Toilet twinning (yes really) – a headless person – Send a cow charity

Sunday 18 September 1664

(Lord’s day). Up and to church all of us. At noon comes Anthony and W. Joyce (their wives being in the country with my father) and dined with me very merry as I can be in such company. After dinner walked to Westminster (tiring them by the way, and so left them, Anthony in Cheapside and the other in the Strand), and there spent all the afternoon in the Cloysters as I had agreed with Jane Welsh, but she came not, which vexed me ….

There are few things worse than waiting for someone who does not turn up (show up, rock up, pitch up depending on the slang in your country). Vex is a word not used much these days except in connection with litigation – ‘vexatious’ means picking on trivial points and using them as an excuse not to take notice of the major matter in hand. I can be ‘vexed’ by flu symptoms when I get aches and pains, or ‘vexed’ by the behavior of someone who lets me down as in Pepys case above, or being ‘vexed’ by a difficult crossword puzzle. There is no point in using a word that few understand but is that an excuse for not using the word at all. People can ask if they don’t understand.



The word ‘carceral’ was searched for when journalist Sarah Jaffe used the word in a tweet which drew widespread attention. It means “of, our relating to, or suggesting a jail or prison”.


view from the servery. We get about 60 people every Tuesday

Off to do my monthly duty serving in the kitchens at the local Midsomer Methodist Church. The ladies do the cooking and us men do the pot cleaning and anything else that needs doing. We get fed for our pains and the old people who come enjoy the social side as well as the food. Again I make the point. There is always a jolly atmosphere among us volunteers, teasing and joking etc and it is a pleasure. I could not do it for a full day though so hats off to volunteers who work full time say in charity shops.

And now for more photos. Keep your eyes open and try not to do ‘tunnel vision’ because you miss so much. Have you EVER seen an award for a twinned toilet. Towns are OK but toilets?  “Flush away poverty” is their slogan. It even has its own web site.

This is a ‘first’ for me. Who came up with this bright idea. Clever though.
Strange choice of name but a good idea.
drinking milk not sugary poison. Yes!
just before I could make the picture he put his hand up but otherwise it looked really spooky.

Evening – off to a talk by a scientist on LED light under the umbrella of the Radstock Scientific group. I got into trouble for taking issue with the speaker on the validity of his statistics. I understand that sometimes you rely on the same old PowerPoint collection. He evoked my wrath because his stats were last updated in 2012 and were given in US dollars. They were therefore unreliable. For the dollars he gave the excuse that American stats are easier to find. When I heard that I gave up. Then I wanted to say but did not – if US figures were easier to find is it so difficult to update them. Five years is a long time in science, as Harold Wilson (previous PM) would have observed.

The woman next to me, who turned out to be the secretary, hissed at me that she would give me my money back. She said she was embarrassed by my behaviour. I did not bother to respond that I myself was embarrassed by the lax standards of the lecturer who also apparently had never heard of either a laser pointer or a remote control for the slide changing. He did make one mitigating point that certain wavelengths of light killed certain bacteria and I told him that this contained exciting possibilities for biology and possibly healing. He responded by relaying information about the use of light to inhibit growth or the ripening of fruit. So much for communication then.

A large whiskey later and I was on my way.


We are undertaking a journey shortly for which I have to purchase tickets. I pride myself on attempting to outwit the complex algorithms used by travel companies to maximise income. The absolute worst thing you can do is to turn up on the day. You will pay the maximum price. One-way plane tickets home to UK from Europe and beyond can be £500+ as recent clients of Ryanair have found to their cost. Point to point distance itself is not the key factor; it is the perceived urgency of travel for which you get hammered.

We do coaches wherever possible. We also use discount cards which give a third off the fare and can pay for themselves in one journey. A single journey by coach to London from Bath is £23 when bought same day but £5 when bought 2 weeks in advance. I got two return tickets involving two coaches to and from an airport for £43.67. Same day it would be about £110. Point made?



No-Dig gardening – Wayne Rooney – Iris tubers

Saturday 17 September 1664

Up and to the office, where Mr. Coventry very angry to see things go so coldly as they do, and I must needs say it makes me fearful every day of having some change of the office, and the truth is, I am of late a little guilty of being remiss myself of what I used to be, but I hope I shall come to my old pass again, my family being now settled again.

No harm in admitting a short-fall, though Pepys gives the excuse that his family affairs have  been bothering him.

A busy day today. Ryanair have shot themselves in the foot by inconveniencing 400,000 passengers through suddenly deciding that pilots must have holidays. I feel for those stranded abroad having to pay lots of money for a single fare to Blighty (war slang for UK)

I called the firm that supplied me with a hedge cutter. They sent me the wrong replacement part. I took great pains not to seem to be blaming the customer advisor but – good tactic this – got them to read their notes about my case. I was discussing ‘the situation’ not a person and said “is it me going mad or you” to which she replied “probably us”. We ended with a laugh and a promise that a new part would be on its way today Monday.

you have to hack at them with a spade or pick axe to cut them out of the ground.

To my gardening job, digging a seemly small and innocuous bed 5m x1m but what did I discover. There was a whole tuber system of the iris flowers, innocently sticking their fronds into the breeze. The systems were solid ‘bombs’ going down about a foot into the ground. Anyway, I eventually made an impression but sweated a lot on this a scarcely warm morning. The customer asked how long I had been gardening. I said since the age of 20 (actually it was 14) so it must be 59 years. She said I should retire. I replied that I would be bored out of my mind.


To Francoise to pick her up from her work with AgeUK. I met a musician there who had been entertaining the old people. He is called Chris who has recently moved to Glastonbury. I said this was a good opportunity to try out new numbers. He thought it would take some time to adapt to Glastonbury from previously living in Peasedown St. John (locals will nod knowingly at this). I said it was a matter of wavelength. If you are on the same mental and spiritual wavelength a so called stranger could become a friend in a very short time.


The main event of the afternoon was a trip to see one of the most famous ‘No Dig’ gardeners and producers of food in the UK, Charles Dowding. His garden is similar to what I imagine paradise would be like (I hope they have gardens up there if I ever make it). He has numerous YouTube videos so just type his name in.

He grows two crops a year and the soil is completely without weeds. Even couch grass can be smothered. Here are some images.

general view
not sure what these were
not quite as romantic. £1. I cant give mine away.

My left knee is really hurting. It could be an early stage of osteoarthritis but more like some inflammation and muscle tension. F has prepared some almond oil with sage and rosemary essential oils and has given a massage.

Wayne Rooney got 2 years driving ban for being, well, drunk. Pity he goes silly when big breasted women approach him. Maybe he has not had time to develop as a person what with all the fame at such a young age.

And so, as Pepys would say, to bed.




Pepys and a contemporary diarist John Evelyn

Friday 16 September 1664

There is no way of summarizing today’s diary entry which is long and varied.  A debtor Sir W Warren gives Pepys L100 (pounds) in a local tavern, the Sun, situated at the rear of the Royal Exchange. Sir Warren was careful to be discrete with his transaction. Pepys takes a carriage home to celebrate and as an extra security precaution. Later on in the entry he writes that “In Russia it was said the poor people get into their owns, being heated, and there lie“.   The mind boggles.


The phone goes, slightly unexpectedly, at 10.30 this morning Sunday. A very Somerset voice says “are you the people that clear rubbish?”. Mindful of the Sabbath I said slightly frostily ” Yes I am but it is also Sunday morning” i.e. why re you calling me on a rest day morning. He was quite UN-phased by this and replied “Oh no I am all right with Sundays. I realised that my subtle sarcasm was lost on him. He said ” do you take away old sheds then?”. I decided for reasons best known to myself “no, sorry I cannot help you”.
If I recall, no one who has made initial contact on a Sunday has ever resulted in a job.


John Evelyn 1620-1706

Pepys was not the only diarist of his day. Credit must go to John Evelyn, born in 1620 in his family home Wotton House,  Surrey, three miles from Dorking. I find his style slightly more poetic and I assume his life style permitted him to write at any time of  day unlike our hard working employed Pepys.  He had the time to produce eight children. He is obviously a God fearing Catholic of style and substance. Many of his copious works lie in the British Library, his diary included. Evelyn’s grave lies in the church of St John in Wotton

From a review “Pepys was earthy and shrewd, while Evelyn was a genteel aesthete, but both were drawn to intellectual pursuits. Brought together by their work to alleviate the plight of sailors caught up in the Dutch wars, they shared an inexhaustible curiosity for life and for the exotic. Willes explores their mutual interests-diary-keeping, science, travel, and a love of books-and their divergent enthusiasms, Pepys for theater and music, Evelyn for horticulture and garden design”.

How to involve children – The Priston Festival

Thursday 15 September 1664

… and after dinner many people came in and kept me all the afternoon, among other the Master and Wardens of Chyrurgeon’s Hall, who staid arguing their cause with me; I did give them the best answer I could, and after their being two hours with me parted…

No faxes or E-mails in those days. People have to argue their case in person. Maybe a good thing.


This morning I went to our Men’s Christian group. Same old faces alas. No younger man seems to be able to identify with the need to show up especially with our demographic profile in Midsomer Norton  (old miners, widows of same, manual workers, people on minimum wage, commuters to Bath and Bristol). The topic was on the role of crying and emotion using various illustrations from Biblical texts. I shall revert to that at a later date.


I visited a gardening client today who is stuck in a big house on her own, is just recovering from her latest fall this time from the toilet, admits to being very lonely living alone but cannot bring herself to move house nearer her friends where she can receive support. For the last year she has been talking of moving but cannot bring herself to do it, largely because of her memories of the old house and the thought of moving and what could go wrong. We have advised her many times to move to no avail.


The main event of the day was the Priston Festival held annually in mid September over a three day weekend.

Puppeteers from Poland

The puppets arrived and I thought there was going to be a Punch and Judy type show  but no, the puppets were bought along solely to encourage the children to pay with them, and play they did. I keep on forgetting how much imagination children do have and how little it takes to involve them.

waiting in the wings to be played with
no question the children are absorbed
very good quality of mannequins
very realistic figures
so on we go to the children’s area as such
a brace of electric bikes on the way
a magician performs
togetherness and joy in the eating area behind the pub
impressive home made cakes – no chemicals here
unknown but enthusiastic artists and performers
Priston Church with a golden cockerel performing weather vane duties.
there is something about this area that produces wonderful apples.
Finally the famous all amateur  Fantasy Orchestra
rear view of the Sousaphone?
well done, organiser (flowery hat)
If you are thinking of moving to this area a) be prepared to pay a lot for a decent house b) there is no public transport to speak of


Getting the sack Pepys style; no-dig gardening; blackberry picking

Wednesday 14 September 1664

Up, and wanting some things that should be laid ready for my dressing myself I was angry, and one thing after another made my wife give Besse warning to be gone, which the jade, whether out of fear or ill-nature or simplicity I know not, but she took it and asked leave to go forth to look a place, and did, which vexed me to the heart, she being as good a natured wench as ever we shall have, but only forgetful.

None of this nonsense about giving seven days notice then.


Night radio. Radio Five Live keeps me going through the nights as I seldom sleep through. The bedside radio is always on, earphones plugged in. The night programmes are more laid  back than the daytime ones with many callers adding their 2p worth by phone or by text, not to mention Facebook or Twitter.  Early this morning there was an astronomer who interestingly told us that there is no subject more interesting to children than planets and space in general. He said that as a teacher no class was attended by more questions and more curiosity.
Another slot – was it from 2AM to 3AM – concerned all aspects of horticulture. A caller complained that badgers (a protected species) dug up his lawn regularly to feast on the grubs under the grass. Another caller responded by saying an old man had recommended to leave a radio in a plastic bag at night with a talk programme on. Badgers do not like conversations and keep away. I found that funny, but the sleeping form next to me would not have appreciated that tale so I have to keep it to myself until the morning.


Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending”   Maria Robinson (Author)
I am attracted to the gentle and ‘reconciliatory to self’ tone of this quote. There is no judgement implied. Most of us are far too severe with our own psychology, chiding ourselves on things we did not or could not achieve maybe following reasoning that may have been spurious. The quote is quite pragmatic and does not promise the reader the Garden of Eden, rather making a point about human nature.


Talking of sacking (not sackcloth and ashes*), we have sackfuls of potatoes stored in our kitchen (nowhere else to put them) and I noticed a smell. We opened them up and laid them n the ground. Some tubers nearly crawled out. An infested tuber can rot in a few days and spreads the stink of decay to its neighbours. All stored potatoes should be regularly inspected.

  • Sackcloth and ashes were used in Old Testament times as a symbol of debasement, mourning, and/or repentance. Someone wanting to show his repentant heart would often wear sackcloth, sit in ashes, and put ashes on top of his head. Sackcloth was a coarse material usually made of black goat’s hair, making it quite uncomfortable to wear. The ashes signified desolation and ruin. Reference


I was introduced to the idea of No-dig gardens years ago but thought little of it. Yesterday one of our allotmenteers drew my attention to Charles Dowding, an enthusiast and educator of many years standing. I am watching his video as I type. Definitely worth a look for anyone even mildly interested in gardening. I wrote off to him straight away, trusting my intuition as usual, and got a speedy reply inviting us around to his garden in South Somerset. We have an appointment next Monday 18th September.


Francoise wanted to go blackberry picking so I tagged along carrying a litter picker which is ideal for reaching blackberries just too far to stretch to. We like the old railway track cum cycle path from Radstock to Frome. During the weekdays there are not too many cyclists or runners. Cyclists tend to ride swiftly and many do not have bells so you have to keep your ears open because a step sideways at the wrong time could lead to a painful accident.

Francoise focusing on serious business
This tool reaches the parts that other beers cannot reach (Guinness ad?)
old rail tracks make me very nostalgic. I can still remember the smell of steam
a wagon caught in time
bogeys, detail
you can see the rain falling and track its progress
Incomprehensible logo – what on earth are these 12 hands doing under a bridge?


Off to the Old Down Inn, our favorite local watering hole. Like most establishments there are always new clientele popping in, most of whom are happy to exchange a word or two. No two nights are the same.

In comes a well tanned man and his attractive wife who announced with glee that they had come back this very day from Rhodes in Greece. This was their 12th visit. They had stayed at the same place for the last 8 years. ‘At 10 am this morning it was 37 degrees’ was something we did not want to hear. I commented that they would not really arrive for a couple of days and they should enjoy the ‘bubble of sunshine’ while they could.  I had a lovely lamb moussaka plus a pint of my usual cider and vowed to have a go at increasing my range of cooking main dishes.

