Sunday, August 28, 2016


One of the best places to be on a dreamy, late summer evening is here, where the tidal causeway between Bigbury and Burgh Island seems to draw people naturally to make the crossing before the tide sweeps in and Burgh Island becomes a proper island once again.   I took this photo looking back as we staggered up the hill towards Ayrmer Cove.   Makes me want to be back there before too long.......

(Please click on photo for larger image)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


I see that Teresa May is calling for an extended honours list so as to properly reward our Olympics heroes and heroines following the astonishing triumph of Team GB in Rio.   Quite right too, although I hope the honours might be extended to those coaches and support staff behind the scenes who contributed so much to the success of our athletes.

But if I was an Olympic medallist, I might be just a tad nervous of entering an honours system that has only recently again been called into question following Dave Cameron `honouring` assorted hairdressers, cronies and donors and which, in the past, has `honoured` such luminaries as Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, Mick Jagger and Tom Jones.

Now we can always learn from other countries and I have often thought that the system in Russia (yes, I know) whereby success in sport is acknowledged not by some corrupt system like we have in the UK but by one which is reserved exclusively to recognise excellence in sporting achievement.  Sports people in Russia are awarded as Honoured Masters of Sport, which has various categories and includes coaches as well as athletes in all forms of sport.

Our own Honoured Masters could still have and be addressed as `Sir` or `Dame` and a trip to Buck House could also be retained.   It would herald a new order in our system of rewarding excellence and leave the traditional  arrangement to carry on bunging gongs to lollipop ladies, faithful retainers and political placemen. 

Anyway, as we`re discussing new order, let`s hear from the real New Order who, as far as I know, are still without any form of deserved official recognition.  Here`s my favourite track of theirs..........

Monday, August 22, 2016

Following on from my last post about the Facebook thing, it seems they wanted me to send an `official ID` because the photo I had used in my Facebook account turned out to be one of a certain Mr. George Clooney.  Apparently it`s not just me and there have been thousands of accounts suspended or removed in cases where people had not used their real names and so, as a security measure, Facebook have been asking for `official IDs.`

Now my initial reaction was to resist, as I wasn`t sure about the validity of their request, but a lot of digging around seemed to suggest that it might be OK after all.   In addition to which I have been conscious that my absence from `social media` might cause at least a degree of disquiet among my Facebook friends and those pages to which I have been contributing.

Now the reason my photo turned out to be Mr. Clooney was that I really didn`t have a reasonable likeness of myself and Mr. Clooney`s image was the most accurate lookalike I could find at the time.  So, I submitted a photo of my driving licence to Facebook, which showed my name, date of birth and `photo`but with other personal details blanked out, which they have accepted and reactivated my account.   So I`m back being `social` again.

The curious thing, though, is that my reactivated account still shows Mr. Clooney`s image and so it really would not surprise me at all if Mr. Clooney has had the same issue with Facebook and has been using a photo of me on his Facebook page.  One good turn surely deserves another.......

NURSE !!!!

Friday, August 19, 2016


I`ve been in Facebook for years - ever since a kindly Saints fan thought I should have an account and duly signed me up.  In all that time, I have grown to quite enjoy keeping in touch with friends and certain pages mainly concerned with Southampton FC, my old regiment and places that mean a lot to me, my boyhood village, holiday places, things like that.  I even started a page of my own, devoted to that extraordinary plant, Dodder, which in three years has garnered just two other people and absolutely no interest. Hardly a security threat I imagine.

Yesterday, however, I went to go on to Facebook and was met with a message similar to the one above.  In essence, I was required to confirm my identity by submitting a copy of either my passport, driving licence, marriage certificate or some other form of `official` ID.   I`m pretty sure I don`t want to divulge such personal information so I did some digging around only to discover that there are two choices - either `conform` or leave Facebook.   I have chosen the latter and my account has been cancelled without my approval.  So, my apologies to friends and others with whom I have been in contact for the past few years - nothing personal I assure you, just the dead hand of Big Brother. 

(What makes it even more annoying is that, apparently, you cannot call or e-mail Facebook for help with your account, but whilst they have a phone number that you can call (I haven`t bothered) it`s a mostly automated service mainly designed for sales and law enforcement.  All the other methods of contacting them involve turning to their Help Centre which isn`t much good if you can`t log on to begin with.)

