Wednesday, July 12, 2006

 

THE AFFLUENT SOCIETY

The stealing of my purse yesterday has left me musing on what makes my life feel complete and how our views on this have changed during my life time.
There was about £250 in my purse, which I suppose in this day and age is an average working person's week's wage.
It is a lot of money and yet I have not viewed it as a complete disaster.
I am sure that if somebody had lost a week's money during the 1930's and even in the 1950's then there would have been much consternation and wringing of hands and wondering how the family would feed itself for a week.
I certainly don't see Bill and I facing thin carrot soup for the week!
I am sure that the loss of the money will hardly change our lives and yet I know for sure that our income is at the lower end of average.
Now don't get me wrong I am sure there are still some folk who would find the loss of this amount of money as a real problem. I don't think they would actually face a problem with their daily needs, but it could be that some people are facing poverty at such a level that if they had been saving carefully for a special purchase then the loss would mean having to go without.
But generally it would seem that our society now accepts affluence as the norm, whereas 50 years ago some degree of deprivation was considered normal.
And yet we still have Poverty Action groups - and we have to ask who actually is facing poverty? The answer would seem to be that anybody who receives a below average income is considered to be poor, despite the fact almost everybody has a home with all sorts of electrical gadgets to help them in the home and electrical gadgets to provide entertainment - and plenty over for trivia.
This is not poverty - it is pandering to the envy that we all feel from time to time that others might be able to live in a way that seems to be better than our own. So, if I am not too alarmed about the loss of the money, what would I fear losing?
Well, I fear losing my ability to continue to live as I choose.
I want to feel in control of my own destiny.
I need some semblence of good health. That at least can't be stolen from me by others.
I want a life with peace and quiet and privacy.
I fear that these things can be stolen from us. The night the travellers came showed us that.
I want to feel secure that my life has some worth and dignity.
The threat of terrorisim shows that security can be fragile.

I think I have a right to these things - far more than I feel I have a right to riches.
The loss of my money has directed my mind to thoughts that show that the loss of money in this age of comparative affluence need not bother us too much.
It has also made me realise that I am very fortunate that for the most part the things that I do cherish as valuable are in my life in abundance, along with my family and friends.
I have noticed recently some threats to my peace and quiet and privacy which allowed a few worries to rise to the surface, but for the most part I am so happy with a life that has enough good health to keep me going and a gentle life style of my own choosing which I am free to pursue.
If I was a religious person I might just end with the words
"Thanks be to God".

Monday, July 10, 2006

 

10th July. Happy birthday.

Today I am cheating.... I am wishing a happy birthday to a collection of famous (or not so famous) folk - all of whom are younger than me.

I just looked up this day, 10th July, on Wikipedia.
What an excellent information website this is - and incredibly up to date.
I looked up Zidane (the French footballer) this evening and it said he was a retired French footballer.
In fact less than 24 hours ago he was still playing for his country and expecting to play until the end of the match and then retire.
Wikipedia has an account of his foolish last move on the football field.
So - whatever you need to know, then try Wikipedia.

The list of birthday people includes quite a lot of sports people.
I recognise most of those.
How many can you claim to know about?
I can really only claim to know much about 7 on this list. Some have names I vaguely recognise. The rest are a closed book to me.

1945 - John Motson, British sports (football) commentator
1945 - Virginia Wade, British tennis player
1946 - Sue Lyon, American actress
1947 - Arlo Guthrie, American musician
1949 - Sunil Gavaskar, Indian cricketer
1951 - Cheryl Wheeler, American singer and songwriter
1952 - Ludmilla Tourischeva, Russian gymnast
1954 - Neil Tennant, British musician
1956 - Tom McClintock, American politician
1959 - Janet Julian, American actress
1968 - Hassiba Boulmerka, Algerian athlete
1969 - Gale Harold, American actor
1970 - Ed Chapman, British artist
1970 - Jason Orange, UK pop singer and dancer
1970 - John Simm, British actor
1972 - Sofia Vergara, Colombian actress
1976 - Ludovic Giuly, French footballer
1978 - Jesse Lacey, American singer
1980 - Thomas Ian Nicholas, American actor
1980 - Adam Petty, American race car driver (d. 2000)
1980 - Jessica Simpson, American singer
1982 - Alex Arrowsmith, American musician
1982 - Sebastian Mila, Polish footballer
1984 - Mark Gonzalez, Chilean footballer

Sunday, July 09, 2006

 

