Sunday, 31 December 2017

'Three Score and Ten' and still 'Running In'

To the future! 





Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis (60 AD - 140 AD)
(Saturae 10,188)


Friday, 29 December 2017


Who knows for certain?
Who shall here declare it?
  Whence it was born?
  Whence came creation?

The gods are later
than this world's formation.
  Who then can know
  the origins of the world?

None knows
whence creation arose.

  Or whether he has
  or has not made it,
  he who surveys it from the lofty skies.

Only he knows
or perhaps
he knows not.

from Carl Sagan
and the Rig Veda

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

UK 40th in Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom League Table

The UK's 4Oth place in a press freedom table is not even a position. It's a sight worse.

Freedom starts here:  1. Norway.    and ends here:    18O. North Korea.

and with yesterday's News of the World

"Frank! Fearless! Free!

But when Guardian 

hard drives and discs 

were smashed with sledge hammers

the nation's spine




          Whoa! You there!

           You swallowin' your pintaday

            you pencil pushin' freedom

            preachin' milksop.

Off yer 'oss.

                You ain't herd? Well you've herd it noun. 

               (Spellchecker nose breast)

               Newspeak's back in town.  

"Waist for us Kim."

"We're learnin' by doin'."

"We're on your way down."

"We're flailin' just's flast as we clan."

Or' well

 someone did try

did slay

. . .try two warm them


Sunday, 24 December 2017

Garland it with Popcorn!

I've often  suspected that popcorn had to be useful for something but I've never managed to figure out what it could be.

Then lo and behold!  Today, of all days,  I discovered an excellent use for the unchewable tasteless salt filled snack.

It's the ideal material for making Christmas garlands. 

Patiently thread the popcorns onto a length of string and drape them over the Christmas tree. That's what  someone has done at our local cinema.

And it works.

Vulgar tinsel can't hold a candle to muted popcorn garlands.  

The Christmas Eve film we went to see this morning was the 2016 Simon Aboud fairy tale - This Beautiful FantasticThe Wonderful Garden of Bella Brown. Jessica Brown in the star role as a seeker after the meaning of life. A wonderful Christmas offering for believers in miracles.  This  film is good for the soul. The cinema breakfast was rather good too. 

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Picking the tree!

Today's the big day. By the way, the photo is from last year. As you can see it wasn't a very big tree. But it was fresh and had the perfect shape and smell. And these things are important. I hope we find one just like it later today!  







. . .

a splendid 2 meter tree





Killing our heritage? One victim is ERNIE.

Published with permission. Please watch on YouTube.

My thanks to Dave at Northsider for the heads up.  What happens here is a national disgrace.

Restore and refurbish the iconic ERNIE Premium Bonds building and use it as an IT College, or a technical museum, or a university, or perhaps a tourist attraction to rival the famous Blackpool Tower, or a concert house,  or an art gallery, or an aquarium, or the centerpiece of a great and splendid public garden?

No chance!

Fait accompli.

Luxury development.

That's it.

Christmas Cards

Cro at Cro Magnon writes about the decline in the number of Christmas cards sent through the so-called snail mail.

It is as he says, more expensive and time consuming than sending a tweet or an email.

 It's a good while since I've had to peg the Christmas cards on their strings.

Today, the few are huddled together under some seasonal greenery.

These thoughts bring me on to the following:

Are the images on the cards meaningful and relevant? A glance at the cards received to date revealed the following:

nativity scene   1
reindeer  3
baubles   2
image of a sound wave  1
lighted candles   1
hedgehog  in snow 1
kingfisher in snow   1
the   "12 days of Christmas "    1
frosty landscape with tree  1
women carrying water   1
children sledging   1
snowmen  2
star    1

There we are then.  Just one card shows the  birth of the baby Jesus. But that's not important.

Important are the positive messages that come with the cards or with the Christmas emails.

With that said, I shall now send my Christmas thoughts into universe.  All can do the same.

Somebody somewhere will read them.

One mustn't be a cardinal or a king, or even a politician or a spin doctor.

 "  Let there be peace in the world for all people of goodwill.  "

After I'd typed the above, a most wonderful  Christmas card fluttered down to us here.  I'd like to share it with you.

The image comes from the palette of Stanislaw Kmiecik, an artist who paints with his foot.

It's titled Dem Licht entgegen  -  Against the Light.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Only 7 days to go . . .

Zen's Christmas Countdown:

20 , 17 , 13 , 7 . . .