It is part of the protocol on arriving to greet the parrot who normally responds with a ‘hello’. He is 14 and can live until 46 so he will outlive me.
I would certainly disagree with this slogan but I agree that we should not take ourselves too seriously.
Anthony Michael Bourdain (born June 25, 1956) is an American chef, author, and television personality. A Bon Viveur I guess.

When we left at 8pm the sky was black, almost threatening. Oh dear, autumn and then winter are round the corner. We discussed the need to buy logs. I want HEAT, SUN, LONG DAYS.


Don’t push the river, it flows by itself

Tuesday 13 September 1664

…and after dinner to Fishmonger’s Hall, where we met the first time upon the Fishery Committee, and many good things discoursed of concerning making of farthings, which was proposed as a way of raising money for this business, and then that of lotterys,1 but with great confusion; but I hope we shall fall into greater order.

I love this phrase ‘fall into greater order’. In modern parlance we could say that we have done our part as human beings, now is the turn of time and the processes of thoughts taking root in the minds of others to bring about a result acceptable to all not to mention the mysterious twists and turns of providence of which most of us are unaware.

“Dont push the river” was the catch phrase of the 60’s and 70’s. The phrase is attributed to Fritz Perls (1893-1970) who was a noted German-born psychiatrist and psychotherapist of Jewish descent. The phrase was the guiding principle to his work.

…..if someone in a group were working on a dream in which he was afraid of a river, he might be told, “Become the river” and encouraged to stand up and move around the room like the river, to feel how the river flows by itself. “There are no rules in Gestalt, only awareness,” Fritz might tell him. Anything you fear or resist out in the world is part of you and inside you, and becoming aware of its presence and vitality will free you from pushing and move you into flowing. Background here

Yesterday I gave an intuitive reading to a lady that I had only recently met in which I unwittingly touched on all the most important parts of her life that were holding her back from experiencing the next chapter of her life. It is most exciting when this process starts up especially when the reader or intuitive ‘does not know what he or she is talking about’ but it all makes sense to the client.

I rang her this morning to warn her that she will have mixed feelings because so many buttons were pressed but encouraged her to let things slip into place. When you give a reading you should try not to become part of it and say it was ‘your reading’ but only words that you were inspired to say.

The patient should be let go and not contacted to inquire of the success of the process. A seed will grow when the conditions are right. Sometimes a patient will remember advice given years before and will only then act on it.  It is not the business of the therapist to ‘push the river’ of the patient and expect results to happen. If you repair a car and the owner drives away, it is not your responsibility for any dereliction or event save if it is due to your bad repair work.


And now, back to the allotment which I run in Midsomer Norton

watching over the slugs
a carrot that cannot decide which way to grow
a vibrant feta and carrot salad with flowers included.


A brief clip about the moronic nature of the American psychology. People are praising North Korea’s successful launch of a nuclear missile.

This clip is disgusting. It shows how the USA economy is dependent upon war. If there is no actual enemy, they invent one to keep the war show on the road. So many thousands of jobs depend on bombing and shooting innocent people.
USA depends on 1. wars without end, 2. drugs – pharmaceutics and drug drugs e.g. marijuana 3. debt of countries tied up to ‘loans’ which have all sorts of terms and conditions attached.

Images images images – look out for the unusual

Monday 12 September 1664

…Thence by coach to St. James’s, and there did our business as usual with the Duke; and saw him with great pleasure play with his little girle, —[Afterwards Queen Mary II.]— like an ordinary private father of a child….

As someone said to me, everyone sits on the loo. We tend to glorify those in the public eye and sometimes are cruel and judgemental to them, not realising that they are human as well. I do not include known psychopaths who run the planet but ordinary Joes doing what they are best at.


So after yesterday’s mammoth writing spree (which I enjoyed) today its the turn of images. When I am walking out I am ALWAYS on the alert for images and form. I do not know why. It is not an intellectual thing. Some sad souls could call it sad but for me it is part of life.  Formless is boring. Structure is interesting.  I was on my way to a friend in Bath when I saw this in a garden – just having been freshly cut down.

what a feast of historical information is contained here

Now folks did you know that many flowers are EDIBLE. These below are nasturtiums and we grow them in great clumps on our allotment. They are delicious when eaten and have a touch of pepper flavour. I can eat a couple of dozen at one sitting and feel refreshed. No chemicals No after effects this is health food directly from nature. Can we cope. Try guys it might benefit you in some way you never know.

don’t get paranoid about eating flowers but check google for ‘edible plants’ first.



WTC7 – the jet stream – Thomas Merton – Eye appt. – Horror film IT

Sunday 11 September 1664

(Lord’s day). Up and to church in the best manner I have gone a good while, that is to say, with my wife, and her woman, Mercer, along with us, and Tom, my boy, waiting on us. A dull sermon….This afternoon, it seems, Sir J. Minnes fell sicke at church, and going down the gallery stairs fell down dead, but came to himself again and is pretty well.

No point in panicking and calling 999. The best you could do was to summon the doctor.

Just got another E-mail from, another factual website. This time the video was about Building Seven made on behalf of a group of over 1,500 architects and engineers who are dissatisfied with the explanation given by the NIST report mainly because it did not even mention Building 7 . This one fell down of its own accord about 8 hours after WTC1 and WTC2 because it was tired. So typical of reinforced steel structures. The vid is only 15 minutes in length and for those of you new to the subject, it is a good intro.


For the first time this year I needed to wear socks in bed. A sunny morning with rain forecast (surprise surprise) for later this afternoon. If the jet stream moves south we can forget hot weather even during the summer, sad to say. This afternoon, to my eye appointment. My offending eye, the wet macular in the left eye, has been behaving well so hopefully I will avoid having another injection. I put up with them for the greater good. (search on ‘macular’ for full descriptions).


nice to see an Indian women getting respect.

Quite a story for the women’s libbers. World’s youngest woman commander of Boeing 777. She made history when she accompanied by an all female Air India crew flew across the globe on International Womens’ Day 2017


A very un-monkish picture

To my delight I have found another diarist, Thomas Merton (1915-1968)  who was an American Catholic writer, theologian and mystic. Born in France, he became a Trappist monk in the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky and was a poet, paradoxically a social activist, and a student of comparative religion.

His entry on June 16, 1961 reads “Sweet afternoon! Cool breezes and a clear sky! This day will not come again. The bulls lie under the tree in the corner of their field. Quiet afternoon! The blue hills, the day lilies in the wind. This day will not come again”.

As you may know the Trappist order has a tradition of silence. Here are some quotes.

“In silence God ceases to be an object and becomes an experience”

“When I am liberated by silence, when I am no longer involved in the measurement of life, but in the living of it, I can discover a form of prayer in which there is effectively no distraction. My whole life becomes a prayer. My whole silence is full of prayer. The world of silence in which I am immersed contributes to my prayer.

“Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence there would be no rhythm”.

Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say”


humans from the bird’s point of view

Royal United Hospital Bath has an excellent display of paintings and other works. I have been speaking about the principles of photography and this is another point to bear in mind. Let’s look at a scene from another participants point of view, in this case, a predatory bird.

I ate at Jimmy‘s in Bath as is my wont. It is opposite the bus station on the first floor (second floor if you are from the USA). It was slightly spoiled by groups of students from France and South Korea who came in with scant respect, more or less looting the food and leaving large amounts of waste. I had three courses – mushroom soup, mixed salad of very good quality and fish to die for cooked in oyster sauce with rice. The sweets tend to be bulked up with chemicals so I decided to have my sweet course at the RUH hospital (as one does).

custard and apple pie

Some of my food habits have been ingrained in me since I was young. Rice pudding, custard and …. apple pie are the supreme sweets for me. When at school I used to sit at the head of the lunch table to ensure I got maximum dollop of custard. At the age of 73, nothing has changed.


I had to wait about two hours for my injection. Alas there is some water in one of the layers of my left eye, and a small bleed. This morning someone had come in for a cataract operation (simple enough these days) and had reacted with panic to a local injection so they had to have a general anesthetic which has a time consuming protocol. This put everyone back starting at the latter end of the morning list. Nothing for it  but to be good humoured. Once again this is offered free on the NHS,  a procedure that would cost about £1200 a shot done privately. I remind anyone who complains of this fact and it usually shuts them up.

There is a waiting room which doubles as a therapy and mutual consoling space for everyone – first timers, experienced people, those who drive the patients to their appointment. It is always light hearted and fun. It is a bit like hitch hiking. People know you are not going to see them again so they don’t mind giving their personal stories and secrets. One woman was lamenting that when she came to clear out the effects of her departed mother the only thing she could not find was the family album which in those days was treasured unlike today when photos are common. She became quite emotional about it but in a hospital that is OK.

It is quite easy to find grumpy old men or should I say curmudgeonly people of a certain age in any waiting room facility. I was talking about the deterioration of the language and listing my pat hates of the phrases ‘jermain’ (do you know what I mean), I’m like uh (I feel things), sort of (my absolute pet hate – you either do something or you do not do something. How can you ‘sort of’ do it?). The latter sounds like a built in apologia. “To be, or sort of not to be. That is the question”

I eventually was called in at 4.30pm (2.45 appointment). Normally there are two people – the doctor who gives the injection and the assistant who prepares the eye. In this case there were three people – a nurse, a doctor and a dashing Spanish doctor who welcomed me with great panache and charm. They made the mistake of asking me what I was going to do that evening. I replied that I was going to see the horror film by Stephen King, IT. The nurse  said she had seen an earlier version at the age of 10 and had nightmares for days. I said that this was a new version and I would report back.

With this gay banter in the background, having a needle stuck in your eye is a sideshow.


an exciting meeting

And so I jump on the bus which handily stops right outside the Odeon Bath. I am starting to photograph people as previously mentioned. As its a public place I don’t think you need permission.  Here is a dazzlingly exciting meeting between two people who obviously have lots in common. .

There is something that puts me off about these huge machines that dispense tickets.

monstrous machines

I have enough machines to deal with in my life never mind ‘fast’ ones so I chose instead to talk to a real human being at the sweet and popcorn counter that doubles as a ticket sales point. I made a joke about the difference between ‘It’, the name of the film,  and I.T. which she actually understood and smiled – non robotically. Huge number of brownie points for that.

I entered Screen 3 to find one other person there for a 5.30 show. The film took $117.2m on its first weekend in the USA so I guess Odeon took a gamble and are showing the film 10 times daily for the moment. Big mistake in my view.

I’m going to take a deep breath now and write about the grossest and most appalling film that comes under the banner of ‘entertainment’ (AKA brainwashing) albeit in the horror genre. Now dear readers I know it was not written for my age group, but…..

Summary of the film

  1. Every 27 years an evil influence AKA a clown invades a nondescript town in the USA and steals children for his own insatiable pleasure.
  2. The film starts with a young boy floating a small boat along a rain drenches street gutter. It floats down a drain. The clown is somehow in the drain and catches the boat.
  3. the boy wants it back but reaches too far into the cover wherupon the clown suddenly sprouts a lot of teeth, bites off the left arm of the boy and pulls him down into the extensive drainage system of the town. … many gore scenes later
  4. a group of teenagers take on the clown and in the final scene discover that if they are not afraid of him, he cannot harm them.

You may call this a spoiler but really there is very little to spoil. If special effects are overdone including very loud music and bangs it is seen for what it is, shock for the sake of shock. It is not ‘frightening’ but numbing we can say or even laughable.

The 5 or 6 teenagers who rode their bicycles around the town in pursuit of the clown all had the nastiest and most bullying parents you could imagine. One father was showing almost sexual designs on his daughter. The use of the F*** word was so frequent it bought an ugliness to the whole especially with boys whose voices have not yet broken. There is something about hearing children indeed anyone swear that is so unlovely. To the gullible young mind this is in a way permission to emulate that behaviour. There were also many nasty teenagers who delighted in victimising their fellows who did not fit in (programming to fit in or be a reject).

To an American audience already dumbed down by the ‘education’ system, anti depressant drugs, vaccines, unceasing violence on TV, ditto video games, trash main stream media ‘news’ and junk food, this is just another ingredient contributing to the destruction of humanness that we were born with. Stephen King’s adapted story many have gone down well in USA but from the bored look on the faces of the leaving audience (increased to 8 during the ads before the film) I doubt if it will do so well here in the UK.

I forgot about the impact of the film as soon as I was out of the movie house – into yet another rain shower. I think it was far too gross to be creepy. On to the 40 minute bus ride home….. Tired workers ending their shifts, staring at nothing ahead of them. The odd eccentric unemployed and maybe unemployable person. A single mother with a tired child in tow. Someone with lots of shopping bags from Primark. A young girl flicking through hundreds of images of other people grinning or doing silly things. Someone slumped sideways in their seat, sound asleep. Excited youngsters making a noise at the back of the bus.

Back to a warm home and a meal.  At least I have a home to go back to. Those in Bangladesh, Houston, parts of Florida and the Caribbean are not so lucky.

Adaption vs compromise vs selling your soul to the devil

Saturday 10 September 1664

….Dined at home, and then my wife and I and Mercer to the Duke’s house, and there saw “The Rivalls,” which is no excellent play, but good acting in it; especially Gosnell comes and sings and dances finely, but, for all that, fell out of the key, so that the musique could not play to her afterwards, and so did Harris also go out of the tune to agree with her…..

This quote inspires me to talk about adaption and compromise see below

Today Monday 11th September is paradise for me. It is teaming with rain so no gardening, I have no appointments and I am alone. Silence. Great for creativity.

We watched a film last night about  group of young people who were the objects of an experiment. Could they cope with being on their own for five days and nights. They were duly shut in rooms with basic necessities and three objects of choice. Cameras were rolling and a qualified psychologist was in attendance. Strangely no one chose a book to take with them.  It took 3h 45m for the first young lady to crack, and 24h for the second of five people -a young bearded man – to press the panic button. We are so dependent on stimulus from others in the form of text messaging for example that it has become like a drug. The two decampers could not manage the detox involved. I would have loved it. Presumably they got paid for their time.

My own mind is like a 24/7 entertainment show. I don’t need external stimulus though it helps of course. Whether I could cope with months of solitary confinement is another question – probably not but I would have thought five days is a piece of cake.

After watching a vid. on tsunamis (Japanese, equivalent to tsu (harbour) and nami (wave) I viewed the amazing Swedish vlogger and blogger PewDiePie who has such a surreal sense of humour. He could become addictive had I nothing better to do but on second thoughts too many profanities for my liking. Just imagine – he earns his living from monetization. He has 57 million followers greater than any leader of a political party except maybe Putin and Trumpet.

