27 January 2020

Kobe

We saw Kobe Bryant play at The Staples Centre in Los Angeles at Eastertime in 2005 when he was in his prime. He was a special sportsman and one of the greatest basketball players the world has ever seen. If I could link his death to the world of football - what Americans call soccer - I would say that losing Kobe Bryant would be on a par with losing George Best or Cristiano Ronaldo. Kobe Bryant was that big. He spent twenty years with the L.A. Lakers and won five NBA championships and two Olympic gold medals.

Helicopters, trains, boats, cars, aeroplanes - they all have the potential to take us to untimely deaths. But how should we live our lives? Cushioned in cotton wool? Avoiding all risks? That's no way to live. We must live with optimism, humility and courage as Kobe Bryant did. May he rest in peace.

We grieve also for his daughter Gianna and the other seven victims of a helicopter flight that ended in flames on a foggy L.A.  hillside just yesterday.

26 January 2020

Referring

In South Cave, East Yorkshire on Friday
This blogpost will be very boring to most visitors. 

In the "Stats" zone connected with this blog and all other blogs hosted by Blogger I had a look at two features that mean very little to me - namely "Referring URLs" and "Referring Sites". I understand that these lists are connected with how visitors arrive at one's blog.

Historically most of  Yorkshire Pudding visitors have arrived via Google or via John Gray's blog (Going Gently) or via Mary Moon's blog (Bless Our Hearts). Now I was quite happy when arrivals came from those quarters. It also made some sense.

However, recently something  happened  that  makes me feel uncomfortable - also I didn't really understand what was going on. The top Referring URL and the top Referring Site in the past week was unknown to me. It went by the name "onlinenow.top" and when I nervously investigated this link, I discovered that it was some sort of pornographic site.
Last week

There were several thumbnail pictures of scantily clad or naked women and apparently  if I had clicked on any of them it would have taken me to a separate pornographic site. It was as if "onlinenow.top" was some sort of porn hub. 

Today I am pleased to say that "onlinenow.top" has disappeared from my "referring sites" list but it bothers me that it was somehow connected with this blog and it may explain the strange presence of Russians and Ukrainians in my "audience" list.

Many of the strange machinations of the internet are mysterious to me and it is saddening that there are cunning, malicious people out there in the big wide world who will happily misuse this wonderful facility that has become so much a part of our everyday lives. We all know about online fraud but what are these bad, greedy and immoral people doing messing around in the blogosphere? Whatever they are doing cannot be good.

Perhaps our lovely German friend Meike can explain more. With her training in data protection and internet security she may be able to clarify what is going on when previously unknown referring sites start heading our lists. If Meike chooses to respond I may add her answer to this blogpost.

25 January 2020

Back

 Back from the wedding now. 

All went well and the weather was amazing for late January. The venue was on the edge of The Yorkshire Wolds just north of the village of South Cave where Shirley and I stayed in "The Fox and Coney" pub/restaurant/hotel.

This was the view from the back of the wedding venue which opened as recently as last September:-
It was a splendid location - just perfect for the sixty guests - with a mezzanine floor where the civil ceremony happened. I guess that most second marriages can have "side issues" and I was very conscious of the feelings of Tony's two daughters from his first marriage and Pauline's two sons from her first marriage. Certainly for Tony's daughters there is a legacy of  hurt and betrayal. However, they both seemed to have a good time.

In the evening a great seven-piece soul band from Hull set up their equipment. They were called Soul Patrol and they performed with much aplomb - polished and together. Here's their lead singer, a very talented frontman:- 
The guests danced the night away but earlier they had been treated to a magnificent oration by Yorkshire Pudding whose voice boomed about the rafters and whose clever humour caused  guffawing and several secret leakages in under garments.

But the main thing is that Tony and Pauline were happy. They cemented their relationship - looking to the future in love and hope. Who says you don't get second chances? As I said in my speech -  "May they live forever!"


23 January 2020

Absence

Shirley and I are heading over to East Yorkshire this afternoon. We'll be away till Saturday and in the intervening time I won't be blogging or visiting other people's blogs. I am going to be the best man at my friend Tony's second wedding thirty two years after I was the best man at his first wedding He is marrying Pauline. Shirley has made half of the wedding cake.
My best man's speech is now written which is a relief. I was a bit like that hare in one of Aesop's fables. It would have been better to crack the speech days or even weeks ago but I left it till the last minute. Silly me. Still I am pretty happy with it and I am sure it will be well-received. All those years in school classrooms means that delivering speeches is something I take in my stride. Like water off a duck's back. In fact I quite enjoy that kind of situation and assembled wedding guesrs are generally "with" the speakers - not against them.

To accompany this little blogpost, I am adding three photographs I took on Tuesday morning while walking around Stanage Edge. I will get back to you at the weekend. Take care.

