On Tuesday we left our vehicles in the pub car park and set off for Thornton-le-Clay. Then west over the fields to Sheriff Hutton - a larger and more significant settlement with a long history that includes the remains of not one but two castles. It also has a magnificent old church in which I saw this marble effigy of a child from the fifteenth century...
31 May 2023
30 May 2023
I was so busy last night that I forgot to blog. This year so far I had managed to blog on every single day though mostly I publish my posts just before midnight. It puts the pressure on to press "Publish" before the witching hour.
What was I doing?
Well I was back on the scaffolding for the very last time, sealing features of our UPVC windows with a silicon gun. There was also some touching up of the paint to do. To tell you the truth, one could dab away at that whiteness forever and still find minuscule flaws. Then there was clearing up to do. It was ten o'clock by the time I got finished. I even missed the final of "University Challenge" but I can catch up with that later.
I got changed and drove out to fill up Clint with petrol. He was very thirsty. Then I renewed my National Lottery ticket for another month and bought a two litre carton of milk. Back home I had two important e-mails to write and before you knew it midnight had passed by and I had missed the blogging deadline. Boo hoo!
I will be driving up to York before midday today. I have planned to meet up with my old friend Tony. We will be staying at a pub near the village of Flaxton north east of York. We plan to have a five or six mile walk this afternoon and another longer walk tomorrow.
The excellent weather we have been enjoying in the north of England goes on. Soon we will all be doing a rain dance.
I must dash. There are things I need to pack.
28 May 2023
Music doesn't matter to me as it did when I was young. In my teenage years and through into my twenties, the only obsession I had that could match music was girls.
I went to see as many concerts as I could, attended festivals and on at least five occasions hitchhiked all the way down to London from East Yorkshire just to see some of my musical heroes in concert.
Acts I saw in those years included Jethro Tull, Free, Grand Funk Railroad, The Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Mott the Hoople, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Donovan, Slade , The Beach Boys, The Moody Blues, Roxy Music, The Nice, Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Buffy Sainte Marie, Loudon Wainwright III, Ten Years After, Tim Hardin, Linda Ronstadt, Taste, The Who and numerous others that I cannot recall right now.
In later life, the musical candle had not entirely gone out and I enjoyed superb concerts by The Jam, Jackson Browne, Neil Young and Keane. But it was never quite the same as when I first discovered music and listened to it obsessively.
At the end of tonight's Sunday quiz, Mike, Mick and I were comparing notes about musical acts we saw and concerts we attended when we were young. Not in a boastful top dog kind of manner but just out of interest.
Like me, Mick has moved on from music - it doesn't figure in his life as it once did, On the other hand , Mike has remained very much tuned in to the world of music and it still plays a big part in his life. He listens to music daily and until very recently he was the leader of a little "Americana" band that were paid paper money for gigs. They were called Dogwood Rose. Unfortunately, his health has been blighted by a mysterious condition called myasthenia gravis that will remain with him till his light goes out.
What about you dear reader? Does music still grab you as it did when you were young or is it just something that plays in the background from time to time like muzak in a supermarket? What were the best concerts you ever attended and how do you feel about music now?
27 May 2023
Lower down the shaft there are warnings in five languages - English, Danish, French, Dutch and German: "Warning: To be used under the direct supervision of an adult. Store out of reach of children under 3 years old. Observe the warning notices. In the event of non-compliance, injuries may occur... Do not leave the brush upside down!"
This all seems to be over the top to me. After all, it's a small brush we are talking about - not an axe or a sub-machine gun. Frances tells me that the lowest starting age for nearly all children's things appears to be 3+. We guess this excessive caution is all to do with potential litigation.
I am happy to report that Phoebe used the 3+ brush this afternoon without any hiccoughs. She did not poke out one of Grandpa's eyes with it and she did not attempt to swallow it - nor did she chase pigeons with it or whack our neighbour's cat - Bonkers.
26 May 2023
25 May 2023
Shirley joined me on the scaffolding this evening but you might say she cheated because she clambered out of the front bedroom window instead of climbing up the ladder like a professional.
We were both anxious about the return of the scaffolders. They dropped the scaffolding down last Friday so it's possible they could return tomorrow (Friday) to disassemble and take it all away. I don't wish to pay any more than I already am doing.
