Film Festival 4 – Don’t go to court! – a nearly namesake

Sunday 6 November 1664

(Lord’s day). Up and with my wife to church. Dined at home. And I all the afternoon close at my office drawing up some proposals to present to the Committee for the Fishery to-morrow….

Surely, Pepys is a workaholic. However I don’t want accusations of ‘the pot calling the kettle black’, or ‘motes and beams’ do we.

In a structural way I have become more Godless – less observant of Sundays as being a special day –  in that I work pretty much 7 days a week. Because I enjoy it, I do not call it work. However I do refrain from turning on my computer Sunday morning though I more than make up for it in the evening if I can drag myself away from Country File. I’m a pretty hopeless but not hapless workaholic really.  Do you know the difference between these two words? Hapless is when you are a victim of circumstances, such as the hapless victim of a car accident. Hopeless is an entirely different kettle of fish. Its when you see no hope  of emerging from a situation. I am in hopeless debt. Even, I am hopelessly in love. I have a feeling of hopelessness about the future. I am hopeless about cooking.  Hapless is more a temporary attribute and more descriptive of a situation than anything else. It’s up to you if you feel hopeless about it or you could react in a hopeless fashion.


A very local piece of good news. Avid followers of my blog will recall that I offered to help a neighbour who did not care about his garden. What happens? I am passing when lo(ok) and behold, a miracle. The garden has been cleared, partly so far. This bone headed owner has actually taken notice and done something. I know my neighbour put a note in his door threatening action but in a nice way (if that is possible) by saying that the council could clear his garden but he would have to pay for it. The mention of money normally motivates people. I am glad this has not escalated.

Advice I was given many years ago was ‘avoid taking people to court if you possibly can’. If so you get put on some dreadful invisible treadmill subject to the whims and processes of anonymous people. It’s like being in a nightmare that you can never wake up from.  Avoid avoid avoid. Even if your pride is hurt, still avoid. Even if you have to go to mediation and risk meeting the offending party, still don’t. All those will pass quicker than the effect of a court case. The main winners are and always have been the lawyers.


Briana Snellgrove from Pensacola. Fl. currently 26 deg C – ENVY

So I very seldom go into twitter but did today as was looking for the female molestation debate at #metoo. I saw some very convincing footage of women beating up (on) stupid men in elevators. Anyway I looked for myself and who do I find – a nearly namesake Briana Snellgrove who is Proud Mamma, Happy Wife, Pensacola Native, Marketing Operations Manager, A Little Asian, A Lotta American. I have never heard of such a look-alike name. So an ‘a’ is all that differentiates us, but I bet her second name is not John. We Snellgroves are a special breed. There are more in Portsmouth UK than other regions for some reason. How’s that for a useless fact.


I was reflecting how little the newspapers can be trusted to report what is really going or is it a propaganda and brainwashing exercise. What do you think about this quote? Scroll down to the bottom and see who said it.

Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day. . . . I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors.”*

So, today’s film.

‘Sami Blood

Review: In common with many societies at the time, 1930s Sweden was gripped by racial theories on the inferiority of certain groups – in this case, the Sami (once better known as Laplanders). Like other indigenous peoples, they were subjected to all manner of degradation and forced to disown their language and customs. This is the plight of Elle Marja, our 14-year-old reindeer-herding protagonist, and writer/director Amanda Kernell captures the complexity of her predicament with exquisite empathy and understanding. A ‘beautiful, haunting film, anchored by a startlingly accomplished lead performance’ – The Washington Post. NB – contains flashing images.   IMDB review

Having been to Lapland about 5 times I am looking forward to this one.

A sobering film to remind us how minorities are treated. Around the turn of the last century the ordinary Swedish people believed that Laplanders had less brain and were regarded as animals. A very brave young lady tried to break the stereotype by requesting to be taught school in Uppsala but had to leave and return home due to lack of money. She was rejected by her own family but was given some means to continue her life and the film ends with her walking into the distance. All good films ask a question and this was no exception.  The dialogue was sparse to say the least but a gripping film and a good two hour’s worth.

Can we take another one. There was a good one about the upside of an African American Family living in USA. The cameras followed them for the best part of ten years. I could not take any more so went to the adjacent Wetherspoons for a very nice dish of Lamb Moussaka with salad and chips.

