Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Migration 'fuelling Hepatitis B'

BBC reports, "Hepatitis B could be added to the list of childhood vaccinations
Increasing immigration means the UK must start thinking seriously about vaccinating every new child against Hepatitis B, specialists claim.
The Hepatitis B Foundation UK estimates the number of cases of the condition has almost doubled in six years, due in part to the arrival of infected people.

There is currently nothing to stop this estimated figure - 326,000 - doubling again, it says.

The charity also wants to see at-risk groups targeted, tested and treated.

The Hepatitis B virus is transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, for instance via unprotected sex or the sharing of contaminated needles."

So why vaccinate everyone when not all of us are into exchanging body fluids or injecting street drugs? This of course from the nation that refuses to discriminate e.g do some profiling before airport searches

A House Divided?

Click the title for the not very interesting case in the U.S. Supreme Court, GRAHAM v. WEEKS, 138 U.S. 461 (1891)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cakifornia 2007 (10)

We left Grass Valley, 8am Wednesday and took Highway 49 south. The 49
is named after the 1849 Gold Rush and the road twisted and turned through
the Sierra Nevada foothills through the old mining towns. Well it
used to go through but now goes round some. This confused Clementine
or sat nav and she froze at one point. After this incident at Sutter
Creek we had a coffee and Castroville on the coast south of San
Francisco and went there via freeways. At one point it looked like we
were being directed back to Sacramento but immediately after
following this direction we saw Clementine was really sending us
south towards San Jose really but the instructions were confusing.
However the next day she was a star in getting us back to the Hertz
returns place at the airport.

The Sierras had been hazy but the Pacific coast was clearer. We did a
total of nearly 400 miles in the day, by far our longest drive as we
only totalled 1650 miles the whole holiday.

We lunched at Castroville which proclaims itself the artichoke
capital of America. I unusually had a veggie lunch of fried and
boiled artichokes. It was a late lunch and as we went north up the
coast we saw few motels. When we stopped for gas, the other five
people in the gas station were all speaking Spanish. We did see and
photo a grand Pacific sunset but it was after dark when we found a
quite expensive motel at El Granada, half an hour from the airport in
the morning. We got there in very good time for a five hour flight to
Washington. Next to us was a professor of environmental studies at
Stanford University. I declared my dissent from the received views of
global warming.This time we were in seats with more leg room. I was
dopey after the long drive the day before. Washington is three hours
ahead of SF so we were there about 9pm, local time and due to leave
for Heathrow at 10 pm.

I have to say in contrast with our flight out, booking in
electonically was easy. A delayed luggage container cost us an hour's
delay in leaving and on arrival at London we has to wait half and
hour for a gate at the terminal. On this flight we had the films
showing on little video screen on every sweat. I had a good laugh at
The Simpsons' movie and Evan Almighty. So we were at Perivale via
tube and a kind Debbie by 1.15 pm. We are now unpacked and await the
jet lag kicking in. it has been a gerat break. My only slight problem
is i left the mains lead for my new laptop in Grass Valley.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

California 2007 (9)

The alarm will go off in 15 minutes and we will be finishing packing, breakfasting and leaving for the coast south of San Francisco via the Gold mining towns under the Sierras. It is the picturesque route not the freeways. I will rely on Clementine my sat nav friends. I program. She guides.

Our hosts were off to the airport an hour away in Sacramento at 4am, their daughter Esther driving. They are holidaying in Boston. Unfortunately Esther did not tell three year old Jacob this was the plan, so when he awoke five minutes after they left, we were in trouble. After five inconsolable minutes he stopped crying. Eventually he asked for a story, then a video, then he went to bed. but I thought I should stay up and explain ti Esther . She arrived at 6.30 so I have not slept much.

yesterday i had a haircut in honour of the forthcoming wedding. It is cheaper here than London. This was in grass valley 11 miles distant. While I was trimmed, the ladies shopped. I could not see them after the haircut so I went to sample the delights of what was advertised as the oldest saloon wast of the Mississippi. sadly there were none of the gals you see in the Westerns. I could not smoke a cigar and the bourbon price had increased dramatically.

After lunch out with the roes and a neighbour from the church, a lady meteorologist expert in satellite data, Dennis and I drove about 20 miles to the small-holding of Jason, a church member, who has a property with space enough for us to shoot. last time I was here I got to hold the guns but not to shoot. Yesterday I learned how to shoot a semi-automatic colt 45 and hit the target 3 times out of a 9 shot magazine at 25 yards. The 30 caliber rifle is more accurate. Bolt action, I got 2 out of 2 on target and quit while ahead. Surprisingly I felt no real kick from it. I would have from the next gun, a modern made, 50 caliber flintlock muzzle loader, but our host, Jason, got the ball stuck as he rammed it home and we had one jammed gun, no shots. Dennis then told me about pistol shooting up close and personal in Viet Nam. Lets's just say his targets were close and dangerous. He was shooting a Beretta automatic today. Pastors and gun control are different here. i love it. There are deer and mountain lion around Jason's place but you are only allowed to shoot deer. Mountain lions, it seems, need protection. They do though kill livestock at times and we heard the tale of a jogger who did not run fast enough a while back.

Home again with a little trauma on the way. I nodded off with my right hand outside the lowered jeep window. I woke shouting with two fingers painfully trapped in a closed window. I hollered for Dennis to stop raising the window, but it wasn't his fault. Falling asleep my left hand had slipped down onto the window switch and raised the window. better a self-inflected injury with the window than with those guns. Perhaps i should have entitled this, "How I injured myself going shooting".

