Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Hamas : 4 - Israel : 374

Israel's cabinet is meeting to discuss proposals for an immediate suspension of air operations against Gaza.
Calls have come from Middle East peace-brokers including the US and EU foreign ministers. But Israeli leaders are reported to be split on the issue.
A foreign ministry spokesman said a unilateral 48-hour halt was "unrealistic", as long as Hamas continued to fire at Israel.

Palestinian officials say about 374 Palestinians have died in Israeli air strikes since Saturday;
4 Israelis have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza. BBC:

In my opinion, the only reason a unilateral 48-hour halt is "unrealistic" is because it doesn't suit their intention to wipe out the Palestinian population. The Israeli air strikes began less than a week after the expiry of a six-month-long ceasefire deal with Hamas.... which says to me that the Israelis were just waiting for an excuse to start hostilities again - that may well be a very simplistic view of the situation but as far as I can see that is the Israeli's main objective.

If the Israeli's really wanted to rid themselves of the Hamas they could move troops in and weed them out instead of indiscriminately bombing.

But, while condemning the Israeli action I really think that the Hamas should also be criticized for carrying out their action from within Gaza: by using civilians as cover for their operations and putting them at risk from the inevitable military retaliation they are also showing a total disregard for their lives.

Israeli air strike kills five daughters from one family as Gaza death toll passes 300.
Six months of secret planning - then Israel moves against Hamas

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Bon Jovi - Living on a prayer

We've got to hold on to what we've got
'cause it doesn't make a difference
If we make it or not
We've got each other and that's a lot
For love - we'll give it a shot.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Pilot: 'I'm not qualified to land'

A pilot flew 80 passengers from Cardiff to Paris then told them: "We have to turn back - I'm not qualified to land."

The pilot took the decision after thick fog cut visibility to 700 metres at Charles de Gaulle airport and he told passengers he was not trained to land the aircraft in such conditions.

So, they flew the 300 miles back to Cardiff airport - having left just hours earlier.


So, let me get this right - he's not qualified to land in Paris but he is qualified to land in Cardiff !? Strikes me as very odd. Anyhow, were there no other airports closer than Cardiff where he could have landed? Sounds to me like he shouldn't be flying at all.

Mr Blue Sky

New brew for Guinness anniversary

Guinness is to brew a special stout next year to mark its 250th anniversary, it is understood.

It is thought the commemorative beverage may be launched in March to coincide with St Patrick's Day.

The 250th anniversary marks the date which founder Arthur Guinness signed the lease on St James's Gate brewery in Dublin.
Oh yes!, we've heard this before - whatever happened to the red Guinness?