Next up, a visit to one of the many brilliant alternative sites Wake Up World, this time on ‘Seven Suppressed Technologies that could have changed the World’.  Its a real heart breaker to read.

Stanley Meyer – inventor

One is about Stanley Meyer (1940-1998) who invented a car that ran on water. He was able to drive from New York to Los Angles on 22 gallons of water. He turned down an offer of a billion dollars to hand over the rights and patents and later was found dead under mysterious circumstances.

We would not have all this nonsense about carbon credits had this simple invention been allowed to eclipse the petroleum industry and its profits.

Most of you have heard the name Nicola Tesla. His goal was to improve the world through harness of the natural energies but after his death the CIA stole all his papers and set to work using the technology for other more nefarious purposes.

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) – Wardenclyffe Tower Project – Free Energy.

“Electric power is everywhere, present in unlimited quantities and can drive the world’s machinery without the need of coal, oil, gas or any other fuels.” — Nikola Tesla

Multi-talented Tesla cut across many disciplinary boundaries. His genius gave rise to a number of world-changing inventions. One of his most famous experiments/inventions was the Wardenclyffe Tower Project. It was Tesla’s attempt to provide everyone on the globe with free energy through harnessing electricity from the Earth’s ionosphere, by means of the towers. Without wires the towers could transmit the harnessed electricity to ground-level areas requiring it.

However, Tesla’s funding was stopped. His equipment and lab was burned down together with the related intellectual property because it posed a threat to undercutting the cost of the conventional electricity grid system. If Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Tower Project had been allowed to flourish and not be destroyed then today we could well be living in a utopia. Tesla died a poverty-stricken lonely and forgotten man in New York City.

Message – anyone who challenges the profits of the corporates be they in petroleum, pharmaceutical or power will be destroyed and probably killed. That’s the model of doing business in the USA. As Obama’s preacher once said ‘”God damn America”. Strong words from such a man. Did you know about ‘the’ sermon? It is too long to reproduce here so check it out.

Off to the allotment to find my carefully constructed runner bean row leaning at 45 degrees. Must be the resistance offered by the solid wall of leaves to fairly high winds, the aftermath of some hurricane or other trundling across the Atlantic. I pick a whole trug of them and return to base. Goodness knows what I am going to do with them. Freeze and eat I guess but they never taste the same.

Watched more videos – 9/11 will never go away. It was the biggest fake event with the possible exception of the Reichstag’s fire or Pearl Harbour but 9/11 beats the lot in terms of the application of technology. Just watched a good example vid. about wiring the buildings showing how explosives would have have been placed the previous weekend when by coincidence all video cameras were switched off. The video runs 18:53 so not long but very informative.

Cognitive dissonance prevents many people from believing that they have been conned all these years so The Powers That Be have an advantage here but strange isn’t it that 16 years after the event you can type in 9/11 to Google and get 6,470,000 returns. No controversy there then. As Joseph Goebbels said “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”.

So I was thinking about adaption ( =  able to adapt. First recorded in 1790-1800). We all need to adapt to survive and make life reasonably pleasant for each other…. A book is adapted to make is more digestible….A play is adapted to make it available within certain time constraints…. A sophisticated person should be able to adapt to many situations including meeting different types of people.

So, this word is 100% non-pejorative. It cannot be used to accuse anyone of anything, or in derogatory context.

Adapting is a common natural way for people to adapt to their environment. Joe Barton

the man himself delivering wisdom

The best mother is the mother who adapts, and the best children are the children who adapt as well. Juliette Binoche

The more you adapt, the more interesting you are. Martha Stewart

Coming on now to compromise. (from the Latin compromissum, a mutual agreement to accept the decision of an arbiter) Not such a squeaky clean word. There is a lot about tactics here. She compromised herself…. We are not prepared to compromise on safety…. Eventually they reached a compromise…. Sexism should be tackled without compromise.
We accept something slightly different from what we want because of circumstances or out of consideration of the wishes of other people.

Tolerance, compromise, understanding, acceptance, patience – I want those all to be very sharp tools in my shed. CeeLo Green

All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take. Mahatma Gandhi

Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got. Janis Joplin

We now enter different territory. There is a horrible problem with selling your soul. You cannot with ease buy it back again although you can try and mitigate the effects and consequences.

Judas Escariot accepted 30 pieces of silver (which sounded quite a bargain at the time) for revealing the identity of Jesus. He went against what he knew to be true for the sake of reward.

Doctor Faustus, a sinister magician and alchemist lived in Germany in the early 16th century. He offered the demon, Mephistopheles, his soul in exchange for 24 years in which he would

live in all voluptuousness
having the devil ‘ever attend’ to me
and give me whatsoever I shall ask.
To tell me whatsoever I demand.
To slay mine enemies,
and aid my friends
and always be obedient to my will.

Not asking much then but what happens after 24 years? Doctor Faustus thinks that ‘hell’s a fable’. Could be a big mistake on his part.

Here is a little sample from the Huffington Post about a Haitian lady called Carine Fabius who sold her soul to the devil. I find the description positively poetic.

Selling one’s soul isn’t something that happens once in a great while, when someone receives an extraordinary visitation from Satan himself, who comes to take advantage of some terrible mess that needs fixing. We may not realize it, but we sell our souls to the devil every day. Each time we undermine our principles — ka-ching! Whenever we lower our standards just a bar too low — ka-ching! Every time we smile instead of expressing how we really feel — ka-ching! Each time we look the other way — ka-ching! goes the cash register. And what about humiliation? Repeated acceptance of the big H — ka-ching! You know that catch phrase, “being in denial?” What do you think that really means? Ka-ching! Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

Fact is, we sell off little bits of our souls every day. And since the devil takes many shapes and identities, we’re like scam artists who sell the same piece of land to different people. Problem is they all come collecting eventually. Whether we sell off little chunks of our souls or big chunks, doesn’t matter. It’s always at the below wholesale price. No matter how good the deal seems, you never get your money’s worth.

So can we unsell ourselves? While we are alive we have free will so with sufficient contrition the answer has to be yes. Unfortunately this may be more difficult than we might imagine as the years of selling may have diminished our will power so much that we lose the desire to re-form.

did you see the film this actor was in?

Evening – had supper consisting of runner beans and a vegetarian burger plus a few cold potatoes.  Completely adequate. I am listening to my Number One philosopher Noam Chomsky, one of the last great thinkers unswayed by corporate interests. Noam, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Michael Eavis are my models supreme.




What is photography – the idiocy of selfies

Friday 9 September 1664

After a difficult dinner party Pepys relaxes with his wife and family ‘singing and fiddling’

..and so back again home, and there my wife and Mercer and Tom and I sat till eleven at night, singing and fiddling, and a great joy it is to see me master of so much pleasure in my house, that it is and will be still, I hope, a constant pleasure to me to be at home. The girle plays pretty well upon the harpsicon, but only ordinary tunes, but hath a good hand; sings a little, but hath a good voyce and eare. My boy, a brave boy, sings finely, and is the most pleasant boy at present, while his ignorant boy’s tricks last, that ever I saw…

I have just watched a photographic competition on the ARTS channel, one place where you are almost guaranteed to view material of quality and depth. The contestants had to go home and film themselves without any firm brief.

The person who won the stage photographed their family including their parents and drew something new out of their relationship by their juxtaposition with a rugged mountainous landscape and the use of lighting. The least popular with the judges was of a female who went to great lengths to expose her inner self but was caught out by the judges for still wishing to hide from the camera. Other unpopular ones were simply boring – not saying anything. One of the judges said ” if you try to please everyone you will please no one “.
My question is – what can an image add to what is obvious.

Sad. who is she going to show it to. Who will be impressed? Why not focus on the view?

I do not know if the selfie habit has peaked but like High Fives, where people slap each other’s palms maybe in a bonding attempt to celebrate the most medial of achievements, I find the taking of selfies idiotic. The word idiotic comes from the word idiot, from idios ‘one’s own’. I see it as self centredness – the id being the self. The word “idi” meant “be deaf”, reference ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs approx 3,200 year ago.

But hey Mr Diarist don’t take the world too seriously. How could curmudgeonly people like myself possibly understand anything.

So can we get a definition of what photograph is? How about seeing a particular aspect of the world with all its variations and capturing it in such a way that others get the point. The photo has to say something. We almost need to get the image more real than reality. We need to capture the moment that communicates humanity and emotion.

I like these quotes

  • “Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”
    Don McCullin
  • “It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”
    Paul Caponigro
  • “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
    Elliott Erwitt
  • “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

  • Dorothea Lange
  • “When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.”
  • Annie Leibovitz
  • “Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”
    Imogen Cunningham

I am not saying that selfies are bad, they are just vacuous. If you are so sad and empty you have to show that you were with some person or another, or at some place or another, what does that achieve? Why not actually look at what you are photographing and think about what it says to you. Point and shoot adds nothing irrespective of the subject matter.

For my own part I am not quite brave enough to shoot people in public places but expressions and body language are very telling and add enormously to the depth of what I am trying to say. We need to engage emotionally. There is a way of doing it which involves pointing the camera in the right direction but holding it at chest height not at eye height so people don’t feel so invaded.

As my diary goes on you will see a new trend of photographs involving people. Sometimes I want them to be part of a photograph as in the case of someone walking across the shot with an umbrella in the rain but they often being English hold back and even apologise. They are not invading my space they are involved in it and that’s great.

Watch this space

Such an unexpected afternoon of delights part two

See previous entries for today.

So, on in the pouring rain with lovely blue sky beyond. We stopped at Batcombe, which comes from Saxon and means ‘Bat’s Valley’.  Nearby is an iron age fort which possibly dates back to the Bronze Age.  We entered the porch to find a locked door, an empty church without even a sign of the Ride and Stride day advertised on the leaflet. We were subsequently told that bad attendance in previous years i.e. no one turning up, had dampened the enthusiasm of the volunteers somewhat. Totally understood.

Not to be deterred we started on what was to prove the most interesting part of our quest. We arrived at Upton Noble which has a beer festival once a year. The village itself has quite a history  which you can read about at your further leisure.

In the porch we were greeted by a lady reading a book. She explained that the church itself had to be locked due to building work, and this happened too late to tell the printers of the leaflet. Never mind. We chatted on and I soon detected having been married once to a German woman that she was speaking High German (Hochdeutsche Mundarten), one used by intellectuals and cultured people. She came from an area known as the Ruhrpot (Ruhrgebiet) and was practicing as a lawyer before moving to UK after many years living in various spots in the world with her husband.

Susanna Deverell now works as a relationship therapist having previously worked for Relate for many years. I find her website most refreshing and original, very much a breath of fresh air. Anyone who is remotely interested in therapies of any kind should visit the site for a model in creativity. She is ‘out of the box’ not reactively but pro-actively with plenty of pepper and salt. Love it.

She discussed how she does not take sides but helps people to move forward and self empower, possibly from an enhanced sense of self recognition and self worth.  I discussed my own work with chakras and dowsing and mentioned its analytic and catalytic value. Francoise my wife discussed her skill of EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique. We both discussed the rewards of inviting people into our home and the desire to do this professionally more often.

How to communicate abstract ideas with Somerset people who may be fixed in their ways or limited in their perspectives? I suggested that we base a lecture on story telling, a device used at our mother’s knee.

Church of St Mary Witham

Off again to our last church before the 4pm deadline, the Church of St . Mary, Witham Friary. This is a Grade 1 building, 1200   The french influences on this church were legion but mostly lost on me.  It was used by monks at the nearby Friary and has something to do with their being no separation between the nave and the altar.

close-up of Bell Tower

The learned historian who was attending did his best with our very general questions. We contented ourselves with buying an historical guide book and some marmalade. My wife loves home made marmalade and will never refuse a decent offer.

On the way we passed a pub called the Seymour Arms which looked old fashioned to put it mildly. It was here where we had the climactic experience of the afternoon, as if the previous encounters had been less than satisfying. It’s worth noting that “this pub has probably changed very little over the last fifty or so years. Built in the 1860’s as a hotel to serve the nearby Mid-Somerset GWR branch railway station, it was part of the Duke of Somerset’s estate. Sadly, in the 1960’s, Mr Beeching closed the station, and the hotel became a quiet country pub”. Err not exactly quiet as any loud conversation and laughter echos around the stone walls so much so that you have to shout to be heard during busy times.

A quote from Trip Advisor

“This is a pub where time has stood still. We went in search of Somerset Cider and were recommended this pub….There is no food served but you can bring your own. There is an extensive garden with a BBQ. The inside of the pub is really quite something and reminds of many Irish Village pubs 30 years ago. There are a range of real ales and cider. Prices are very good value for the cider. Definitely a place to visit for a Sunday lunch time drink with a picnic”.

front of pub, summer

We entered and were immediately involved in a conversation with a very extrovert landowner type complete with Berber jacket. One person was ranting on about not separating from the European Union. He seemed an interesting chap so we struck up a conversation. We talked of politics, the BBC which we both mistrusted and then spoke of South Africa.

how we miss South Africa

We unbeknown to this chap, Peter, had been to SA many times so shared many stories about the working temperament of the local workers, President Zuma and the Gypta Brothers and the fact that we both missed being there. He worked there and met and married an Afrikaans wife. Well – that did it. Off we went and I further found out that he was a Samuel Pepys fan and had read all nine volumes of his diary.

I noted that there were no opening hours listed anywhere so maybe such formalities are not enforced especially with a Free House.  However I discover the ‘official’ hours which are 11-3, 6-11 M-F, 11-4, 6-11 Sat, 12-11 Sun.  The pub has been in the same family for generations. I enclose a picture which does not do justice to the primitive nature of the establishment. As for prices, I did not object to paying £2.20 for a pint of local cider.

Rural Ireland plain and simple

So, off home after four of the most entertaining hours I can remember for some time. Just when I thought it could not get better, it did.

And now to trying to remember it all.

Such an unexpected afternoon of delights part one

You need to have read today’s previous installment to understand the context. …We obtained a leaflet inviting us to tour round some old churches – average ‘age’- 600 years. What could be more boring than that. Little did we know who we would bump in to.

Ctrl and + as necessary to view detail

Martin Buber (1878-1965) was a Jewish philosopher, theologian, story-teller, and teacher who said ‘all real living is meeting’. We could also say “Openness to life is at the centre of true development”. There is no true development without this openness to life. This was from a brief speech by Holy Father Francis which is worth a read. The implication of this message is all the more stark if you consider its opposite.