Herself had volunteered to clean all the windows - six in total. She did a good job of them and I was pleased to get the help. In the meantime, I was still dabbing away at the tiny crevices and holes in the pebble-dash texture of the rendering - still trying to achieve the best coverage possible.
We finished off as darkness began to descend around ten o'clock. It's only a month till the longest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere when the sun will hover over The Tropic of Cancer before migrating to The Equator as it has done each year since this planet was formed 4.5 billion years ago.
In terms of weather, I have had a fantastic week for painting our house. There hasn't been a spot of rain and most days have been warm and sunny. To tell you the truth, I have enjoyed it. Patiently dabbing away, sometimes lying on my back or belly. Listening to birds and watching the world passing by in our street. It reminded me of that old song made famous by by The Drifters - "Up On The Roof"...
24 May 2023
23 May 2023
Bob Dylan is 82 years old tomorrow, May 24th. It is my son-in-law's birthday too. It was also my mother's birthday and the day that Hull City first reached the English Premier League in 2008. It was also Queen Victoria's birthday and it is or was Empire Day.
Getting back to the living legend who is Dylan, back in 1964 when he was still 22, he appeared on "Tonight" on the BBC, introduced rather unenthusiastically by presenter Cliff Michelmore. He sang "With God on Our Side" so purely - a bitterly ironic anthem that was laced with accusation and hope for a better, more peaceful world. Here, rather disappointingly, we don't get to listen to all nine verses....
22 May 2023
Thelma from Todmorden reminded me that accidents happen in relation to ladders and DIY projects.
This is why I am being ultra-careful about climbing up onto the scaffolding that currently surrounds our house. When I am working up there, I feel very safe but getting from the ladder onto the scaffolding and vice versa gives me a small attack of the heebie-jeebies each time I do it.
Many years ago, when I lived in a bedsit on Harcourt Road, I heard a crash and someone yelling from outside. It was a Saturday morning and the live-in caretaker at the house next door had fallen a short height from a ladder while painting the canopy over the doorway.
He had been using a pot of blue gloss paint and I don't know exactly how this transpired but that paint can must have ended up on his head because when I got outside, he was sitting on the doorstep covered in the stuff. He was like an alien and forever after that we referred to him as "The Blue Man".
Shirley was on an early shift at The Royal Hallamshire Hospital that morning and witnessed the arrival of "The Blue Man" in an ambulance. The first job the Accident and Emergency team needed to work out was how to get all that sticky blue paint off the fellow. Fortunately, he wasn't badly injured - just some cracked ribs and a broken wrist. They sat him in a bath and cleaned him up with mild solvents and soapy water.
When Shirley and I got married in 1981, we lived in an end terrace house on Leamington Street. We didn't like the pink rendering that a builder had applied to the property so I bought some brick red masonry paint and climbed a lofty ladder to paint the front of the house. I tell you, it's no fun being at the top of a ladder with a pot of paint and a masonry brush - hanging on for dear life.
I completed the project and survived but a neighbour - just round the corner on Warwick Street - attempting a similar task - was not so lucky. He slipped and fell and ended up in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Today, Day Three, I spent seven hours on the scaffold. The front and side of the house are done with just my flaky wooden noggings to paint black. Tomorrow I won'f finish the back of the house but I hope to make good progress and in addition I plan to be extra careful at the corner where the scaffolding boards do not meet the wall, leaving a man-sized void for the unwary.
Someone asked Google at what age you should stop climbing ladders and the answer came back - 65! Errr....
21 May 2023
Up the ladder and on to the scaffolding at ten fifteen. Another lovely, summery day. Again I slapped the sun cream on and donned my stylish but sun-faded hat that I bought in Malta in 2012.
Things always seem to take longer than you expect. I spent a lot of time masking off the gutters and the brickwork I did not wish to spoil on the side of the house after more or less finishing the front. And with painting pebble dash rendering there's always more dabbing to do as you try to achieve the best coverage possible. I find that the glare of sunlight tends to hide flaws but when the sun nips behind a scudding cloud for two minutes, small unpainted crevices shout out.
I was up there for six hours today. For the first time in ages, Shirley made the Sunday dinner in time for Phoebe's arrival with her parents in tow. Frances is looking pregnant now even though many weeks will need to pass before Phoebe's sibling arrives.