On the way out we saw another brainless USA product advertised esigned to further dumb down what is left of the intelligence of the average American.

making rebellion a virtue



*Thomas Jefferson, USA President writing in 1807.  They don’t make ’em like that any more.

Bath Film Festival 3 – being listened to

Saturday 5 November 1664

...and so with my wife to the Duke’s house to a play, “Macbeth,” a pretty good play, but admirably acted. Thence home; the coach being forced to go round by London Wall home, because of the bonefires...

None of your Health and Safety in those days then. Just watch out! Shakespeare’s play written in 1606 could as well be written for today’s politicians. The key to the main theme of the play is that excessive ambition will have terrible consequences.


Someone cancelled a garden job on the grounds that I might have an accident and she could not sleep for worrying. Never mind that I have given assurances and will not work alone. It was an awkward property in that all the tools had to be taken through the living room and up stairs but we have done worse. It was two doors away from the garden from hell, ibid. I was looking forward to it but – you win some, you lose some – is and always has been true.


And so to part 3 of our film odyssey. Today’s films are:

Dark River

Clio Barnard is widely considered one of our finest contemporary UK filmmakers, ‘the spiritual heir to social-realist master Ken Loach’ – CineVue. Set against a rugged Yorkshire backdrop, her new film stars Ruth Wilson as an itinerant sheep shearer returning to the family farm, bequeathed by her father (Sean Bean). She finds the farm run down by her brother, who undermines her at every turn as the troubled family’s history explodes into the present. This powerful family drama is a virtuoso piece of film making: ‘there’s scarcely room here for improvement at the level of craft or performance’ – Variety.
IMDB review

My review – irrespective of the details of who owns what in this down market sheep farm, the lesson is that a bad case of child abuse can remain with the victim all their life. The father of the victim had sex with her and then blamed his condition on her. Neither she or her brother could engage with each other normally. She because of her trauma and he because he could not summon up the courage – as the elder brother – do do anything against the father. Gritty and gripping.

Most Beautiful Island

‘A short, stressful, and utterly spellbinding debut that transforms the immigrant experience into the stuff of an early Polanski psychodrama’ from ‘a cinematic juggernaut in the making’ – IndieWire. Director Ana Asensio also stars as Luciana, a young Spanish woman fresh off the boat and trying to find her feet in Manhattan. Several demeaning jobs barely pay for her seedy, roach-infested apartment, so when a friend offers mysterious but lucrative employment, she jumps at it – and Asensio’s social drama begins to morph into something altogether darker and stranger. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s SXSW Film Festival.
IMDB review

My review: how easy is it to descend into chaos especially in a city such as New York. Live by the sword or get swallowed up. I will not spoil it for you but what would you do if you were a young girl offered $2000 cash for an evening’s work and no it is not prostitution or drugs. You will have to find out.  The whole was believable and as I have lived in NY NY I can confirm that it is authentic.

We are getting into quite a routine. I shall miss the festival when it finishes. The experience is not unlike Wimbledon tennis or the world cup not to mention the Olympics. I am a sucker for the big occasion.


No profound thoughts today. Last Sunday’s guest sent me a lovely text message saying how much she appreciated our hospitality. That was great but we were only doing what we normally do. We did not put on act or special show.  As my preacher of old said “The greatest gift to the world is to be yourself”.   Posers or actors need not apply.

On the topic of being listened to I feel there must be a way of creating environments where people are able to speak and feel listened to. Surely not rocket science.  More of that anon.


Addendum – Bath on a rainy night

Continued from Bath Film Festival 2 – We had some time to kill between the end of the first showing 19.30 and the start of the next film 21.00 so we went for  wander, camera in hand. We walked across town (10 minutes is all it takes) and photographed along the way. It was full moon and a clear sky. It was Sunday night so very few people were out in contrast to the crowds on the balmy night before. We may not get the perfect photograph with a common or garden mobile phone but the atmosphere is definitely caught.

a bridge with shops on (Ctrl and + repeatedly to enlarge)
patrons waiting to get into the comedy club. The full moon shines down the street.
end of the world scenario
surreal to see a deserted place usually frequented by groups of tourists.
shops for the well to do part 1
shops for the well to do Pt 2
ditto part 3
seductive colours
C’mon girls, let’s party
Expensive but you get more pile for your money than in London

Bath Film Festival 2- anxiety – web designers

Friday 4 November 1664

…Waked very betimes and lay long awake, my mind being so full of business.

