as a mixer. I find that if you put it on full automatic you get the annoying hole at the bottom resulting from the space left when you pull the paddle out, and secondly I discover that the resulting bread is slightly undercooked. Overall, it’s worth the effort and tastes delicious. If anyone is thinking of having a go, it is less complicated than you think. The basic instructions are: pour about 320 mL of water into the mixer, add 500 g of flour, about two teaspoonfuls of yeast, some butter or oil, some salt. You also add sugar which apparently speeds up the action of the yeast. The total cost of the ingredients? £.60 is about average and don’t forget the cost of heating the oven for up to an hour. If you feel really lazy, try the automatic cycle and if you need to top it up with putting it in the oven then so be it.

*****

We visited for lunch at our favourite cafe in Mells. search on Mells for frequent references to it is actually part of the post office.  There was an African American waiter who took my order for a latte. The funny thing was, she pronounced it ‘lartte’. There was enough of a difference between her pronunciation and mine for me to discuss it. Was her version more upper-class than the flat ‘a’. She said she had never thought of it before and it provoked quite a discussion among the serving team of three. It appears that British English and American English say the word in a slightly different way. British English is more flat, the first syllable is said like latrine or lamentable. In American English it is more like larte, la as in llama.  Hear it for yourself folks.

I had a pleasant enough warm slice of quiche. It contained quite large chunks of beetroot which together with a salad of grated red cabbage and carrots made for a rather unbalanced meal but hey it was healthy enough and at £5.95 I was not complaining.

In the restaurant there was a very happy looking lady with a child in a pram sound asleep. I approached the lady, and was moved to say in my usual spontaneous way that the child very contented and that if the child felt loved in the waiting room (womb) and if the parents wanted the child and had a good relationship with each other, I suspected that that would induce a feeling of security that would last a lifetime. The sad thing is that the opposite is true. I asked her if she agreed with me and said that yes the child was wanted and yes the child is content and sleeps well. You might say, why bother to say something that is fairly obvious. I don’t think it does any harm to repeat the obvious because it is such an important statement. Maybe, as a result of what I said to her, she will repeat it to one of her friends who is also pregnant and that will have an effect on the welfare of the fetus.

We met a couple of young chaps on bicycles who were staying locally and who lived in Brighton. They had moved to Brighton from London and commented how much friendlier Brighton was. I asked one of them if they had been at the new tower, the so-called i360. British Airways, who rather pretentiously called the trip up the tower a Flight. They said that flights leave every 30 minutes. The cost of this experience is £16 for adults and £13.50 for concessions. They question the value of this. After this comment they had noticed how much friendlier Somerset was than Brighton. I said that people do not have inhibitions here and you can more or less talk to anybody. I said that it does take some getting used to but that is the case.  Best wishes all round,and another good conversation.

*****

Before we left Mells, we stood and contemplated one  of the temporary streams that come into existence during snowmelt times or times of rain. I enjoyed listening to the sound of the water. I find anything to do with running water very healing so I decided to make a video.


In case you missed it here it is again. Turn sound up.

Mells is an intimate place
you don’t often see maps with individual trees on

*****

Prior to this, my Tuesday church coffee morning was a lively affair.  The problem is that things can become too lively because all four walls are either glass or hard reflective surfaces and before you know where you are everyone is shouting to make themselves heard. This is particularly difficult for people who are deaf or semi-deaf because they find it more difficult to sort out one voice from another. We all discussed the post-snow situation; one of the other people had their car port in front of the house in a well below ground and the whole area filled up with snow so the car could not be seen.

At a coffee morning, my wife and I met a young psychology student who was studying at Plymouth. I remarked how heavily this place was influenced by the seagoing history both in the Navy and in general. I asked her what she was intending to do and she said she wanted to deal with children with learning disabilities. I asked whether there was any manifestation of Political Correctness. She said there were one or two people who were “that way” but said most of them were not particularly concerned with this topic.