As readers will know I find no inhibition when it comes to meeting ‘strangers’  i.e. friends that you did not know you had. So off we go with our trusty GPS. First port of call is Stoke St. Michael.  It contains an excellent pub, the Knatchbull Arms (BA3 5JJ), where all sorts of secret meetings took place in the  second World War.  For some reason it changes owners quite regularly possibly due to an excellent gastro pub about 3 miles away. You don’t make money on beer sales from half a dozen locals propping up the bar on a Tuesday lunch time.

the nave

However, enough of this gay banter. The focus this time is the Anglican Church of St Michael, a Grade 2 listed building, and we entered expecting to find flower displays. Instead there were two jolly people, husband and wife, and a table of tea, coffee, cakes and rolls no doubt provided at personal expense. The lady had lived in the area all her life, the husband had been born in Frome and whilst away in the RAF his wife developed formidable qualities of independence. We had some good humoured banter including gossip about the local pub (above). We talked only briefly about the architecture surrounding us. I am not a ‘history’ person and failed my history ‘O’ levels at school mainly because I returned an empty exam paper, having spent the time revising for my chemistry exam. I do sometimes buy a guide book but I must admit it is an uphill task to fix it in my mind.

This sign really means it

We also had a joke about the areas most infamous lane, one that takes naive GPS owners to the car repair shop. I was caught myself when coming from giving a quote for a garden job. The bend went on and on. My wife had to get out and minutely direct me inch by inch backward and forward. I wondered why a local man stopped to watch, grinning the while. Obviously not the first time this had happened. Mind you, Volvo estates are not the shortest cars in the world so I must not complain.

St Bartholomew Church Cranmore

With threatening clouds scudding over the sky, on to Cranmore. One of the best indicators of a lively village is its web site and this one is no exception but alas not all pages have been kept up to date. This is normally because the volunteer webmaster has become overloaded with work. We dashed from the car due to a rain shower. As we approached the church door we heard the sound of the organ, always guaranteed to warm the cockles (ventricles) of my heart. This old fashioned phrase means to ‘warm and gratify ones deepest feelings’. Of all instruments my personal gratifiers are the organ as number 1 closely followed by the piano ‘coming in at number 2’ as they say. On a good day, the violin is number 3.

I have never been able to photograph stained glass to show its full features.

We met a lady who was obviously an academic and an intellectual who showed us around. This church was full of flower displays in preparation for the Harvest Service which was due to happen the following day. First she directed me to the end of the nave and the famous stained glass in remarkably good condition. I guess this is partly due to the lack of chemicals from cars and industry.


Evidently an attempt was made to break the record. In order to do so there must be no mistakes but alas after 2h 30m one unfortunate soul made an error. Result – everyone went off to the pub to drown their sorrows. As you will see below the displays reflected the Harvest.

a festival basket
utilitarian approach
all from the garden
the altar
a transcendent piece of art. Brilliant.

We left with the sound of the toccata from Widor’s fifth organ symphony being rehearsed enthusiastically. This work does require resonance in the building in which it is played and is well nigh impossible to do justice to  on a small three keyboard organ with zero echo but hey its the spirit that counts.

Just watching a vid. where an organ is used with a 128′ stop. Someone writes “When people win the lottery they’re all like “I’ll pay my debts, buy a house and an Aston Martin!” Screw that. If I win the lottery I’m having a full range organ built into my house and I’ll only ever play it with ALL the stops open. I will level cities with my music!”   Nice one, bro



Making a difference – Chilcompton Flower Festival – a surprise

Thursday 8 September 1664

 …My wife this afternoon being very well dressed by her new woman, Mary Mercer, a decayed merchant’s daughter that our Will helps us to, did go to the christening of Mrs. Mills, the parson’s wife’s child, where she never was before

What a luxury to have a dresser. I recall that Selfridges in London had a fashion adviser who would without obligation give advice about colour, style etc. This service has I believe been discontinued mainly because the customers thanked the dresser for her help and then went off and bought the same garments on the Internet.

Anyway, today Saturday 9th September 2017 is from my observations over the years the day that autumn begins. Goodbye to the possibility of hot sunny days (I recall that we had five of them this summer) and now we can expect fresh cool mornings, dew on the ground, and autumn leaves. Meanwhile, hurricanes are lining themselves up to batter small defenseless islands prior to visiting Southern Florida. We should be grateful for small mercies.


the offending roots

V is a more senior lady who lives two doors from us. She came to ask me to help as a gardener when roots by the fence became too much for her to handle. I said I would help and refused payment saying that we do not charge neighbors. We showed up this morning and pulled out the very reluctant roots plus another uprooting. It took all of 10 minutes. However for her it was a major matter and was about losing the ability to control your environment. This induces a feeling of helplessness which was keenly felt by our widow. She was grateful enough to bring a bottle of wine around to thank us.  Tip to those of you who are asked to do something ‘small’ – it is not small to the person who asks.


I had seen an advertisement for  ‘Heritage trail’, a trip around a dozen or so East Mendip Churches headlined ‘Ride and Stride’.    I also saw an ad for a Flower Festival at St. Johns Chilcompton. I mistakenly concatenated them, thinking that all the churches would have flowers so I decided to go. Thank goodness I followed by intuition. We had a feast of meetings during this ‘shower and shine’ September Saturday. Now prepare yourself for a feast of flowers on the theme of church Hymns. Don’t forget to hit Ctrl and + at the same time, repeating as necessary, to enlarge the images.

I love the piano keys on the cushion
text of song
a psalm I forget which
In the bleak mid Winter (carol)
the decorated font
My lighthouse
The Manger
And did those feet..
The old rugged cross

I have seldom seen such a concentration of love and caring in pieces that must have taken months of painstaking work – to conceptualize, to select the materials, to assemble the structure and finally to select the flowers that would be in full bloom at the same time.

Anyway we then started on our trail, which I will recount in the next part of my diary. I could never in my wildest dreams written such a scenario for sheer delight in conversations relevant to ourselves and those we met.

to follow…

Is PowerPoint a waste of time? plus Dragons in Bath

Wednesday 7 September 1664

..Lay long to-day, pleasantly discoursing with my wife about the dinner we are to have for the Joyces, a day or two hence…

An account of our recent guest experience follows but before that an account of a radio programme that I caught by chance while driving.

PowerPoint was developed in the 1980’s when the originators Robert Gaskins and Dennis Austin realised in the potential of creating an easy to use, intuitive system for presentation of ideas. The first version was written for Apple Macs in 1987. Microsoft bought it for $14m

BBC Radio Four is really worth a listen between 11am and 1 pm. This half hour programme was on ‘the History of PowerPoint’. His slow start was due to the fact that you had to buy a new computer to accommodate the requirements of PP but now, billions of pages are created. Although it is here to stay, there are many detractors including Jeff Bezos of Wikipedia if I recall.  They say that PP induces a passive state and that moment and status is given to facts that may not necessarily be true. The whole idea of such exposures should be to encourage dialogue whereas one experienced attendee confessed that when someone turned on a PP presentation he found himself starting to fall asleep, and too many people shuffling through their emails. My view – it is all to easy to string together some slides but the challenge is to engage the audience to think, to observe, to note inconsistencies, to see a way forward and a model which enchances passivity may not be the ideal.

To the dentist for another fitting this time of a tiny pin. It did not sit properly due to a minute amount of varnish on one of my teeth. That’s precision workmanship for you. I started the treatment in March 2016 and will probably finish in November 2017. Don’t ask the cost.

Our own guest has just departed by coach from Bath Bus Station after a five days visit. Advance £11 return vs £57.50 (GWR) by the train is a bargain indeed. National Express will take an extra 1h 30m so I guess it depends how valuable your time is whether it is worth the price difference.  It is very pleasant to have a new personality in our humble abode and I notice it provides a catalyst of topics which are not always raised but linger in the background. The guest was in a way the ideal guest. She was generous in paying her way by means of wine purchase (not asked for) and was happy to fit in with our simple food tastes. There was a good exchange of energies and everyone was ‘up’ at the end of the day so to speak. I think intimate quality meetings are the way to go. Football crowds / noisy parties do nothing for me except getting a headache and a desire to run away.

Anyway, Bath has something new to offer no matter how many times you visit it and today was no exception.

Very attractive use of artificial turf for making a paved area sittable on. They put out deck chairs in the good weather.
were worms and bugs trying to escape? Shot round the tree in the middle (above)

Sunny periods and showers they say and indeed Bath got it in spade fulls. We took refuge in Witherspoons for a delicious and well cooked Friday Fish for £8 and something including an alcoholic drink. Yum yum.

Off to the Victoria Art Gallery where there is a themed exhibition of ‘Dragons‘. The attendant said that the event had been an outstanding success with over 30,000 people since the opening.

Here follow a few of the best.

a land of the imagination
dragons are mythical creatures so you can draw what you like
benevolent dragons with a heart of gold
St George is not going to fight this dragon for some reason.
an after burner you might say
an artist hard at work – still from a video

We ventured out to a lovely bright sunny afternoon with a blue sky.

An excellent descriptor of an indoor market adjacent to the Town Hall of Bath. I have rarely seen such pictorial power. Lists of stalls do not do it for me.
the same scene above with the pigeons but with sun
a special present for myself – a sponge


I very seldom treat myself to anything apart from food. Clothes I regard as a necessary evil, present are a self indulgence (Lidl feeds my desire for must-haves, sad but true). Today however I decided to make an exception. Sea sponges are luxurious. They mould in to the contours of the face in a most gentle way. NB They can be harvested from Florida’s Gulf coast, the Bahamas, the Mediterranean Sea and the South Pacific Ocean.

Good Q and A here.

The natural sea sponge is one of the world’s simplest multi-cellular living organisms. The sponge’s scientific classification is “Porifera,” which literally means “pore-bearing,” and refers to the countless tiny openings or holes visible on all sponges. Sponges grow in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and textures.

There is no better feel than washing the face first thing in the morning. Sponges lack the abrasiveness of flannels. You are supposed to avoid the build up of calcification which can eventually tear the structure apart from within. You do this by soaking in a vinegar solution for two hours then rinsing and allowing to dry. My dad had a huge sponge but it smelled and this was probably because he did not maintain it.

An Auf Wiedersehen (good bye – groan) for £18


good buy at £18.



Good publicity flyers and very good ones

Tuesday 6 September 1664

Pepys buys a rabbit that he subsequently discovers to be ‘deadly old’ but eats it never-the-less.

A quiet day on the Kennet and Avon canal

Today we went with a friend for a walk along the local canal which as my readers will know I find to be the quickest way of getting back to the 19th century. This is a weekday after school holidays are over and the whole gives a different feel.

user friendly map – it almost encourages you to explore

I found a rather endearing map clearly aimed at children though useful for adults. Ctrl and + to enlarge.

benevolent keeper

This image sums up the spirit of the canal system which I find is reflected in most of the people I meet, who have in common the desire to seek an alternative life style. You would not wish to offend this nice man would you.

Since my back was sore I did half the walk eastwards – about a mile – and let my wife and friend continue their walk. I just enjoyed sitting on a bench and watching the boats chug by and the birds and squirrels going about their daily business.


The delights of committees and meetings

Monday 5 September 1664

Up and to St. James’s, and there did our business with the Duke; where all our discourse of warr in the highest measure. Prince Rupert was with us; who is fitting himself to go to sea in the Heneretta. And afterwards in White Hall I met him and Mr. Gray, and he spoke to me, and in other discourse, says he, “God damn me, I can answer but for one ship, and in that I will do my part; for it is not in that as in an army, where a man can command every thing.”

By and by to a Committee for the Fishery, the Duke of Yorke there, where, after Duke was made Secretary, we fell to name a Committee, whereof I was willing to be one, because I would have my hand in the business, to understand it and be known in doing something in it; and so, after cutting out work for the Committee, we rose…

I entered the very grand business use Holiday Inn in Filton, North Bristol. I had thought of staying over the night before but I had forgotten how expensive the rack rates are anyway.

robbery? say average £220 per night 100 rooms £154,000 pw
Quite difficult to pitch a talk to people you do not know

Today was the day when I delivered my paper. The conference was about the technicalities of trauma; the acronyms were beyond me for the most part but I got an overall picture which at least pointed me in the right direction. I saw how passionate and dedicated the staff members are and how hopelessly overloaded. They not only have to maintain an existing system but make more efficiencies for financial cuts to come.

I am ‘patient representative’ but since I am the first of the genre people are not sure how to treat me – what sort of brief and remit to give. I have indicated that without a specific brief my energies will be dissipated beyond what will be useful. I am not sure where the initiative lies. Is it the volunteer, or is it the doctors who should have some idea of the post discharge needs of the patient.

I was last on in the morning of six talks with only a brief coffee break. I made attempts to enliven a mostly over-loaded audience.

Here is the full text of my talk:

Welcome to Pandora’s box

My job as patient representative involves putting my self in the shoes of the doctors and clinicians on the one hand and in the shoes of the patient on the other. This brings about a certain benign schizophrenia which is considerably eased by a rather eccentric sense of humour which I fortunately possess.

Nine months into my post of patient representative, I still find my contribution to be largely decorative give or take a few ideas. The way the national health service functions has been the subject of a learning curve.

At the start I thought that if I had a good idea at say 10 o’clock in the morning and wrote off an e-mail describing the idea I could have a yes or no answer by 4:30 PM, five o’clock at the latest. In this I was mistaken.

My learned dissertation is entitled “my wife’s handbag”

My wife’s handbag is a mysterious object, one that I would never dare to approach let alone invade. Handbag activity is a sight to behold and for which the word ‘rummage’ was invented. I as a mere male would search methodically and coolly. My wife rummages with varying states of panic and emotion. It must be there somewhere. I have learned through long experience to refrain from drawing breath through my teeth, or making any comment sarcastic or otherwise that might indicate impatience or criticism.

Apart from the needed items such as the mobile phone and purse, the nether regions contain a mixture of redundant items, miscellaneous scribbled notes, and other objects or parts of objects that have no known use.

This analogy reminds me somewhat of the human psyche. We function within our familiar comfort zones easily enough but there are certain subjects or feelings that we have decided to shy away from or simply never explore. An insult reminds the patient temporarily but instantly of these matters.

Trauma comes without warning. In my youth I remember driving a motor car or with perhaps one or two too many drinks and out of nowhere a police car appeared behind me. All the things that I might have done wrong instantly appeared on my inner screen. The brain can work fast if it wants to. My brain scans would have been interesting.

I remember once many years ago in Ireland I was driving in the middle of nowhere and, exhausted, stopped outside the humble dwelling of a local man. The man beckoned me inside and without saying a word sat me down in his humble front room and placed a half a glass of Guinness in front of me. He nodded and left the room. That was exactly what I needed.