22 January 2020

Stats

Blogger is very clever. If you maintain a blog hosted by Blogger you will be able to peruse your vital statistics by clicking on "Design" on the top bar and then going to "Stats".

In "Yorkshire Pudding" the all-time most popular blogpost is one that I made back in 2009. It was titled "Chavs" and it has attracted 26,000 views. Why this should be I have no idea.

Recently another post has been steadily gaining in popularity. I wrote it last June when Shirley and I were on the Greek island of Santorini. I gave that post a Greek title - namely φεγγάρι which means "moon". This month alone  the post has attracted over 3500 views.  Click here to link to that blogpost.

If anyone out there can sensibly suggest why that particular post is attracting so many hits I would be most grateful.

Meantime, here are this month's "audience" stats for Yorkshire Pudding. At the top the battle for supremacy between the so-called United Kingdom and the good ol' USA continues with Russia and Ukraine figuring strongly alongside Canada and Australia. Interestingly, given the popularity of my  φεγγάρι post, Greece does not appear in the top ten :-
United Kingdom 6550
United States 6279
Russia 3069
Canada 1914
Ukraine 1706
Australia 1148
Ireland 731 
Italy 540 
France 533 
Poland 279
Thank you to everybody who has just read this post - wherever you may be. Receiving genuine visitors from around the world is inspirational - like fuel to keep this fifteen year old blog trucking along. But may I end by saying that bots are not welcome! Are you listening Russia?

21 January 2020

Magic

At a local hotel refurbishment
On the occasion of our thirty eighth wedding anniversary last October, I bought Shirley an amaryllis bulb rather than a bunch of flowers. It came in a box with its own plant pot and a bag of nutritious compost.

A month later she followed instructions and the bulb was placed on our fireplace tiles. We waited and waited. After three weeks, the bulb began to stir. Little green fingers emerged from the head of the bulb and gradually they grew towards the ceiling.
Last week
Christmas came and went then New Year and a flower spear emerged amidst the greenery. When would the flower heads promised on the box appear? We waited some more. Finally this very morning I came downstairs to discover that two of the flowers had opened complete with stamens crowded with yellow pollen.

Yesterday
The magical process has reached its crescendo as a secondary flower spear is still making its way towards the ceiling. I am sure that many of you out there in the blogosphere will have also witnessed in wonder the astonishing growth of amaryllis plants.
The name Amaryllis is taken from a shepherdess in the Roman poet Virgil's pastoral "Eclogues" and all amaryllis plants originated in the Western Cape region of South Africa.



 Today

20 January 2020

Prisons

Yesterday, as high pressure settled over the British Isles, I walked in bright sunshine over flat land east of Doncaster. Having parked Clint in the village of Hatfield Woodhouse, I set off south along a frosty lane that eventually passes the sprawling site of a former World War II air base - RAF Lindholme.

To the south of this there is now a prison - HMP Lindholme which accommodates over a thousand male inmates serving sentences of four years or more. There must be some very bad guys in there.

Now I don't think about prisons very often. After all I have never even  been in one. To me they are rather mysterious institutions that I occasionally read about and sometimes they figure in hard-hitting TV documentaries. I don't move in the kind of circles where imprisonment figures though I guess that some blog visitors may have been locked up in the past.

In Britain, there are currently 83,618 people in our prisons. Men are 22 times more likely to be imprisoned than women. Currently, it costs around £40,000 a year (US $52,000) to incarcerate one prisoner and this does not include prison building costs nor educational and recreational activities. It seems bizarre to me that that money is not instead directed to improving people's life chances to effectively keep them out of prison.

In the USA, the size of the prison population is enormous. Currently 2.3 million people are locked up in 1,719 state prisons, 109 federal prisons, 1,772 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 80 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centres and state psychiatric hospitals. It is an enormous industry costing mind-boggling sums of money. Estimates vary but some reputable studies suggest that the annual cost is around $182 billion.

I wonder what the thousand inmates in HMP Lindholme were doing as I strolled by the high fence that surrounds them. Perhaps they were playing chess or table tennis. Maybe they were reading The Complete Works of Charles Dickens or simply gossiping about safe cracking and other jolly subjects like murder and fraud. Some of them may have been blogging if indeed prisoners are allowed to blog....
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DOING PORRIDGE
Life at HMP Lindholme
Sunday January 19th
Porridge for breakfast again. I finally finished "Hard Times" and I am now looking forward to "David Copperfield" which we will be discussing at the F Wing book club next month. Looking through the barred window of my cell this morning I noticed that the weather outside was nice and sunny. I saw a fellow in a blue fleece with khaki walking trousers marching by the perimeter fence. He waved at me and I waved back. I wondered where he was going and what it is like to be free. I have been in here so long that I have almost forgotten. How I wish I had not bludgeoned that old shopkeeper to death. Forgive me Lord.

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