The lady on duty cooked us delicious oat  biscuits and also some stones. The vicar came and joined us. He is a great fan of Netflicks, and described the quality and variety of plays and historical documents that the company were able to invest in due to the profitable nature of their service. I have so much to watch already with a mountain of DVDs, (the educational type), but I still haven’t got round to watching because I’m too concerned with the current offerings on the Internet. During the last couple of years it it has become much easier to find free of charge films to watch so I could spend 24 hours a day watching and I still wouldn’t catch up. That must be more to life than this.

*****

I’m quite impressed about the efforts the authorities are making to take away the stigma of calling and applying some elementary psychology to what might put people off so doing especially when the topic is very private. I saw this in the doctor’s waiting room when I was there today.

I also saw something I had not seen before which was a leaflet entitled “poems in the waiting room”. This is a private initiative enterprise to introduce poetry to the doctor’s waiting room, and no charge is made to the NHS. I’m sure there’s thousands of ideas out there and if only they could be spread I think the quality of everyone’s life would increase.

Here is an example of one of the poems:

Lines Composed in a Wood on a Windy Day

My soul is awakened, my spirit is soaring
And carried aloft on the wings of the breeze;
For above and around me the wild wind is roaring,
Arousing to rapture the Earth and the seas.

The long withered grass in the sunshine is glancing,
The bare trees are tossing their branches on high;
The dead leaves beneath them are merrily dancing,
The white clouds are scudding across the blue sky.

I wish I could see how the ocean is lashing
The foam of its billows to whirlwinds of spray;
I wish I could see how it proud waves are dashing,
And hear the wild roar of their thunder to-day!

Anne Bronte (1820-49)

*****

To the Town Hall to listen to a talk by the local History Society on the Beauchamp family, early entrepreneours in the local coal mining industry. There were about 100 people in the audience, filling the town hall. Locals will always turn out for something historical reminding them of an earlier part of their life.

Basically, the Beauchamp family took over most of the collieries in the area which they managed with varying degrees of efficiency. This is a coalmining town and it is quite common during a talk for someone to recall that their grandfather was a miner who worked in the early years of the 20th century, how bad the conditions were etc. The dynasty died out with the nationalisation of coal and the formation of the National Coal Board. The family line were reduced penury after spending most of their fortune unwisely as opposed reinvesting the company. Money can be like alcohol, it can definitely befuddle your judgement.

Love comes in many shapes and sizes

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Find something to celebrate in your differences“. I love the conciliatory mindset that is implied. I just heard the quote on TWR radio and this stimulates me to write today’s diary….

I find the word ‘love’ as it is currently used to be virtually meaningless. I don’t even want to talk about the American version pronounced ‘lerve’ which is a scattering of momentary attention which is as likely to be manipulative as it is to be altruistic. We talk about falling in love, being in love perhaps with ourselves, “just loving” the moment. It is a catchall word casually thrown around. Cheap talk I could say.

For some clarity, we need to go back to the Greeks.There are at least six different types of love according to the Greeks.

The first type as defined by the Greeks was Eros or sexual passion. The Greeks didn’t always think of it as something positive, as we tend to do today. In fact, Eros was viewed as a dangerous, fiery, and irrational form of love that could take hold of you and possess you.
The second type of love was Philia, or deep friendship, which the Greeks valued far more than the base sexuality of Eros. This was about showing loyalty to your friends, sacrificing for them, as well as sharing your emotions with them.
The third type of love was Ludus, or playful love, which referred to the affection between children or young lovers. We could call it flirting.
The fourth type of love was Agape, or love for everybody. Unfortunately, this type of love is declining to a marked extent and we urgently need to revive our capacity or will to care about strangers.
The fifth type of love is Pragma, which is the deep understanding that develops between long married couples. This is also about making compromises to help the relationship work overtime.
These six type of love is Philautia, which is a love of oneself. This was an unhealthy variety associated with narcissism where people become self obsessed with themselves and their career; the second version enhances our wider capacity to love.
Another Greek word for love is frater, which is brotherly love

I would think it virtually impossible for a couple to exhibit all these types of love with the same degree of freedom. I am often reminded of clients who say “he loves me in his own way” and I think this is a reflection of the multifarious ways of loving and caring for people.