I recall when I was in Great Ormond Street hospital attending to my very sick child who was born with a congenital heart defect. Wife and I were sitting helplessly by the bed with tubes and blinking monitors all over the place when in came a cleaner. She was from the Caribbean. Caribbean people have the ability to smile to such an extent that the smile enters the room before they do. Without saying a word, she leant on her mop and smiled. I remember the smile going right through me and warming me from within.

Oh by the way on the topic of smiles by your profession. My advice is, avoid it. It is unfair to expect yourself when under pressure to be able to instantly symmetrise the required 26 muscles. Your well meaning efforts will be sabotaged and your intended Mona Lisa smile will inexorably morph into a grin, a smirk, a grimace, a leer or even worse – a dental display.

Take my tip – let your eyes do the smiling, there is less chance of deviation.

We all give an overarching impression of ourselves whether we like it or not 24/7. One clinician enters a room and everyone feels relaxed; another clinician can come into a room and everyone gets tense. Only a minority of who we are is expressed in our words of wisdom. The rest we could say is a field or an aura comprised of all the things we have thought, done, said or believed in. There is no hiding place.

Incidentally, I have often felt that clinicians could use diagrams to explain things instead on word streams delivered at 100 MPH this would be more productive and less ‘them and us’.

It was interesting to see how patient’s relatives in Great Ormond Street reacted to the sickness of their children. The children from well-off families especially those from the Middle East received vast bouquets of flowers and fruit, for what purpose I was unsure. The adults stood around completely impassively. On the other hand, the working-class mums had a good cry and got it over with accompanied by much hugging and commiserating.

So here you are as a clinician in the line of fire, facing an untidy cascade, a firework display of a mixture of emotions and symptoms.

As a Yorkshire friend of mine said, you have to separate the froth from the beer. If this means nodding and smiling while you buy yourself a few moments to figure out the most effective way forward then so be it.

The ability of traumatic raw material to morph into an apparently unrelated set of symptoms puts chameleons in the shade.

However, a traumatic event can have its good sides. It can be a tipping point to make the patient face events and situations as they really are, to bring people together, to make them appreciate the life and health of their kith and kin.

The word trauma is a catch-all word which can cover anything from mild shock, lack of preparedness, emotional dysfunction, a desire for attention even the waking of a dead mind. Is there such a thing as an inherent traumatic event.

Shock only becomes traumatic when it cannot be managed. I find it helpful to see trauma as dissociated emotional energy, or an emotional blood clot with nowhere to go. Or you could say that it is a condition in which time has ceased to be fluid.

If a patient stood up on their bed and sang ba ba black sheep at full volume you would more easily diagnose them as emotionally disturbed but far more difficult to read are the silences. A traumatised person will freeze a part of their memory to make life bearable, to dissipate the pain. If the memory were a jigsaw puzzle, the puzzle would have been separated into its pieces and buried in sand. So the abnormal becomes the normal.

As we know, trauma can lie in the system for years as we have seen with Japanese prisoners of war, and sexual abuse cases especially with regard to the church.

English people tend to implode which includes explosions, and that process is as about as therapeutic as having bits of shrapnel embedded in you. If some well meaning person tries to take them out, the process is resisted.

The patient needs to see that there is a problem,

they must be prepared to participate in its investigation

and then face the implications.

If the subject has no trust in anybody this is an uphill task indeed. I would no more try to talk to someone about their trauma from a standing start than I would try to cook a frozen turkey in the oven.

I think the doctor or clinician has truly arrived in the profession if they have learnt instinctive prioritisation, and a compassionate distancing which should be automatic between them and the situation of which the client is a living embodiment. In other words, if the attitude is right the distancing will look after itself.

Pragmatism is not inhumane especially when balanced with vision.

It is also desirable for doctors and nursing staff involved to be ever so slightly unhinged. Normal people should not apply. That’s a subject for another occasion.

As for the longer term, “The brain/mind/body has a great capacity to heal itself but the last thing it wants to do is to live and relive the event in a moebus strip like fashion. The situation itself needs to be transcended, viewed from above so to speak.

A props of this there is a very interesting exhibition in the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery entitled “Alternative Visions – Undiscovered Art in the South West” which runs until next Sunday. If a person has a trauma, encourage them in an artistic endeavour and the brain can do what it does best which is to resolve situations. This is particularly relevant to those who don’t not fit in to society, or who are autistic or isolated or damaged in some way. “if you can’t say it then draw it”

What of trauma within the medical profession itself?

This mostly consists of subtle slow motion torture about things that might happen, things that are happening, plus the desire for something resembling a social life not to mention recovering from plain and simple fatigue.

What is a social life I hear you say. I define this as you and your partner or friend being in the same room at the same time, awake, and talking about a subject not involving work with the mobile phones switched on silent mode. Quality time is when you can both switch your mobile phones off.

The spectre of Jeremy Hunt lurks in the background. For the most part he gives an impression of a cadavar. A besuited Hunt reminds me of someone looking out of a deep sea diving suit.

Someone who spends £44,000 on a toilet and shower for his post cycling ablutions is clearly out of touch and I wonder how many of those in power are anaesthetised to the needs of the wider community through their own personal financial fortune.

American corporates have been dying to get their hands on the NHS and Hunt is their man. I guess this process of absorption was finally completed by the time he co-wrote a report in 2005 euphemistically entitled “direct democracy: an agenda for a new model party”.

If you have ever been in the insidious position of having to read this document, it is a master of intentional obfuscation and verbosity. What a contrast to the clarity and almost missionary zeal of the Beveridge Report of 1942.

what other forms of trauma are there?

Does attending a seminar or workshop on trauma make you more traumatised

Vicarious trauma

The medical profession also suffers vicarious trauma as when the misguided parents of Charlie Gard took on the doctors of Great Ormond Street and insulted their professionalism. The couple especially the wife were proved wrong in every single instance yet they persisted with a vengeance. I cannot make up my mind whether they took advantage of a sympathetic but ignorant public or whether they were taken advantage of by the media.

Pre programming and misinformation

You might as well start conversations with some patients by saying, so according to the Gospel of the Internet what condition do you think you suffer from and what should I be doing?

Consider the muddying effect on your patient who reads in the Daily Express six different views over as many months on the claims of statins.

What about the American lady who having read that placebos work, and the placebo effect, asked her physician to prescribe double strength placebo pills because she wanted quicker results. The doctor, not wishing to disillusion her said that if she was prepared to trust the pill twice as much, I wish would be granted. She still didn’t get it. Some people will never get it but you advise and support never the less.

Being sued

The culture of suing, or sewage as I call it has spread from the Atlantic. It’s a pity you can’t sue patients for wasting your time, talking nonsense, lying or not following advice.

Over reach

Try not to be mother hen of the universe. Many patients have got into a dysfunctional state through their own neglect or deliberacy of which the presented insult is but a catalyst.

The patients have to learn the lessons. It’s not your lesson though it can be. Unless you are invited in, the suffering life sprawled before you is best approached with caution.

Remember the handbag.


Is a good social life a matter of discipline?

Saturday 3 September 1664

I have had a bad night’s rest to-night, not sleeping well, as my wife observed, and once or twice she did wake me, and I thought myself to be mightily bit with fleas, and in the morning she chid her mayds for not looking the fleas a-days. But, when I rose, I found that it is only the change of the weather from hot to cold, which, as I was two winters ago, do stop my pores, and so my blood tingles and itches all day all over my body, and so continued to-day all the day long just as I was then, and if it continues to be so cold I fear I must come to the same pass, but sweating cured me then, and I hope, and am told, will this also.

From today’s entertaining diary of Samuel Pepys. Worth reading it all.

Everyone is entitled to a social life. We are all group animals and many ills are caused by loneliness.

Relying on how you feel on the particular evening about going out or staying in it is not as reliable as it may seem. In the country area we reside in, individual organisations don’t have the opportunity to advertise their social evenings in a fulsome manner . Many secretaries and chairman of groups still do not like the Internet never mind the idea of making the mailing list such as male chimp.

This is why it is a good idea to keep your eye out for notices on notice boards, and mentions in the local paper. Even then, it is not a foolproof method of finding out where you could be most gainfully occupied in the evening particularly in the winter.

My wife and I have had to develop the skill and the discipline of making a note of things and going along to them sometimes whether we feel like it or not. We should bear it in mind that the organiser has often gone to considerable expenditure in time and sometimes money to create a worthwhile evening and it is very important that these people should be supported.

This is particularly relevant in the case of when an organisation has hired a speaker whose expenses need to be met and your three or four pounds entry really does help to avoid depleting the coffers of a small voluntary venture.

We have a rule that the further we have to go the something say for longer than a 20 or 30 min away the more care we take to make sure that it is worth the trip.

I’m talking of couples, I should now talk of single people.

The single person, particularly one who is new to the area may wonder if the atmosphere type of people will be right for them, or if they will even recognise someone there. My message is, it does not matter. The average person does not look to see if you are with someone or on your own. The only thing that matters is the subject in hand for example gardening or travel. You are the same as anybody else when it comes to the desire to open a conversation, or ask a question of the speakers, or helping someone hold their coffee cup whilst they fiddle around with something.

The best way of starting a conversation is to ask a question of someone for example does your garden have acid soil or alkaline soil, or what did the speaker mean by…. so and so….

Being accepted really is all in the mind and if you go along with an open mind and chat to whoever turns up in front of you there will always be one or two conversations of interest which may lead to a more satisfying acquaintance.

Try not to send out worry waves otherwise people will pick them up.




Creative complaining and bargaining by phone

Friday 2 September 1664

..I took a great deal of pains this morning in the thorough understanding hereof, and hope that I know the truth of our case, though it be but bad, yet better than to run spending money and all to no purpose. However, I will inquire a little more…

Pepys had a difference with his father over a debt and I rather admire his painstaking effort to make sure the other party understands the nature of the debt in all its aspects.

I find that when I am complaining about something as I not infrequently do I’m in a much stronger position if I have appraised myself of all the factors. The person or agent who I’m phoning properly has to deal with people complaining every hour of the day and they are much better at it than I am. What I normally do now in this age of computers is to ask people if they can look at my records onscreen before I start talking otherwise they will just respond genetically. With banks etc.  you have to spend half your time proving that you are the person you say they are for health and safety, Social Security, terroristic reasons goodness knows what but there is such a huge amount of identity theft they have probably been driven to it.

The other thing I have learned is to assume that they want to help you. You tend to get back what you give out. I am always at my computer when I speak on the phone and write down the name of the person, what I say, what they said and when I can expect some action. These days, everything is recorded so we’re told for quality control, staff training, amusement, legal liability, self protection and goodness knows what else. Whether anyone actually listens to these recordings is another question.

You could actually tell the person on the end of the line that you don’t want to complain that you’re just trying to find a solution to what you see as a problem. It may not in fact be a problem just a misunderstanding. Just to sort, you could start instead of launching into a tirade tell the person that you are excited by the product or service but things do not seem to have turned out as you expected.

Unfortunately this does not work with robotic service agencies particularly those from Indian call centres who start by apologising for anything they have done or might do. There should be a ban on people using my formal name and the beginning of each sentence. Once we have established who-it is unnecessary to say Mr Snellgrove this, Mr Snellgrove that.  I also find particularly irritating the question,  “do you mind if I call you Brian?” Within reason I don’t mind what people call me once our identities have been established.

I’ve also found it quite good to have a little touch of humour but they have to be careful how they reply because their comments are being recorded so I don’t say daft things is this just wastes time.

No way have I ever got anywhere by threatening. If a company is unscrupulous they are well used to that and you will get as good as you give and probably better. They can either help you or they cannot. If you have explained your situation you will draw the best out of them.

What about when you call back three or four times and no one returns your call. You might well ask them if there is someone else you should be speaking to.  I have heard of success when you ask to speak to the manager but I wonder what happened beforehand in order to make this necessary.

Most companies have zero tolerance towards swearing and shouting and once you get a black mark against you there is very little chance of getting taken seriously.

If you want to vent your anger then why not do so with a friend, the dog, the nearest tree, the four walls of your toilet, and then when you are more  relaxed then you can make the call.

I have already spoken about irritating phone habits like saying ” what did you say your name was” when I had not even told them or “can I ask you a quick question”. My response would be, “how fast you speak is up to you and  I don’t know if you’re able to ask the question but why not try?” I suspect my sarcasm would be lost so what is the point

There is no harm in bargaining because under certain circumstances salespeople are authorised to meet the customer half way. Mobile phone companies are quite good at this at giving you sweeteners to keep you with them. This is necessary because of the competitiveness of the market. I’m thinking of a conversation with BT, that is British Telecom, where I felt I was overpaying and I was put on another tariff which saved me £30 a month.

I have not mentioned so-called live chat which is normally with someone with an unpronounceable name. Hi my name is Asheretta how may I help you today.  You may find there is a considerable pause between you writing a question of getting the answer, and this is because they are dealing with many questions simultaneously. This you will find irritating but since they are in Pakistani, Bangladesh, India, or Mexico there is not much you can do.

I could have a further rant about websites with so-called help lines. Many of them are far from helpful. You type in your question, which is inevitably not covered by the Q and A, and you get a selection of possible answers none of which have any relevance to the problem you have. you then have no option but to write, then get the same answer back by someone who has used automated algorithms  and procedures to give you the answer. As regards for telephone help, expect to wait a long time and remember you are the 75th person to speak to the poor old member of staff who probably hasn’t had a coffee break in three hours and is looking at the clock to see when they can sign off.  Do have some sympathy for the these people and I always try to be positive and good-humoured here. Some people asked very dumb questions indeed when it comes to anything related to computers.

CUSTOMER: “I don’t have a ‘P'”.
TECH SUPPORT: “On your keyboard, Bob.”
CUSTOMER: “What do you mean?”
TECH SUPPORT: ” ‘P’ on your keyboard, Bob.”
CUSTOMER: “I’m not going to do that!

Timing is important. A rather irate potential garden customer rang me at 8 PM on the bank holiday evening asking me why I had not responded to her. I was engaged in something else and simply told her I could not help and put the phone down. It would have been so nice if she had said “I’m sorry to trouble you out of hours but…..”  I really can’t be bothered any more with people who don’t know how to use the phone. Maybe it is my age but why should I have my day spoiled by people who lack the basic rules of communication.

To summarise, you are more likely to sabotage yourself and get nowhere if you don’t follow the rules.

