Monday 29 June 2020

Monday Meanderings

Sunday is the last day of the week. It's usually, in normal times, a day when I'm at home. So I've got into the habit of making it my bedding change day and the day when I do all my washing - usually 4 loads. Thank heaven for a heat-exchange tumble drier which uses virtually no electricity because it has no heating elements. Drying clothes on the Island without a tumble drier is very weather dependent and I like my routine rather than being dictated to by the weather.

Now that's about as boring a start to a post as I've ever made. And that's saying something.

I've been in a bit of a lacklustre mood for the last few days. The weather has been really crappy recently (to use a meteorological term) so I've not done much in the garden. However the varnishing of all the garden furniture is now making more progress in the workshop. 

However I got a message this morning:

My brother, CJ aka Scriptor Senex, who has been my inspiration for a lot of things decided in his mid 60s to grow his hair long and have a queue (or were they braided?) or pony tail. Whatever, that is definitely not my style and, despite having relatively little hair, what there is is now long and unruly and undesirable. So in 17 sleeps I shall, once, again return to a degree of hairtorial (Why is there no such word? There should be.) normality. [Added later. Of course the word is 'tonsorial'. It suddenly came to me.]

I'm glad that after a number of revisions in the Blogger interface it seems to be possible to position photos to one side and type around them now.
I found the shell of a  Blackbird's egg by my front door this morning. The Blackbirds nest about 100 yards away from my house so how does an egg shell find its way here? Yet another mystery. 

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Welcome to The USA

I have just commented on YP's blog that he had "compounded the felony." 

I was immediately reminded of my very first visit to the USA. I was staying with a friend from my teenage years (with whom I had a strong and lasting friendship until she died last year) in Sarnia which is an oil industry town at the southern end of Lake Huron in Ontario. On the opposite side of the canal separating Canada and the US is Port Huron, MI. There is a lot of daily commuter and commercial traffic across the bridge between the two cities.

Mo decided one afternoon that we would visit one of her favourite hotel/afternoon tea/coffee places at Saint Clair on the Michigan side of the canal a short drive away.  To get there we had to cross the bridge which, of course, had a customs post. Most drivers, of course, just showed their passport/papers and proceeded without let or hindrance. Mo, with a British passport despite having lived in Canada for may years, just said "Canadian landed" and was about to be waved on when the customs officer nodded at me and said "Canadian landed too?" I replied that I was simply a visitor so was handed a red card and told to present myself to immigration. 

On entering a massive barn of a place with a huge counter with a raised floor on the other side so that even a person of small stature on the other side would have towered above me. As it was there was one person in this barn of a place. She was a female person of great height and build with a pearl handled gun on her belt. It is amazing the things one remembers. 

There were some gentle "Hellos" on my part. She did not look like the sort of person one wanted to antagonise. Eventually she decided to get out of her chair (from which she had looked up when I entered) and come and tower over me. "Well?" she asked. I presented my red card and my passport. After what seemed like an age she repeated the "Well?" This confused me so I told her I'd just been told to come and see her. After what seemed like an eternity she asked where I was going. I couldn't remember. For some reason this really annoyed her. I said I'd go and ask my friend. This set her off again and asked why my friend hadn't come in. I explained. Then, fortunately, I remembered. This didn't appease her. The questioning continued for some time and included the question "Have you got any venereal diseases?" (I realised from later questionnaires she was supposed to ask if I'd had any) to which I so wanted to say "No, why, do you want one?" but decided better of it.  Then amongst many others came the question "Have you ever committed a felony?" 

Now one of the things I remembered from my law lectures (I was a post-felony era law student) that felonies had been repealed in the UK by the Criminal Law Act of 1967 (I think that was the year). So I'd never had to know what a felony was. However I knew that in English Law felonies were Bad Things. So I was tempted to ask her to tell me what a felony was and I'd tell her if I'd ever committed one. I decided instead to say "No."

After what seemed like an interminable time I was released with my green card stapled into my passport and told that if I didn't surrender it when I left the country I'd not get in again. 

The whole episode was much longer than all that and included a lot more unfriendly incidents. I actually wondered if they were designed to make me lose my cool or whether she was just a bored bully. 

It rather ruined my afternoon and, more importantly, completely coloured my view of Americans because she was only the second (the first was the perfectly civil chap who had given me the card and caused all my angst in the first place) American I'd met on American soil. 

Other visits that holiday passed off without incident because I had my green card. Which, of course, I forgot to surrender at the airport when I left Canada. 

I may post a sequel at some time. Don't worry, though. It won't be soon.

Sunday 21 June 2020

Fathers' Day and The Longest Day

Midnight - Looking North

Not that Fathers' Day and The Longest Day are in any way related. It's just that this year they fall on the same weekend. Yesterday was the longest day. Apparently today is one second shorter up here. Given the weather it will feel a lot shorter. 

Speaking to neighbours and friends today we all had the same thing in mind. We've all been looking forward to the long days and short nights and now it's all down hill and in 182 days it will be the shortest day and 4 days after that it will be Christmas. 

