Red Alert!

48-bus This morning I decided to visit Coventry to do some clothes shopping. I caught the local bus and settled down to enjoy the ride. We had only gone about a mile when a siren in the bus went off and the sign that reads “BUS STOPPING” came on, not a steady red light when somebody presses a button to get off, but a rapid flashing obviously indicating a malfunction somewhere on the bus.

The driver, being a sensible person, stopped the bus and switched off the engine as laid down in the emergency procedure notice. He then announced over the loudspeaker to the terrified(?) passengers “Sorry about this, but it would appear that the life support systems have failed big-time!” Obviously a driver with a sense of humour, and who watches too many American Sci-Fi movies.

There was a group of teenagers at the back of the bus (why do kids always sit on the back row?) and one of them started to make gasping noises and clutching his throat. His friend shouts out “Oh no! We’re all going to die!”

The old lady sitting next to me said “My, my, and I was hoping to visit my granddaughter today”.

The driver then announced that he had sent a distress call to the Mother Ship (bus maintenance depot) and a shuttle craft (another bus) was on it’s way to take us to our destination.

He announced “Don’t worry about the air, I’ll open the airlock (bus doors) to let some fresh air in, luckily the gravity is still working, so you wont drift around and get sucked out”. He was answered by a big cheer from the back of the bus.

No, I didn’t make this up. It really happened just as I stated above. I know it sounds a bit weird, but it made my day and I smiled all the way back home.

I had decided to abandon my trip to Coventry until another day and left the bus. Via the air-lock, I hasten to add.

Posted in 'Elf and Safety, Local News, The truth | 5 Comments

Can’t win ‘em all

At the end of the last post I wrote, “One thing is for sure, they with never get a robot to master calligraphy like a real live person!”

I should have quit while I was winning! One of my bloggy friends (who’s name I shall not mention just to give him the satisfaction of gloating) has pointed me in the direction of this video. . . . .

Ok, so some nerd has designed a robot to wield a pen nearly as good as me, but they will never be able to teach one to paint portraits in oils at a live sitting . . . .unless of course you know something I don’t.

Posted in Calligraphy & Lettering, Mediaeval, Unbelievable | 4 Comments

Penmanship

penmanship
Extract from the book by John C Tarr – 1952

“La belle écriture demande un esprit gai pour son exécution”* and it is this approach that the author would ask from the reader.
Quite apart from the enhancement of courtesy to one’s correspondents and the pleasure which an agreeable script gives to the recipient , there is also the added joyment of an accomplishment that is, after all, the basis of literacy.
The pace of modern life demands of a script that it be easy to execute with the least effort compatible with clarity and (to avoid too aesthetic a word) agreeableness. Thus it should be fast enough, clear enough and made well enough for the purpose for which it was written – and it need be no more”.

Penmanship is the technique of writing with the hand using a writing instrument. The various generic and formal historical styles of writing are called ‘hands’, whilst an individual personal style of penmanship is referred to as ‘handwriting’.

I know I have written posts about this subject before and after receiving a hand written letter today a friend in Wales that was unreadable I thought it time to bring up the subject again. I’m now in the embarrassing position of writing back and asking him what on earth the letter was about!

The object of this post is to try and get people back to handwriting. The only way to get through to them is to use the very medium that they use – the internet.

Handwriting is becoming a lost art, a loss most keenly felt by those of us who have to decipher the bad handwriting  of relatives and friends.

Might handwriting be a lost art? With so much time spent on-line a handwritten letter is now a museum piece. We still practise our best writing in greeting cards, and if anyone still has a milkman I presume communication remains by scribbled note (or do you text the milky now? 2ptspls) but handwriting at length, to be read by others, seems now to be confined to schools, and most of that is virtually unreadable. The kids in school use mini-recorders to take notes, texting to communicate with family and friends, laptop-tops and ipads to write out their homework.

One comment I saw on a website selling vintage pens said “Fountain pens? Aren’t they the ones you have to keep dipping into a bottle of ink? How quaint.” She probably doesn’t even know how to hold a pen. (Pointy end towards the paper, ducky) Practically nobody handwrites letters any more, everything seems to be emails. In a few short years the fountain pen will just be a museum piece lying alongside quill pens and wax tablets. Osmiriod, the main fountain pen manufacturer next to Parkers went out of business recently because the sale of fountain pens, and indeed ballpoint pens, are dropping off at an alarming rate.

*Roughly translated – “Beautiful writing requires a happy mind to execute it”.


Watch this video to the very end. Don’t think to yourself “Oh, I could never do that!” and skip it. You can do it, I have taught a lot of people to change the way they write, even when their hand is unintelligible.