I was miffed when Frances laughed at me after I had descended from the scaffold: "You are supposed to be painting the house, not yourself!"
Shirley had done a fine job with the Sunday dinner. Not long afterwards I cleaned my painting equipment and got ready to go up to "The Hammer and Pincers" for the regular Sunday night quiz.
Once again we were the overall winners - gaining a score of twenty three points out of twenty five and winning a pot of £18 and four beer tokens. Here are three of the questions we answered correctly:-
5. ANAGRAM Unravel OLD BELLY ANGLE to give the name of a film.
14. BUSINESS: In which country are the headquarters of the electronics company Samsung?
20. THE HUMAN BODY: The term "pulmonary" relates to which organs in the human body?
And so that was Sunday. Once again I neglected to go to church and I pray that Almighty God will forgive me in his merciful wisdom. I won't be there next week either. In fact, when I come to think of it, I haven't attended a Sunday church service since 1967 when I finally resigned as a choirboy.
Monday morning looms and I know that I must mount the scaffold tomorrow. It's exactly what condemned men and women thought as they languished in their cells in The Bastille.
20 May 2023
The painting project began today. I was up the ladder and on to the scaffolding at nine thirty. I didn't come down until four fifteen for a well-deserved break and then I was up again at five o'clock until seven thirty. It was a lovely day for it. In the morning, I lathered my face and arms with Factor 30 sun cream put my Malta sun hat on and got to work.
I began with the front of the house. Up there I was aware of occasional passing vehicles and pedestrians. I had three or four conversations but soon got back to my rolling and dabbing.
And as I rolled and dabbed, random thoughts crossed my mind. I thought a lot about Ms Moon in Lloyd , Florida and her comments on "Pervert" - a blogpost I published two days ago. While up on the scaffolding and in the light of what she said, I decided to slightly amend that blogpost.
When Shirley called me down for my tea at seven thirty I had almost completed painting the pebble dash rendering on the front of our house. Another hour tomorrow morning and it will be done before I start on the side of the house. I hope that I will be able to finish that tomorrow too but if I get close I will be happy enough.
I had never been on scaffolding before but as I imagined, it's a hell of a lot easier than working up a ladder.
When our lovely son Ian in London heard I was doing this, he was quite perturbed and asked me why I wasn't getting somebody in to do the job. But there's a lot to be said for doing things yourself. Though my career was in secondary school teaching, I have turned my hand to many other things such as laying paths, laying carpets, building walls, wallpapering, cultivating an allotment, writing poems and songs and managing a blog called "Yorkshire Pudding".
Tonight, after visiting our Lidl supermarket once more, I treated myself to a saunter down to "The Itchy Pig" micropub for two pints of Abbeydale Heathen beer - brewed here in Sheffield. I felt that I had earned them. And so to Sunday...
19 May 2023
18 May 2023
I don't know if you are the same but sometimes, in idle moments, I find myself using the internet to look back on things - places I went, football games or concerts I attended, people I knew. You go down rabbit holes with side tunnels that go this way and that.
Today I thought about a secondary school teacher who was once a colleague of mine. Let's call him Chris because that was his name. Chris was a dedicated and hard-working member of the Maths department. A bachelor, he lived a couple of miles from the school. He was not in a relationship and it seemed that he had simply dedicated himself to teaching. An Ipswich Town fan, Chris also supported the school's P.E. department by managing one of the boys' football teams.
In that regard, back in 1988 or 1989 he asked me if I would drive the school minibus down to Wembley Stadium in London so that his team could watch England Schoolboys play West Germany Schoolboys. It was a big ask but I said yes. Chris, who didn't possess a driving licence, sat beside me and we chatted intermittently all the way down to Wembley and back. He was an odd fish but I kind of liked the guy.
It was a year or so after that that Chris failed to return to school following the six week summer holidays. The story went like this. He had been at the coast in the seaside town of Skegness. He was spotted on the beach, near a children's paddling pool, surreptitiously taking pictures of children. He was challenged by members of the public and the police were called.
One thing led to another. The police searched Chris's terraced house in the north of Sheffield and there they found many photographs of children - mostly boys in different states of undress or nudity. They had been snapped over many years . It was said at the time that there were enough pictures to fill two or three plastic bin bags.