LANDMARK OF THE YEAR

There are many landmarks throughout the year - and today provided one for me.
Today is the last day of the Wimbledon tennis championships.
I have been a fan of the tennis at Wimbledon since childhood and I feel a kind of sadness as the last strains of the familiar BBC signature tune dies away for the last time.
I first noticed tennis from my sick bed. I guess it was the year I got chicken pox during a heat wave. I spent the days in my parents bedroom and could listen to the radio - no television for us in those days. I was fascinated by the tennis commentary - all those tennis terms and the descriptions of the players.
Even as a small girl I could conjure up exciting images from the spoken words - and sort of fell in love with Ken Rosewall, who played his first Wimbledon final that year against Lew Hoad.
Later, each year I would prepare an exercise book with the draw of all the first round matches and then fill in the winners and scores and move onto the subsequent rounds. I would pour over the sports pages of The Times to fill in all the details and to cut out photographs.
I learned to play tennis at school. I wasn't really very good - but good enough to play for the school against other schools sometimes. Later I spent more time in the umpires chair - a school chair perched on a school desk.
I soon realised that other people could watch the matches on TV and I wormed my way into the house next door, where Mr and Mrs Langridge lived - Min and Percy.
They didn't worry about things like schooling and exams and kept their mouths shut when I sneaked off school in the afternoons to watch my favourites.
And so the pattern was established - for 2 weeks each summer I would get absorbed in the tennis and the lives of the players.
For more than 50 years I have done this and each year on the last day I suffer the pangs of farewells to those I have come to care about.
Even when I was young, as the last views of the courts faded, I would ponder on the passage of time and wonder where I would be and what I would be doing during the next Wimbledon. Even then thoughts of mortality crossed my mind - would I actually be alive?
And yet there was a sort of security in knowing that whatever happened to me Wimbledon would still be there - almost like the annual blooming of daffodils and the falling of leaves.
And so yet again the curtain has fallen. The elegant and poised Roger Federer has won yet again - deservedly so. The new blood of Rafael Nadal cannot yet be the master, but he is very young. His day should come.
Maybe next year.
But for now we must all move on. They will have more tennis to play around the world. I have my life.
We will meet again this time next year.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

 

The Language of Sussex

Today we have travelled across much of West Sussex again; and amongst the treasures we brought home with us was a book on Sussex dialect, which I have enjoyed studying.
We, in Sussex, have a language of our own. And even when everyday words are spoken by a Sussex person the accent can turn them into something else.
Whe Roger wrote that an ancestor appeared on a census as having been born in Arsted Canes I could almost hear the voice of the Sussex man explaining that he came from Horsted Keynes.
Lovely!
It is so easy to realise that the Sussex word Cardingly actually means Accordingly. But if you are "Furrin" - or not from these parts you might not have guessed.
But there is a dictionary full of words to describe daily life.
I thought I would show you the "miriander" that I chose to marry......


This "happy halfwit" was seen on a Sussex lane in 1961!
The very next year I met him and he seemed to be the man for me.

I must have been quite "pawsy"! (stupid)








I'd like to tell you in Sussex dialect that the miriander proved to be a hardworking and loyal husband.
But I can't do it.
We in Sussex must have negativity born into us - I haven't found one complimentary word in the book!

Today, like we "generally always" do at the weekend, we went off hunting for things to make our fortune. I wonder if this book will bring us a few pennies.

Friday, July 07, 2006

 

07/07 - A Day to Remember.


Today the people of this country have been remembering the terrorist atrocities of a year ago.

Flowers have been laid in London and prayers have been offered up.

I have been thinking about those who have suffered grief and pain and offer some flowers from my garden as a symbol of hope.

I am so thankful that the events of the day touched me not at all. When we first heard the news I felt anxious, for we have family living close by and others who would have been working near to Kings Cross Station. Once I knew they were all safe I just felt a sort of numbness that these things should happen.

I wish I understood.

Atrocities of all kinds have occurred throughout history and mostly we can understand the motives, whilst despising the violent methods.

For example I understand what the IRA wanted - and no doubt still want. I also knew why they wanted a united Ireland. In fact I could even sympathise a little with their aims. Their approach to trying to achieve their aims was totally misguided and bad and thankfully was doomed to failure.

But now - with these terrorists who are attacking randomly round the world, does anybody know what they actually want? I certainly don't.

I understand that they think that the Western Capitalist world is not being fair with the Eastern Moslem world and maybe there is a hint of truth in that. It seems they would like to destroy the structures and frameworks of our economics and lifestyle.

But have they ever told us what would replace the things that have been destroyed?

I am not sure if anybody can answer that. I am not sure if even the terrorists are capable of knowing more than their power to make random gestures of terror.

So on this day I unite with all others who despise violence, wherever it may be. I hope that those affected by the events of last year will come to know peace.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

 

STINGING NETTLE POEM

I thank both Ashley and Roger who had the good sense to look on the Internet for the full words of the poem I mentioned earlier.

Tender handed grasp a nettle,
And it stings you for your pains.
Grasp it like a man of mettle
And it soft as silk remains.

This was written by Aaron Hill who lived 1685 to 1750.

He went on to relate his philosphy towards stinging nettles to people.
People are not the same as nettles and I, like Roger who found it, do not agree with the poet.

Tis the same with common natures,
Use 'em kindly, they rebel.
But, be rough as nutmeg graters
And the rogues obey you well.

I guess I can see that some structure and boundaries are necessary in life, but I don't see that the downtrodden of this world need to be disciplined as harshly as he suggests. Perhaps it might be better to offer a gentle hand to lift them from the downtrodden state - am I in danger of sounding like a trendy lefty!

