Monthly Archives: September 2008

Bonjour Francaise

I’m going to France! I’m going to France!

Well only for a day or so to drive a van back for someone but it’s still a trip to France, and back. Woo Hoo!!!

History Today:

1399: Henry Bolingbroke is proclaimed King Henry IV (Part One) upon the abdication of Richard II.

1791: The premier of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

1928: It is officially announced that some geezer has discovered some mould on his bread and then invented Penicillin – great news for all, except those of us allergic to it. How did it take so long, surely mould has been with us since the fall. Congrats to Alexander Fleming though.

1938: Following his agreement with Hitler, Neville Chamberlain returns to Britain and announces that he has negotiated ‘peace with honour’ and declares, “I believe it is peace in our time”. Prat!!

1943: ‘Defense de la France’, an underground paper, publishes the first photographs of Nazi concentration camps.

1949: After 15 months, and more than 250,000 flights, the Berlin Airlift officially comes to an end.

1955: James Dean dies in a car crash in California.

1967: Radio 1 goes on air and becomes Britain’s first legal radio station dedicated to pop music.

1988: A court in Gibraltar rules that the killing of three unarmed terrorists by British soldiers on the island was legal. Fairs, fair…. if they can kill unarmed soldiers and civilians why can’t our troops?

1994: While stopping over in Ireland, Russian president Boris Yeltsin fails to meet the Irish Taiseach Albert Reynolds due to “oversleeping”.

2005: Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper, prints cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed. The cartoons spark worldwide controversy. Talk about over reaction!

Cool Day II

The rest of the weekend was equally as good as Saturday.

Sunday saw our harvets service being led by Victory Outreach. They are a local Christian charity that assists prisoners and drug users to detox and restart their lives. They run several houses for males and females and are widely admired for their success rate.

Unfortunately they have had problems recently with the Supporting People Grant system run by the government. They were told that there were several additionals conditions to meet that would hae effected the success of their work and, despite appeals right to the top of government, they lost their funding.

Now they have to rely on handouts from fellow Christians in order to carry on. Things are looking very tight but they are managing to survive living by faith.

At lunchtime we had a meal to celebrate my sister’s onward march to 40 and her husband’s march to 45 – yes! I know that I’m older than both, though only 9 months more than him. FW was unable to join us as she was doing her final shift at the Folly.

In the evening we managed to work in a visit to Best Man.

History Today:

855 : Benedict III is elected Pope.

1364: An English army defeats the French at the Battle of Auray and end the Breton War of Succession.

1829: Prime Minister Robert Peel establishes the Metropolitan Police – known as “bobbies” and “Peelers”.

1918: After a 56 hour bombardment the Allies breach the Hindenburg Line, the Germans last line of defense on the Western Front. The end is nigh!!

1938: The ‘Munich Agreement’ between Britain, France and Germany cedes the Czech Sudetenland to Germany. Supposedly Hitler would be satisfied with the outcome and shelve further plans for European expansion. I wonder how that worked out!!

1941: Nazi Einsatzgruppen murder 33,771 Jews from Kiev at Babi Yar. This was the worst single Einsatzgruppen atrocity.

1952: John Cobb, the British world water speed recordholder, dies on Loch Ness when his craft, Crusader, breaks up after hitting waves at 240 mph. Or was it the fault of Nessie?

1960: Nikita Krushchev voices his disapproval at the UN’s handling of the troubles in Congo and makes several interruptions during the course of a UN debate in New York. This includes banging his shoe on the dias. They wakey guys these Communists.

1972: China and Japan re-establish diplomatic relations.

Cool Day

It has been a good day.

We had an easy start to the morning. When I woke up there was no sign of FW. She’d woken up earlier and couldn’t get back to sleep, so had gone weeding instead.

For lunch we went to Chapel for our Harvest Lunch. They had agreed to start at 12:30 to accomodate FW’s need to go to work for 14:00; so we turned up at 12:45 🙂 They were vey good about it. They’d also ensured that there were many, many potatoes. T&E hates salad but loves potatoes – whatever their guise. Therefore several ladies kept plying me with more and more bowls.

Thankfully I didn’t over indulge. I had to leave room for the homemade Christmas Pudding. Mmmmmm!!!!

Tomorrow we have our Harvest Festival that is being led by Voctory Outreach. A charity that works with offenders and ex-offenders to show them the salvation that is waiting for them and the rehabilitation and support that can only be found through Jesus. We’ve been waiting to meet them for the last 18 months.

