Faith hope and tolerance

Damn colds! I am in the fourth week of real stinker that won’t go away despite massive doses of vitamin C and increasingly large doses of cough medicine, more about that later. The news seems to have been filled with the shortcomings of our wonderful government and what can only be described as an alarming ineptitude to deal with matters of finance, party donations, border security and our armed forces to name just a few. It does make me wonder what will turn up next and how long this government can hang on to power.  It only seems like a short time ago that I stayed up all night to watch a historical landslide election take place that was supposed to have given us all hope and renewed faith in British politics. That was in 1997 and all that Faith, hope and tolerance has been slowly eroded and washed away. Pete Townsend summed it all up in his song, We won’t get fooled again. The last words are “Meet the new boss, the same as the old boss”.

Another alarming piece of news this week is that an English supply teacher in the Sudan has been jailed for 15 days for allowing the children in her class to name a class mascot Teddy bear Mohammed. Apparently this is a huge insult to the Islamic faith. It should be noted that she herself did not name the Teddy bear, it was put to a vote and the children themselves chose the name. However it is the teacher who has been jailed and will have lost her job and then be deported at the end of her sentence. Mercifully it was only a teddy bear and not a farmyard animal. The outcry at beasts of burden being named Moses, Jesus and Mohammed does not bare thinking about. It is not just the British government who are eroding faith, hope and tolerance; it would appear that religion is now getting in on the act. It makes me rather glad I chose to be an atheist. Sudan is definitely off my list of holiday destinations.

Work has not restarted on the house but the good news is that I took delivery of a PS3 at the weekend just gone. Commander Riker and Miss Décolletage, the Revellers, BBB and Teech as well as the Bean Counter attended the grand unveiling and set about plugging leads and cables into all sorts of sockets to make the damn thing work. In fact I probably had the cream of the UK’s computing and gaming brains in attendance to set it all up. This is probably just as well as I don’t know any nine year old kids to do the job for me. Technology is a marvellous thing for the young and the older I become the more convinced I am that it is only for the young. I am still grappling the intricacies of my newest mobile phone. Half of the facilities I do not need and will probably never use. I sometimes yearn for the days when we had bakelite phones that would merely ring when some one was trying to contact you instead of belting out mind numbing ring tones. Despite all of this my MP3’s, MPEG’s and my DVD’s now look and sound wonderful. I just wish it was all easier to use instead of having to have four remote controls at my disposal.

Back to the cold from hell. I am now four weeks into what has turned out to be the worst cold I have ever had. Nothing seems to shift it or ease the symptoms. I have perhaps single handedly contributed to the destruction of half a rainforest through the use of paper hankies in a month. In an effort to stem my destruction of the ozone layer I have taken to drying them out on a radiator to be re-used and I have discovered that you can re-use them up to four times before they disintegrate. I have gone through copious quantities of vitamin c and gallons of fruit juice in an attempt to rejuvenate my immune system. I have taken to using increasingly large amounts of cough medicine to ease my aching throat. I have also discovered that there is a limit to how much cough medicine you can take at any one time. This was accidental and completely unintended however I had my breakfast and then took a particularly large draught from the bottle, it saves having to wash a spoon afterwards. I woke up on the couch some nine hours later wondering where the day had gone.  I guess a lot of people must have wondered where I had got to as well as there were messages on my answer machine and a lot of missed calls on my mobile. I am not sure many people will believe me when I tell them but I will just have to rely on an ever decreasing amount of faith hope and tolerance.

More news as it happens

It is definitely the end of the season and I have not done anything since Halloween; however plans are being made for next year as I write. Ted Magnum is in Argentina exploring all sorts of cooking methods and The Saint informed me of one guys successful bid to organise the biggest barbecue in the world. He has successfully spit roasted a 550 KG camel, that is approximately 1237 pounds of meat. Check this…….

All of a sudden I feel inadequate. To make matter worse I found this on a website. This is just amazing and how could any one who is really into barbecues not be impressed with this beast of a machine?  Listen girls, forget aftershave and socks this year, get your man one of these for Xmas, you know its what he wants alongside a decent train set and his own pub!!
I just gotta have one of those!!!!

The new season is four months away at least and I am praying that the weather is better than this year. More news as it happens

Happy Xmas!!!