How to stop worrying about things at night? The injunction ‘put it out of your mind’ is easier said than done. Maybe to read a good book or listen to some soothing music will divert the time. I reckon that trying not to think of something is doomed to failure. Eating or drinking before going to bed does not help the system to close down.  I cheat by listening to Radio5Live until I fall asleep.


Inspection of allotments today. We have five people who although they have paid their rental have not maintained their plots with the result that seeds get blown over everyone and germinate, as seeds do. We will have to read the riot act in a nice way, probably by giving a months notice unless something is done. However we phrase it, we will annoy them. If we do nothing, we will annoy the other tenants who maintain their plots to good standard. You cannot win but rules is rules. If I worried about making people feel uncomfortable I would never do anything with anyone.


This morning we prepared for a visit of a good friend from South Africa who was transferring her sales base from a high street art gallery in Bath to a virtual art gallery. We provided fresh pea soup with freshly baked bread, organic sausages and mash with home grown red cabbage, and a scrumptious orange pudding with double cream followed by buffalo cheese. She contributed a couple of fine bottles of rose wine and being South African I would have expected nothing less from her.

She talked about her new web site. I being me wanted to assist and see if I could spot any factor that would be inhibiting sales. I spotted a few points straight away to do with basic architecture and functionality or lack of it of links. As a web builder your job is to make it as easy as possible to go from casual glancing to purchase. Even one missing link means abandonment, a very expensive mistake for those hoping for sales.  I went through each page and made some ‘end user’ comments i.e. imagining if I was using the site how would I find it.  There was no stat counter so how could she know how many hits she was getting. I use which tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the origin and habits of your visitors. Google Analytics does the job but I don’t find it so friendly.

If you want to comment one someone else’s work only do so if your offer is accepted. Give your qualifications for doing so and don’t over claim. Say it is just your impression but had they thought of ……. Alas many professional web builders function in a semi-robotic manner and do not enter in the the spirit of the site. As a result it does not ‘buzz’.  Image quality is very important especially if selling fine art or promoting design. This bad habit is particularly common when the client knows little or nothing about web sites. The site needs to walk your talk and reflect the skill and understanding of the designer.


Off to Bath with no need to use park and ride as the parking is easier Sundays. Two films that I am looking forward to in particular.

Mountain is ‘one of the most visceral essay films ever made’ – The Hollywood Reporter. After the BAFTA-nominated film Sherpa, director Jennifer Peedom and specialist high-altitude cinematographer Renan Ozturk collaborate again. It takes a certain type to climb mountains – as the film observes – ‘half in love with themselves, half in love with oblivion.’ For the rest of us, Peedom’s documentary presents a unique chance to experience these majestic places. Composer Richard Tognetti (Master and Commander) conducts music written specially for the film, alongside works by Beethoven, Grieg and others. A granite-voiced and poetic Willem Dafoe narrates. 76 mins.

My review: seldom have I seen so many awesome images of mountain ranges, spectacular sun sets, individuals clinging to sheer rock faces with no support, lines of people being marshaled in order to ascend Everest. Extreme bike riders plunging off mountain tops only to be slowed by their parachutes.  There was a particularly stunning piece – a speeded up film of lava spewing out of a volcano and solidifying in a rolling tide-like formation.  Everyone was silent the whole way through.  The string quartet music was a trifle loud so I had to block my ears at one point.


This ‘is a movie about itself: the subjects are so warm and wonderful it’s a wise move’ – The Guardian. The amazing (almost 90-year-old) Agnès Varda has been an icon of French cinema for over 60 years. For this enchanting documentary she has teamed up with 34-year-old artist JR. This odd couple traverse rural France in a van resembling a giant camera, taking pictures of people and pasting giant prints onto local buildings. ‘A lovely addition to the long line of personal documentaries about French life at ground level that Agnès Varda has been making throughout her entire career’ – The Hollywood Reporter.  89 mins.

an arty crowd

We saw this in Cinema 2, an intimate venue with about 8 rows of seats and a large screen.  I love being with arty people. It makes an atmosphere were everyone can talk to each other. There is an appreciation of the abstract and the existential which is like a breath of fresh air.