It intrigues me that in a partnership the types of love that people manifest are different. The question is are these differences complimentary? all I can say is the happiest people I’ve known are those who manifest all the types of love if not with their partner then with the community at large. As someone said to me once, ‘you don’t have to like them to love them’ and there is such a thing as doing your duty to mankind with people who are not particularly pleasant but you do it anyway.

In all relationships we need a little bit of faith. I love the quote shown on the left. I think we need to aim to be well rounded human beings, not obsessed by one thing or the other. I know this is easier said than done but it is certainly something we can aspire to in this unsettling age. I personally think that without a good dollop of agape in a relationship with its overview of the whole,  it is doomed to mediocrity. In these circumstances the couple would take refuge in consumerism and extremism.

In my own work with relationship counselling over the past 40 years I find that people punish themselves too much when the failure has been in the situation. The people involved have often been quite pleasant and positive but the hoped for gelling did not happen. If anyone would like some help even a second opinion then see my website.

Two worlds – how to interview for a job

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So far as these three fashionable young ladies are concerned, the man sitting on the steps does not exist. If you had told them that there was someone sitting on their right they could not have described him. Even if they had looked directly at him, they would not have seen him. However, the picture is deceptive. These three young ladies may live in worlds of their own. It would be most unlikely if they were identical in their thinking, their aims and their ambitions although in this picture they are united by their desire to impress.

It is questionable whether there are any two people on this planet who have the same goals for the same reason within the same timescale in the same culture. To benefit from the richness of human beings around us, we need to broaden our vision or not allow it to become constricted. I am not impressed when I hear that someone is single-minded, that sounds very left brain to me. I am impressed when I hear someone is focused. Looking at the man to the left, we see his condition as it is now or think we can see it. We do not know his history and what he has contributed to his fellow men. See my previous comment on homeless people.

In order to have a wide field of view, we need to be free from all insecurity. Other people have a horrible habit of mirroring what we are trying to avoid facing in ourselves and the more that there is, the less likely we are to view people from a neutral point of view and learn how to interact with them to the benefit of both parties.

*****

Last night, I watched a film on people being interviewed for jobs. It was quite amazing how some candidates did not do research into the firm that they were joining, in this case Hilton hotels because if you want to the associated with an industry in any way you have to show beforehand that you are familiar with its workings. Each interviewee was asked to say what the initials H I L T O N  meant, with regard to the company mission statement. The answer was H for hospitality, I for integrity, L for leadership T for teamwork O for ownership and N for now.  The person who got the job was the person who named all six. If candidates are not prepared to do their homework then why do they bother turning up because they will be spotted in 5 minutes. This is a competitive age and the company is reputable so they can afford  to choose.

The other interview was for a design position in a women’s wear company. Again the lady who got the job as junior designer had taken the trouble to study the company and she also prepared a portfolio of designs. Interviewees should remember that if you make life easier for the interviewers by preparing yourself, answering the questions, and not giving your life history which may be full of irrelevancies, you’re more likely to get the job. Arrogance and assumptions are not a good idea.  If you give the impression of being a know-all, the interviewer may think that you may not listen when it comes to being trained. Saying that you cannot answer a question saves time so they can move onto the next one. You’re not supposed to know everything about everything but have the right attitude of enthusiasm and show a desire to apply yourself.  Most of the training is on the job.

*****

Today Sunday, the temperature has shot up about 10°, the sky is blue and this is the time to go for an afternoon walk along the abandoned railway tracks which linked Midsomer Norton and Frome. We were the only walkers and were able to enjoy the silence and were made aware of the variety of birdsong as they prepared to make their nests.

50 years of deterioration
I waterlogged field with the sun shining through the pool of water

I saw this under a railway bridge; it has to be the most confusing sign imaginable, perhaps a never-ending chain of command. Nobody wins here.