Worthy Farm AKA Glasto ‘off duty’

Part 2 of my Diary for Saturday 2nd September 2017.

shopping for the weekend, one of the residents at the farm. If you magnify the picture and look on the right side you can see the still see remnants of the Pyramid stage

For many years now I have had a great respect for the Glastonbury brand and it was quite a shock, albeit a nice one, to see that this place is actually a working farm with real live animals and all that goes with it. How they manage to put all this aside and accommodate 200,000 people is a mystery to me.

I reckon your first visit to the Glastonbury Festival is just about enough to get used to the size of the place. Use Cntl and + to magnify.

No wonder it takes so long to get from one stage to another. Allow 30-40 minutes they say.

the all seeing eye is there
one of the many entrances
so this is a working farm
there is only one Michael – plenty of space for his car

We took off and drove through what was the middle of the Festival but few signs that anything had ever disturbed nature.

A ford – tinkling sound of water and peaceful as you like.
The vibe has spread to neighbouring farms

We visited the village of Pilton which is in a small valley. If you drive along the main road it’s a question of if you blink you will miss it. There is a public house and a church and a very decent size church hall so there is money around. We parked and followed the sign to ‘Tithe barn’,

They must have expected many tithes if the size of the building is anything to go by

and what a splendid building it is. The hand of Michael Eavis has contributed to it being in the splendid condition that it is in as you will see.

spacious and dry as a bone
Use Ctrl + to read

The farm was built in the early 14th century but in 1963, lightening struck the barn and started a fire which completely destroyed the roof. Michael wanted the barn restored, and have the opportunity to buy it and some surrounding land. He gave the building to a trust who commenced renovation as you can see.

a very wonderful and peaceful atmosphere conducive to prayer

we then have a look round the local church, St John’s. It was instructive to look at the visitors book.

four visitors four countries
clearly, a country church
not often that you see a wood carving of people playing musical instruments. I wonder what inspired that
one of the best ways of finding out about what is going on in a place and therefore whether it would be interesting to move to is the noticeboard. There are classes in  Pilates, tai chi, yoga     Use Ctrl and + to read.
finally, I absolutely love plays on words. Well done whoever thought of that one






Pilton has a surprise – Glasto off season

Thursday 1 September 1664

A sad rainy night, up and to the office, where busy all the morning. At noon to the ‘Change and thence brought Mr. Pierce, the Surgeon, and Creed, and dined very merry and handsomely; but my wife not being well of those she not with us; and we cut up the great cake Moorcocke lately sent us, which is very good. They gone I to my office, and there very busy till late at night, and so home to supper and to bed.

I know how Pepys feels being too tired to write his diary but fortunately I have fewer statutory duties and thus more time.

the penny drops

The summer/Autumn Festival season is still with us so off to the Village of Pilton. ….. <later>…   I had failed to make the connection but Pilton is right next to Worthy Farm, owned by Michael Eavis of Glastonbury fame. I saw the little notice and everything clicked.

a lovely start to the event on a warm day, acres of parking free of charge

I saw this as a good chance to snoop around and see what I could see off-season. However, the reason for setting sail was to see the 2017 Pilton show. I shall not dwell on this for long  but include the usual pictures. I found the whole thing a little bit scruffy. Apart from usual tenpin bowling, the facepainting, the marmalade and cake stands, there were about 7 stalls devoted to selling what I can politely call  second-hand material. Piles of old books, DVDs, lots of pink toys for children,  plus a  bouncy castle of sorts. A country and western band were playing. There were competitions in the arena and there was a very large marquee where they were serving beer and cider, tea and cakes, and showing quite a considerable number of competition classes in the creative arts and grown food items. I took some very tempting cake and tea but for some reason the cake repeated on me about an hour later.

I don’t know what they put into it, it just needs one chemical of the wrong sort and my system says ‘no thank you’. I think there would have been more features but the previous organiser of the show, Hugh Berry, had died this last April  and is probably set back the whole thing. When we left at about 4 PM there were plenty of people there and they were having a good time so it is what it is.  Pilton is a very small village with a population of about 1000 so they have actually done  pretty well in my view. In the evening there will be a hog roast and a barn dance.

Due to the state of my big toe, which is rather inflamed, I did not particularly want to hang about for three hours so we left. They say it takes about 3-4 days for the antibiotic to work through so we are two days in now from 5 pm Thursday. I feel groggy but have been warned to stay the course with the medication.

not a bad crowd, about 400 people I would say
scruffy laid out stand, car boot type items
not quite sure why they were selling woollen hats in summer
A joyous celebration of seniority. Dignity and a good spirit. This work stood out above the others
very fine onions
and a basket of vegetables all grown on the allotment
A rather balanced set piece
many entries from local schools well done kids

The second part of this diary will consist of my observations of Worthy Farm admittedly from outside the perimeter. I don’t think anyone would have minded but I felt to go round without asking would be intruding.

Click here to continue.


When is a grass mower not a grass mower?

Wednesday 31 August 1664

At noon home to dinner, and there my wife hath got me some pretty good oysters, which is very soon and the soonest, I think, I ever eat any. After dinner I up to hear my boy play upon a lute, which I have this day borrowed of Mr. Hunt; and indeed the boy would, with little practice, play very well upon the lute, which pleases me well.

Very impressed with Pepys who maintains his interest both in singing and in live music.

my artwork ‘found objects’

I would like to talk about hard physical work in the garden. The same principles apply if you are a private person or a professional gardener. There are ways of making a six or seven hour day, or period of time, more agreeable.  Imagine you are an artist. In fact we are all artists and should be looking how to make the most of our apartment, our garden, or indeed doing actual works of art. The above is an art installation. It arose because I found one or two single gloves of the owner of the property where I was working in long grass.

The first rules are, do not panic and do not rush and do not fight. In my early days of gardening – I started when I was 14 years of age – I used to attack a digging job like a maniac and wear myself out in 20 min. In an adjacent plot was a pensioner who was digging his plot so slowly that he seemed to barely move and yet he had finished before I had. Timing is all, rhythm is all.

If you have six different types of jobs there is no harm in doing a little bit of one and a little bit of the other. It’s very much like painting a picture, after you have done the outline you paint here and there. Different skills are required for each type of job  and you will find the time goes far quicker.

I can also recommend sips of water at regular intervals, much less disruptive than having a cup of tea though I never refuse such a beverage if offered by a hospitable customer.

before attacking a jungle
2 min later. Tall grass never hurt a mower

The title of this post is “when is a grass mower not a grass mower”. The answer is…………………When it is a strimmer or a leaf collector.  The Briggs and Stratton 150 cc motor, typically 4.5 HP, is a tough old thing with very little to go wrong and is in millions of petrol machines.  I do not often use my strimmer because the mower does it far better in most instances. You set the height to the highest and push down the handle so it moves along at 45°. when you have done the first pass, you can see what you’re doing and then you put the grass box on, set the height lower, and go over it again. Watch out for stones.

It is also very useful as a leaf collector particularly in autumn and can equally well be used on a path or cleaning up a bed that you have weeded. You set the height to the lowest and merrily walk up and down. There is a mild vacuum effect which will suck all the leaves and debris up and give you a lovely clean area without needing to use a blower.  I’m trying to get you not to see mowers as just for mowing. It is a great all-purpose tool and they are not easy to break. The blades are designed to break to save damage to the mower itself. Prior to the breaking stage the mower will just stop. Again, no damage will ensue. Beware of poles cemented into the ground for example to support a washing line. Also beware of wire including coat hangers because they get tangled up and take a lot of effort to untangle. The worst they will do is stop the motor.

Also, if you want to be really brave, you can reduce piles of hedge cuttings and small branches to a volume 20% of the size. Don’t worry about the noises. I used one petrol mower for five years and subjected it to all sorts of abuse and overuse and it never complained once. I only got rid of it because I damaged the central column because I hit a buried piece of metal firmly fixed into the ground.

Finally, there is unlikely to be someone holding a gun to your head saying that you must finish. A good time to stop is when you are getting bored with the process. If you are working in England, you may be lucky enough to get the excuse of a shower or so.



Getting the quote right

Tuesday 30 August 1664

.. after dinner comes Mr. Pen to visit me, and staid an houre talking with me. I perceive something of learning he hath got, but a great deale, if not too much, of the vanity of the French garbe and affected manner of speech and gait. I fear all real profit he hath made of his travel will signify little…

My comments to this:  the best friends are those who listen to you. it’s called a dialogue not a monologue.

I just realised today while doing my gardening job that I had been far too generous with my quote and cannot possibly achieve the aims and objectives within it. At the start, I did cover myself by saying that if I cannot achieve the job I may have to discuss an uplift but the customer is away so I’m going to do the hours that I budgeted for, then pause and then have a discussion with him. Fortunately, he has been pleased with our work so far. We really have sweated, fought with thorns, dragged trees down his driveway and put them on an enormous mountain of miscellaneous items to be taken away.

When I see him again I will give him alternatives which I think you should always be done. I shall tell him that I’ve done the best I can with the quote but I cannot continue without discussing an uplift.

this is a real tough type of job to deal with, and makes demands on the musculature which means you need to be fit to do it

I can say that if he is pleased with what we have done so far then we could bring the job to a close and settle. It is always difficult to tell the financial circumstance of a customer. People can be very well-dressed, nice car etc. and yet they are thousands in debt. Other very ordinary looking people have a few hundred thousand pounds or more stashed away because their relatives died etc.  and left them money.

I don’t want to ask him if money is an issue but I could say that if he wants us to continue we could do so at a later date. Frankly I would far rather close the job now and get on with something else so it is going to be hanging in the air for a little bit but never mind I can survive. There are other jobs just waiting to be done.

Anyway, we have five hours to go between us so will go along tomorrow and see if we can make a passable stand at finishing the job. Fortunately, we like both the garden and the customer who has a very good relationship with his daughter. She is going to move into the bungalow so there are quite a few plusses. What is unpleasant is if you don’t like the customer and they refuse to pay for some reason, or make a complaint, but in the last four years of gardening in Somerset I’ve had few problems and these are usually due to ignorance on the customers part.

Off to see the doctor because I seem to have an infected big toe which warms up and is very sore and sensitive. I have been given some antibiotics –  Flucloxacillin, which contains penicillin with strict instructions to take them four times a day, one hour before meals. I’m relieved to see that the instructions on the medicine box are clear. It says “take this medicine when your stomach is empty. This means an hour before food or two hours after food”. How nice to have plain English.

And so I will crawl into bed. I must admit I feel pretty stiff but I know I will be fine in the morning.

staff problems – 132cm rain – optimum time for studying – bread making

Monday 29 August 1664

.. and thither came the woman with her mother which our Will recommends to my wife. I like her well, and I think will please us. My wife and they agreed, and she is to come the next week. At which I am very well contented, for then I hope we shall be settled, but I must remember that, never since I was housekeeper, I ever lived so quietly, without any noise or one angry word almost, as I have done since my present mayds Besse, Jane, and Susan came and were together. Now I have taken a boy and am taking a woman, I pray God we may not be worse, but I will observe it.

Pepys has highlighted a problem in taking on staff. They may be perfectly adequate individually but collectively may not get on well and clearly this has been the case with the three ‘mayds’ mentioned above. When all said and done, the servants  can be an intrusion on the house and constitute a type of extended family, so harmony at all levels is vital.

132cm is about 4 feet 5 inches – imagine swimming around in that lot at night in the cold

I do feel for the people of Houston Texas and surrounding areas because 132 cm is one heck of a lot of rain. I just measured how high it would come on me using a tape measure and it comes up to my shoulders. If we imagine a suburban area 40km x40km x 0.00132km  = 2.112 cu km or 211,200,000,000 litres of water.    A lot.

I have given some thought to the best part of the day for reading and studying. I can organise my life as I wish but have not been able to discipline myself enough to study at the level I wish to  never mind keep up with the vast pile of books that for some reason I keep accumulating. I read that Kindle books are becoming less popular and are not surprised.  It’s very nice reading on the subway but given the choice I would go for a real book any time. There is one big advantage of the Kindle however that you can change the size of the  text if you happen to have poor eyesight.

People who are obsessed with a topic can study at any time but I reckon the best time for study is the mornings when you are fresh and unencumbered. NB Theoretically,  this blog is open to anybody and anyone with an opinion is more than welcome to write to me. My e-mail is on the home page of this blog.

using the normal 500ml of whole wheat brown flour this is a variation on the normal shaped loaf.

As regular readers will know, we make our own bread. Some time ago we bought a bread maker but it took us a long time to actually get round to using it for its intended purpose. I think it is the ideal food for a novice.

The ingredients cost very little, about 70p per loaf, so if you mess up then there is no great harm and even if the result doesn’t look very nice it is very probably edible so no need to throw it away on sight.  I decided to just use the bread maker as a mixer; I decanted the result after about 10 min of mixing onto a round baking tin, having decided that I would make a continental-looking loaf. It smells good. I find that unless bread has cooled down it is a little bit indigestible so I must wait an hour or so.

About four o’clock this afternoon I got the urge to go and see our current garden job. This was strange because I thought no one was going to be there. My gut feeling wins again. There was the client and his daughter busily discussing what they wanted to do with the garden. The timing was perfect but I had not intended that to happen, I just got this urge to do something and when I get such an urge without any reason behind it it is always ‘meant’ to be.

Tomorrow is going to be a hard day. I have somewhat under quoted for the clearing job but can theoretically do it in the time allowed so we just have to get cracking. I shall cut down the trees and bushes and Francoise would drag them to the rapidly growing pile of spoil. I shall get into the zone rather like you do when you meditate and the energy will look after itself.


The country way of buying things – murderers escaping sentence?

Sunday 28 August 1664

(Lord’s day). Up and with my boy alone to church, the first time I have had anybody to attend me to church a great while. Home to dinner, and there met Creed, who dined, and we merry together, as his learning is such and judgment that I cannot but be pleased with it. After dinner I took him to church, into our gallery, with me, but slept the best part of the sermon, which was a most silly one.

Lovely to see someone spend quality time with a young man. It is clear that his wife Elizabeth does not go to church. Evidently, he went twice on this particular day.

Wife and Dee

Apart from my beloved butchers about which I have made mention a few times now, we rely for our eggs on the local farm run by the one and only Dee. For £1 we get six large eggs fresh as a daisy plus whatever else she feels like selling. Today she offered us plums for cooking, the first of the season to my memory, and potatoes by the bag or sack, beans, birdseed and plants in season. She sells 250 dozen eggs each week and at Christmas she sells about 1000 Christmas trees. There is no such thing as displaying goods. She just leaves them around where we can see them. Everyone understands this and that is the way it is.

the menu varies with the season

When Dee is not around, you put the money in the box. When she is around, there is always time for a chat about this and that. We might discuss the latest events we have been to, the weather etc. It would be extremely rude to buy something without engaging in a chat. The weather is not such a trivial subject because she is situated on top of a hill and she gets weather that we do not only a mile or so down in the valley. This applies particularly in the winter. They get snow; we get sleet.

