28 November 2015


I was going to blog about yesterday's drive down to London and back in an "Enterprise" hire van. Then I thought I might blog about the strange phenomenon of how traffic can draw to a halt on congested motorways for no apparent reason. Alternatively, I thought I would blog about the rags-to-riches tale of Sheffield-born Premier League striker Jamie Vardy. Then I thought about Chris, a former regular at my local pub who, upon a whim, upped sticks and went to live in Udon Thani, Thailand at the age of sixty three.

Perhaps I should have blogged about new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and how the media have portrayed him and his pacifism. I considered another general knowledge quiz or some previously unseen photographs from my rambles in the heart of England. A post in praise of Sheffield artist Pete McKee? Another poem? Or the hard luck our lovely son has experienced since the London-based internet start-up company he was working for collapsed. Hence the hire van.

Instead, I have chosen not to blog about anything at all. I shall have another mug of tea before performing my daily ablutions and heading off to "Lidl" for yet more food supplies. It's nice that in order to survive. we don't have to hunt deer, grow vegetables  or collect berries any more... isn't it?

26 November 2015


Have you heard of these men - John Kriegshauser, John Humphrey, Robert Mayfield, Charles Tuttle, Vito Ambrosio, George Williams, Lyle Curtis, Melchor Hernandez, Harry Estabrooks and Maurice Robbins?...  No? I thought not.

They lost their precious lives in Sheffield's Endcliffe Park on February 22nd 1944. They were the crew of the American "Mi-Amigo" Flying Fortress which attempted an emergency landing in my neighbourhood following an unsuccessful bombing mission to Aalborg, Denmark. The park is just down the hill from our house and it was there that they all burned to death after crashing into the trees behind the park's cafe. Here they are at their Northamptonshire base:-
Brave young men in their prime but they would never return to the land of chewing gum, nylon stockings and "Lucky Strike". Their war was over.

Every year a good number of Sheffielders still visit Endcliffe Park on the anniversary of the fatal crash. Thankfully the ten young men are not forgotten and there's a little memorial stone with bronze plaques screwed into it - at the very spot where the plane came down.

Wars cough up plenty of comic book heroes but many of the real heroes get forgotten. For example - John Kriegshauser, John Humphrey, Robert Mayfield, Charles Tuttle, Vito Ambrosio, George Williams, Lyle Curtis, Melchor Hernandez, Harry Estabrooks and Maurice Robbins. So let's hold hands and give them two minutes of our silence... For their lost horizons and for the ridiculous futility of war and for the loved ones they left behind.

Pictures taken yesterday morning:-

25 November 2015


For some mysterious reason, one of my past posts - "Priory" is regularly targeted by spammers. I get fed up of clearing up their crap. Here are three examples that I recently snipped before decanting them into a virtual zinc bucket marked "Sewage":-
Not only are the vile and greedy perpetrators of these unwelcome "comments" invading blogs without invitation, they are also guilty of mangling the English language. It is as if they put dictionaries in mincing machines that then churn out such nonsensical garbage they make "Jabberwocky" read like logical washing powder instructions.

It is disappointing that the guardians of the internet - Microsoft, Google, Apple, national governments etc. haven't found ways of clamping down on the parasitical activities of Alice, Alix, Melinda and all the rest. Nobody wants them or needs them. Whatever they are trying to sell is dodgy to say the least and nobody in their right minds would ever be drawn in by their cancerous piggyback blogpost comments.

They are the blogosphere's equivalent of nuisance phone calls from trawling call centres that interrupt so many people's lives. I had one yesterday when I was sitting at our dining room table, enjoying a £2.50 lunch of mini fish and chips and mushy peas from our recently reopened Banner Cross Fish and Chip Shop. I got up from the table, picked up the phone and there was the usual silence. "Hello?...Hello?". Finally an Asian voice appears - "Hello, how are you today?" 

"I was feeling fine till you phoned! Never phone this number again and I suggest you get a proper job!" Then I put the phone down and returned to my rudely interrupted lunch. My midday peace had been spoilt.

I don't invade Melinda, Alix or Alice's lives but if I could I would send them regular spam blog comments inviting them to subscribe to an online English language improvement course run by the redoubtable Professor Pudding and his American associate Dr Brague:-
Having trouble with basic English grammar? Struggling to get your message across? We guarantee we can improve the quality of your spam comments by 100%. You were probably a dunce at school - incapable of stringing sentences together - but it is never too late to change. Our effective online courses are individually tailored for clients' needs. These expert first aid services are reasonably priced. Contact the Professor Pudding Online Language School without delay!