Chris ended up in court and was given a suspended prison sentence. There was never any suggestion that he had ever sexually abused any children. It was just the secret photos - hundreds of them. Looking but as far as anybody knows - never touching. Of course that does not excuse his paedophilia in any way though it seems that his lawyer and he himself attempted to play that card in court.
He never returned to the school. He was gone and almost forgotten. I knew that his parents lived down in Suffolk and I supposed that he had gone back there to begin a new life outside teaching.
In the intervening thirty+ years, it seems that his particular perversion continued. More photos of children were taken and of course with the advent of the internet he found another outlet for his paedophilia.
In this millennium, down in Suffolk, he has been in court for similar reasons. He was made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order in 2005 and was banned from possessing camera equipment or a computer. Other offences were addressed in both 2011 and 2012 but on each occasion Chris managed to avoid jail - being given suspended sentences. Once he threatened to commit suicide if he was sent to prison where of course such men are treated very harshly by other inmates.
What made Chris a paedophile? I have no idea but I assume that forensic psychiatrists might be able to track back through time, past experience and family history to pinpoint the key drivers. The majority of paedophiles are most likely made and not born - that's what I think anyway.
17 May 2023
For whatever reason ChatGPT won't let me in. I have tried many times to sign up with it but no - it refuses to let me in. Perhaps it recognises me as a potential threat because of my non-artificial intelligence.
Anyway, yesterday my lovely daughter Frances sent me a poem about Sheffield that ChatGPT had produced for her. It was the first AI poem I had ever read and though it was in a traditional rhyming style, it still had plenty of merit. There were a few things I might have tweaked but overall I was pretty impressed.
As you know, yesterday I blogged about a signpost in Staffordshire so I asked Frances if she could make me a new poem: "The poem should concern a moorland signpost at a lonely crossroads in Staffordshire". In ten seconds ChatGPT made two long poems for her but this was the one I preferred - again in a traditional format - what many people would think of as "real poetry".
I guess I am nit-picking but I am not sure what "heathered hearse" means and I would also quibble about "lost and cope" but remember these are in fact the early days of Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT was only launched seven months ago! Like the Sheffield poem, this "creation" also has real merit...
16 May 2023
I took a photograph of it on Saturday only to discover when I got home that I had taken a better picture of it back in November 2019. The light was quite perfect at that moment and I am rather pleased with the image. It is the one at the top of this blogpost. You can see a little badge on the post - SCC which of course stands for Staffordshire County Council.
Needless to say, one can take a photograph in different light or weather conditions, at different times of year and from different angles and viewpoints. Though photographers can be looking at the same subject, the results may be very different.
Looking through the annals of Geograph in that particular Ordnance Survey square, I found these six pictures of the same signpost snapped by different contributors.and I thought it would be interesting to compare them.
15 May 2023
Perhaps the significance of the name "Somme" is fading as the decades pass by but in my generation - born thirty to forty years after World War I, the very word "Somme" remains an irksome symbol of the futility and heartlessness of war.
Upon that terrible killing field, there were two young Yorkshiremen. As far as I know, they never met but such a meeting would have been possible. The man in the top picture is Wilfred Henry Jackson, a coal miner by trade who hailed from Rawmarsh in South Yorkshire. He was my maternal grandfather.
14 May 2023
13 May 2023
12 May 2023
Mostly they had just been mouldering in our attic.I hadn't even been up there in six years until the end of last week.. It was clear that the books were just filling space.and I needed to be ruthless. But getting rid of them certainly didn't make me feel good. In fact I felt I had somehow betrayed them.At the recycling centre there is a big green bin with a a roof and a tipping shelf. The idea is that you pop your books on that shelf and drop them into the void. Later the books are sorted and some end up being donated to charities while others are simply pulped.
Unfortunately, as I approached the book bin I could see that it was already jam-packed. I had to borrow a long-handled brush to push the book donations deeper into the bin, creating space for my own car full. Wirh effort and will I managed to force all of my books inside. It was as if they were reluctant to go in and if they could have made noise I am sure they would have been squealing out painful complaints.
Every book I ever read meant something to me and contributed to my development and thinking. I mourn their loss even though there are another thousand or more books downstairs - threatening to burst our other bookshelves apart.
I didn't photograph all of the books I discarded today - just a small sample of them -knowing that I would be blogging about this unremarkable but personally momentous event. The beautyful ones are not yet born. Farewell old friends and thank you!
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