Its here, I know it is. I have seen it in all of the shops! The tinsel and lights are up and the turkeys and crackers are flying off the shelves, (more about that later). I even heard Slade on the radio yesterday. Christmas is definitely here. Yes it’s that annual event when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s where the name “Christmas” comes from, the mass of Christ. Actually he wasn’t born on December 25th, the bible does not even mention his date of birth so the Romans, in approximately AD 227, came up with a date of 25th December. The Catholic Church and the pagan’s merely added embellishments, combined them all and Christmas as we know it was conceived.

I lost my faith many years ago and have happily been an Atheist for some time, although I have ambitions to one day be an Agnostic. I figured it this way, if there were so many religions they could not all be right, although the Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe in the same God they differ in his interpretations of how to live and how he sent his messages to earth. Add a billion or so Buddhists and their own different sects and maybe a billion Hindus and Sikhs with a handful or other religions thrown in and you start to get the picture. We are not all singing from the same hymn sheet, oh no. In fact I was recently ordained, online perhaps but ordained nevertheless, as a Jedi Priest and have the documentation to prove this and it’s legally binding and all above board in some states of the US.  I can now carry out Baptism’s, Christenings, perform weddings and I expect if I put my mind to it I could perform the odd exorcism or two if required. I am not the only one, there are quite a handful of us out there and our numbers are growing!

However we in the west praise our own gods even more than Christ. We worship the cult of consumerism and commerce.  Christmas is merely a good excuse to get involved in a punch up at the tills while trying to purchase a cabbage patch doll or the latest must have games console which the makers have not made enough of to go around. Add to this a huge dollop of excessive drinking and the consumption of enough calories to solve the whole of the worlds famine crisis’s in one go with the ability to be drawn into so much debt that we are still paying the bills until the middle of the following year. Sadly if you don’t buy into this game then you are accused of being miserable and mean, "Bah Humbug" springs to mind, along with comparisons to Ebenezer Scrooge.

Now I have nothing against having a “good old knees up” and a great time or party at the drop of a hat, and I can get into debt at any time of the year but I refuse to use religion as an excuse for it. In a time when many adults do not care and lot’s of kids do not know who Jesus was, but know that a big fat old man climbs down the chimney each year and leaves them with a sack full of presents then perhaps its time to scrap Christmas. Let’s be honest and say we are going to have a two week party every year just for the hell of it and to make manufacturing and foodstuff shareholders and factory bosses happy. Well most bosses anyway. Back to the turkey saga…..

Avian bird flu has broken out in Norfolk and turkeys are being culled in an attempt to stop the virus spreading. This will inevitably mean a shortage of that old Christmas favourite, the Turkey for dinner on December 25th. Other foodstuffs such as potatoes, broccoli and peas have already increased in price due to the wet weather of this summer. Rumours are surfacing that there will be a champagne shortage to boot. With this in mind I popped down to the local supermarket and bought one of only six turkeys left in the freezer compartment. Well I am having dinner at Little Miss sunshine’s house this Christmas and I promised I would get the meat in, I could hardly turn up with a packet of beef burgers could I? Indeed I am going to get as ratted as everyone else this year and stuff myself to excess. The difference is that I will be doing it for myself while most other people pretend that they are doing it in celebration of, and in homage to their God. Happy Xmas!!!

We will remember them

Monday came and I could not move. I spent most of the week in bed unable to do very much other than go to see Nurse C on the Tuesday morning and she told me I was run down, had a bad cold and would change my blood pressure tablets. The advice was to stay in bed until I felt better. By Saturday I had shaken the worst off and I even went out on to Ted Magnums official leaving do. On the Sunday morning I went to the cenotaph in the centre of town. It was a bright day when I left but it started raining at around 10.50am and did not stop for well over an hour until the service had finished. From there I went to the local army barracks to see Bean Counters son who had been in the parade. It was after a few hours at the barracks that the shivers started again and I went home to bed. I probably should not have stood around for 3 hours in damp clothes but at the time I figured it was the least I could do to honour so many who have fallen to give me and many millions of other people the right to live in a free democracy with out fear.

The next day and I was feeling worse than I had the previous week and so I went back to the doctors and explained what had happened. The doctor signed me off for another week with the advice to stay warm and dry. There is not a lot you can do when you don’t feel well other than make yet another Lemsip and watch day time TV. The house is a mess as I started decorating a few weeks ago but have been unable to complete any room and autumn has arrived with a vengeance. The long dark cold nights and the grey skies have done nothing for my mood or temperament.  It’s time to dust off the light box and start taking the serotonin tablets once more.