Monday, 22 December 2008

Missionary - D.M. Thomas

A harsh entry I had of it, Grasud;
the tiny shuttle strained to its limits
by radiation-belts, dust storms,
not to mention the pitiless heat which
hit it on plunging into the atmosphere
- its fire-shield clean vaporized; and then,
on landing, the utter cold and stillness
of a mountain-slope, cedar-trees and
what they call
snow. As I went numbly through the
routine I could do in my sleep -
mentalizing myself, smothering
my body and the shuttle in a
defensive neutrino-screen, hiding them
securely in the snow,
I looked up and, between the branches
of the cedars, could see
the mother-ship sliding away through
the dark, like an unfixed star, westwards
to its other destinations: that was
the worst moment of all, Grasud! I'd have
called it back! So lonely, such an alien
world they'd left me in. Goodbye, Lagash!
goodbye, Theremon! fare well! (But no
voice now even to make a gesture against
the silence.)
_________Then the agonizingly slow
descent, towards the village,
my spirit dark, already missing
not only Theremon and Lagash, but
that other friend, my body's familiar
chemistry. By now I felt my
vaunted courage ebbing, Grasud; I think
those years of training
alone forced me to go on, into the village,
into the house, inns, into
- after much vain searching - a ripened
womb; there superseding
(not without a pang) its foetus-spirit.
How black that airlock,
after the six suns of our own system,
I needn't tell you. Even space,
in recollection, seemed a blaze of
supernovas. But I settled to my task,
wrestling to get on terms with carbon
compounds fearsomely different from
the synthetic ones I'd practised in.
Of course, as I was born and the years
passed, it seemed as natural to go
on man's two legs as on our Vardian
limbs. But when these pains eased,
one far bitterer grew: my seeds were cast
on stony ground; the more
I exhorted,
- the more I spoke, obliquely, of
the many mansions of our Vardian
Commonwealth, and of the place
that could be theirs - the more it
seemed those simple, instinctive creatures
lied, stole, slandered, fornicated,
killed. . . . Grasud, how often, sick with
failure, only the words of Vrak
sustained me - 'a world lies in your hands.'
That was the time he
sent for the three of us when
all ears were ringing with the news of
the three life-planets, found in
NDT 1065. If we had hopes,
we masked them. His words to us, for
all that's happened, I'll hoard always.
'Thoorin, Lagash, Theremon,' I hear him
saying, 'I'm sending you. . . . you're young,
but this is what you've trained for, bio-
enlightenment. You've done well.'
And then - 'a world lies in your hands.'
So, Grasud, I toiled. In the end
I tried too hard; the time of space-
rendezvous was almost come. Anyway,
they killed me.
___________Yes, it was hard,
as you can well imagine,
on the return-journey, to avoid feeling
the faintest warp of
jealousy, as Theremon and
Lagash talked with
the happy emissaries of their
planets. - What does Vrak say? He is
kind, promises - after this loathsome
rest - another
chance, though not of course on that
planet. My 'inability' (he avoids
the word failure) to raise them
ethically to the point where we could
safely announce ourselves, proves, he
says, there's no point trying again
for a few thousand years. Meanwhile,
he suggests, maybe some of my words
will start to bear fruit. . . . He is kind!
His last words were 'Forget about it,
Thoorin; enjoy your stay on
Atar.' Forget!
with the relaxed faces of my friends a
perpetual thorn!

D.M. Thomas

Friday, 19 December 2008

The Easy Quiz

1) How long did the Hundred Years War last?
2) Which country makes Panama hats?
3) From which animal do we get cat gut?
4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?
6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?
7) What was King George VI's first name?
8) What color is a purple finch?
9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?

Answers will be published in a couple of days - why not post your answers in the comments and see how good your general knowledge is.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Christmas Batman to the rescue

A mystery businessman dressed up as Batman is bringing seasonal cheer to Sheffield.
The caped Christmas crusader has been spotted lending a hand at a soup kitchen and in a charity shop at a children's hospice.
But despite his good works and charitable donations totalling £10,000, the Yorkshire Batman's identity is still unknown.
He is known to be a local entrepreneur, but wears a mask at all times and speaks with a fake American accent.
"I don't want to reveal my identity because it's more important to highlight the charities," he told the Daily Express.
"I don't care if some people think I'm bonkers. If I inspire others to give their time and money to good causes this Christmas, it's been worth it.
"My message is that you don't need to be a superhero, or super wealthy, to give to deserving causes. If you can give cash, or toys, that's fantastic. The most precious gift of all is your time."
Batman helped stack shelves and man the tills at Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice charity shop in the city, where staff said that his presence sent takings through the roof.
"At first we thought he was a joker, but he turned out to be a true superhero," said one shop worker. "We're thinking of getting a Bat light installed so we can send him a signal whenever business is slow." Ananova:

Sunday, 14 December 2008

New Wine for Seniors

California vintners in the Napa Valley area, which primarily produce Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio wines, have developed a new hybrid grape that acts as an anti-diuretic. It is expected to reduce the number of trips older people have to make to the bathroom during the night. The new wine will be marketed as Pinot More.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Spanish fake kidnap mother jailed

A Spanish woman has been found guilty of staging the fake kidnapping of her two children seven times in order to obtain ransom money from her husband.

