Saturday, 26 January 2013


What is happening today?   Today there is some warm almost spring sunshine in Inverness.   And so, for the benefit of our health, we two ancients went a-walking down by the very full and fast-flowing River Ness.   We walked for about half-a-mile, just enough for our old bones.   Now Gerald is making wholemeal bread, and yours truly decided to escape from the kitchen, and to write this blog.

What else is new?   Yesterday I read a great long blog by Laurie Penny which I found on the New Statesman Magazine website –   It was all about a book called ‘Vagina’ by Naomi Wolf.   She sleights the author for using her immediate social milieu - mostly upper middle-class New York smart women, discussing their experiences of love with men in the same class, that is with money to buy flowers etc., etc., whereas ordinary, usually poorer-off women, perhaps in Africa, but who are to be found all over the world, have a harder and more difficult experience.   According to Laurie Penny this book is letting women and the fight for women’s rights down.   It is titillating to men, and she cites an example of such writing in the highly successful erotic publication known to all as ‘50 Shades of Grey’.  Laurie Perry is a wonderful writer.   I see that this week in the same magazine her subject is the glass ceiling as she describes a meeting with the 82-year-old activist for women’s rights, and founder of the “wages for housework” campaign, Selma James.   I’d never heard of her.  She was born in Brooklyn and now lives in London.   She seems to be a remarkable woman who has always fought for the underdog.   There is such an active world going on out there, especially in London.   I never considered myself a feminist, but perhaps I was wrong not to take up the cause.   Too late now!   But I wish I could be paid for sixty years of housework!

Other things to bug me:   My daughter’s neighbour’s son has lost one of his university classmates in the “insurgent” attacks in Mali where the French are now fighting.   Six British boys lost their lives. Sad day for some poor parents.

David Cameron is sounding off about what Britain can get to its advantage from the European Union by renegotiating the terms of the treaty signed in Maastrich long ago.   How will it go?  He says he wants the country to stay in Europe (don’t all sane people?) but we must get a better deal, he says.   And who will lose out so we in Britain can gain new advantages?  This is the trouble with democracy.   You have to go with the flow or take up another hobby away from politics.   I have decided we must do as Jesus told us to do, in order to stop ourselves from going crazy – “Consider the lilies of the field.   They neither reap nor do they sow, yet have I provided for them.”   Except lilies don’t grow in Scotland.   At least not in the winter.

I will finish with a quotation from Robert Burns, our beloved Scottish Poet whose commemorative day it was on the 25th, yesterday.

“Oh would what power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us!”!
Translated it means (the ‘giftie’ being God)   Oh, would God only give the gift to see ourselves as others see us.

How would people like David Cameron, George Osborne, or Alex Salmond like to see themselves as others see them or hear what people say about them?  I have to say I don’t think I could stand to have that gift given to me either. No way! 

I wish you sunshine such as we had today in Inverness – but just a good bit warmer, please God!   And Good Luck ANDY MURRAY, TOMORROW!!

Sunday, 13 January 2013


Sunday in the highlands of Scotland, and it is not too cold.   Yesterday was so cold and yet beautiful to look out on as all grass and trees were covered in thick white frost.   In the post came a postcard from striver-granddaughter, Laura, who at this time during her back-packing year is working on a farm, a few hundred miles north of Sydney.   She works in above 100 degrees Fahrenheit conditions picking fruit and such like work.   Anyhow it was how this New Year greeting was addressed.   To Margaret and Gerald.   Our second name was almost too small to be on the postcard.   But then she has called our house “The Gambles”.    It made me laugh.   Take a gamble and visit “The Gambles”.   It does say “The Gables” on the front wall.   However perhaps the sun has affected her memory - and we loved her communication just the same.   If you read this Laura, you are a star, and we will love seeing you and Lauren in June.   Keep on Keeping on!

Not that this was the first time we have had a strange version of our house name.   Some typist once sent us a brown envelope with information enclosed, and she had addressed the package to “The Gay Balls”.   Images of ladies in ball gowns sweeping round a ballroom in the arms of handsomely–dressed men occurred to me.   Or if you like you could think of the new connotation of ‘gay’, the mind boggles.   I suppose it must have been down to my pronunciation of the ‘gables’ over the ‘phone’ that was at fault.   Oh well! I think everything is my fault anyway.   It’s due to my strict education I tell myself.

But I don’t think I am at fault for any of the following:

a)     The coalition government in the United Kingdom are introducing a form of poll tax    in April this year.   This will inform poorer people who do not pay local council tax due to their circumstances that they will now have to pay something, perhaps 20%.   And it seems that it is almost certain that they won’t be able to pay this.   Even unemployed people will have to pay when they have never paid before, even though they can hardly make ends meet.   I got this story from George Eaton’s column in the New Statesman.  I quote here from the article in this week’s magazine “The parallels with the greatest policy misjudgement by any modern Conservative government are so striking that one is inclined to conclude that the coalition has a death wish,”   He goes on to say that “this regressive levy is likely to be met with mass non-payment.”

b)     It seems that Silvio Berlosconi is trying to regain power in Italy by promising a relaxation of austerity.   Let’s hope that the Italians don’t give in to his wild behaviour, in spite of their financial distress.

c)     I read that the architect Kenneth Powell referred to the Shard as a 'behemoth'.  The Shard is the new tall building - the tallest in Europe - on the south bank of the Thames by London Bridge designed by Renzo Piano. It opens on the 1st of February and you can see round on the 68th, 69th and 72nd floors - but beware, it's expensive.  'Behemoth’ is a puzzling word.  A medieval word meaning “a great monster”.   The building has its critics as it just seemed to appear among 19th century streets.

d)     A quote from “The Observer” magazine today talking about the attempt of scientists in Eindhoven University in Holland to make artificial steaks and hamburgers.   There’s energy behind the projects because of the certainty that 9 billion human beings cannot possibly go on eating food (at the present rate), especially meat produced in the traditional way.   The planet can’t take it.”   It’s is a good interesting article, if a bit scary.

Last of all a joke:   A woman journalist heard a story about this Jewish man who has been going to the Wailing Wall in Jersualem for forty years.   Each day he prayed for an hour.   He never failed to turn up to pray.   The journalist decided to get the story and arrived one day to visit this religious man.   “Who do you pray for each day?” she asked.   The old man replied, “I pray for my wife, for my family, and for my health.   Also I pray the Christians, the Jews, and the Moslems will agree with one another and find peace together.”   Said the journalist:   “How do you feel about doing this for so long?”   He replied, “I feel as if I am talking to a wall.”