Get yourself a fountain pen the same as the one in the video. Mine is a Lamy Safari with a 1.1mm nib, obtainable from The Online Pen Company, price, a mere £13.95 and worth every penny! I know, I use one for my everyday writing and it never fails to start every time it touches the paper. I have dozens of pens of every make and size and I can truthfully say that the Lamy Safari is the best pen I have ever owned.

Note: Nick uses a Lamy AL-Star with 1.5mm nib, with Lamy Blue-black ink in the video, but I find that 1.5mm is too large for everyday use, but if you think it would suit you then buy it, The Lamy Al-Star is more or less the same as the Safari, but costs £7 more, and doesn’t look as nice!

One thing is for sure, they with never get a robot to master calligraphy like a real live person!

Posted in Calligraphy & Lettering, Handwriting | 9 Comments

Juicy recipes for Samhain

halloween01Well, it will soon be that time of year again when those annoying little brats, sorry, those sweet little kiddies dressed in supposedly terrifying costumes will be pounding on my door demanding “Trick or treat”. Their doting mothers will be standing behind them watching that I don’t give the kids a little trick of my own, by turning the tables on them and shouting “Trick!” and throwing a bucket of water over them!

Joking aside (not really) if you want to give the little horrors a treat yourself I have found some nice recipes for Halloween.

Bloody Eyeballs
bloody-eyeballsCanary Girl shaped her olive-topped eyes out of ground chicken, but suggests you can also use ground pork (or ground whatever you like). I didn’t see the original recipe but not doubt you can improvise by using tinned chopped tomatoes with chopped onion, shredded bat wings and crushed snail shells. Oh, and a pinch of garlic wouldn’t go amiss.


Witches fingers
witches-fingers1A popular Italian Halloween cookie. These are seriously delicious cookies, in spite of looking like severed witches fingers.

3 cups blanched almonds, divided
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups flour
Red food coloring or red cake decorating gel (put plenty around the severed end of the fingers!}
Optional Ingredients: Puppy dog’s tails, pickled spiders.

Preheat oven to 325ºF.
Reserve 60 nuts for later use; process remaining nuts in food processor until finely ground. Beat cream cheese, butter, sugar, extract and salt in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour. Stir in ground nuts. (Dough will be stiff.)

Roll dough into 60 three inch fingers, using 1 Tbsp. dough for each. Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets sprayed with cooking spray. With a cotton swab dab a thin layer of red coloring on the tip of each finger. Press 1 of the reserved nuts into red dough in 1 end of each finger for the fingernail. Use sharp knife to make 3 crosswise slits in top of each finger for the knuckles.

Bake 15 to 20 min. or until lightly browned. Cool 3 min. on baking sheet; carefully transfer to wire racks. Cool completely.

Thanks to Las Vegas Food Adventures for this recipe. I shall certainly make some of these just to see the kids faces when I hand them out. Aren’t I a Devil? Well, I will be on the night, heh, heh.

Mummy’s head
mummymeatloafbigIf want a ghoulish dinner recipe to delight your kids this Halloween, try this Mummy Meatloaf and see how fast they gobble him up!

What You Need
Meatloaf Ingredients:
2 lbs. lean ground beef or turkey 3/4 c.
seasoned bread crumbs 1/4 c.
ketchup 2 T.
Mustard
2 eggs
1 T. grape jelly (weird, but it’s awesome, I promise!)
1 C. finely shredded carrots
Garlic salt, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Garnish Ingredients: 6-8 lasagna noodles,
cooked ketchup (optional)
2 slices cheese,
any kind 2 green or black olives.

A few more suggestions:
Pumpkin Cake Balls
Spooky Eyeballs on a Stick
Tombstone Sandwiches

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After the kids have gone I shall be off the the woods to join the local witches coven to dance naked around the old oak tree with them. . . . .such fun!

Posted in Food, Halloween, Only partly true!, Wiccan & Pagan | 5 Comments

Margarine? No thanks!

Margarine, or as it is now called, Spread, is highly artificial.

In recent years, there has been plenty of new scientific evidence showing this artificial butter to be extremely harmful to health. It is a major cause of heart disease the very condition that it is supposed to prevent. It has also been linked with several types of cancers and various other diseases. Don’t be fooled when it is described as a “spread”.

Ever since Roman times, and possibly even before that, people have eaten butter. It was only in the 1920’s that it was introduced into Britain and the makers claimed it was better for you than butter.

In spite of this, fake, artificial butter continues to be widely promoted as a healthy product. This urgently needs to be stopped!

What we have today is entirely different from the original oleomargarine invented by a French scientist in 1870. That was done quite naturally. Today, we get a highly unnatural process called hydrogenation in which liquid vegetable oil is converted into a solid or semi-solid grease.