Over five years, Josefa Sanchez Vargas conned her estranged husband out of more than 600,000 euros (£535,000), saying she had to pay the kidnappers.

But he eventually became suspicious, and hired a detective to investigate. BBC News:

He eventually became suspicious - after SEVEN fake kidnappings. What an idiot! Wouldn't you have thought he would have become suspicious after the second or third kidnapping but seven? He has to be lacking a few brain cells.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Santa demands toy ransom

A mystery Santa demanded a toy ransom for an orphanage after pinching a builder's £3,000 digger.

Jaroslaw Kryzwonos was ordered to buy £200 of toys for the children's home in Lublin, Poland, in a phone call from a man identifying himself as Father Christmas.

After dropping off the sackloads of toys, the builder found his digger parked back where it had been stolen from.

A local police spokesman said: "This must be a very tough time for the economy if even Santa is trying his hand at kidnapping."

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Enya - Oíche Chiúin

Just had to re-post this.

So long and thanks for all the fish

Thanks to Alan in Belfast another amusing link: MARRAMGRASS
- a superb “new psychometric test”, “free from unwieldy four-letter acronyms”.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

on your bike - take 2 (updated)

..... the previous photo was so poor I just had to get a much better one

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Simon & Garfunkel - 7 O'Clock News/Silent Night

This is the early evening edition of the news.

The recent fight in the House of Representatives was over the open housing section of the Civil Rights Bill. Brought traditional enemies together but it left the defenders of the measure without the votes of their strongest supporters.
President Johnson originally proposed an outright ban covering discrimination by everyone for every type of housing but it had no chance from the start and everyone in Congress knew it.
A compromise was painfully worked out in the House Judiciary Committee.

In Los Angeles today comedian Lenny Bruce died of what was believed to be an overdose of narcotics. Bruce was 42 years old.

Dr. Martin Luther King says he does not intend to cancel plans for an open housing march Sunday into the Chicago suburb of Cicero. Cook County Sheriff Richard Ogleby asked King to call off the march and the police in Cicero said they would ask the National Guard to be called out if it is held. King, now in Atlanta, Georgia, plans to return to Chicago Tuesday.

In Chicago Richard Speck, accused murderer of nine student nurses, was brought before a grand jury today for indictment. The nurses were found stabbed and strangled in their Chicago apartment.

In Washington the atmosphere was tense today as a special subcommittee of the House Committee on un-American activities continued its probe into anti-Vietnam war protests. Demonstrators were forcibly evicted from the hearings when they began chanting anti-war slogans.

Former Vice-President Richard Nixon says that unless there is a substantial increase in the present war effort in Vietnam, the U.S. should look forward to five more years of war. In a speech before the Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in New York, Nixon also said opposition to the war in this country is the greatest single weapon working against the U.S.

That's the 7 o'clock edition of the news,Goodnight.

... it's christmas time

On a horse called autumn ...

I knew the title to my post was from a poem but I cannot find it on the internet so I dug out a book of poetry entitled 'Love, Love, Love - The new love poetry' first published 1967 by Corgi 552 07789 5, which has a lot of great poems and well worth hunting down - the price then was 25p (or 5 old shillings). I found another copy recently in a second hand book shop which set me back £2 but well worth every penny. The poem is by Brian Patten and I might post it later.

No need, I finally found a copy here: 'On a horse called autumn'

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Friday, 21 November 2008

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Two faced

I just took this photo in time - a couple of minutes later the lights in the clock face were automatically switched off and I would not have had the reflection.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Belfast, Dunbar Link

I saw a dead head sticker .....

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Oh My God they've killed ....

It's a sad sad day for blogging - Cyril Genty has decided to call it a day (or un jour), I for one shall miss his daily photographs of Paris which, I thought, were the best on the web. I hope he returns in another incarnation but I wish him well with whatever venture he is now involved with.
... but you can see videos of Un Jour à Paris archive here: 'the end is not the end'

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Leonard Cohen - Joan of Arc

I saw her wince, I saw her cry,

I saw the glory in her eye.