My review: a delightful and vivacious 84 year old puts us all to shame who complain about ‘getting older’ I don’t know how to do justice to this film. Imagine you are living in a nondescript part of France and your block of houses is condemned. You refuse to move out. Among comes a stranger and offers to make a photo of

this is the van with a real printer inside (mut be either dyeline or high speed dot matrix A0 size

you. Then they make an enormous images of is and plaster it to the wall of your house. All the neighbours come round and admire it. The photograph has a huge power over the psychology. The woman is moved to tears (see image below).

the house owner is moved to tears

They crisscross the French countryside, finding unlikely subjects and places. They are a most unusual working partnership couple  but seem to get on very well and be united in creativity. The only tiff they had was when JP (Jean-Paul Beaujon) refused to take off his dark glasses when she wanted to see his eyes.

Agnes has a great sense of humour but one of her quotes was on a serious note which I could adopt for myself ‘Chance has been my greatest assistant’. I would slightly modify it and say that ‘synchronicity has been my greatest asset’ but that was my stick in the mind saying of the evening. By the way, IMDB reviews here.

On the way out I talked to the executive director of the Festival. She said that each seat cost £25 with an average seat price to the public of £8. That is why sponsorship was required.  They give half the receipts to the Odeon plus and office plus staff of one but still staff plus publicity (the brochure cost £3,500) plus getting the films. I was glad to have spent £140 for the two of us and was thinking of offering my services in some way. I am quite good at being a sounding board and asking the right questions.  To end here is a picture of a farmer on the wall of his building taken bootleg fashion whilst watching the film.


pictorial essay continued here

The Bath Film Festival

Thursday 3 November 1664

At noon to the ‘Change, and thence by appointment was met with Bagwell’s wife, and she followed me into Moorfields, and there into a drinking house, and all alone eat and drank together. I did there caress her, but though I did make some offer did not receive any compliance from her in what was bad, but very modestly she denied me, which I was glad to see and shall value her the better for it, and I hope never tempt her to any evil more

That’s my girl. We have had a lot of ‘anti-men’ propaganda by that master of perception control, the BBC. I just luuurve the way women always blame the man for their own lack of control. If you don’t want sex you close your legs. No contest.  Womens’ thighs are among the strongest muscles in the body because of what they have to do giving birth etc.  Compared with that power the male organ can make no progress except with consent. You can’t open your legs without knowing it, ladies. Don’t blame the man when you are 50% responsible.


Amazing how conversations can start unexpectedly. I was waiting for the 41 Park and Ride at Odd Down. Two ladies were also waiting and I picked up what I thought was a South African accent.  It was actually Rhodesian and she had lived in Australia for 10 years. We all sat in the front seat on the top of the bus – a relic of when we were children and regarded it as the best seat. It turned out she was she was an agricultural specialist who worked in Rhodesia with farmers, lectured in many countries & well versed in agriculture. Talk soon turned to Monsanto. She was a mine of information about the wickedness of this company (previously referred to in the diaries by me) and in the 10 minute journey to town, words flew between three of us in a wonderful kindred spirit way. Her friend was not so clued up and promised that she would look into it. Adrenalin flowing, we wished each other a good evening as we left the bus. What a lovely start to our evening.


I am addicted to Film Festivals because we can see a genre of film that is not available even in arts cinemas. The London one is too big for me to cope with. You pass sleepwalking figures who have seen three or four films a day. There are I forget up to 200 films in the BFI London event whereas in the current we have a mere 43 films over 11 days from which to choose. We chose 7 films. That meant laying out £140 but we were happy to do this to support the minority British film scene. We booked in very good time. So off we toddle to the Odeon, Bath where most of the films are being shown.

First up, ‘The Florida Project’.

madam and her daughter

The write up: “Sean Baker’s new film has been acclaimed as a surprising and original work of brilliance. With subject matter reminiscent of a Ken Loach drama – three children living below the poverty line in a grubby Florida motel run by Bobby (played excellently by Willem Dafoe) – and a healthy dose of American energy, this ‘shot of pure cinematic joy’ (Little White Lies) introduces us to three kids who are infused with excitement and belief in the limitless potential of their future lives. Baker’s previous film, Tangerine – screened at the festival in 2015 – was a minor sensation; his new one is a quantum leap forward.”