Being green

I am not a worrier about global warming. If there is a majority position on any given issue, I, having a reactionary nature, will naturally oppose it. That does not explain all my rationale in jumping off the global warming band waggon. I know too much history not to be aware that climate cycles happen. The planet warms up a bit, cools down a bit. it happens. Why worry? Worry because it is due to CO2 emissions? I might: except for the melting icecaps I hear about on Mars where there are no human emissions.

We recycle just about everything. I drive as economically as possible but It is for economic not ecological reasons. Twelve years as a not very well off missionary, also being raised in a manual worker's home, taught me frugality. That affects my consumption; not global warming.

Finally, (and you can call this one selfish, I do not care), now that I have the money to travel I am not going to stay at home because of the views of other people about carbon footprints.

When we were kids folk worried about the bomb. It never happened. Today the worry is global warming. Relax, kids; it won't kill you. You would be better off preventing preventable diseases, especially venereal ones. Now there is a threat to life. The safe sex message is a linguistic and factual mistake It advocates something that is not safe. Chastity before, and fidelity within marriage, these alone mean safe sex. Self-control is needed: self-regulation not government intervention..

I must find the cartoon I had of a boy asking his grandfather what his generation had worn for safe sex. "A wedding ring", was the old man's reply.

I will teach my grandchildren this, not green garbage. I want them to sort out the trash, I do: the intellectual as well as the the stuff in the bins.

Green taxes are real trash. Merely another way of socialist, statist, big government shoving its hand into my pocket again. ENOUGH!


Waitress, excuse me a minute, now listen.
No I’m not finding fault miss, the taties are lovely, the beef is alreet –
but what sort of pudding is this?
It’s what? Yorkshire Pudding? Nar, come, come, come, lass.
It’s what, Yorkshire pudding, you say?
Nay, its pudding I’ll grant you, some sort of pudding, but not Yorkshire Pudding.
Nay, nay, the real Yorkshire Pudding’s a poem in batter
To make one’s an art not a trade.
Now listen to me for I’m going to tell thee how’t first Yorkshire pudding was made.
A young angel on leave from Heaven came flying above Ilkla Moor,
And the angel, poor thing got a cramp in her wing
And came down at an old woman’s door and the old woman smiled and said, “eee, its an angel-well I am surprised to see thee.
I’ve not seen an angel afore but thas welcome. I’ll make a nice cup of tea.”
And the angel said, “ee thank you kindly I will.”
Well she had 2 or 3 cups of tea, 3 or 4 sally lunns and a couple of buns, angel’s eat very lightly you see.
Then the old woman looked at the clock and said,
“By gum he’s due home from t’mill is my Dan. You get on wi yer tea,
But you must excuse me, I must make puddin now for t’old man.”
Then the angel jumped up and said, “give me a bowl, flour and water and eggs, salt and all
and I’ll show thee how we make puddings in heaven for Thomas and Peter and Paul.”
Then the old woman gave her the things and the angel just covered her wings and prayed with a hush.
Then she tenderly tickled the mixture wit’ spoon like an artist would paint with a brush.
She mixed up that pudding with Heavenly magic, she played with her spoon on that dough,
Just like Liberace on the piano or Kennedy would twiddle his bow.
And the old woman whispered, “ Oh angel, the clouds that I see in yon’ skies,
so fleecy and foamy is batter for pudding for saints feasting in Paradise.
It’s mixed with the rain and its stirred with a rainbow and baked in the beautiful sun.”
The angel kept stirring and smiled as she answered, “and when a star falls, it’s done!
But joking aside,” Said the angel, “the secret of puddings made here or above
is not in the flour and the water but when you’re mixing it, see that you mix it… with love.”
And when it were done, she put it in t’oven and said to t’old woman, “goodbye.”
Leaving the first Yorkshire Pudding there had ever been made…. and that’s why:
It melts in the mouth like the snow in the sunshine.
As light as a maiden’s kiss.
As soft as the fluff on the breast of the dove……..

(Marriott Edgar)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The changing world (2) Skipton on Swale 1952-63

So we arrived at Skipton in 1952. I was to be there until I left for university twelve years later. Terrace House will always remain home though my parents later sold it and moved to Thirsk. The first time they saw the house was during the war, before I was born. local gossip told them of the spectacular crash of a Canadian Halifax bomber in the middle of the village. They cycled over from Topcliffe and saw the incredible sight of a crashed plane in front of what, a decade later became their home. An old lady from the village, now in Glory, told me that one morning relatives were staying and she invited the to go with her up on the hill behind her house and watch the planes coming back from bombing Germany. As they got to the top of the hill there was a tremendous noise of a plane coming straight at them. They lay flat on the ground in fear and if crashed about 30 yards beyond them on the village green. In those days it was a triangle of about 50 yards a side, houses on all sides and an elm tree in the middle. Nothing was demolished except a garden wall where a boy was killed as were three of the crew. The place is now marked with the RCAF war memorial and a maple tree, given by Canada to replace the elm which died of Dutch Elm disease.