I wonder what Aaron Hill could possibly have made of the notion that people like us are sharing his poem, 250 years after his death, through the wonders of a computer

 

BANGOR - NATURE STUDY

Whenever we go for a walk we like to use our eyes to see just what wonders there are in the world.
It might be beautiful and interesting buildings we see, or stunning views; on other occasions we are enjoying the many delights of Mother Nature.
Last week we were with Ashley in Bangor and we all enjoyed a nature study walk in Ashley Jones Field.
The name of course has great signficance because firstly we have an Ashley and also because my grandmother's maiden name was Jones and the family did originally come from North Wales - though not Bangor.


This was a small detail that Ashley had not spotted before.








Ashley Jones field is situated above the Menai Strait and at the far end of this picture is a stone circle of big slate stones which had been constructed with a sort of throne at the centre for the enthronement of the Chief Bard at an Eisteddford (Welsh music and poetry and historical connections) held in the fairly recent past.
I like those thistles in the foreground.




Here you can see the standing stones and the throne.









At the top end of the field, by this magnificent hedge of roses and phildadelphus, which had grown wild from an overgrown garden, we were amazed by masses of black caterpillars feeding on the stinging nettles.






When Bill looked them up in a book he discovered that these are the caterpillar of the peacock butterfly.
Hard to imagine that these plain black spiny crawling creatures turn into something so beautiful. But they have a beauty of their own of course.





And stinging nettles are also beautiful - unless you touch them.
I recalled a poem I had to write out for an Ifield Association handwriting competition at the village flower show when I was about 7 years old.





The poem begins "Tender handed grasp a nettle and it stings you......", and I forget the words here. It goes on "Grasp it like a man of mettle....." and I forget the 4th line completely. Does anybody else know it?

The last picture I have included was taken down on the beach.

It is not a sea side beach - but there is seaweed a plenty on the shore.

 

BANGOR. NORTH WALES

Bangor is an interesting town with a cathedral and university on the North Wales Coast. Having said that, I have to say that you can hardly call the water's edge a seaside sort of coast because Bangor lies on the Menai Strait.
If you would like to know more about the town and the Menai Strait I suggest you look at the following websites.......

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangor_(Wales)


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menai_Strait

On these sites you will find the facts. I can just offer my impressions on the days when we are there, visiting Ashley, Liz and Ekatarina.

I described it just now as "interesting" and it is; though there are few places for tourists to visit and the shopping centre is just now very bleak. A little 1960s development has been demolished to make way for something new, so at the moment there is a building site alongside the High Street. The High Street is steep and quite narrow and for the most part pedestrianised. There is a nice clock tower half way up the hill, which is close to Holland & Barrett, where Liz works.
It is a Victorian town which grew rapidly with the development of the railway and the building of the bridges which linked the mainland to Anglesey and the port of Holyhead where ships leave for Ireland.

This picture was taken from Roman Camp overlooking the Menai Strait and the bridges in the distance.
It is doubtful if Roman Camp had much to do with the Romans - it is more likely to have been a Norman fortification.


At the moment, Ashley lives in the area of Bangor known as Hirael which is at the bottom of the town and quite close to the Menai Strait. It is an area of narrow sloping streets with small houses built aroung 1900 for the workers in the mining industry.


Asley lives in almost the first street you can see crossing the picture from left to right.
This picture was taken at Roman Camp.
Ashley and Liz plan to move at some point from this area to Upper Bangor, which is close to Ekatarina's school.

Upper Bangor has even narrower streets, weaving in a haphazard manner at the top of the hill quite close to the station.

When the family move then maybe walks to the pier will be less frequent. It is only a few minutes walk from their present home. It is a long pier stretching out half way across the Menai Strait. It is normally quite bracing to walk out to the end in the wind that can blow from the west along the length of the water. There is a small cafe at the end offering cups of tea and buttered scones. There are a few small shops, in the little towers you can see along the length, selling craftwork and nick nacks.












Last Friday, whilst Ekatarina was at school we went for a walk with Ashley. It was an interesting and quite strenuous stroll firstly down to the water's edge and then climbing up to Roman camp. We enjoyed looking at all sorts of things from tiny black peacock butterfly caterpillars to a Celtic stone circle constructed for an Eisteddford.
I'll put the nature study pictures on the next bit of blog.
The next 2 pictures were taken on the beach - nothing like a sea side beach, although there were lots of shells and stranded small jelly fish.



The stones have not been rounded like the pebbles on a sea side beach. I am surprised at this because they are constantly being covered and uncovered by moving water - the tide comes in and goes out quite a distance. Here you can see the mud flats uncovered by the tide.


There are few buildings by the water's edge here, for it is difficult to have access for a vehicle.
The old Bangor Bath House is situated at this point, but now boarded up and unused.
By chance we met somebody else walking down by the water who had grown up in Bangor and she told us that she had learned to swim in the bath house.

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