My comment: if this film was a quantum leap forward I dread to think what the previous film was like. I can cope with the F word so many times then it becomes offensive and monotonous. It was not a healthy dose of American energy but three feral children learning abuse and bad language from their dysfunctional mother. They were not infused with any potential. They went round causing chaos and damage. Willem Defoe was excellent but if I want to see other people lying and cheating I don’t have to go to a movie to do it. At 115 mins it was too long for my taste.

The film re enforced my loathing for all things American – the violence, the shallowness, the hypocrisy, the gap between rich and poor which is even greater than us in the UK. I had to leave the theatre about three times to get a breath of fresh air and found myself starting to get depressed or down hearted. After the film, a man sitting in the next seat said that the film should never even have been made. I sat outside and waited for Francoise to join me and we went for a walk up and down before going back into the same theatre to see the second offering. If you want to know what IMDB thought about it (the Bible of film criticism) then click here.

Number 2 film was “Ingrid Goes West”. The description “Ingrid Thorburn is an unhinged social media stalker with a history of confusing “likes” for meaningful relationships. Taylor Sloane is an Instagram-famous “influencer” whose perfectly curated, boho-chic lifestyle becomes Ingrid’s latest obsession. When Ingrid moves to LA and manages to insinuate herself into the social media star’s life, their relationship quickly goes from #BFF to #WTF.

Aubrey Christina Plaza (born June 26, 1984) is an American actress and comedian known for her deadpan style.

Now this was a lot of fun. This is a world ruled by Instagram. For me it was a warning not to lie or fantasize since one stage can lead to another on a slippery slope. At 98 minutes it was just right. The director was also the editor which explains the sharp cutting.

The actors were very well chosen and were really believable. For this reason I found myself glued to my seat so to speak. The story line drew me forwards. IMDB scored slightly lower than the above film . Goodness knows why as I found it superior in every way.

The Florida Project was described as a ‘gritty’ film. In my experience that normally means people behaving very badly. IMDB review and description of Ingrid Goes West is here.

The enlightening effect of the second film cancelled out the disappointment of the first. If you have never been to a film festival then take heart. It is fun. Everyone who comes becomes instant members of a social club. It is the  done thing – yes even for English people – to talk with anyone else and compare views.  All have a love of film so there are no class or age barriers.

Two down, six films to go.

On the way out, a glance at what is possibly the most fat inducing and unhealthy sweet counter ever. Which company conned their way on to poisoning young children in such a fashion.  No wonder there are so many overweight children who have to have their teeth removed.

Sugar bombs

And finally, another nudge towards trans-humanism. It’s coming folks.



Shepton Mallet Pt. 2 and an organic evening

See previous Shepton Mallet Pt. 1

You can tell a lot from the local notice board  Ctrl and + repeatedly for enlargement
more grinning people at a dentist surgery (uugh)
she is not showing off her teeth by any chance?
Nothing if not original
I can’t wait

If you know where to go, there is a flourishing community within this Aldi/Tesco town. There are two particular gems that I would like to draw your attention to.

My coffee shop  BA45AS

A lovely shop/community centre/cafe

We entered after some hesitation. It might as well have been part of the Viennese Cafe scene of the 19th century. We were greeted by the  enthusiastic Karen Mercer. Everyone was chatting. There is no better place to start your getting to know people if you have just moved in to the area. The products for sale are ‘fairly traded, eco-friendly and ethical’ but the coffee ain’t half good too. TripAdvisor reviews.

a living room setting is comfortable for all.
Tesco retro displays. Very early supermarket shelf. All products tested by the owner.
children’s wall?

We then went over the road to ‘The Hive’, a combination of a haberdashery, fabric centre and cafe. BA4 5AQ . TripAdvisor reviews.

Unusual but welcome workshop themes
Seasonal window display

Again this is a welcoming place not for food gourmets but for mums, friends to meet and chat over a coffee and cake. Light eats are available.Come along if you don’t know anybody and you can strike up a conversation with anyone who is there including the staff who are lovely people.