Our village had a population of less than one hundred, one church, one chapel a shop and a post office. The place was transformed by the arrival of the Canadians at the new airfield. The Vale of York is flat and well suited to airfields. Apart from our village their were bomber fields at Dalton, Topcliffe and Dishforth, all within a six mile radius of our field. Less than 10 miles away was Leeming, fighter command to protect the bombers. My father was sent to Thirsk in the Royal Artillery in 1940 to service searchlights protecting the airfields. By the time we arrived Skipton and Dalton were abandoned to decay and reversion to agriculture. Topcliffe was coastal command with Neptunes, Dishforth had transports. Both are no longer in RAF use. but Leeming is to this day fighters. Th sound of a Tornado is absolutely frightening close up. I remain full of admiration for the young men who bombed Germany. A tour was 25 flights. They knew that losses were such you were unlikely to survive one tour. Some survived two. That the government never issued a campaign medal to them remains a national disgrace. Presumably the reason is that ethical questions were raised over our bombing. But if Bomber Harris got a statue, why have these men no special medal? It was the Germans who started indiscriminate bombing back in the previous war. I have no problems with Bomber Command. But all that remained of them when we moved to Skipton in 1952 were ruined buildings and some children whose Canadian fathers never got around to marrying their local mothers. My best friend was one such boy. Innocent little me never heard any stigma attached to him.

My father left Bamletts to work for Yorkshire Agricultural Driers who had big machines to dry mown grass for animal feed. The firm had some Ukranian workers, soldiers I believe who we must have liberated from the Germans and mercifully not returned to the USSR. Mum never worked outside the home. Their life revolved around the local chapel where Dad became Sunday School superintendent. He was also a Methodist local preacher as were two of his brothers in law. Methodism then was evangelical. later as liberalism infected it, evangelicals in the main left going one of two ways, reformed or charismatic, the latter with true Yorkshire enthusiasm, ofter wildly so. It had a lot in common with the old Primitive Methodism before to 1920s union with the more staid Wesleyans. As at Topcliffe I went to Sunday School morning and chapel at night, their one weekly service. Later I went to Methodist Guild on Monday night but in 1952 I was too young to stay up that late, especially after walking to school nearly a mile away then back again each day. In fact at one time we did that return journey twice a day when schoolmeals were served in Skipton.

The journey to school in winter meant lots of ice on the road. I do not subscribe to the global warming theory but winters in Yokshire in the fifties were much colder than in London half a century later. But the abiding memory of those walks is dead and dying rabbits. rabbits were a plague. farmers shot them. then myxymatosis was introduced from Australia. It almost exterminate all the rabbits. they became rare. As i walked to school I would see dead maggot ridden bunnies, lots of them. The maggots seemed to stary even before the rabbits died. it was a cruel disease but one welcomed by the farmers whose only concern was, as we say in Yorkshire, brass.

There were three large farms in the village. Two changed hands while we were there and were owned then by brothers. One later gave me permission to fisk in the River Swale. Farmers let the rights to angling clubs but always with the proviso that they could grant permission to family and friends gratis. Later I spent many happy hours fishing. I think a seven pound barbel was my best catch. Mr.Frank Neesam was the local expert. He fished for pike using live-bait. I expect that is now banned. The river changed considerable when the Topcliffe weir was reduced in height after the mill ceased to operate around 1963 (?). Once upon a time one could catch more than coarse fish for my uncle's farm downstream was Salmon Hall. So before the muck from West Riding industry polluted the Humber there must have been a salmon run in the Swale, but I think it was in the 18th century. Ours was coarse fishing. We were worm drowners as one who had graduated to fly fishing for trout would call us. I did though one eat one of Frank's pike and even tried one of my perch but the later was too bony. We regularly saw water rats on the bank. In 1963 we had the big freeze, the only time you could walk across the water except by the bridge. To this day there remains a carving on the bridge with my initials and those of my first really serious girlfriend. Even the dates of the romance are there with an end date replacing the infinity sign as originally cut by a lovelorn teenager. But I am jumping ahead of my schooldays at Catton School.

California 2007 (8)

Yesterday morning we went to check out the church and premises to be hired for the wedding of our hosts third daughter next July. $4000 for the reception premises alone! Then we shopped for someone at a certain store I detest followed by creole fast food for me and Chinese for Mum in said mall. Then it was shopping at Sam's Club - like Makro, discount bulk shopping. Back here we chilled out and I got more into Facebook. Love this Mac!

Check out my Facebook profile

Graham Weeks
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Check out my Facebook profile

I set up a Facebook profile with my pictures, videos and events and I want to add you as a friend so you can see it. First, you need to join Facebook! Once you join, you can also create your own profile.


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Monday, November 12, 2007

The changing world (1) First memories at Topcliffe 1946 - 52

The evidence for my entry into the world is a birth certificate dated 12 May 1946 at Newport Monmouthshire, England. The last two words are significant as on the birth certificates of all my children except the eldest, it shows their father was born in Newport, Gwent, Wales. I think it was Harold Wilson who moved the goal posts. I am not Welsh but English and in character Yorkshire to boot. I was taken north in 1947, a babe in arms, and did not leave until I went to university in The Great Wen in 1964. I have not lived in God's county since, but tribal and sporting loyalties as well family are there and I regard myself as a Tyke in all but place of birth.