I never know whether people take their dog for a walk on whether the dog takes them for a walk. I suspect it’s a bit of both. We had our share of lively dogs checking us up by sniffing and being so excited about the amazing variety of smells available in a post-snow situation. I suppose the odours are more distinctive because they are uncontaminated by for example petrol fumes. We met a man whose dog only walks towards him when he is facing the dog. When he turns round, the dog stops. Another man was endlessly calling his dog to come out of the railway cutting to absolutely no avail. He had to get off his bike and walk down 45° slope to persuade the dog to take any notice at all. I thought the dog was just having fun.

*****

I just heard that the YouTube channel Natural News run by Mike,  a colleague has been terminated by the management, wiping out 1700 videos and more than 350,000 followers. Mike says “while they gladly host murder videos, animal cruelty videos and videos that demand the killing of police, they’ve wiped out all my videos on farm donkeys, chickens, and home gardening. This all happened immediately after I posted an article exposing Youtube’s assault on your ability to think for yourself”.

This sounds very much like commonest China to me. If you have a valuable video that you like to watch on this platform especially if it contains contentious material you might want to download it as soon as possible.

So you think this conspiracy theory stuff is all nonsense do you?

 

The Silent landscape of Finland

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Our allotments in the winter. On the right you see clear ground where the snow did not touch and on the left you have drifts up to 24 inches

I remember a few years ago being in Finland about 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle amidst the snow. It was so quiet, you could almost hear your own heartbeat. I found that it massively increased my sensitivity which is normally fairly high and I became sensitive to the sound of dripping water, the crack of a twig 50 m away, the cry of a bird high up in the sky.

This memory came back to me when I visited my allotment today. Animal tracks were all over the place and one plot holder had visited his shed a few hours earlier. The point is that it was quiet but more than quiet I can say silent. I realise how much noise we are forced to tolerate every day or have to put up with so that we are not shocked by for example the toot of a car horn or the sirens of a police car or 50 cycle mains hum of the fact that her mobile phone may go off. We have to be in a permanent state of alert in order to protect ourselves both physically and from the possibility of shock emotional or otherwise

I can understand why people want to take refuge from the world and live on their own. When I was in Finland amidst all the snow, far from feeling alone or lonely, I felt at one with the universe. I entered into a realm of timelessness. No, I did not see the Northern Lights but the stars shone amazingly brightly, thousands upon thousands of them.

The poet William Blake was undoubtedly a visionary and I’m reminded of his poem which included the verse

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wildflower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour

people may not know the next couple of lines

A robin redbreast in the cage
Puts all heaven in a rage”

It is very important that poems are read aloud in public. It is important not only that they are read but where they are read. If this poem had been read to me when I was standing outside in the snow in Finland it would have had an even bigger effect than it had on me when I was first exposed to it.

*****

In Midsomer Norton today there was a certain buzz as people took advantage of the last of the snow before it melted. People were walking along the road in the slush pulling their snowboards, laughing and talking and in general displaying the festive spirit. Most of the shops were closed. The British are supposed to be rather reserved but today I didn’t see anything of that. I don’t think it takes much for people to start talking to each other. It can be such a thing as a downpour of rain, a road accident, waiting a long time for the bus, and then people chat away as if they have known the complete stranger in front of them for years.

*****

The lady herself

Today, I had a new enquiry for a plot on my allotments. She has an interesting surname of  Smrckova which is originally Czechoslovakian. The surname rang a bell. I remember seeing a programme on TV about a glasswork village so with a little research found what I was looking for, the work by Ludvika Smrckova 1923-1983. I wrote back to the Inquirer asking her if she was related to this family. She said she was not aware of it but would ask her grandmother.
The applicant told me that she used to have a big garden with some fruit trees and plants and she grew all sorts of root vegetables, pumpkins and tomatoes. She has spent the last 24 years in the garden nearly every day and she really misses it because she’s now in a house with a tiny garden without any chance of growing vegetables.

It is this type of person that I really want to help. Due to the greed of modern builders, they deliver postage stamp size gardens with little more than a few square metres of lawn, a nominal bed down one side, a small patio say 4 m x 2 m, and somewhere to hang the washing. This lady is obviously a victim of this but that is perhaps slightly too strong a word.