This evening, off to the Clutton Horticultural Society to hear a talk on organic gardens by a lady called Di Redfern.  This was a wide ranging and informative talk with many hints and tips – leave small holes for swallows to get in after their long trip from Africa – consider leaving dead and dying plants over the winter as eggs may have been laid on them and the seeds are valuable to birds. You do not feed the plants themselves, you feed the soil. the nutrition in the soil then feeds the plants. Comfrey leaves are rich in minerals because the roots go down deep and capture minerals that other plants cannot reach. Cut the leaves of the plants (they give about three ‘crops’ per year and put them in water. After a month the resulting bad smelling liquid makes a very good liquid fertilizer. Don’t underestimate beetles and insects and worms as they are part of the food chain. Make habitats for them for the winter. She described strimmers as ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and that if you are going to strimm hedgerows and verges make sure that all animals are out of the way. All life is interconnected.

Our worthy chair welcoming the speaker. There were 19 of us in the audience.

Although the talk was interesting, the same cannot be said of the speaker’s professionalism with regard to the photographs of plants. The projector was a manual one without a remote control and she had to coral a member of the audience to change the slides. Looking at the spec. on the Internet it does have a wired remote control but she did not seem to know how to use it.

Years since I have seen one of these

The quality of the images were very poor – they were old fashioned slides – and some of them seem to have been taken at dusk or at night. I figured that the macro lens of the camera if there was one was not switched on to auto-focus. The screen at the front of a fairly large hall was a 6′ x 6′ so we could hardly see the detail.  That did impair the visual enjoyment somewhat.
I am a detail person (polite term) but most of the others were blissfully unaware of these shortcomings.  She has been giving talks for the past x years so why not 1. get a decent camera 2. go to digital if you can 3. don’t rely on 5 year old slides.
I love coming out of a meeting into the cold night air knowing that I will step into a car and in a few minutes be at home in front of a warm fire. I tried photographing the moon but with a camera of a mobile phone, the auto focus does not know what to do so you get a blurred mess. Photography has its limits.

Shepton Mallet in words and a pictorial tour Pt. 1

Wednesday 2 November 1664

…Up betimes, and down with Mr. Castle to Redriffe, and there walked to Deptford to view a parcel of brave knees —[Knees of timber]— of his, which indeed are very good, and so back again home, I seeming very friendly to him, though I know him to be a rogue, and one that hates me with his heart.

Is Pepys being a hypocrite? Diplomacy does not imply lack of integrity. It means that if someone is in a negative state of mind you withdraw and let them sort out their situation in their own time. It is unlikely that words of admonition would change anything.


And now <fanfare of trumpets> a mostly pictorial guide of Shepton Mallet for those who have an interest in Somerset in general and  this town in particular or are thinking of living in it. Semi-detached average £221,616; terraced £170,651 and detached £272,328 (Nov 17)

This is a pictorial diary in chronological order of our visit.

Friday is market day
more detail
rules as they were in the 1950’s
cross building now
This cross was on the main road
I wonder how old this signage is
Stall holder trying not to be photographed
What can I say
healthy plants for sale

continued in Part 2,


For older people who are garden owners

Tuesday 1 November 1664

Up and to the office, where busy all the morning, at noon (my wife being invited to my Lady Sandwich’s) all alone dined at home upon a good goose with Mr. Wayth, discussing of business. Thence I to the Committee of the Fishery, and there we sat with several good discourses and some bad and simple ones, and with great disorder, and yet by the men of businesse of the towne. But my report in the business of the collections is mightily commended and will get me some reputation, and indeed is the only thing looks like a thing well done since we sat.

Then with Mr. Parham to the tavern, but I drank no wine, only he did give me another barrel of oysters, and he brought one Major Greene, an able fishmonger, and good discourse to my information. So home and late at business at my office. Then to supper and to bed.

Whatever you say about Pepys, he recognises the value of networking. Mind you, with no radio, TV or internet what choice did people have? I sometimes wonder if there was no technology the sense of community would be greater, though admittedly the overall efficiency would be much lower.


For some years now I have performed gardening work for the more senior section of the population so now is the time to summarize my advice and observations.

Where we live in Somerset it is more common for the husband to predecease the wife. A typical customer is a lady over 70, a widow, who finds that her garden is too much for her. ‘My husband used to do all that’. It is normal for the survivor, the person responsible for the garden, to have had a hip replacement, to have difficulty bending, to have heart problems, and for one reason or another not being able to perform garden operations.  I have lost count of the number of times a customer has apologized for not being able to do something as if it was their fault.