So that`s that then.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


I`m a self-confessed devotee of Classic FM.  It`s relaxing stuff - just what I need on a car journey and the other afternoon I heard a piece of music that sent my mind whirling off on a series of weird connections.

About 70 years ago, my parents struggling with post-war austerity, they nevertheless found the money for me to have a little pocket money (six old pennies, I think) and also a weekly `comic.`  The one I had was the Rover, full of adventure stories of derring-do, which opened my imagination and improved my reading.  

And it had adverts for all kinds of boyish things, one of which was for postage stamps - Stanley Gibbons and all that.  You could send away for a packet of stamps - `on approval` - and I began to get interested.  I would save up and send off a postal order for 1/6 and a few days later a packet would arrive, containing a selection of stamps from all parts of the world.  The ones that always intrigued me were those from Tannu Tuva.  They were spectacular, all different colours and shapes -square, oblong, triangular - and they depicted life in what seemed to be a far away mysterious land.  So I got interested in Tannu Tuva.

I thought it was just me, but fast forward to the early 1990s and I came across a book, "Tuva or Bust"  which recounted the nobel physics laureate Richard Feynman`s quest to visit Tuva, as it was by then called. (It`s now officially Tyva, as part of the Russian Federation.) After years of struggling with Soviet bureaucracy he finally received an invitation to visit Tuva, but sadly died before he could make the journey.  But like me, he was fascinated not only by the stamps but also by the remoteness - the capital, Kyzyl is close to the geographic centre of Asia, so a really long walk to the beach) - the extraordinary language, the throat singing and its general air of mystery.  

And if anything represents the essence of that part of the world, then it must be the piece of music I heard on Classic FM the other afternoon.   Here`s Alexander Borodin`s evocative, haunting `In the Steppes of Central Asia`.......

Monday, August 15, 2016


And so the Premier League is back in action and despite the more agreeable distractions of Test Match Cricket and the Olympics, I confess to a passing interest in how things went for Southampton FC over the weekend.

To say that things were `mixed` is to underplay the reality of life in an environment where the only things that seem to matter are money, money and more money.  It`s really quite depressing especially for fans like me who have followed the fortunes of one club for well over half a century.  No wonder we hark back to the days of flat caps, rattles and Sloan`s liniment.

Any road up, the Saints first game of the season ended in a 1-1 draw at St. Mary`s to visiting Watford.  Wasn`t great, could have been worse, but it could have been, oh, so much better.  Problem is we keep selling our best players to clubs who have more money and who pay outrageous wages, leaving clubs like the Saints finding it hard to compete - no such thing as an even playing field in the self-styled `best league in the world (tm).`

But what infuriates me is that when I look at other results this weekend, I see that Arsenal lost 4-3 to Liverpool, that all three Arsenal goals were scored by players from Saints` academy (Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Chambers) and two of Liverpool`s goals were scored by ex-Saints Lallana and Mane, as well as Clyne and Lovren also featuring in the Liverpool line-up.   And that was just one instant of `our`former players featuring elsewhere - it`s quite a long list.

Now, even if I was inclined to, which I cannot bring myself to even think about,  it`s much too late for me to change my allegiance to the Saints, who I first saw in 1946 when I was seven.  But it increasingly occurs to me that if you keep doing the same thing which leads to disappointment, bewilderment and despair over and over again, then truly doth madness lie that way.


Friday, August 12, 2016


To Bobbing, near Sittingbourne yesterday, where the Garden of England Crematorium sits serenely among its manicured lawns and air of peaceful isolation.   The occasion was the funeral of yet another former army comrade from my regiment, the 10th Royal Hussars. 

Now, the `shiny tenth` as we were known, is no more, having been amalgamated not once but twice until nowadays it is engulfed within the Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales Own.)   But the memories and traditions of the regiment still remain as a close knit family unit and they were represented yesterday by four of us from all parts of Kent - our regimental ties getting yet another outing as well as the reminiscences from over half a century ago.

Trouble is, this is getting to be an all too frequent occurrence and, as our numbers gradually but steadily diminish, the friends and comrades we knew seem to be fading away..... as old soldiers do.