Afterwards I dropped FW at the Folly and made may way down the hill to watch Pooler play Swansea. I was glad I did as we won 20-17, our first win of the season.

Afterwards I collected FW from the Folly and we went to see Best Man, who is looking better and is more engaged with what is happening. I have to remember to take some of his books in tomorrow so he can prove to poeple that he is indeed a writer.

History Today:

1009: Caliph al Hakim orders the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, a Christian holy site.

1540: The Society of Jesus receives its formal charter from Pope Paul III. The society was founded by former Spanish soldier turned priest, Ignatius De Loyola. We know them better as the Jesuits. They are seen as being the “shock troops” of Catholic expansion and represented as Papal spies.

1590: Pope Urban VII dies 13 days after being elected Pope. It is the shortest Papal reign.

1821: Mexico gains independence from Spain.

1825: The world’s first steam locomotive passenger railway opens between Stockton and Darlington.

1939: German troops capture Warsaw.

1940: Germany, Italy and Japan sign a 10 year military and economic aid pact, called the Axis. Within 5 years none of these governments would be in power and their leaders would be dead.

1960: Sylvia Pankhurst, suffragette and international socialist, dies on Addis Ababa at the age of 78.

1964: The Warren Commision publishes its report into the Kennedy assassination and concludes that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole assissin and dismisses the theory of a wider conspiracy.

1970: After 10 days of bitter fighting in Jordan, King Hussein and, the PLO leader, Yasar Arafat sign a ceasfire agreement. Many Palestinians are forced to leave for Lebanon; including the PLO. They face problems there later after destabilising that country as well.

1996: The Taliban seize control of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Rats Entertainment

Those who read this blog, someone must because I’ve had 13000 visits, might remember me writing about the presents left by our cats. Lately I’ve been wondering if there maybe a link with something else.

We have lived in our house for 2 years – it was the anniversary the other day. We’ve had the cats for the same amount of time. Until about 2 months ago the most they’d brought us was a few birds, the odd mouse and numerous moths and butterflies.

2 months ago we started getting baby rats deposited on our doormat, on the stairs and on our bed. Why have we started getting these now? What has changed in the last few months for us to have been left around 12 of them in such a short space of time?

Could there be any link with the change of rubbish collections to fortnightly, alternating between food/garden waste and general waste? I’m sure that the council will tell us that this is not correct but I’m not convinced.

History Today:

1580: Plymouth sees the return of Francis Drake from his circumnavigation of the world, the first by an Englishman. Of course, the great Welsh explorer – Jones The Sail – had already done this 400 years before in his coracle.

1687: Though it had survived unscathed since 432 BC, the Parthenon is severely damaged by a gunpowder explosion. See, it hasn’t always been a ‘ruin’.

1907: A Royal Proclomation changes the status of New Zealand from a colony to a Dominion.

1934: Queen Mary launches a crusie liner – also called Queen Mary.

1944: Operation Market Garden ends in failure. Though the bridges at Eindhoven & Nijmegen had been siezed the main bridge at Arnhem remained in German hands and the British & Polish paratroopers were cut off from the allied thrust. They had survived for 7 days, originally they were to hold for 3. Another great folly in British military history.

1960: The first ever Presidential Candidate Debate takes place between Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon.

1969: The Beatles realese Abbey Road, their final studio album.

1984: Britain agrees that Hong Kong would handed back to China in 1997, as per the original agreement, It would end 150 years of British rule.

Indian Summer

This evening we attended a get to gether to celebrate the arrival of a posse of Global Exchange people from the UK and India. They are going to be spending 3 months working in our local deprived community – if you don’t believe that bit then please come round.

I couldn’t help wondering how a group of Indians would relate to a deprived area in the UK. I mean compare it with much of India and you’d wonder if deprived is the right term. How can you compare the poor and oppressed in India with the poor and depressed here?

We have clean water, little disease, a higher level of employment and even the majority of our deprived are better off than many Indian families. Then again everything is relative to your surroundings. Even the poor, deprived areas of 17th-20th century Britain were a damn sight better than many other countries.

I know that some of the Indians are already effectted by the “cold” that they’re encountering here. Someone asked FW if it would get much colder here?

Colder, this is a mini heatwave for Torfaen matey!!!

History Today:

622 : Muhammed, the founder of Islam, arrives in Medina after fleeing Mecca – the Islamic ‘Hegira’. It’s right what the bible says about prophets not being welcome in their own towns and villages.