My father was the fourth and final generation of the family to have worked in iron in Newport. His story is told at He came north to the place where he had met my mother Mary, in 1940, thanks to the army. They had met at Castlegate Methodist Church,Thirsk, where her father, George Graham, was the pastor. When the government was sending young women from Thirsk for war work in Manchester, she asked if she could go to Newport as Fred was back there at work as a toolmaker at the request of his employers. The said employers had forced him into the army though he had a reserved occupation. The reason was his trade union activity. He had stood up to exploitative bosses and feared that after the war, as soon as they could, they would be rid of him. So he jumped to the village of Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, before he was pushed. There he worked initially for the engineering manufacturers, Bamlets , in Thirsk, We lived next door to my maternal grandparents as he was now pastor for Topcliffe Methodists . The house was shared with Tom and Joyce . Tom Rayner, eldest son of a local farmer, had married my mother's younger sister and the house belonged to the family farm. We were there for five years. Joyce was a very loving aunt who soon had two boys of her own. Tom was a disciplinarian and I was in awe of him but enjoyed visits to his family farm, less than a mile away, down the hill (yes the village was aptly named Topcliffe ) and past Lister's mill. The mill dam made for seasonal flooding of the River Swale, blocking the farm road. It also gave excellent fishing below the weir and my grandfather had free access to this, a kindness from Mr. Lister, the owner. Grandad took me fishing there, one of my earliest memories before I started school. We received our milk, in a can brought by Uncle Tom, straight from milking his cows

Other pre-school memories are the outside toilet. In those days such toilets were not flushed. You sat on a box.
But I believe were were flushing ours. There was an outside shed which served as laundry room. No washing machine but a boiler for the clothes , a posser to wash them and a big mangle to squeeze out the water, Monday was always wash day. From the kitchen beams hung sides of home-cured bacon. There was no fridge but a cool pantry.

One thing, other than Tom, frightened me in that house. On the landing before I went to bed, I would see two paintings of Highland cattle. Big long horns and shaggy coats were frightening to a small boy and for decades after I had nightmares of being chased by cattle. My father told me his bad dreams were of still being in the army. Lives are affected by traumas real or imaginary.

My parents had married in the local chapel just down our road, Church Street. Grandad had been the minister then but when I was pre-school he was at Altofts near Wakefield . But chapel was the centre of social life. It was Sunday School in the morning and service in the evening. The large gallery and hand pumped pipe organ are memories as is the big event of the church year for us kids, Sunday School Anniversary . A platform, always seemingly rickety to me, was build above the communion table area in front of the pulpit . Children did their special music and recitations from it. You were expected to learn "your piece '. My public speaking was from that platform at I believe the age of four when I recited,

Jesus died for all the children,
All the children in the world.
Red and yellow,
Black and white;
All are in his sight.
Jesus died for all the children,
All the children in the world.

I had never seen anyone not white!

It was a good start for the fourth geneation of Weeks preachers.

Our Yorkshire Methodism then was lively and evangelical. We were t'chapel folk. Other folk were t'chuch, Church of England and spiritually dead as far as we were concerned. Harvest Festival with a special visiting preacher like on Sunday School Anniversary was the big day in the year, Harvest Festival Sunday, church all decorated with gifts, was followed by Monday evening service, supper and auction of produce. Money raised was for chapel funds and often there was friendly rivalry as to who bought what followed by great satisfaction for the donor if her stuff had made a good price.

Sadly, this Methodist chapel like many other rural ones, has been closed. The triumph of liberal theology. My grandfather was the first minister there 1940 or so. My uncle was the last about sixty tears later. So the Methodist Chapel Aid fund is awash with money and now in 2018 our present church has been able to borrow from it for our new Presbyterian building.

Of course there were the major festivals too. Christmas was always preceded by the adults going round the community in dark and cold singing carols. It was a very sociable time, even with snow on the ground. Singers looked forward to those places where they would be invited in for a drink (always non-alcoholic) and a mince pie.

We had like other Yorkshire villages the custom of luckybirding on Christmas and New Year mornings. Children would go out early while folk were still abed and loudly sing,

Luck , lucky bird,
Cluck, cluck, cluck.cluck.
If you get uo you'l have no luck.
A hole in your stocking,
A hole in your shoe,
Please will you spare us a copper or two.
If you've not got much a penny will do.
Luck bird, lucky bird,
God bless you.

We would come home enriched by a few coins. We would get some on Boxing day too by a method of begging unique to Topcliffe, Yowling. All the local children would go as a crowd to the houses of only the wealthier villagers and yowl. This meant shouting "Yule" with a drawn out , "Yoooooooooool, Yooooooool ". After a few minutes of this the householder would come out with a shovel full of hot pennies heated on the coal fire (no central heating) and throw the coins over the crowd. Children scrambled for wealth.

Once a year to there was an annual village horse fair. For the week before, gypsies would come with horse-drawn caravans, to trade horses. The fair dated back centuries to a royal charter. Locals disliked the gypsies and eventually the fair was stopped by an act of parliament no less. But when I were a lad, gippoes were not liked. I suppose it was the only time we got to racism but as gypsies are white, no-one thought of it as prjudice . No, we disliked them because we regarded them as untrustworthy thieves whose women knocked on our doors selling sprigs of heather with the implied threat of a curse if you did not purchase. Ours was an homogenous ethnic community , save when the gippoes came. Society divided on the lines of church or chapel. You were of one or t'other even if you did not attend.

I started at the village school, aged five in 1951. That must also be the time of my political memory, mother hearing on the radio that Churchill was back as Prime Minister. Labour was out. She seemed pleased. Not she was a Conservative but because Churchill was the great man. The local doctor has given baby me the compliment of saying I had a Churchillian brow. I remember well, old Doctor Toby Mitchell. His surgery was opposite our house. He has a gruff, scary voice. I am told it was due to a silver plate put in his throat after the effects of too much pipe smoking.

Going to school was a walk down the street and across the busy main road. I do not recall being accompanied to school. It was a safe place. I do not recall any supervised crossing of the busy road linking the A!, Great North Road, to Thirsk and Teeside . I do recall tripping over the uneven pavement near the chapel and having a bloody face and knees. Short trousers only in those days for us lads.