The Story Book

The Messenger

The Woman

The Man

The Journey

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Only 13 days to go . . .

Counting down the days to go - the sequence of zen: 20, 17 and now 13.

Christmas lights at City Hall

The big wheel at the campus

"All aboard Santa's Express!"

The ice man cometh 

A welcome punch

"Happy Christmas" from Arabella

Monday, 11 December 2017

Martin's 7-year Hitch.

The wolf is stirring.

Before we know it, it will bare its hungry teeth.

The latest Martin Schulz Plan calls for the creation of a Vereinigten Staaten von Europa (a United States of Europe) by 2025.

EU countries not in the United Sates of Europe automatically exit the EU says Schulz.

Doubtless the creation of the USE (VSE)  will be accomplished in the traditional EU manner: "step by step until there is no going back" (Juncker).

Citing the immigrant crisis, the terrorist crisis, the usual suspects (the Russians),  the Ukraine crisis, and the next crisis and the crisis after the next crisis, a mega-expensive military arm of the Eurozone's military-financial-industrial complex, possibly paid for with a new EU tax and led by someone like Herr Schulz or his appointed Deputy will one day lead  the willing and the unwilling EU sheeple out of the "step by step" chaos they have created, and into the blue and starry promise of paradise.

Only 7 or 8 years then, and the wolf will be in the fold.

Unwilling sheeple will find there's no escape.

No going back.

And no divorce.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Taste of a British Christmas

Whenever possible I will do my Christmas Shopping at a charity event such as the Christ Church Christmas Market, where all monies go to worthy causes, in keeping with the spirit of Christmas. 

I joined hundreds of visitors to this amazing annual event which opens with music, dancing and even a Victorian gentleman riding a penny farthing. 

We bumped into some friends,  chatted over coffee. Later sampled a wee tot of the 'water of life'. The Glenlivet warmed the cockles of my heart.

Finally came home carrying our fair share of books, games, chutneys, cakes, and many other useful items. 

Here is a small selection of photos: 

Opening Ceremony

'Scotland the Brave!' and other Hits!

A dram . . . or two?

Sample 'Food, Glorious Food!'

Visit Santa's Grotto

Sing some Carols

And find a Christmas Present . . . or two

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Smörgasbörd and Santa Lucia



Santa Lucia

Santa Claus

From Svenska with herrings and cheese. The Lucia concert is on 17th December. 

Fiat Lux

Friday, 1 December 2017

haiku on a walk

    in winter woodland
                 aside from the frozen roads
         the sun golden beams

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

War Crimes

Who is a war criminal?  And who is not?

A man accused of being a war criminal commits suicide in front of his judge.

Others, those making war on a daily basis against defenseless countries, in one case against a poor country where a cholera epidemic is raging, are not accused, travel wherever they like and receive the red carpet treatment.

Who is a war criminal?  And who is not?

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

This link is a must if you live in EU

Guten Morgen.

Their anti-democratic behavior is beyond the pale.

It's time to abandon fake news, massaged news and unreported news.

It's time to see beyond the smoke and mirrors of the glass palaces.

It's time to discover a trustworthy source.

It is in the sidebar - click on EU observer.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Paradiso .

Come si arriva a Paradiso, per favore?
How do I get to Paradise, please?
Wie komme ich nach Paradies, bitte?

Quanto dista fino a Paradiso?
How far is it to Paradise?
Wie weit ist es nach Paradies?

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

First build your nest

1. Consult blueprints.

2. Choose suitable site. In this case, a broad leaved fruit tree.  Select position on west side of tree in hollow of high boughs, keeping a weather eye on the large black & white cat who patrols the area seeking whom he may devour.

Nest retrieved intact during pruning 22nd November undamaged -
survived storm with 136 km  gusts and other inclement weather

 3. Collect and place suitable materials in hollow in following order:
  (i) moss to line the concealment hollow
  (ii) mud for placing on top of moss to provide firm secure base
  (iii) plastic bag for placing on top of mud for insulation, waterproofing and warmth
  (iv) grass, straw, small twigs and moss for walls
  (v) continue building until walls of nest are of suitable thickness.

Nest inverted - showing details of construction 

Bird's eye view of interior 

Cross section showing materials - L at bottom - R at top

Not one fluffy feather.

Did they build more than one nest before making the final choice of abode?

Did the cat LOOK UP at the tree?