A strawman keeping an eye on the allotments

Today I watched a news special on the weather given by Channel Four. I noticed one thing that the interviewer just let the person speak and did not interrupt after the first few words. This is why I find the interviewing styles of the BBC for example so irritating. This is true both on radio and television. Count the number of times a person is interrupted when they are halfway through a point. If I ever get to be on television I will wait for the interruption to end and then continue on my original point until it is made. If the Powers that Be don’t like it – then tough.

The art of clearing snow

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a dog waiting for its owner
man and tool function as one

As with most things in life, there is more to this than meets the eye. I see people attacking snow as if it was an enemy and not part of the natural world. I see people racing to finish the job as quickly as possible as if it was some form of competition. As a result, they exhaust themselves. Have we ever seen videos or films of country people scything hay in the fields? Do we not see the rhythm, their unhurried nature and do we not see how much work is achieved. <idea bubble> Why not make the clearing of snow an art form?

Yours truly, having had his regular morning coffee dressed himself appropriately for a cutting east wind and subzero temperatures and started on the task in hand. Plan of action: I decided it was a waste of time to clear the pathways because more people have cars than not. The elderly were not going to come out anyway until the snow has disappeared. I decided to cut two tracks equivalent to the width of a car’s wheels. One of the most difficult things with no reference points is to cut a straight line which when you stand back looks more like a dog’s leg so each area was treated four times to the width of the snow shovel about 18 inches.

I can understand how people get lost in deserts and in the Antarctic and Arctic. There are no reference points. I imagine that it would be easy to walk round in circles thinking you were walking straight line. (makes mental note to take a compass with me when I’m next at these places)

I really thought I was taking a straight path

The first journey was just to ruffle the snow and give notice that it was going to be moved; the second journey was in the opposite direction to clear some of the material up. The third and fourth journeys were to progressively remove the more stubborn bits of ice.

Fortunately, the snow was powdery so therefore easy to shift. It is interesting to see how wind compacts snow because although I did 60 m there were no two lengths that were the same. It is either blown sideways, compacted down or somehow melted to the ground probably because some animal had stepped on it during the night and so on. I followed my own advice above and was very gentle with the snow, advising it that it was in the wrong place and inconveniently so. You can certainly tell your physical fitness working in such cold and lifting quite a heavy load of water in the form of ice.

all are uniqueAmazing that no two pieces of snow all the same. This inculcates a certain respect. I do not think I would have had quite that respect had I had to sit in my car on the M62 motorway for 13 hours or in the New Forest or indeed on the 5:15 PM from Waterloo which took a mere 11 hours to travel 35 miles. I had discussions with a couple of friends why these foolhardy travelers didn’t listen to the weather forecast. The consensus was that since the BBC for the purposes of self protection frequently exaggerate a storm or event, this worked against the whole country. We call it “crying wolf”. When it came to it, the public were philosophical and thought to themselves that they would “try” to get home or “thought” they would get to the office. We do live in a post-fact society and maybe this is just one of the features that we can expect. In Germany or Japan people are given orders they followed and without question, slightly less so in Germany I agree.

….A quick whip round of my cleaning efforts before night falls…..

*****

“We are immersed in an inner life of consumerism which is inimical to us, ramped up through an exposure to television and advertising”
Thus spoke a psychiatrist who was talking about the factors contributing to psychopathy. The topic of the film was a young man who strangled a schoolmate of the telling other people he was going to do it. After the event he talked about his childhood. He remembered a time when he had worked especially hard to get a good grade for a piece of schoolwork and actually got 8/10. When he returned home, his mother said that if he had worked harder he would have got more. His father stood up for him whereupon his mother went out, slammed the door, and told his father to get out of the house. You can imagine what effect that had on an eight-year-old.

I have discussed the topic of trauma in my previous diaries and in this film the psychiatrist thought that there need to be three conditions for psychological trauma; abuse, neglect and abandonment. He cited going to nursery at a very early stage as weakening the link between a child and its parents. The whole film was very interesting so take a look if you feel like it.  There is an implied question Are psychopaths born or are they made.  It is called “In the shadow of feeling”  42min 42secs