School would have had two classes only though to leaving age of 15. You were there for 10 years unless you passed the 11 plus exam and made it to the Grammar School. Uncle Tom's youngest sister Winnie had . Few did and I was to be one of the fortunate ones too.

We left Topcliffe in 1952 after February I know. I can tell that because I remember being told that month that the King was dead. Before the Coronation in June 1953 we were settled in our own Terrace House, Skipton upon Swale, four miles away , and with a different school.

I cannot remember much about starting School but I do know we had slates to write on. As we left , Trerank, Church Street, Topcliffe, my grandparents moved into the house with Tom, Joyce and their boys, Robert and Arthur. Cancer had forced grandad to retire form his ministry. He had come to Topcliffe to die which he did in agony. He was not given enough morphine for an easy going. In fact the doctors initially told the family he was terminally ill but did not tell . He left behind a priceless record , a diary account of his life from his conversion as a boy around 1910. He was an agricultural laboure in the far north of Northumberlan. He became an active leader of men organising the agricultural workers' union before he was accepted for the Primitive Methodist ministry after a time in the army in occupied Germany. We still have his postcards from there as well as his account of the first world war as experience by an ordinary Northumbrian .

California 2007 (7)

We had welcome rain in the night but a fine day, warm enough for lunch on the veranda, but a swift drop in temperature before dark.

It is 11 miles to church in Grass Vally. The congregation is a little smaller than IPC and more families with children. I spoke on mission in London at the 9.30am adult Sunday School. Dennis preached. Lunch was pizza at their home with 10 other guests. Evenibg service was preceded by a pot luck meal at church. The service was a video on cults with a discussion afterwards.

I am suffering a really bad cold, my first in over six months. Probably caught it on the long flight over.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

California 2007 (6)

Yesterday, Saturday we had a quiet day in. Rain has
come to end their long drought. Enjoyed Hotel Rwanda
on DVD last night. Dennis, in the morning, had me watch an American football game. I always thought it a cross bewtween chess and GBH. I could never work out where the ball was but Dennis says that is the whole point. After him explaining the rules I conclude it is a simple game for those not capable of rugby. It is brash and simple; very American really. I mean; these people are the frendliest on earth but they do not appreciate complicated games like rugger or cricket.


The word is part of the victim culture so irrespective
of its meaning, should be avoided. The whole debate
with homosexuals is a linguistic battle. I never refer
to them as gay. if I am polite I talk about
homosexuals, if not it is queers. They use it so why
can't I? I actually like the word homosexualist
because it is neutral as to orientation but indicates
one supportive of the homosexual agenda. Cameron and
most politicians are homosexualists. My favourite
quote is,
'It would encourage clear thinking on these matters if
persons were not characterised as heterosexual or
homosexual, but as individuals who have had certain
amounts of heterosexual experience or homosexual
experience. Instead of using these terms as
substantives which stand for persons, or even as
adjectives to describe persons, they may be better be
used to describe the nature of the overt sexual
relations, or of the stimuli to which an individual
erotically responds.'
Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male Kinsey et al 1948

The other area I battle over language, is the E.U..
I am not a Europhobe, afraid of Europe, I am a misEU,
believing the EU to be a bad thing. I had to invent my
own word as I distinguish between the hated EU and the
continent I appreciate. EUrophiles do not

Message dans un bouteille

A clergyman is facing a litter fine after he put scripture messages into bottles and tossed them in the sea. Instead of drifting across the North Sea, as Pastor Leslie Potter had hoped, the bottles floated back to beaches in Norfolk. He now faces a fine for littering the sands at Gorlestone, where angry walkers had to pick them up. The pastor said: “They were supposed to end up in Holland, France and Germany.”
London Metro (Imogen Forster)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Taking God's Name in Vain

Jesus Christ! God ! It is as expletives one most commonly hears of God in common speech. I think we need a campaign in favour of the third commandment.

What is the word most detested today? Not the F word or the C word but the N word. I wonder when there will be a reissue of The Dam Busters with a new name for Gibson's black dog? Once upon a time, nigger meant black. IIRC in my youth there was a colour called nigger black. Of course we were all wicked racists then. We even had golliwogs on our jam and wore them as badges. I still have one I dare not wear. In 50 years a word has been cast into outer darkness and reprobated. I am not calling for its re-instatement. Some words have gone in other directions. I never use the word gay except to describe my own light hearted character. I'm a bit queer like that.

What I want is to start the C3istas, militant advocates of the third commandment. When people misuse the name of God we should speak out, take action. Why should we suffer in silence? Muslims don't. Try bandying Mo's name about in an irreverent way and see what happens. It is significant they may take Allah's name in vain but not Mo's. Perhaps one should revert to the use of Mohammedan, but I really must curb my provocative instincts. I will stick to being the founder C3ista. I ask for tactical advice and a good logo.

The wonder of Mac

I can now photograph myself as I type. Narcissus would have died for this.

California 2007 (5)

Friday Dennis drove us to Sacramento, an hour away, to see the old town, dating form Gold Rush days and designated a national Park. I wanted to see the Railway museum which told the story of the railway coming to California. There was a film and then a retired black man, a volunteer guide, told us about the exhibits. he was an incredible fount of history but I noted that neither the film nor he talked about the security problems building the railroad. The locals were not friendly to the bringers of the Iron Horse ... but we mustn't talk about that, this id the land of political correctness. But the exhibits were fine, so shiny they did not look old, unlike some of the toy trains on display which looked their age.

