1 EAGLETON NOTES: December 2015



Wednesday 23 December 2015

Jon (now John) Sergeant

Many many moons ago in a previous incarnation when I was a young officer in the department of the Town Clerk of Liverpool (for those who live outside Britain or are younger than about 50, that was the legal and administrative department of local government) I was at a luncheon sitting next to a young (and ferociously bright) Jon (now John) Sergeant who was a reporter with the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo. It was an inspection of some of the Corporations assets.

The other day I came across his book 'Give Me Ten Seconds' published in 2001 which I read some years ago. Coincidentally I also came across a photograph taken after the luncheon when the Liverpool Corporation bus which was taking everyone on the inspection broke down.

So the ferociously bright Oxford PPE graduate witnessed some of those who would become Liverpool's great and good (and me) push starting a Leyland Atlantean double decker bus.

Monday 14 December 2015

A Sunny December Day

It's been a terrible summer and autumn and I don't think here on Lewis we have had a period of 24 hours without rain since April. I may be wrong but not very! Today was different. The sun shone out of a clear blue sky and despite that it was a relatively balmy 6℃. When you get days like this on Lewis the light is truly fantastic and changes by the hour. So the mountains of Canisp (left) and Suilven on the Scottish mainland looked entirely different in the morning:  

and the afternoon:

and there's snow on them there hills:

The hills of Harris from the road over the moor from my house to the main road:

Even the wind-farm over the Stornoway outlying townships look spectacular:

Thursday 10 December 2015

My Dear Old Crombie

I've got a pal,
A reg'lar over coater.
She's a dear good old gal
I'll tell yer all about 'er.
It's many years since fust we met.
'Er wool was then as black as jet.
It's greyer now, but she don't fret.
Not my old Crombie.

We've been together now for fifty years,
An' it don't seem a day too much
There ain't an overcoat in the shop
As I'd swap for my dear old Crombie

Okay. With lots and lots of apologies to Albert Chevalier.  I've never been any good at poetry but if anyone can replace 'too much' with summat that rhymes with 'Crombie' please feel free.

I bought her 50 years ago in George Henry Lee's in Liverpool (part of the John Lewis Partnership) and she's stood me in good stead for formal occasions since she went into business retirement when I left Liverpool in 1973. Now, as she did a few days ago, she comes out for funerals on cold days. That morning she got yet another complete soaking in a Lewis storm. But she'll be back.

Wednesday 9 December 2015

One of The Good Guys

I can't imagine that anyone ever heard him say anything bad about anyone - not carelessly or maliciously anyway. 

We knew each other for 35 years. We worked together. Our families socialised. Our sons were of an age. Then we went our separate ways socially and I retired so we saw less of each other. One of the Sad Things that happens in life.

As a colleague I can think of none who commanded greater respect for his ability and the way he treated people. As a human being he really was one of the Good Guys: a man about whom I can find not a single thing to say that isn't complimentary. I doubt anyone can.

Last Wednesday we sat at the same table and had lunch. Today at the time we were sitting down a week previously we walked out of the church from his memorial service.

As we carried the coffin down the street (a Lewis tradition) the gale blew and the rain fell in torrents. No one could see my tears.

George, if I will miss you that much I cannot even start to imagine how much your wife Helen, and your children will miss you. You are one person I will never forget. Your family is in my thoughts.

Monday 7 December 2015

Chosen Specially For Me

I subscribe to Amazon Prime because it offers expedited delivery and a number of other benefits. However, and perhaps it's just my imagination, the benefits seem to be more and more media-related and less of a benefit when one wants to purchase everyday items. 

That doesn't stop Amazon sending me an email every day with suggestions of things I might want. A few days ago they suggest this jumbo sized garden storage box. I didn't want one but I was rather confused by the mixed message which so often happens to Island and Highland residents. 
Delivery to the UK - Islands is apparently not a problem half way down but at the bottom it states that they do not deliver to offshore postcodes. 

Now I can understand it for an item like this even though it's sent flat-packed but when exactly the same thing happens for an item that can fit into a first class envelope the decision making process defeats me.

I should add that some suppliers have absolutely no problems sending beds, mattresses and the like (often at no additional cost to the buyer) so sending a flat packed plastic storage box should be no problem at all.

Wednesday 2 December 2015

On Pronunciation of Names

Lee recently wrote about pronunciation and spelling in a particularly witty offering which included the following:
It’s gruelling having to read out loud the works of Russian novelists like Zhukovsky, Turgenev, Saltykov-Schedrin, Dostoyevsky, or the poets, Baratynsky, Batyushkov, Konstaninovich et al.

Leo Tolstoy is simple to pronounce, but try saying out loud continually at a rapid pace the name of his infamous heroine, Anna Karenina. Don’t even attempt those she hung around with such as Kirillovich Vronsky, Stiva Arkadyevich Oblonsky, Konstantin Dmitrievich, Sergej Ivanovich Koznyshev, Princess Ekaterina Alexandrovna Shcherbatskaya, to jumble but a few. Whew!

Why couldn’t Anna be friends with Tom Smith, Fred Brown and Jane Jones?
Strangely I have never had any problem with the Russian novels, novelists or names which I devoured voraciously as a young man/late teenager.

It reminded me of the after-dinner story Peter Ustinov used to tell of arriving (many years ago) at the Russian border with a party of British visitors. The border officials stumbled painfully over the unusual and difficult-for-a-Russuan-to-pronounce names: Jones, Smith, Chamberlain etc (and that's before one gets to the one's the Brits can't pronounce like Cholmondelly). So when they came to the last one they were utterly delighted to find a name they could pronounce easily: Ustinov.

It also reminded me of a meeting I attended many many years ago where a singularly uncontentious matter was put to the vote and one person voted against it. On being faced with querulous looks he explained that he could not face the idea of the Chariman having to try and say 'unanimously' yet again.