Myself I long for love and light,

but must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?

with Jennifer Warnes

I have linked these two videos because, apart from being a great song, they are interesting in that one is a younger and the other an older Cohen. Interesting, because although it is the same song with the same performer the style is slightly different - apart from the more husky older voice the delivery of the younger Cohen sounds more like a reading of a poem or dirge set to music (which is probably what, essentially, it is) while the older Cohen sounds more seductive.

YouTube - Live

Here's one for you diary - 22nd November 2008 - YouTube Live.

All That JAzz

Last night we attended 'All That Jazz' at the Waterfront Hall - no, not the film but the live concert with Cleo Laine, Johnny Dankworth, Jacqui Dankworth and Alec Dankworth (as Sly & the Family Stone say - 'it's a family affair). This is the one sad and sorry photo I managed to capture before the battery gave up on my wee digital.

Dame Cleo Laine and Sir John Dankworth (to give them their full titles) are both octogenarians but have more vitality and energy than the likes of Ms Sinead O'Connor - they, and their family, gave an outstanding performance (sadly it was probably not recorded). It was a delight to sit through a concert of highly professional and entertaining performers. Dame Cleo's voice has lost none of its edge over the years, she may have slowed down a bit but there was no diminution in quality. Her daughter, Jacqui, also has a powerful voice and together they were just incredible - their rendition of 'Woman Talk' was, for me, one of the highlights of the night.

This was another of those concerts which we left feeling that we had not been short-changed. Here was a group of people who not only performed professionally but enjoyed what they were doing, as did the audience (from the 5 week old baby to the 90 year old woman - though one of them did sleep through the whole performance). From the word go Johnny, Cleo et al achieved instant rapport with the audience by chatting to (and with) us about the music and even a little bit of family history. It was a night to remember and hopefully one to be repeated - we all hope with Johnny that it will not be another 7 years before they are invited back.

Tom Paxton - Viet Nam Potluck Blues

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Kate Wolf - Two-way waltz

Do I need to say anything?

Who Knows Where The Time Goes?

This is one of those songs that, no matter how many times I hear it, I still enjoy listening to it. If you were to ask me which was the best version I would just have to say, they are all equally great (each artist having stamped their own individual style on it). As for my own personal favourite I have to lean towards Judy Collins. I first heard this song almost 40 years ago outside on a calm quiet night, about 2.00a.m., and the acoustics were perfect. At that time it sounded like the most perfect song I had ever heard and that memory stays with me, even now. I have never heard it performed as well since (even though I have a copy of Judy's CD) - perhaps one night I shall sneak out of the house and try to reproduce that moment.

... and one last one from Nanci Griffith

nick drake - northern sky

A great song to introduce you to a great singer.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Singer Miriam Makeba dies at 76

Here's a story I just found today on 'Old School Music Lover' ....

Miriam Makeba, the South African singer who wooed the world with her sultry voice but was banned from her own country for more than 30 years under apartheid, died after collapsing on stage in Italy. She was 76.

In her dazzling career, Makeba performed with musical legends from around the world — jazz maestros Nina Simone and Dizzy Gillespie, Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon — and sang for world leaders such as John F. Kennedy and Nelson Mandela.

“Her haunting melodies gave voice to the pain of exile and dislocation which she felt for 31 long years. At the same time, her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in all of us,” Mandela said in a statement.

He said it was “fitting” that her last moments were spent on stage.

I won't re-post the links to her videos - just watch them on 'Old School Music Lover' especially Miriam performing in 2007. You would not think she was over 70 years old during that performance.

The Who - Happy Jack

Another great song from the sixties, which I just had to share with all you lucky people. For best effect - play it damn loud !!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Walking on the chinese wall

A few years ago we were in China and one of the highlights of the trip was walking on the great wall but no-one believed me when I told them about this great song. So, here, for their delictation is that very song performed by Philip Bailey.