Meanwhile, the garden is deteriorating and becomes a source of embarrassment. It is good having Francoise (partner) with me when I see potential clients. She talks to them for at least 15 minutes, listening to their stories and explaining that it is part of getting older that you cannot do so much physical work. I found myself saying today to an older lady “Age is like the tide. It is coming in. Think of what you need to achieve then divide by two. Do what you can and enjoy it. If it ceases to be a pleasure then get someone to assist you”. If that does not work I say that one day I myself will become older and will need the same support as we are giving them.  That normally does the trick.

Older people feel vulnerable so I ask them what they want, then I tell them exactly what I propose then before I start the job I go over it all again and say that unless they are satisfied I will not accept payment. When the job is done I take them on a tour and tell them and show them what has been done and ask them if they are satisfied.

It is quite good to involve a daughter. Daughters are sometimes over protective so have to be charmed at an early stage. They need convincing that their mother is not going to be exploited and for this I do not blame them.

I find this sort of work very satisfying because older people do worry a lot (or is it general anxiety) and if you can show a substantial improvement, their joy is a sight to behold. It is also good to offer to return should they need you. The continuity gives security.

As  for how much to charge, this is always tricky. Some are well off and not concerned about the amount so long as the job is done and done well. Others who are living on a pension and have to watch every penny. I state a price but say that this is negotiable. I do not want to hurt their pride but you have to be adaptable. I do a bit of a Robin Hood act and subsidize the poor from the income of the more able payers.

There are few things better than being out on a sunny autumn day making a difference to someone’s life – and we get paid for it! Wonders never cease.


Working together rather than working alone

Monday 31 October 1664

So late to my office and there till past one in the morning making up my month’s accounts, and find that my expense this month in clothes has kept me from laying up anything; but I am no worse, but a little better than I was, which is 1205l., a great sum, the Lord be praised for it!

So home to bed, with my mind full of content therein, and vexed for my being so angry in bad words to my wife to-night, she not giving me a good account of her layings out to my mind to-night.

* For our non UK readers, this word is any item of movable property apart from freehold land such as furniture, domestic animals. It’s from Medieval Latin capitale: cattle

Poor old Elizabeth (Pepys’ long suffering wife). She has to be alert to all matters of the house whilst being treated little more than a chattel* for most of the time. She takes the brunt of any frustration that Pepys has, being the nearest available living object.


It is more fun working with others than working on your own. There are occasions when solitariness is required such as when doing a carving, or sorting out an intricate problem or puzzle. Man is a group animal and functions much more effectively when in harmony with others.
Today was the perfect day for  working on our allotment. We do not have heat of the sun (what’s that you may ask), we do not suffer from waterlogged soil, or from frozen ground as can be expected from December to March. William, who has a few days off work, has enthusiastically taken up his role as committee member and paces around the plots looking for how he can help the whole allotment be in a better condition. We joined in, covering an allotment with carpets to kill weeds and having a laugh and a joke at the same time.

The interchange of ideas while doing a job is always greater than for example talking to yourself. It may seem an obvious point but when others see the task from another point of view and with another experience set, they can give insight far quicker than a person working alone. In modern jargon it is called ‘pooling of resources’.

Sometimes a physical task requires more than one person, maybe only from time to time, but there is a temptation ‘not to bother’ other people and do it on your own, giving unnecessary stress to the body and possibly damage. You can do something ever so slightly wrong and have to repeat the task. This is much less likely if someone else is observing.

If it is physical and should there be an accident then someone is there to assist. When I had my fall back  a year ago there was no one there and I had to drag myself to my car and drive five miles to get home. Not fun.
Do not assume that others are too busy to assist. They may appreciate getting out of their house and into the fresh air, or change of environment. It is partly a social thing after all. We can all draw strength from each other provided the group is in harmony; we can say that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.


Dr Amy Frost

To a lecture by Dr. Amy Frost, the curator of the Museum of Bath Architecture on the development of styles from the Greeks on to the present day. A true intellectual who held the attention of the audience by her command of history and its trends. She is one of these people who could have gone on all evening but she timed her talk to the minute to finish in the allotted time.