From the museum we met up with Joanna, the Roe's youngest daughter who is studying sociology locally. We lunched together on a balcony overlooking the river. I enjoyed jambalaya, a new Southern experience with good prawns, and a decent beer too, once it warmed up to a drinkable temperature, which did not take long as it was in the 70s all day.

After lunch we visited the state Capitol but Arnie was not at home. He'll be back. Then I wanted to see the oldest building in the place, Sutter's Fort, the destination of safety and sustenance for the waggon trains.

Before dinner at the Roe's we had our one and only bad experience of the country so far. Can you believe that you can go to a store in a huge mall, tell the assistant what you saw on their web site with exact identification, only to be told it means nothing to them, they do not relate their stock to their web site. So my message to one and all is do not shop at Abercombie and Finch. The ambiance is revoltingly sexual, the noise (music?) too loud, and like IKEA, they are run solely to sell what is in stock and not to serve the customer with what they want.
Here endeth the rant. BOYCOTT THEM.

In the same mall I was offered a job. Santa was already in his grotto and after I walked past a lady came out to ask if I would like a job. I told her I was experienced in the post but was waiting until the week before Christmas before I start in my pharmacty as Santa. I also told her I coud not do it professionally as in England you would have to have a CRB check to prove you are not a paedophile. As i believe the common law had always presumed innocence I refuse to prove I am not a criminal pervert. As it is i am not interested in having demandng children on my knee. Kissing their mums though, that is a different story :-)

California 2007 (4)

Thursday we breakfasted at 7.30 at The Miners Inn,
Mariposa, then off to Yosemite again. This time was
much better and cooler. I stopped for lots of photos.
Our destination was Glacier Point which joins Elgol on
Skye and Crater Lake as my top views. Then we motored
out of the park and across the Sierras to Nevada which
looks very barren. Lakes all showed the drought here
is severe. In the park waterfalls were a trickle.
Twice I had to slow down for police cars. No we saw
three and I was told one place was hot on fining
speedsters. All through the 282 mile journey until
arriving here at 9.15, we enjoyed chatting with Julie.
When we got in she was off to nurse through the night
at the hospital. Two of her three daughters are nurses too.
We had dined at a chinese in Carson City, named after
Kit Carson, the man who led wagon trains over the

California 2007 (3)

On Wednesday 7 November we drove from Grass Valley to
Yosemite, a four hour 200 mile trip. Julie is with us
but Dennis is working. We are staying in Mariposa, an
old Gold Rush town an hour from Yosemute (for reasons
of economy). We went up Yosemite Valley yesterday and
will return today. But the Miners Inn here has no
internet access it seems so this news will be late
reaching you. Yosemite is awesome with El Capitan at
4500 feet of rock face, the biggest on earth. We go
back up the valley this morning and will take a tour
of the sights. Sadly drought means there will be
little to see of the waterfalls. It was up to 70 F
yesterday. This is Gold Rush 1849 country still.
So I have renamed the sat nav, Clementine as she is local and does not get us !'lost and gone forever'.

California 2007 (2)

Grass Valley 7 Nov 2007
Yesterday was beautifully warm and sunny, perfect for
tourism as it is out of season.

After a great breakfast we set of to see our host's
married daughter Abigail and husband Steve in Caloma,
a nearby town. En route we stopped to snap the highest
bridge in the country which looks like an inverted
coat hanger having one central tall pillar. The we
stopped at the Gold Mining Museum at Sutter Creek
where the Gold Rush started in 1849. We merely looked
at the outdoor exhibits for free. Sadly I could not
see any of the yellow stuff to take home.

We all lunched in Placerville (pronounced
Plasserville) on the veranda of a 49er era building
then leaving the younger generation went through a
pass, (one pioneered by Kit Carson on the Santa Fe
trail?) to Lake Tahoe (6000ft?) where the views were
stunning as sunset came. The reflections were perfect
in still water. We had a Starbucks then came home via
the Donner Pass, scene of a waggon train tragedy.

Denis drove out hire car all day so I could jump out
and photograph easily. He also gave me my new Mac
laptop which arrived some days ago. It is great though
I am slow to learn all the new bells and whistles.

Today it is off to Yosemite, a four hour drive at
least and an overnight stay.

We have already been invited back here in July for a
family wedding!

I have named the sat nav, Stupid, but, getting to know
here better has improved the relationship and so I
have now renamed her, Not So Stupid, realising that
part of my problem with her on Monday night was my
inexperience with her character, Whereas I complained
then of her paucity of verbal instruction I am now
happier to be guided by that rare bird, a woman of few
words. I also better understand her maps.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

California 2007 (1)

Grass Valley 6 Nov 2007
Yesterday we rose at 5am to be ready for kind son in law Adrian to pick us up at 6.30. The M4 to Heathrow was slow due to fog and so was the airport. Have they not heard of radar?

Check-in for our flight was very frustrating. We go to the Lufthansa desk to be told we had to go to a machine first. The machine did nor recognise my details. I asked an employee who said that we should queue at the ticket desk as the plane had not yet left Frankfurt. We queued then heard over the tannoy we could use the machine now. It would not take my card for the air miles. So we queued again very, very slowly. Eventually she told us we did not have an electronic ticket. I said we did I had given her the printout. No, that was the itinerary and we should go to check in. I said that was where we started and I was not doing it again. She phoned United, out carriers. They gave her numbers and a very pleasant Bulgarian checked us it. Through security we found the indicator board said, 'Please wait' for the 9.50 to Frankfurt. We did, until about 10.50 when it told us to board. We left an hour and a half late. Can't these people fly on instruments?