1493: Columbus leaves Spain on his second voyage of discovery. All he did was find a bit more of the Americas. Talk about repeats…

1852: Henri Giffard, a French inventor, makes the first manned airship flight, which is powered by a steam engine.

1877: The Japanese Imperial Army quashes the Satsuma Rebellion with victory at the Battle of Shiroyama. What had the Satsuma’s ever done to them. Talk about over reaction.

1890: Mormon leaders reluctantly issue the Mormon Manifesto in which they command all Latter Day Saints to uphold the anti-polygamy laws of the USA. Who in their right mind wants more than one wife – or mother in law?

1971: The British government expels 90 Russians for espionage.

1988: Ben Johnson wins the 100m Gold medal at the Seoul Olympics. He’s later found to be a big, girly drug cheat.

1994: Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy is founded to oppose the repressive Burmese military Junta. They’re still in power but scared ******** of the people. See Rambo 4 for cultural reference…

1998: A bad day for lovers of English literature. The Iranian government states that it will no longer seek to harm Salman Rushdie.

Good News For All

Gordon Brown has announced that this is no time for a novice to take over the leadership of the country. I mean wouldn’t it be atrocious if someone else ruined the country?

He is feeling full of himself at the moment. On the weekend he announced that he was a great success at managing the current crisis. No mention of Northern Wreck, the collapse of the money markets, no access to mortgages, rising government debt, falling tax returns and other such calamities.

Of course none of this is specifically his fault. It’s all down to the world market, nothing to do with government policy or a failure to regulate the money markets. Even after the collapse of Northern Rock the government has told us that the market will take care of itself, that the system is perfectly safe.

The entire system has been based on recirculating debt – whether private or government. Everyone knows that you can’t have more debts than money in circulation. Ok, so I failed A level Economics twice but even I learnt that. At some point the market breaks and down come the banks.

Have you noticed that they are now switching focus onto the bonuses that bankers have awarded themselves? They’ve also focused on people who speculate by short selling stocks they don’t own. Did you hear the governments and regulators complain and urge action? No, you didn’t.

They were too busy letting them discover new ways of creating profits and avoiding taxes. After all they contribute so much to the economy and too political parties, opposition and rulers alike. Politicians seem to be too engrossed in listening to bankers tell them how much more they understand the economy and financial markets.

What everyone forgets is how the economy works. It’s not the whizkids in the investment banks, stockbrokers, politicians or shareholders that make a difference to our wealth. Everything depends on “sentiment” and rumour, not physical or financial. A rumour can destroy a company quicker than anything else. No matter how much evidence they can provide if enough people believe then down she goes.

History Today:

480BC: The Greeks defeat the Persians at the naval battle of Salamis, thus avenging the destruction of Athens.

1112 : The Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire settle their differences when Pope Calixtus II and Emperor Henry V sign the Concordat of Worms. I’d have used ink.

1779 : The U.S. ship Bonhomme Richard defeats the British ships Serapis and Countess of Scarborough off the east coast of England.

1806 : Lewis and Clark return from the first recorded overland journey from the Mississippi river to the Pacific coast and back. No word on the early journey by Daffydd Jones and Bronwyn Williams 200 years before.

1846 : Johann Galle, a German astronomer, discovers Neptune – it was with the old mints and furry sweets down the sofa.

1932 : Saudi Arabia is formed.

1942 : The ‘Manhatten Project’ to deliver an atomic bomb begins under the command of US General Leslie R Groves.

1955 : Barbara Mandell becomes the first female newsreader on British TV.

1980 : Bob Marley performs his last concert in Pittsburgh.

2000 : Rower Steven Redgrave wins his fifth Olympic gold medal in consecutive games, the first person to do so.

Weekend

We visited Best Man on Saturday and found him in good spirits, though somewhat muddled. He was convinced that either his father or us were there to take him home. We had to explain that he was not yet in any condition to come home.

However he did look much better than when we’d visited him last. It looks like his physio work is paying dividends. It was also a much nicer setting to be in. They even have a day room that they can sit in and watch TV.

Yesterday was a very good day. FW went to chapel and work while I lay in bed coughing, spluttering and sleeping. Wouldn’t you believe it, I felt almost 100% better when I woke up this morning. What does a guy need to do to have a day on the sick?