Sunday, 9 November 2008


Poster from a French holiday.
Above is a photo I uploaded using my new mobile phone - as you can see I haven't quite got the hang of it but practice makes perfect. Below is an edited version of the poster, which hangs in my bedroom.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Sunday, 2 November 2008

WHY ...

did Glock slow down and allow Hamilton to pass?

I think he threw the race but that's only my personal opinion!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Self Portraits


Andre Gunther



A photo of a very weather beaten cherub on a gravestone in Friar's Bush Graveyard - reminds me of one of those gurners.

our correspondent says

A popular Turkish singer has defended public statements that Turkey's long conflict with Kurdish rebels needs a solution - not more deaths. Bulent Ersoy made her comments at a court hearing in Istanbul, after being charged with attempting to turn the public against military service.

The transsexual singer also suggested that if she had a son she would not send him to fight. If found guilty, she faces up to four-and-a-half years in prison. Ms Ersoy made her comments about Turkey's powerful military on television last February. The Turkish army was conducting a major operation against the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq at the time.

Some 40,000 people have died since the conflict with the PKK began in 1984. Defiant stance Ms Ersoy arrived at court in her usual, flamboyant style - dressed in white flowing linen, golden gem-studded sandals and matching accessories, says the BBC's Sarah Rainsford, who was present at the trial.

As photographers surrounded her, a few supporters held up signs reading Long live the Diva, our correspondent says.

The prosecutor accuses Bulent Ersoy of making dangerous propaganda for the PKK, describing military service as the "sacred duty" of every Turk. But Ms Ersoy told the judge she had committed no crime. The singer said she stood by her words and her right to express her thoughts freely - as a loyal citizen of her country.
"Even if they hang me, I'll keep talking," she said. It was a defiant stance, but this case has exposed the limits on free speech in Turkey once again - a country whose military remains extremely powerful, its reputation and actions protected from criticism by law, our correspondent says.

Ms Ersoy did not show up in court when the trial opened in June, saying she had to attend a concert. 'Risky business' Ms Ersoy is Turkey's best known diva, adored across the country, our correspondent says.

She was already one of the country's most popular male singers when in 1981 she underwent a sex change operation. But questioning the Turkish military can be a risky business, our correspondent says.

Article 318 of the penal code - dissuading people from military service - is frequently used by the military against its critics. Meanwhile critics say a separate article, making it a crime to insult the Turkish nation and its institutions, is used to stifle free speech.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Cromac Spring Water

MISSING - Amy Fitzpatrick

Amy Fitzpatrick went missing in Mijas in Spain on January 1st while walking home from her friends house and has not been seen since. We are asking for your help so this does not happen again!! We are also looking for volunteer's in Ireland and in European countries to help assist in our on-going campaign to get signatures on the petition to get an Alert System set into place. Please email us
Click here for Amber Alert Link
See also Help find Amy or her dad's bebo page (thanks to anonymous for the links)
I came across this photo while googling for something else (I think it was on somebody's blog) and just felt I should add my little bit to further the search. This is not even the tip of the iceberg - if you visit Amy's dad's bebo page or any of the other web sites set up for missing persons you will see just how widespread the problem is - so I can't begin to imagine how you can combat something on such a large scale as this. But if by posting links to the occasional appeal helps in any positive way then we can feel that we have achieved something (or helped at least).

Saturday, 4 October 2008

A Midsummer Night's Dream

This is excellent (not only can you read the wonderful Midsummer Night's Dream but it is also the Heath Robinson illustrated version) - click on the book for the link, or click on this link for other download options. Don't bother to download the PDF file - it has been very badly scanned. It looks as if you leave the flip book and return later it will return to the place that you left off (I expect you need to have cookies enabled too).

Monday, 29 September 2008

Friar's Bush Graveyard

Two photos I took while visiting Friar's Bush graveyard during the recent Heritage Open Day.