So at Frankfurt we had 30 minutes to change terminals and board. We were about the last on board a packed jumbo. We left at 1 pm GMT for an 11 hour flight to San Francisco where the time is 8 hours behind GMT.

It was a good flight though all four movies were rubbish as far as I was concerned. Invisible IIRC was kids stuff. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix needed you to have seen the previous ones. Hairspray was a B rated musical and I cannot recall the last one. I read about the history of settling the west of the USA and looked outside.

We flew north of Iceland into night then west into light again to arrive in SF at 4.30 their time. I puzzled as to why one goes north to fly west and then realised it is to do with the curvature of the earth meaning this is the shortest route.

As when we flew to Vancouver, the wonder of the emptiness of the frozen Arctic wastes of Greenland and Canada makes one praise the glory of the creator and puts puny man in perspective.

United has the oldest cabin crew I have ever seen. They were efficient but no free booze and US ginger ale is anaemic. Starbucks coffee is OK though and the food was passable.

We got through the airport with gratitude that our four cases had made it too. Hertz had upgraded our Mazda car to one with the most inefficient sat nav I have had the misfortune to use. She is a woman of few words, takes a while to correct the route if you have erred and err we did as she is not as efficient as the sat navs I have experienced at home. but we only went wrong in two places thought he second was a protracted wandering round Auburn seeking where she was telling us to go for Grass Valley. But we made it. We got here just after 10 pm local time having spent about two and a half hours on a 125 mile journey out of SF and over the bay to here which is Gold Country, north west of Sacramento.

Denis and Julie gave us a warm welcome including a bottle of some Mexican hooch for me from Denis's last visit south of the border. We retired at 11 pm after being up for 26 hours with only brief naps on the plane. What a long day!
I is warm here 57 at 6 am and 70s expected today when we may do to Lake Tahoe with a daughter of the family and her husband.

It is warm here, 57 at 6 am and 760s expected today.

Unfortunately I left my camera's USB cable at work so no photos for a fortnight.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Books read in November 2007 (9)

1. The West, Islam and Islamism: Is Ideological Islam Compatible with Liberal Democracy? (Civil Society) by Caroline Cox

The aim of this book is to help peace-loving Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder with the citizens of liberal democracies to oppose extremism and defend the equitable rule of law for all. It is by far the best, most eirenic book I have read on the subject. This is a great up to date reference source to see the origins of Islamism and how it has spread and who are its promoters, especially in the U.K.. The authors compare Western and Islamic world views and their concepts of knowledge and truth. Academic and Ideological modes of understanding are contrasted. I do though wonder if post-modernism fits the paradigm of the academic mode. Political and social structures are described. The history of relations between the West and Islam puts the modern predicament in context. Both the West and Islam are challenged as to what changes are necessaryfor peace. The authors are righly critical of the attitudes of the British establisment toward Islam and the challenges it poses. The history of slavery presented is an eye opener as to the extent that Islam has used it . There is an excellent appendix on what is a moderate Muslim. I have read it and now to own it as a reference source .

2. Story of the Great American West by Reader's Digest

As a child I loved the Westerns starting from seeing The Lone Ranger on TV and Davy Crockett at the cinema. But one was aware that movies were about entertainmnet not history. For the real history of the development of the American West read this well written, lavishly illustrated book. it tells you what happened after the initial settlements in 17 th century New England. I read it before a holiday in California. As a result I was much better able to appreciate the beautiful land I was visiting. By British standards it has little history but what it has is fascinating.

3. The Door of Salvation by Mrs. Francis A. Schaeffer

I always thought Edith needed a good editor for she was too prolix, until I read this book of hers where she is not Edith but Mrs. Francis A. Schaeffer and published by Children for Christ Inc. It is one of the shortest books I have read. it is to teach the way of salvation is through Christ alone. An excellent treatise.

4. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

Who would think that a book about punctuation could make one laugh out loud? Lynne Truss does it for me. Her zero tolerance approach to punctuation is erudite, informative, challenging and funny. One learns about the Apostrophe Protection Society. Truss wants a militant approach to signs where the apostrophe is misused. She teaches us the origins of punctuation and the rules for commas, semicolons, colons, brackets etc. I learned about the Oxford comma and American rules for quotation marks. Most of the rules I learned at school in the fifties when English was taught well. But it was never such fun as this. L earn here about the Apostropher Royal and Aldus Manutius the Elder, 15th century father of punctuation. In these days of sloppy communication it is good to hear how important is proper attention to punctuation. It has started a war and was used to try and save a man from the gallows. It can alter the sense of sentences and even produce theological disputation. Truss tells it all. She is a delight to read. The only problem is you may now wonder if you are getting your writing right, particularly if you are a careless and poor typist like me.

5, The Ultimate Book of Useless Information: A Few Thousand More Things You Might Need to Know ( But Probably Don't)
by Noel Botham

This is a delightful book of trivia and would make a great resource for anyone planning to be a quiz master. It made me laugh out loud but it is not without some mistakes. e.g. Scotland is not listed among European countries bordered by only one country. But I love it.

6. "Time Out" California by Time Out Guides Ltd

A good guide but I cannot agree that the origins of the prevalence of homosexuality in San Francisco is a result of the predominance of males and a shortage of females from the Gold Rush of 1849. I found the instru ctin to park on the left of the road if there is a division of traffic somewhat confusing. In general, more tips on traffic rules would be a help for
visitors from the UK.