A phone call from the Tiler informed me that it was spring in Oz and the flowers are blooming and everyone has their shorts on as temperatures soar. TM is probably sipping a cold beer in Argentina as he waits for his iron horse to arrive by steamer and the Traveller is going to Thailand for three weeks. It’s hard not to feel envious when all you have to look forward to is another Lemsip and the next instalment on the shopping channel.  The desire to pack up and leave is stronger than ever. A couple of short weeks ago it felt as though time was flying by, right now it feels rather like it has stood still.

A few months previous, the doctor had been out to see my mum and I remarked about the bad weather we were having at the time. He agreed and told me that he fully expected his surgery to be full of people during September that he would normally see in January. I asked him to explain and he told me that Just after the New Year was when he would normally see people with seasonal depression.  These people did not know why there were depressed they just knew they were. As I have been a sufferer of SAD for some years I knew exactly what he meant. The SAD season has arrived early this year and only good weather and vitamin D will cure it. For more information on this subject check out

No matter how down in the dumps I feel, the trip to the Cenotaph brings back a sense of reality. I am one of the lucky ones and feeling a bit lousy is only a small price to pay when compared to the ultimate sacrifice so many have made.  With this in mind I have copied what are probably the most famous lines of any war poem ever written.  They were penned by Laurence Binyon and come from the fourth verse in his epic poem “The Fallen” from 1914.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

The Final Countdown

Whew, what a week! Monday 29th October. A sad day in my calendar, it marks the anniversary of the passing of my oldest friend. Billy Whiz. I have known Billy since were both 8 or 9. We shared the same birthday although he was born a year earlier. We both went to the same schools and both lived in the same vicinity. We both shared a love of motorbikes and for a while we both worked in the same place. Later on during the financial meltdown of the late 80’s and early 90’s we bought a house together with my girlfriend at the time as none of us could afford to buy one outright. It was while he lived there that he met his second wife, Little Miss Sunshine. He became ill during the late 90’s and sadly passed away in 2000. Since then LMS and me have got together on the anniversary of his passing and reminisced with a glass or two. I have many fond memories of BW and far too many to write down now but I am sure he will feature in some of my posts at a later date.

Oct 31st, All Souls Night. Over the past few years I have brought together a few people at my house for the event known as Halloween. Mainly for my mums peace of mind so she was not in the house alone when “trick or treaters” arrived but also as a good excuse to frighten the life out of the kids. As mum is no longer here I had thought to cancel this year’s event but as a few people pointed out, would I have gone ahead if mum was here? So I thought about it and said yes. A small bonfire was set up in the grounds of Château Ghastanbury and I grilled burgers and offered sweets and hot food to any one who ventured into the grounds. It was quite a success with over 40 people here at any one time, many in costume to get into the spirit of things. I suspect it will be the last one I have but we will wait and see what the New Year brings.

Friday 2nd November. I awoke to the tell tale signs of an impending cold. My muscles ached, I had a headache and I was shivering one minute and extremely hot the next. I ventured into work, came home and went to bed.  After a few hours in bed I woke up and went to BC’s house. Saturday morning came and I could hardly move. I arose at about 12 ish and Bean counter and I went back to Château Ghastanbury. As Ted Magnum is leaving for South America in a few days time I had thought to combine a farewell party with some fireworks and a barbie at my house. After Tedstock, the management of the venue have decided they are not taking any more bookings for an extra long time. (His mum has said we are not buggering her garden up again) So I set the grill up, cleaned the patio area and during the course of the evening we set off some rockets and fireworks. It is something I have not done for a long long time and I had forgotten just how enjoyable it is to watch money go up in smoke. I guess all men are young boys at heart, I am no exception. I still get excited about train sets and motorbikes, bonfires and outdoor cooking.

It was quiet evening with around a dozen people or so in attendance and I am sure it was a good send off for him. It was during the course of the evening whilst we were talking to Ted and filling him with confidence about all the things that could go wrong and hoping he did not feature in any future episodes of “Banged up Abroad”, that I realised just how quickly time is flying by. Ted is counting the days until he sets off and for me over a month has passed since I made the decision to sell up and travel around the world. Work has started on the house although it has ground to a halt due to my feeling less than sparkling. I did not get up at all yesterday and last night I made the decision I was unfit to go to work. I am hoping I will improve over the next day or so. Not only do I want to go back to work but I want to start working on the house again.  Before I know it, it will be March 2009 the date I set have set for putting my house on the market.  Right now it feels like the final countdown.