Do potential murderers get away with it? The answer is yes, if their partner is too afraid to give testimony in court against them. One of our allotmenteers had to go on jury service in Bristol and they were told right at the start of the day without even having to be sworn in that the case against the defendant for his threatening and physical behaviour had to be abandoned because the partner was too scared to speak. The defendant had threatened to kill his partner but this made no difference.

My gardening day tomorrow looks like it could be sabotaged by rain. I tend to mentally plan jobs that are very difficult or wild. Once you start deciding in what order you going to do things, the job becomes less foreboding in other words break things down into elements and they won’t frighten you. Another approach is to do things little by little and forget about all the rest but having said that we have a maximum 30 hours work between us so we don’t want to spend too much time messing around. Once I start work I tend not to stop because if I do, I get stiff. If I’m enjoying my work I tend not to get tired. A good trick is not to spend too long on repetitive actions and go from one element to another. This will minimise any fatigue.

We planted some leeks today. This is our second plant, the first one  being a few months back.  We are just trying as an experiment and if September is warm we have a good chance to see the leeks growing well.  These seedlings are tiny little things that you think would scarcely stand up so for that reason we make a little hole for them and push them down and water the hole so they stand up in a type of mud bath.

how not to perform in a brass band – sausages to die for

(see previous entry) … So here we are at 11am in Wells having found a parking space by some miracle in what is a very compact town designed in the years before the motorcar. What a lovely day without a cloud in the sky. The great thing about Wells is that it is so compact that everything is within 10 min walk of all the major features.

Tourists – fear not, you will not get lost. Just look for the tower of the Cathedral and you will get your bearings.

A slightly unusual view of a property at Vicar’s Close; someone who is not mowing their lawn. There are strict tenancy agreements in place and she or he is probably due for the chop

Vicars’ Close must have one of the strictest preservation orders ever. It has been in existence since A.D. 1348 and is owned by the Cathedral who rent the buildings out to private individuals. It is a privilege to walk down it and we always either pay homage to it and/or walk down it when we come from where we park our car.

Anyway, without further ado, we braced ourselves to join the hundreds of people that were in the environs of the grounds of the unique Wells Cathedral Gardens and properties. The history of this place is quite amazing and you can Google it if you feel so inclined.

On a bright and sunny day, you can rely on the weather conditions to bring out the best among the Brits. and I was not disappointed. In general, Somerset people are quite friendly but the atmosphere today was particularly good and I must have had a record number of casual conversations. Once again I tell you it is easy to talk to people in the street and any barriers are in your own mind. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know them from Adam. People like to talk and if you have a sense of humour this is an enormous help.

The Round Table was selling their programs for a pound and I bought one just to make a contribution. The canoe and boat races are down one side of the Cathedral property with swans looking on. The whole thing is done with great good humour because it is all for charity and the main thing is that people turn up and have a go. This is a good thing because the standards of the racing fell slightly below Olympic standards. When the floating objects start it is an act of randomness if they follow the rules and even if they go in the right direction at the same time but not a disaster if they are not.

The Parsons Nose

Due to hunger i.e. not having had breakfast I made straight for a sausage and hamburger stall which was run by a local company. I will give you a big clue here. If you want to eat decent food go to a place run by a local company because they stand or fall by their reputation. Contrast this to a traveling circus where people just go anywhere to make a few bob and don’t care about the quality of their food. Typically, bread supplied in the form of rolls is full of fresh air and chemicals and not worth any money at all. These people provided sausages of the first quality and bread that you could actually eat without comparing it with polystyrene. I got two sausages and a decent bap for four pounds and it was worth every penny.

it was lovely to see an apple tree clinging to the south facing wall of the monastery/Castle. Ctrl + for bigger images
the water of the moat is very clear indeed, being fed by springs from the Mendips
this is the very clear water near the spring. the depth of the water is about 2 feet
a lovely place for all to  paddle and dip their feet on a hot day
an iridescent team

Incidentally, the first boat race was started by John North, the 644th Mayor of Wells. It just reminded me how historically significant this city is.

this man has a natural talent for relating to children, he is kind and gentle and a good entertainer

I now come to the local brass band, Congresbury no less.  It takes great dedication and commitment to come along and play at events where you will probably not be paid. However, the player should remember that they are playing music which requires the coordination of say 16 people to play the same notes in the same order at the same time. This is where our worthy group fell down. For some reason on this occasion there was no conductor. Before giving a performance, it is necessary to rehearse. Things do not coordinate themselves by magic. I say unless the people are prepared to spend more time on discipline they should not appear in public. Judge for yourself. I find it a sloppy rendition with attempts at life.

The next topic was quite extraordinary. I saw a woman sitting by the spring doing what I thought was painting. Normally, I leave such people alone to do what they have to do but by some instinct I decided to say hello to her. In fact she was doing her diary. She told us the she had just come back from a three-week pilgrimage where she kept a daily diary but during her time in the United Kingdom had difficulty in disciplining herself to do one regularly so she was just catching up. I told her about my Samuel Pepys diary and how interesting it had become. She said that it’s amazing how much you recall when you start writing.

synchronistic meeting

At that moment, two women showed up and the one with the identical top greeted the woman sitting down by saying, hello Francoise. I did a doubletake as did my wife thinking that she knew her name by some magic but it appears that the writer did in fact share the name of my wife. It appears she and the other lady were both tourist guides. The writer was french, originating from Paris. After a chat, she said to my wife, “we must keep in touch” and gave her a business card. It seems that she does many of the alternative things that my wife does such as Reiki, meditation, and other spiritual disciplines. She and I were only discussing the other day the lack of specialist friends shall we say so this seemed rather heaven sent, certainly an invitation worth following up. There was no hesitation on the part of the french Francoise to extend the exploratory hand of friendship to my wife.

The allotmenteers nearby are the friendliest and coolest bunch of people you can expect to meet. I have no hesitation in chatting to them about beetroot, runner beans, what grows well and what does not grow well.

not all were in a celebratory mood

Outside the castle grounds my attention was drawn to a young girl singing and playing the guitar. There are many buskeers in Wells but I was very struck by the quality and maturity of her voice. I noticed that for the 2 min I was there, three or four people put money in her guitar case. I listened the moment, waited for her to finish her piece and then asked if she had done any Youtube or Soundcloud. She said no but she has recently signed a contract in Southampton with a music company. I told her straight out that she had a lovely voice and we would definitely be hearing from her in the future. She gave her name as Marty Carver, though I bet you she will be given another name if she gets famous

very realistic demonstration

In the Palace Gardens we had a demonstration of medieval swords and armour and ways of waging war. We were shown the way to fight with swords without getting your arm cut off and we were able to see real life weapons, fiendishly sharp, which did rather well in destroying common objects, slicing through a plastic milk bottle filled with water as if it were not there.

I gave an example yesterday of good teaching methods. The compere was completely into the part, demonstrating how to behead someone, how to ‘top and tail’ them shall we tactfully say. There were about 100 people watching (see picture) and they were all enthralled particularly the children. He got a big round of applause at the end.

the crowd
quite crazy

How this car drives round the roads legally I do not know but there it was parked on the kerb. There was a note on the car saying that If you had a laugh you were invited to put some money in through the open window. It was virtually impossible to film the whole car in all its glory so this image gives very little idea of the total impact. .

view through the drivers side
I simply could not understand what the attraction of this advert outside a pub could be but I was told it was because the film”Hot Fuzz” had been partly made there
The phrase, “it takes all sorts to make a world ” originated in the 1600’s and applies to this gig


Elephant cruelty – mysterious properties of electric cords – Wells Moat Boat races

Saturday 27 August 1664

…Thence to my case-maker for my stone case, and had it to my mind, and cost me 24s., which is a great deale of money, but it is well done and pleases me…

Pepys reminds us that he’s human and likes to treat himself from time to time.. It must have made a change from dealing with maritime matters

So home and find my boy a very schoole boy, that talks innocently and impertinently, but at present it is a sport to us, and in a little time he will leave it. So sent him to bed, he saying that he used to go to bed at eight o’clock, and then all of us to bed, myself pretty well pleased with my choice of a boy.

Pepys is wise enough to see that he will grow out of his impertinences and he takes a relaxed view, knowing that the phase will pass.

Last night we watched a programme on BBC2 by the very honest and transparent Gordon Buchanan who has made it his task in life to get to know a family of African elephants in the wilds of Kenya.  During the filming they came across an elephant that had been snared by a steel rope. The animal was obviously in great distress and we saw him going into the water to bathe itself gently – the best it could do. The emergency team were called, the elephant subdued, and the operation to remove the offending object began.  I don’t think we can have any idea of the pain that this wonderful and gentle animal suffered.

bolt cutters were needed
the offending object
they use clay with healing properties
the doctor assures everyone the elephant will be all right because his bodily condition is sound

Francoise has suggested that we go to Wells as there is some sort of bank holiday shenanigans with the boat race and so on. There are lots of things we could do at home including the endless tidying up  but it threatens to be a hot day so we might as well be out and about. So much for the plan to stay in.

there they go again

I must also organise my garden tools. When I put away any garden equipment which has a length of cord I take such care to wind it up so that it can be easily unwrapped. When I come to use the tool, by some mysterious process the cord has become entangled in itself so much so that I have to pull the whole thing apart and start again. I think I should set up a night vision camera and observe. I guess about three o’clock in the morning there is a certain writhing and  wriggling. Perhaps it is to do with the magnetic fields of the Earth or perhaps some mischievous animal but it happens time after time.

don’t go between a swan and its cygnets. The Swans are on patrol

As they say, nature abhors a vacuum and with such a nice sunny day we thought we would do something which in this case go to Wells, again, to witness the Moat Boat Races one of these big events organised by the Rotary club who do such admirable work raising money for charity. The moat refers to the area around the remains of the castle adjacent to the Cathedral. The history is long and interesting should you wish to Google it.

The moat is still in good working order, though it serves more as a facility for duck and geese breeding than any defensive purposes.This is going to be one of these very long reviews I think I better start another part of this diary. Following the example of the above elephant I have placed a layer of healing clay around the big toe of my left foot which was some reason is sore and slightly hot. Compared with this poor elephant I have nothing to complain about but pain is pain so if I’m not to hobble around in a few months time I must deal with it.

Next part of the diary for Monday, 28 August 2017, temperature 25°, follows shortly.

Chilcompton Fringe Festival and how to motivate people to sing

The outstanding design / logo for the web site. Well done someone.

SPOT THE BALL a grandfather and young lady playing with a ball. This is called a “game” No mobile phone devices are required  Ctrl+ to magnify this picture, indeed to magnify the whole lot..
what better way to rest, in contact with mother nature on a lovely sunny day

We arrived at about 12.30, half an hour after the event was opened on a grand all-purpose sports field suitable for football, cricket, anything else that needs a large space to find about 100 visitors there. Since the opening times were between 12.00 and 11 PM we expected the numbers to build up as the day went on. They did.

It is quite brave for a small village to have an event which is called a fringe Festival which implies that there are other festivals that are not fringe but it matters not. The website was put together by an imaginative team well done.

My eagle eye, when I’m not enjoying myself, is focused on how things are done and how they can be done better. I do the same with myself by the way.

see text below

I’m sure this lady had every good intention. There were five people in the audience, 3 to the right and 2 to the left. She sat in front of the three and spent 90% of the time looking at them with only the occasional glance at the other two in the audience. This is an absolute no-no because you are excluding the others and making them feel that they are not part of things. If you look at good speakers you see they look around to everyone and make sure that its proportional even if the audience is to the side or even behind

one thing organisers forget is to have conspicuous containers for trash. This is important when there are a lot of eating stations

When you are a group of volunteers it is easy to forget something. At the entrance there was a fair amount of money being taken and the only thing they had to stop the notes blowing away in the wind was a red plastic bowl.

It is also helpful for committee members to have some sort of label or notification or uniform so that if someone has a problem for example a medical matter or a query all lost property it is good to know whom to ask. They probably have Public Liability Insurance and I would have thought this is part of the professionalism.

So, never mind the style or finesse let’s just bash out good old rock ‘n’ roll  you know the music you know the words let’s just remind ourselves of what it was like in the good old days.

Beer and cider were served in limited varieties but the basic needs of people were met. I cannot speak for what happened later when there were probably more people for the main music acts in the evening. I did not notice any lights set up so I suppose they manage with what the few lights they had. About 10:50 PM we heard the sounds of music wafting across the landscape when we were about to go to bed but it did cease at 11 o’clock.

It is fair to say that the names of the groups were original. e.g.
Shake the tree / real life / parfanon / venezuelan pig rustlers / hidden gentlemen / hurry up harry / helena / 200 hurts / vox terrae / gina valerie / monitors / village folk / fraser road race / stealth legion / no thursday war / bewildered herd / ninotchka . The last one was a type of gypsy sound / Eastern European / Russian and everyone listened with rapt attention.

listening with rapt attention (sorry my lens got steamed up)
bales of straw acted as seating areas but they were rather high and difficult to get on. A good Supply of chairs should always be available for those that need to rest. It must be said that in the excellent and modern lounge area  there was a TV and very comfortable seating plus a bar.
the all-purpose clubhouse with the F1 race going on


a carnivorous plant stall
the chap on the right is 1. A London banker on his day off 2. The secretary of the local Conservative party 3. A local who has lived here for years
this takes me back to my childhood when such objects were magical and had a life of their own
I was so moved by these youngsters who took on musical numbers way more sophisticated than they could manage but they sung with such enthusiasm and guts that everyone applauded them for their efforts. They probably imagined they were on a Saturday TV talent show. We all have to start somewhere.
Where would we be without the welly throwing competition
the Mendip brass band

This is a wonderful example of motivation. Helena is getting people to sing who do not think they can sing and maybe have never sung before. She was working against a background of noise and still managed to retain everyone’s attention. Anyone who is a teacher of actors or performers in any form should watch this video. Watch to the end.

PS Unbeknown to me, Michael Eavis of Glastonbury fame opened this event at 11.30 AM to what must have been a handful of people. Is there any limit to this man and his dedication to the community. From the Midsomer Norton Journal “In a short speech that referenced his experience of Glastonbury’s early days, he concluded with “Everything starts at the beginning, and this is the beginning for you people – and next year I shall see you again! Good luck, have a wonderful, wonderful time, and congratulations – I wish you every success’.