One theory is that it was once a monastery, but it owes the curious name to a holy friar, who was said to have been endowed with some miraculous powers, and it was beside the ancient tree in the centre of the graveyard that he performed his daily devotions, hence the name of "Friar's Bush." The inscription on his tombstone is " This stone Marks Ye Friar's Grave, A.D. 485," so he must have been one of the early disciples of St. Patrick, who had visited this place some time before. LibraryIreland


... seen in a large national record store. Apart from employing somebody who knows something about music they should make sure they employ somebody who can also read.

Saturday, 27 September 2008


A Ryanair plane flying low over Albertbridge Road coming in to land at George Best City Airport.
... and the authorities try to tell us this doesn't happen!!

Digital Imaging

Two young women I saw recently (within a couple of days of each other) making images 'the old fashioned way' - with a pencil. You do remember pencils, don't you? Who needs an expensive camera?

Wednesday, 24 September 2008


For some reason spoons have been appearing at the roadside on my way to or from the bus stop.
Do you think there is something significant in this ... like if I dreamed about spoons?

To see, or use, spoons in a dream, denotes favorable signs of advancement. Domestic affairs will afford contentment. ... To dream of broken or soiled spoons, signifies loss and trouble.

Scottish Provident Institute (encore)

Some more letters from the Scottish Provident Institute building but this time from a panel depicting the printing industry.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

be merry ...

... for tomorrow we die

Scottish Provident Institute

A very clever monogram on the Scottish Provident Institute building. At first glance it looks like just the two letters 'S' and 'I' but look again and you can see that the 'I' combined with the curve of the 'S' do in fact make the letter 'P'. So we have the initial letters of Scottish Provident Institute.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Sentry Hill

As today was Heritage Open Day when many properties, that are usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission, offer free access we decided to take adavantage of this yearly freebie and visited Sentry Hill just outside Glengormley. It was a very informative and enjoyable trip - even for those of us who aren't great into local history. The photo shows the actual camera William used to photograph family, friends and life in general in and around Sentry Hill.

Sentry Hill was the home of the McKinney family, who came to Ireland from Scotland in the early 1700s. Remarkably the contents of the house have survived almost intact. This is largely due to William Fee McKinney who built up a remarkable collection of diaries, family letters and an extensive library of books and pamphlets and was also a keen photographer. I think if he had lived until today he would have been a very enthusiastic blogger.

A Summer's afternoon in the garden at Sentry Hill, 1898.
William's daughter, Meg, is pouring the tea for two friends.

Spot the deliberate mistake

I don't know if this was deliberate or not but it does catch your attention.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Chess Master

I arrived just as this gentleman was clearing away but, first, he was having a conversation with some of his audience(?) I get the impression he was challenging passers-by to a game of chess while playing music on his 'beat box' to attract a crowd.

Proms in the Park

Some of the musicians tuning up for tonight's Proms in the Park, which will be held in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. If you haven`t been lucky enough to get a free ticket, audiences can also listen to, or view, BBC Proms in the Park as it will be broadcast live on BBC Radio Ulster and on BBC television (through the red button) from 8pm.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008


Not my favourite watering hole (in fact I have never stepped foot in the place) but I like the impact made by the sign on the awning.

Mahna Mahna

Most of you, I am sure, remember this song performed by the Muppets BUT did you know that "Mah Nà Mah Nà" debuted as part of Umiliani's soundtrack for the Italian softcore pornography movie 'Svezia, inferno e paradiso' (Sweden: Heaven and Hell) (1968), a pseudo-documentary film about wild sexual activity and other behaviour in Sweden. wikipedia

Download the Muppet's mp3 here:

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Monday, 1 September 2008

Some naked ladies

Magic Lilies or Naked Lady

Naked Lady or Belladonna Lilly

Friday, 29 August 2008

In case of emergency .... (update)

They changed dresses overnight!