Or the jay look down  . . .

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Boulevard Calendar

This morning I bought my 2018 calendar from one of the homeless on  the streets of the city. 

The seller, who must have a badge conspicuously displayed to show he is not a member of the so-called beggar mafia, is allowed to keep 50% of the calendar's price. The same rule applies regarding the fortnightly Augustine newspapers. 

There are many bogus beggars who mysteriously materialize at this time of goodwill. 

I like to think that a homeless person rescued the dog on the cover (or vice-versa). 

The dog in the poem in the post below might need a new home in the near future.  

It's more ethical to buy a calendar from a friendly Augustine salesperson, than from an uninterested assistant filing her nails in a brand name outlet selling cheerful seasonal products churned out in faraway sweatshops, is it not?   

Santa's elves get little reward. 

Friday, 17 November 2017

Christmas Past and Present in Cafe Espresso

A cameo gift to give
would be a dog

for Christmas . . .

      The speakers in the corners
with plaintive strains

       'I sit and watch as tears go by . . '

cut in on present
coffee thoughts

Christmas in the selfies 
-  and the poetry

in the simple songs

I listen to
the table

next to me

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Augmented Reality

The town

is up-gearing for Christmas

-  born in the stars we shall die on earth

   consumers reloaded

with special offers

and seasonal devotions -

augmented with amalgams

of self-worth reality

rushing stupid

from the office parties

into the closed museum bars -

tuesday is someone's day of rest

engineered by god

and the world  -

- a temporary exchange of ways -

as for those poets

when they went on too long

they merely licked their quills

and              made them           longer

long as Pinocchio's nose

and   longer

maybe long as a Joycean pub crawl

or a museum guide's

preamble -

O my god they are following me

and my dedication to verisimilitude -

I'm  standing  with my pencil

poised  before a very small Rubens

- a man who is an expert in the art of overwhelming -

it's hardly a seminal work -

         I think I'll slip the leash

and find the quite room

where the works

I like best

are hiding away

from from the madding

Rubens crowd -

   Jan Massys'  Merry Company 

   Reymerswale's  Money Changers 

   Hoogstraten's  Old Man at the Window

to name but three  -

before I fly
         to the Seven Stars  

to cut my goulash of beef 

with a spoon.

Merry Company - Jan Massys

Money Changers - Marinus Van Reymerswale

Old Man at the Window - Samuel Van Hoogstraten

Italy out!

   Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei  

Italia 0 - 0 Svezia

Azzurri fuori dal coppa mondiale di calcio 2018

Friday, 10 November 2017

Fighting for King and Country.

Tomorrow, 11th November 2017, exactly 99 years will have elapsed since the official end of the so-called Great War, a war in which the British people, including both my grandfathers found themselves literally in no man's land in the bloody carnage known as the Battle of the Somme.

There were many other battles equally horrifying or worse, and men of many nations perished. These men were known simply as cannon fodder.

A cynic might say that the Great War was so-called as a tribute to the 'great' profits made by the military industrial financial complex - 'the war racket' as Major General Smedley Butler terms it.

The fact is that the Great War never really ended. Today the locations and the euphemisms are different.

Not to worry. The money is rolling in.

Lest we forget.

Apropos my cartoon:

Iraq was a fiasco. Mission Accomplished was a joke. But out of it all there did come eventually a glimmer of sanity. It was Obama's last act, his release of Chelsea Manning.

Now, where to next?

Thursday, 9 November 2017

The Raven

When autumn fogs
and industrial smogs

Cloak the graves
and the graveyard walls

When the leaves 
are fallen and the world is grey 

The raven's call 
doth winter hail

Monday, 6 November 2017

Learning to read Roald Dahl in Italian

Personggi italini is bilingual and contains 18 biographies ranging from Poppea to Anna Magnani

So far, I've worked my way through the first six chapters - just finished Amerigo Vespucci and about to start on Lucrezia Borgia. 

When I get stuck, which is often the case at this early stage, I glance at the German pages and although they are not literal translations they invariably point me in the right direction. 

And so it is that I work my way through an Italian book.

Attenti alle streghe!

My copy of Roald Dahl's Le streghe is beyond my compass at the moment. It is not a bilingual edition. 

But one fine day, before the daffodils reappear, I will certainly manage to read it. 

And on that day I will be so much the wiser and so much the wickeder.

Formula 86  e la metamorfosi! will be mine. 


You have been warned!