23 November 2015


Yet again I was out on the frosty moors but still within Sheffield's metropolitan boundaries. I parked by Mortimer Road west of Bradfield and then headed westwards. My route took me along a track that the Duke of Norfolk had built in the nineteenth century to access some of the best grouse shooting territory in England. Not the sport of kings but the sport of toffs. In fact where is the sport or the fun in blasting plump, frightened moorland birds to smithereens? Ho-ho that's twelve I've bagged today your lordship! Jolly good show old chap!

It was bitterly cold so I was thankful that my Hull City beanie hat was in my "Converse" rucksack with a pair of fingerless gloves too. Wearing  lined walking trousers was another a good idea. The peaty ground was frozen hard in places but elsewhere ice-topped puddles were traps for optimists. I tiptoed around them.
All morning, I only saw one other person - a fell runner in a blue tracksuit and woolly headband. "Morning!" we both said in the middle of nowhere. He was heading back to Mortimer Road and I was on my way across Cartledge Flat - all peat, heather and moorland puddles and very hard to read from a map.

Then down past a line of grouse butts and across the devastated remains of a former conifer plantation. Luckily there were no gunmen around - just the cackling of surprised grouse rising up from the heather, no doubt relieved to discover that not all human beings want to blast them out of the sky.
Grouse butt number 10
Soon I was back on Mortimer Road with a three mile trudge ahead of me back to the car and at last, after four hours,  a welcome sit down.
Derelict shooting lodge by Mortimer Road

22 November 2015


After the horrendous attacks in Paris, this is how British political commentator Andrew Neil opened his late night "This Week" show:-
I would be interested to know how you react to it.

21 November 2015


Black Friday

Not that unholy scrum
Heaving through the doors
Grabbing bargains
From department stores
Not that brutish
Consumer greed
Biting the hand
From which they feed
No not that
But the
Rat-tat-tat-tat of gunfire
On the Boulevard Voltaire
A noxious smell of butchery
Poisoning the air
"Those who can make you believe absurdities 
can make you commit atrocities."
That's what he wrote,
Voltaire I mean,
Déjà vu
- Already seen.
Checking their guns
With a ha-ha-ha-ha
Ugly young men in a rental car.

Not the slashing of prices
In Paris - Texas or Maine
But the noise of lovers
Moaning with pain
As tea candles flare 
In November's  fragile rain.

And though nothing
Could ever be the same
In this heart of darkness
Still burns
A little

20 November 2015


Tension rises as viewers tune in to learn the results of yesterday's exciting general knowledge quiz. A shiny golden envelope is handed to the compere - the dashing Mr Humphrey Pudding who is wearing a lime green suit with orange bovver boots. The audience applauds like a herd of wildebeest thundering across the plains of Africa.

Humphrey rips open the envelope and carefully reads the following:-

  1. Who played Rhett Butler in the 1939 film, "Gone With the Wind"? Clark Gable
  2. In Indian and Pakistani cuisine, what does the word "murgh" mean? chicken
  3. A castrated bull is called a bullock but what is a castrated ram called? wether
  4. If John Lennon was still alive today, how old would he be? 75
  5. Which of the planets lies between Saturn and Neptune? Uranus
  6. What is the two word French term for custard with burnt sugar on the top? crème brûlée
  7. Beatrix Potter published "The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes" in 1911, but what kind of creature was Timmy Tiptoes? squirrel
  8. What does the Latin term, "tempus fugit" mean? time flies
  9. How is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta better known? Lady Gaga
  10. Which African country's flag is red with a black bordered green pentagram in the middle? Morocco
More thunderous applause as Humphrey begins to read out the order of merit, making sure that there are plenty of long, dramatic pauses with tense heartbeat music accompaniment. "In joint seventh place with zilch come Red of Canada, Lee of Australia and Mama Thyme of USA....(big pause and music) In sixth place we have Terra.... In fifth place with 3/10 it's....the delectable Ms Alphabet Soup. In joint third place with 4/10 (another big pause and thirty seconds of heartbeat music) it's feisty Jan Blawat and Father Adrian who may I say make a lovely couple! And after much deliberation in joint first place with a massive score of 5/10 we have....(pregnant pause and drum roll) Frau Meike and Nurse John Gray!"

Shiny glitter falls from the studio ceiling and grinning like chimpanzees a delighted Meike and John step on to the stage to receive their matching  designer trophies:-
Meike's trophy
John's trophy