History Today (Yes, it’s back):

1776: Nathan Hale, a school teacher and captain in the Continental Army, is executed by the British for spying. He won’t do that again!!

1792: France is proclaimed as a republic following the revolution.

1828: Shaka, founder of the Zulu kingdom, is murdered by his two half brothers, Dingane & Mhlangana, after his mental illness threatened to destroy the tribe.

1862: Abraham Lincoln’s ‘Emancipation Proclamation’ frees slaves in the Confederate territories from 1st January. Now you just know that Johnny Reb won’t be impressed with that!

1943: British midgets attack and badly damage the German battleship Tirpitz (sounds like a cleaning product) in a Norwegian fjord.

1955: Commercial TV begins broadcasting in the UK.

1975: President Gerald Ford survives an assassination attempt after being shot by Sarah Jane Moore. He had survived an earlier attack that month by Lynette Fromme. And women are the gentler sex?

1980: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invades neighbouring Iran and starts an 8 year war – one of the worst of the 20th Century and that’s saying something!! The US & UK are opnly too happy to supply him with gus and other ammunition. You know that they’ll regret that!

Best Man

The other night I met FW in Newport after work. We decided to eat out in preparation for our visit to see Best man in the local hospital.

As we approached the ward I jokingly said that it would be true to form if we got there and he’d been moved. As we approached his section we saw that his bed had a new occupant. So we went back to the ward board and looked for him. Surprise, surprise his name was absent. We knew he wasn’t well enough to be sent home so checked with the nurses.

One had no idea and the other thought that he may have been transfered the previous Saturday to a hospital nearer to us, which has a very good stroke unit. She kindly rang them to check; he wasn’t in the first ward but was found at the next. By now it was too late to get there before the end of visiting time.

So, tonight we’re off to our local mini hospital. In fairness it is closer to one of his favourite “real ale” pubs. Its a pity he can’t walk along the canal path to sample the delights.

Great Quotes

“What’s wrong with a miniskirt? You can cause an accident because some of our people are weak mentally,” – Nsaba Buturo, Uganda’s Minister for Ethics and Integrity.

“You talk about countries which get together as gangs – you know like the G8 summit. Some people might look at that as a gang, getting together.” – Ice Cube

Kevin Costner was at a screening of his movie, Swing Vote, at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. Whenever anyone tried to sneak out he’d say to them, “You’re coming back, right?”

“The ice cram sits on the sofa” – Mrs T&E

“Do you want a tea or are you ok with that orangey, juicy thing” – Mrs T&E

Work Things

Things are going very smoothly at the moment, a worry for all true cynics. If something goes right in my world then obvioously something must be going very wrong elsewhere.

Mini-Me has no left. The boss decided that it wasn’t worth her seeing out her notice. We couldn’t very well ask her to do work that required someone to oversee what she did, as that would just slow us down and waste time.

Work Colleague has decided that he is now back full time. He was supposed to discuss this with people but made the decision on his own. He has still not learned that things have changed and that he is only supposed to deal with certain customers – as we had agreed prior to his departure. It doesn’t go down too well when he is asked to hand over files or quote requests to me.

Still there is no bad atmosphere thankfully.

History Today:

1745: Bonnie Prince Charlie (The Young Pretender) enters Edinburgh and proclaims his father (The Old Pretender) James VIII of Scotland. No one seems to knows who The Great Pretender was.

1908: Lt Thomas Selfridge of the US Signal Corps becomes the first person to be killed in a plane crash. He was in a plane with Orville WSright at Fort Meyer in Virginia. Those pesky Wright Brothers.

1939: The Soviet Union invades Poland without declaring war, having made a secret agreement with Nazi Germany on the dismemberment of Poland.

1944: Operation Market Garden begins with the mass descent of allied airborne troops from Eindhoven to Arnhem.

1970: King ussein of Jordan launches an attack on the Palestinian guerillas all across Jordan, in what becomes known as Black September. Later to become a terrorist organisation and a film.

1972: M*A*S*H debuts on network TV in the US.

1978: The Camp David Accords are signed developing a framework that led to a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. It brought an end to 3 decades of conflict between the countries. Following the signature of the peace deal Anwar Sadat & Menachim Begin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – 3 years later Sadat is assassinated for his actions.

1993: The British National Party wins its first council seat in a by-election in Millwall, East London.

2004: Cechen warlord, Shamil Basayev claims responsibility for the having organised the Beslanscool siege. 320 hostages, mainly children, were killed.