I also took a photo last night looking East which, because the scene is being lit and I'm not looking into the sunset looks much lighter and is more like what the eye actually sees.  However when I woke this morning the weather had changed completely and I wasn't so keen on the view.

Looking East from my kitchen

I've never been one for observing Fathers' Day and my son, brilliant son though he is, is not a great one on such occasions either. So I was quite surprised when, a few days ago, a card dropped through the door with a big imprecation that the envelope was not to be opened until Fathers' Day. I had to look in my diary to see when it was.  This morning I opened the card. It's certainly topical:

Thursday 18 June 2020

SID 92. Thankful Thursday - Piddling

What are you doing today?

Piddling around.

But you did that yesterday.

Yes but I haven't quite finished yet.

Today has been a strange day. It started very dull and totally windless with a moist atmosphere. Midge heaven. I fed the birds and the fish and retreated indoors. I wrote a blog post and read a few blogs and answered some emails, drank coffee chatted to various people on WhatsApp. By 10am I'd got a few things done in the workshop and  discarded the first blog post. 

A friend arrived with my shopping and a slight breeze. The two were, so far as I know, unrelated. We decided on a socially distanced coffee in the garden as the midges had retreated in the face of the breeze. We couldn't see the sea because of the haar but it was very pleasant listening to the birds and the water in the waterfall into the pond and being able to chat face to face.

I spent the afternoon in the garden in the sun mowing the grass, scarifying, weeding, and many such mundane and rewarding tasks. It was good exercise. When I had my afternoon coffee I wrote another short blog post. Then I discarded it. Not, I decided, my day for a blog post.

However half a day in the garden was good for the body and the mind and at 6 o'clock I decided that it was time for The News and to make some dinner. A wee libation whilst the dinner was cooking was a  bonus. 

This evening I have various emails and so on to write and I managed to get carried away and write another blog post. The fact that I have managed to say absolutely nothing in it just about sums the day up.

The wind has dropped and the midges are gathering in clouds. I have shut the conservatory door and battened down the hatches. I have put some strawberries in a dish and when I've finished the emails I shall add some ice cream and go and watch a recorded QI.

Life is good. I am content. For that I have every reason to be very thankful.

Friday 12 June 2020

More Transport Nostalgia

I was contemplating a post on a current news topic but decided that that would require brainpower and could be a bit controversial so I decided to return to the theme of my transportation starting with my first car and my subsequent three cars.

The first car is a Standard Ensign WNE 193 bought when I was 20 or 21 with a loan from my Grandmother.  Apart from the opportunities she afforded for taking my Grandmother out (we were great pals as well as Grandmother and Grandson) it also enabled me to do my London trips, formerly undertaken on the Hippogryph, in comfort. This photo was taken when the family went to visit a relative in North Wales. (For my records, thanks CJ, it was Flora Scott, née Jarvis, my Mother's first Cousin, daughter of Aunt Edie, my maternal grandmother's - Nana's - sister).

The second car was a Singer Vogue picture here on the banks of Loch Ness.

I think that I decided after a while that I should stop being an old man and get a car more suitable for my age. So I acquired an MG Midget Mk I. Oddly I have very few photos of it that I can find so this was provided by my brother CJ from his archives.

My fourth car came after I'd married and decided that we needed a car more suited to married life than to courtship and weekend excursions to the Lake District (where the Midget took us to our honeymoon staying at Riggside with the Roscamps at Grange-in-Borrowdale).  

The car was a Volvo 221 Estate. When we had done the deal we noticed that the letters on the bonnet said VOOVO and not VOLVO. The dealer was mortified but the deal had been done and we refused to have it changed. It was sold 80,000 miles later and was still known as The Voovo, The picture was taken at the top of Honister in the Lake District. The person shown is my Dad. I think we were all on holiday together. 

Wednesday 3 June 2020

SID 77. Music - Another First

I was brought up with music. My parents had catholic tastes and a wide selection of music when I was a young child. It was, of course 78 rpm records played on a wind-up gramophone which was a wedding present from my Mother's place of work. I still have lots of old 78 rpm records even though I got rid of my hundreds of LPs. Except, that is, for the first one that I bought. I was 16. I bought it at Rushworth and Draper in Liverpool on the corner of Whitechapel and Richmond Street. How is it that I can remember all that but not how old I am?

The record was, rather predictably I suppose at the time, some Tchaikovsky pieces played by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra C Sir Malcolm Sargent. It was an orchestra I listened to at the "Liverpool Phil" almost every week during the season. 

As time goes by our tastes tend to alter, some would say mature, and that probably wouldn't be my first CD now. On the other hand in 'classical music' terms my tastes are still late Classical (Mozart and Haydn for example), Romantic and post-romantic. 

I wonder how many of you recall what your first record/CD was. It's interesting that in another 10 years people may well not be buying CDs in any number and music will generally be streamed.