I won’t attempt to summarize the talk. I was struck by her reminder of the three basis of design: structure, function(s) and beauty. Are they reconcilable?  Some designs are only complete when they are populated so that requires considerable imagination.  I recommend that visitors to Bath visit. It is a little out of the town centre – well, 10 minutes but worth asking directions. Do check the opening time before setting out. This ex Methodist church is  has been converted into a small but perfectly formed exhibition which is maintained by volunteers. The images below give only some idea of the facilities.

Dr Amy giving her talk – good to see a full house (well, it is Bath you know my dear)
Architect’s pens (Ctrl and +, repeatedly,  to magnify)
The Countess of Huntingdon
with whom you do not mess around
scale model of Bath
a reminder of the history of Bath area stone
good presentations


Bath has a good sprinkling of art galleries and in closing the work in the window of one gallery caught my attention.

no idea what the title is
Falling in Love

Being all things to all men

Sunday 30 October 1664

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Saturday 29 October 1664

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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


Friday 28 October 1664

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


the world’s quietest room

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The best things in life are free?

Thursday 27 October 1664

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

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


Today’s reflection:

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

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

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

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

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

Is watching TV worthwhile?

Wednesday 26 October 1664

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

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


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

how not to watch TV

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

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

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

and now to what we did watch.

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

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

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

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


Like father, like son — a group tipping point

Tuesday 25 October 1664

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

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

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


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

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

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

That’s my boy!


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

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

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


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



Timing is all – when trustees go bad – meetings

Monday 24 October 1664

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

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

not quite relevant but I like the thought.

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

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

Timing is all.


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

all I can say is “yes, yes, yes”


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

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

The genre of garden centres- Congresbury being one such

Sunday 23 October 1664

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

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

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


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

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

Conclusions and observations:

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

And so to supper, TV, and to bed.

Neither a lender or a borrower be

Saturday 22 October 1664

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Night night

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

Friday 21 October 1664

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

On that note

Good night.

Celebrating my namesake in Portland

Thursday 20 October 1664

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

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


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

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

The lighthouse

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


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

boiling sea
braving the elements
from the cliff edge

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

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

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


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

mysterious machine
any guesses anybody?

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


The man himself. He is there on Saturdays

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

unpretentious exterior don’t be fooled

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


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

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

There were some intriguing memorials in the grounds.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 19 October 1664

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A rainy day – buying books I will likely never read

Tuesday 18 October 1664

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

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


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

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

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

The Book Barn, Somerset

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

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

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

Night all

Another unexpected hug – Loving Vincent part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 17 October 1664

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

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


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

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


Trivial matters first.

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

depleted supplies – get there early

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


Edmund Burke 1729-1797

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

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

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

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

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

one of his most famous observations

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

read on (enlarge to read)
an engraving

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

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

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

Record purchase of film tickets – loneliness – being encouraged

Sunday 16 October 1664

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

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


Watch TV and all the wonderful red skyscapes of yesterday.

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

well done that designer

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

Saturday 15 October 1664

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

clear and informative. You get what you pay for.


through the front window of a coffee bar in Frome.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

the (un)lucky black cat
Halloween teddy

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

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

Friday 14 October 1664

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

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

but this is another fake photo – hey hey

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

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

It comes down to the famous scene in The Matrix.

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

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

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

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

Lady Gaga sans makeup and wig

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

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


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

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

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

You can’t win ’em all.


A decidedly incomplete 80th birthday celebration.

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

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

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

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

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

Pat talking to Francoise my other half

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

this descriptor greets you on entry

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

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

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

12. End Game, Oil on panel £2650

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


unique in the UK is Pulteney Weir

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

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

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

We have christened her ‘Henrietta’

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





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

Thursday 13 October 1664

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

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


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

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

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

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

part of the mental health exhibition

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

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

October in Georgian Bath

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Crowds love spectacle

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


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

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

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


News at night – overcoming mental illness via art

Wednesday 12 October 1664

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

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

The irrepressible Rico, part of the Radio5Live broadcasting team.

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

The mind boggles.

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

a truly miscellaneous collection of items

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

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

the inspiration for my choice of object

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

plastic rope and not beautiful

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

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

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

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


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

From Engineering – Isobel Thrilling (a very prolific poet)

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

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

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

see text for explanation

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

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

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

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

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

whole collage
that’s all, folks

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

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

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

..and so to the bus and home.