This is the true voice of community speaking. His words were not attended by TV crews but this is Michael attending to his responsibility as an influencer of youngsters.

Giles Harrod, a spokesperson for the event said” Michael Eavis did a brilliant job opening the Festival and it is fantastic that ..he .. came to open the event for us; it gave everyone involved a real boost!”

This is what we can do for each other on a daily basis and what we try to do in our own small way from our humble bungalow in BA3

Make sure the stands are not too far away from each other

So, to sum up:

I found enough to keep me interested and occupied for about three hours and was considerably helped by the fact that the weather was ideal.
Full credit to the organisers. Very few people realise that planning for such events start many months before and enormous amounts of people have to be cajoled, coerced, persuaded, begged, even being asked to give up their bank holiday Sunday for the great cause.

My summing up below are just my observations and are not meant personally or critically.

If you possibly can, try and gather everyone together before the event starts and appraise them all the facts they need to know on health and safety, the what if….   and who is supposed to do what. It is easy to slip out of phase in the frantic period building up to the opening time.

There were no programs that I could see available. Printing is cheap enough and having the major features on one A4 sheet and contact details does add to the professionalism.

Have enough seats and enough rubbish bins

Make sure that the music stands are far enough away from each other so they do not disturb.

Committee members should have labels on and any collecting point for money at the entrance should have a certain standard of security.

Don’t situate the features too far from each other because it can get lonely if you’re 50 yards away from the nearest stand and people will not tend to go there. It’s a bit like the coals on a fire, to have an effective heat you need the coals to be fairly close. I was thinking of the Welly Throwing stand though agree you have to be careful of flying objects.

The most important point is that PEOPLE make the event and if people come along willing to make a contribution and be friendly then the event however simple will be a success. It was my impression that the people of Chilcompton came out in very good numbers and enjoyed themselves so you can’t ask for much more really. See you next year.

a lovely sunny day, a boxing match of note, websites good and bad

Friday 26 August 1664

…Up by 5 o’clock, which I have not been many a day…

the sky is blue and we have no obligations today – our garden (part)

I must admit that this morning I was up at just after 4 AM to listen to the fight between a kickboxer versus a 100% real boxer. There is something in my psychology that wants the underdog to win and confound everybody, and there is definitely something about Las Vegas that tells me that an event that happens there will be over the top.  I have been there twice. I think everyone should go to Vegas to see what excesses can bring.

I digress. Back to the boxing. On the one hand, we have Lloyd Merryweather, a lean and mean African-American who had won 49 fights and now wanted to win the 50th and retire on it. In the opposing corner we have the rough and ready Irishmen Connor McGregor whose countrymen would have supported him if he was carried into the ring in a coffin.  A slight look back in history will show you why America is full of Irish people and why he could rely on such good support. According to the US Census statistics of 2000, 34.7 million residents of the USA reported Irish ancestry. That is about 10% of the total population.

Well, they choose to do it

As it happens the American prevailed against someone who was essentially not a boxer but a kick boxer, a different discipline. The kick boxer was full of heart and guts but all accounts. The boxing promoter from the UK, Frank Warren, was asked whether the reputation of the sport had benefited and he was clearly unsure. He did not count the match as a real fight because the Irish man had only been learning boxing for six months and therefore his opponent took him to school. Frank said that if people were prepared to pay the stratospheric prices that were asked, and enjoyed what they saw, then good luck to them. The hundred million payday to each boxer was probably more than all other boxers earned in their entire life certainly in the UK. I suppose ultimately it is showbiz and entertainment and if that’s how people want to spend their own time and money in an act of free will there is really nothing much to say. I was spellbound by the authoritative commentary on Radio Five Live UK – well done people. PS I think you need an East London accent to be convincing

As a special treat this morning we had smoked salmon on buttered bread (my own lovely bread cooked the night before) accompanied by a generous portion of scrambled egg. Later on today we will tackle the formidable pile of leftovers from yesterday but meanwhile we are going to an arts day.

Chilcompton, a local village, is definitely boxing above its weight. its website cannot be accused of self depreciation. It starts by saying that Chilcompton is a vibrant, electric village nestling in the northern slopes of the Mendip Hills. I think that is what is referred to as talking up a place. There are a couple of pubs, an attractive stream, a sports field and club, a lively village hall and a rather famous quilting outlet. That’s all the features I am aware of.

Unfortunately, like so many local directories, the website is not kept up to date in all respects. Under “Events” we find the last entry to the Chilcompton Society Flower Show Saturday, September 5, 2015 to 15 p.m. at the village hall. It sounds like the Webmaster has retired and there is no one else to replace him or her.

General comment: the golden rule of websites is better no information than out of date information or simply wrong information. It annoys the visitor If you say – with or without a friendly icon – that ‘we are working on this page’. In my experience this ‘temporary’ notice can last for months or even years in which case why do you bother with the site at all?  You can use all the wonderful words you want but if it is not backed up by the appropriate integrity of the data the reputation will suffer.

<after further examination> It looks like the site is run by the Parish Clerk who had at one point voluntary temporary help (guess).Parish Clerks have lots to do and it is my guess that she could do with a bit more help and cooperation.

I very much enjoy maintaining websites. Though my technical knowledge of HTML is very small, there are so many DIY sites where anyone capable of typing can put something halfway decent together. There are certain rules of protocol to bear in mind because you don’t want to let your product look amateurish.

Part two of today’s diary will consist of a very lengthy report on the Chilcompton Fringe Festival event taking place this afternoon and evening, Sunday, 27 August 2017, in the middle of the bank holiday weekend.


schadenfreude- healing using goats – preparing for guests

Thursday 25 August 1664

numerous business dealings and some squabbling from our diarist

schadenfreude is a feeling of pleasure or satisfaction when something bad happens to someone else. Hurricane Henry is approaching from the gulf of Mexico and going to  centre its activities on Corpus Christi in Texas. Worse than the wind there is a threat of up to 60 inches of rain. Why do I tune into Fox TV, a station that I never touch with a barge pole, to see the latest gruesome details?

the mayhem and chaos starts

Maybe such catastrophes trigger a fear that we have deep down that something will happen to us but for the moment we are spared. The whole is a bit more complicated. The US Govt have approved 175 patents for weather control. The idea of some disturbed people amongst us is to use perverted Tesla technology as a weapon of for example depopulation. It is much easier to get guns off people if they are vulnerable having lost their homes. Check out if you don’t want to believe me.

This is John Cleese in fine form

And now for something completely different
Yoga with goats – yes really

I’m not quite sure what emotions she is going through. The woman said that she thought the goat was nibbling her hair because to the animal it must look like straw. I think there is a bit more to it than that.

Anyway, I can think of something more interesting though quaint. I had never thought of doing yoga amidst straw bales on a farm where goats would be allowed to interact with me, walk all over me and so on  but some people are evidently quite happy to pay for this being done to them. I think this curious therapies started in USA but it is evidently spreading to this country, the UK.

I don’t have any doubt that animals have unconditional love but it is difficult to detect this in a charging bull. I suppose in this case the love is expressed by protecting their youngsters. From the quite long excerpt on morning television it seems these people are enjoying themselves.

if they benefit they wish to pay the money to have a bunch of kids run all over them who am I to say anything
at a boy!

I know that dogs and cats are very intuitive and supportive and many people tell stories of when they have been feeling depressed and the pet has come and cuddle them and paid attention to them in a particular way, so why not goats.

Somerset does not have a great tradition, come to think of that it doesn’t have any tradition at all of having people round to meals particularly supper.  Historically, the miners will have returned home so exhausted that they will would little more energy than is required for their tea or their supper whatever they call it and then off to bed for a 6 AM start the next day. The retirees round here tend to keep themselves to themselves during the evening though there is a lively scene of groups and societies that start meetings again in September through to June. On these occasions, the standard fare is tea, coffee and cake with other refreshments thrown in if you are lucky. The younger working people are so preoccupied with looking after their kids and surviving the daily commute to Bath and Bristol they don’t have much time for social entertainment particularly during the week. There are many people working on low wages so they have to work  long hours such as the ones who work in shops and so on so they don’t have much disposable time or energy to do social stuff. I’m talking about formal occasions not chatting in the street or over the garden wall.

We however do very much enjoy entertaining and pull the stops out for the people we like. The great thing about having guests is that you have to clean and tidy your house, unless you want to be seen as a complete slob. We spent the whole of the day vacuuming, persuading reluctant spiders to emerge from their place above the skirting board, laying the table and making sure that the implements were clean, cooking ambitious food which as it turned out was far too much for the assembled gathering. I did an amazing shepherds pie which was enough for eight people and we eventually had enough left for my meals for the rest of the week. I shall freeze some of it. For some reason I always over provide food. it is a habit I cannot break. Perhaps I should advise people to fast for the previous 24-hours. I think to myself, quite irrationally, that it would be such a disgrace to run out of food in front of your guests.

Image result for you will leave south africa but it will not leave you airport sign
Table mountain with its famous table cloth viewed from the city bowl.

One of the guests was South African and we were able to share memories of KwaZulu Natal, the wonderful beaches consisting of acres of sand, wine and beer that is not eye wateringly expensive, the friendliness and dignity of the local population, the beautiful sunsets,  the mountainous landscapes. At Cape Town airport there was a sign saying “you will leave South Africa but South Africa will never leave you”. At the time, I laughed at it as a clever PR slogan but it is absolutely true. I have not been back to South Africa now for nearly 3 years and I miss it a lot. I suspect part of my soul is lodged there.

a perfect evening

A most pleasant evening with the delightful feeling that there were many subjects that could be covered but on another occasion. I must find an excuse to go to SA.



If you live a violent life you can live to 100 or you can die tonight

Wednesday 24 August 1664

Up by six o’clock, and ...

I have a certain admiration for people who get up early; they cannot be completely bad because they have the desire for productivity and making the most of the day. Sometimes I get up early only because I have finished sleeping and there is nothing more boring than lying in bed with nothing to do. Having said that, I have my small portable radio tuned to Radio Five Live 24 hours a day and you will be surprised at the quality of the material that happens at 3 AM and also you will be surprised the number of people who are up and able and willing to send texts or make phone calls at such an ungodly hour. Why the phrase ungodly hour has been originated I do not know. I regard the silent hours of the night as rather Godly – peace and quiet in time to think.

Why the headline? I was just listening to Spotify, a rap funk track called “if you live a violent life you can live to 100 or you could die tonight” I thought this was a wonderfully inspired title to a song and reminds us all of the transitory nature of our lives and how anyone can go at any time. I believe that the state of mind you’re in when you transcend your body will determine to a large extent where you continue your conscious existence perhaps in another life or perhaps in deaths fields who knows. I’m absolutely convinced that the soul being immortal  continues on its path irrespective of the particular adornments we have, suits, clothes, which we call  a human body which we wear for a few years and cast off. I do not identify my real self with my body, it’s my body for the moment but it is not me.

It’s a very sad thing to say really but I use my to identify any plane that I hear flying overhead. Anyone with a PC can see who is flying where, and at what altitude and speed and vector. generally, I’m very nosy and so to know who’s doing what when where why is very interesting. This also applies to people walking down a street. It is a cul-de-sac so any stranger is immediately spotted. where we live we have a very low level of burglary. The only case was when some labourers have come in to do some work and took a fancy to something in the house and returned later to claim it on any voluntary basis.

Today I started a big job  of jungle clearing. That is what I advertise  and that is what I do. Clearing dreadful gardens requires a certain vision as to what the garden can be like. An extreme example of this are the lost gardens of Heligan, which were uncovered from ruin. Its a good story. When the National Trust take over a property they look back in the deeds to see what it was intended to be like by the designers, not necessarily Capability Brown  but many of the young designers that existed in the 16th 17th and 18th century.

the back garden before we started our work this morning

Anyway back to the garden. The family situation is quite complicated. the house is going to be rented to by a young lady and her boyfriend.

the same scene a few hours later

The mother of the divorced father owns the property. The daughter on entering the property agrees to pay rent to the mother and the father will pay the bills. There are therefore three separate parties that are interested in the job being done well. The divorced husband who wants to look after his daughter. The daughter who wants a reasonable place for living and the divorcee who would like an income from the property from rent with a security in the future that she can move into it in her old age.

The day was warm and we did work extremely hard. I wanted to push myself to see how hard I could work and whether age was taking its toll. When I was sweating so much I could not work any more I sat down and listened to my heart to see if there were any irregularities but there were none.

The young lady who is going to move into the property, together with her partner, are going to live in this very nice three-bedroom bungalow. There was a most extraordinary reaction to  the work that we had done – the daughter cried. She did not burst out crying, it was what we called tearing. At the mention of her grandmother who used to live in the house,  there were further tears. I don’t think it’s anything to do with the fact that she is a social worker. My partner thinks it’s to do with a kidney energy imbalance.It’s possibly the recall of important memories.

Anyway, this did not bother me at all. If people want to cry it is up to them.  If people want to laugh that great, if people want to flush the toilet  (better out than in) then crying is a good way of doing it.

We discovered that her grandmother was very interested in owls. This followed a discussion about what to do with a big tree that needed felling. Having been to the Bath and West Show I thought it would be very nice to use one of the very talented chainsaw artist to produce the owl  so I thought if they cut the tree down to about 6 feet and let the artist get on with it this would be a wonderful memorial for the grandmother.

Anyway day one finished as you see with taking a completely derelict area,  dragging away many cubic metres worth of spoil, and returning it to the condition as it was 20 years ago when the grandmother was able and willing to cultivate it.

Incidentally, we developed a time-saving way of getting rid of spoil and moving it. We used a huge tarpaulin, dumped everything on it, and dragged it to its new location. There was no need to do any bagging.

The granddaughter brought photographs of how the garden looked in days of yore. It was indeed unrecognisable from its present condition. She said that in the 1980s there were no houses surrounding it and the garden overlooked fields. If you were to look over a wall you would see small houses densely packed together with gardens the size of postage stamps. The daughter said that they had been offered £400,000 for the land but that developers would have used it for flats and she asked her mother to let them keep the house.

The daughter also asked me if I will be available on a weekly or regular basis. I replied saying that this was not our normal way of doing things. Our aim was to work ourselves out of the job so that the owner of the property could maintain it. She then went off on another theme saying that originally she told her dad not to have a gardener because we should do it on our own but she then realised that they didn’t have the tools and the energy to do the job.

A lot of people do underrate our profession and think we are just gardeners but we are far more than that quite a lot of wisdom is required and not a little bit of advice which I for one freely give to potential customers.

I was glad to get back to have a hot shower and a glass or two of white wine.