7. California (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

Very well illustrated guide, most informative. For visitors from other counties the guide to US coins is a help. The advice on sales tax is a practical help. I love the US but find it most confusing that because of sales tax one is never sure how much cash to produce in excess of the price marked on goods for sale.

8. A Test of Wills (Ian Rutledge Mystery) by Charles Todd

A fascinating period who dunnit which is impossible to fathom because of in incredible twist in the tail. I loved this unique troubled detective battling with the post traumatic stress of WWI as he comes into contact with former soldiers and civilians scarred for life b ythis terrible conflict.

9. What does the Bible really teach?

This is a work distributed free by doorstepping Jehovah's Witnesses. It is a mixture of truth and error which I will review in detail at a later date.

Friday, November 02, 2007

From Russia With Love

I asked a Russian friend about the game Russia v England 17 October 2007 and this was his reaction.

You mean Russia-England?  No, no penalty of course.
I was interested to know the reaction of the Spanish,
and watched their news next morning.  No penalty,
it was a mistake of Medina Cantalejo.
Did the ref make the mistake intentionally?  I don't think
so, though I am tempted to say that it was not a good
idea to use referees from  Spain or Italy for such a game.
Subconsciously they would 'help' their own national team
to avoid England in the next stage.
The Russian commentator said that Rooney stopped the
Russian striker 'on the box line' -- and the line is a part
of the box.  My opinion is, no, Rooney had committed his
foul BEFORE the line.  My son also watched the game,
and he completely shared my opinion.
Guus Hiddinck is a real magician.  I do not support the
Russian national team, I rather watched the game
'professionally', I may say.  Well, I can say I am quite
objective in that sense.  First of all, Hiddink was able
to create a good working atmosphere within the team. 
All the players who were invited into his team mentioned
that.  They feel free, and that is very unusual, for we used
to see them under extremely heavy pressure when
the national team was coached by the native Russian managers.
Hiddink has created the opportunity for the guys to show
what they can do, and I am not surprised that they played
some football.  :-)
It was the same when he worked in South Korea, and later
on in Australia.  I watched those teams last summer
during the Cup of Asia, and without Hiddinck they both
looked very bad.  Like weak shadows of their previous
That coach has a talent of strategist.  He had to share points
with England, and decided to sacrifice the first game.
Instead of playing defensively, Russia lost 0-3, and the
English stars somehow underestimated their rival after that

Maclaren failed to see his main problem, and the only
advantage of Russia: before the crucial game in Moscow
the English players would be more exhausted physically
than their rivals.  What could he do then?  The only idea
what I have now, would be using 4-5 fresh players.
Thus, it'd be possible to use some young players against
Estonia, to keep up the energy of the 'main' squad.
There are tons of talented players in England, worthy
to play for the national team.  Ashley Young for example,
the left wing from Aston Villa.  (If he is not injured, of
As for the squad, I agree with Maclaren: his guys are
probably the best.  I watched 2 games recently
transmitted by the Slovenian satellite channel.  First,
Everton v Liverpool (1-2), then Chelsea v Man City
(5-0).  Both Lescott and Richardson are fantastic
players, Lescott, surely, the best left lateral in England.
Maybe it'd be more wise to use Lampard from the
very beginning, I don't know.

The game is not over.  ;-)  Russia is not a perfect team,
and it'd be probably more difficult for Russia to get 3
points in Israel than it was to beat England in Moscow.
The Israeli players are harsh, and even without the
proper motivation they would stand hard being
supported by their fans.  Russia plays well only home,
our guys do not like well-organized teams like Israel.
What would be hard for Maclaren, to inspire his
guys to beat the ambitious Croatians.  The English
players should not keep in their minds the Premiership
and the Champions League, but it'd be very difficult
to do.  As I see, their clubs are on the first place for them.
Abramovich offered the Russian players some fantastic
money for the victory over England.  I am not sure in
the exact sum, and I suspect in reality it was much
bigger than the rumors said.  (Officially, $400 K per
player personally.)  On the other side, the English team
had to fight only for the country's honor.
...Just for England and St George.  :-)
With love,
Leonid Maharinsky,

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Mark all religious festivals?

'All major religious festivals should be celebrated alongside Christmas in an attempt to boost race relations, a left-leaning think-tank has suggested.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) was accused by the Conservatives of "losing the plot" after it floated the idea.
The proposal came in a new pamphlet on improving race relations, which argued that ethnic minorities were surrounded by symbols of "long-standing cultures and religions".
The leaked report from the IPPR, regarded as the Government's favourite think-tank, added: "In these circumstances, even-handedness dictates we provide public recognition to minority cultures and traditions.
"If we are going to continue as a nation to mark Christmas... then our public organisations should mark other major religious festivals too."
It does not name the other festivals that could be marked, but the authors could have had the Muslim festival of Eid, the Hindu festival of Diwali, the Jewish holiday of Passover and the Chinese new year in mind. ' - Nigel Morris, Home Affairs Correspondent ,The Independent , 1 November 2007

It has escaped the notice of these people that England and Scotland are constitutionally Christian countries. Wales and Northern Ireand are not but have the same Queen who promised in her Coronation Oath to uphold the Protestant Reformed religion.

Police not the only ones at fault.

He should not have been shot but if the Brazilian had been law abiding he would not have been in London to be shot. The BBC saya

"The Home Office said Mr Menezes had been granted entry to the UK for six months as a visitor on his arrival on 13 March 2002.

He then applied for leave to remain as a student, which was approved. He was granted leave to remain until 30 June 2003.

The Home Office says his visa expired at that time and that he remained illegally in the UK until his death. "