In the jargon of the chemicals industry, this process of turning a liquid oil into a solid or semi-solid is called plasticisation.

The manufacturing process begins with cheap vegetable oils, which probably have already been rendered harmful by the extraction process involving high temperature and petrochemical solvents such as benzene. Some of these oils, such as cotton seed oil, are not even suitable for human (nor animal) consumption.

The oil is then subjected again to extreme high temperature (about 500ºF) and pressure, and hydrogen is forced into the molecular structure to harden it. This process requires toxic substances, such as nickel oxide, which act as catalysts that enable the chemical change.

The end result is a smelly, greasy substance. So it is deodorised, again using high heat and chemical additives.

And do you know what is the colour in its original, “natural” form? Grey!

Obviously, nobody would spread grey globs of grease over their bread. So the grease is bleached white and then dyed yellow. Finally, artificial flavours are mixed in to make it taste like butter.

The fact that learned doctors, nutritionists, dieticians and other health experts can proclaim such a product to be healthy only goes to show how warped modern-day thinking has become, all in the pursuit of profits!

Julia Child always said “use lashings of butter in your cooking” and I always do just that! She also said “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”

butter-v-margarine

Posted in 'Elf and Safety, Cookery | 8 Comments

Some people!

Cafe_girlWhen in town today I called into a local cafe for a sticky bun and a cup of coffee. As I entered I noticed that it was completely empty of people, except for one young girl sitting at a table busy tapping away on a laptop and texting on her phone. I sat down and picked up a menu to make it obvious I was waiting to order.

Five minutes later the girl looked at me, smiled, and carried on typing. A man in an apron appeared from the kitchen area, glanced around and said something to the girl before returning from whence he came.

The girl carried on typing so I thought I would ask if she was supposed to be serving. I walked over and asked “Excuse me, are you the serving wench around here?”. It was like I had shot her! She jumped up, slammed the computer shut, and picking it up she stormed off into the kitchen.

I sat down again, expecting someone to come and take my order, but nothing happened. After another five minutes I decided to leave and seek sustenance elsewhere.

I thought how rude was that? It couldn’t have been anything I said, and my armpits didn’t smell. I just don’t understand the present generation, too moody for me.

Posted in Anti-Social Behaviour, Unbelievable | 5 Comments

As I’ve aged. . . . .

Old-manAs I’ve aged, I’ve become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own best friend. I don’t chide myself for eating that extra cake or biscuit, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement garden statue that I didn’t need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 1am and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50’s & 60’s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ….. I will.

I will walk along the beach in shorts that are stretched over a beer-belly, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the young ones. They, too, will get old one day if they don’t drug and smoke themselves to death.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten, and I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when your beloved pet gets hit by a car? Broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray and eventually fall out, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging. So many of them have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As I get older, it is easier to be positive. I care less about what other people think about me. I don’t question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong when it suits me.

I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. I shall eat crisps, chocolate and cakes every single day (if I feel like it).

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I read this on the Internet many years ago and laughed at it, thinking what silly old fool wrote that. Now reading it again (I did save it at the time, source unknown) I realise that it applies to ME now! It could have been written for me, because everything is true!

Posted in The truth | 5 Comments

God is missing!

Why is it now that we have developed rational inquiry we hear only a deafening silence from a God who once supposedly engaged regularly in human affairs? Why does God not simply speak to us or appear before us as he supposedly used to? Why are we the losers in the dice roll of time? If God places such a high value on us worshipping and believing then why not simply make his existence obvious to us?

If one accepts the prevailing scientific understanding of the development of the universe, yet also believes in one of the major religions, then presumably God sat idle for 13.7 billion years – waiting as the stars, galaxies and planets formed. Then he watched with complete and utter indifference as modern Homo Sapians evolved, struggled and died for a further 150,000 years.

Finally, a few thousand years ago, God suddenly decided to reveal himself to several people in the most primitive, illiterate and remote portions of the world in a completely unverifiable way – and then just simply disappeared.

This Thursday marks the 24th anniversary of my son’s death. He suffered for two years from bone cancer before he finally succumbed to it at the young age of 28. Where was God?

My partner of 11 years died of lung cancer in 2004. Where was God?

I knew for sure then that praying is like a game of chess, except that the board is made of running water and the pieces are made of smoke. Whatever move you make, it makes no difference to the outcome..

“If God had wanted us to believe in him, he would have existed.” – Linda Smith

“Thank God I’m a Pantheist!” or am I a Pagan?- Keith Smith

Posted in Puzzling, Religion, The truth | 17 Comments

Just thoughts. . .

The reason that we can’t have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse or Parliament, is this –
You cannot post ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal‘, ‘Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery‘ and ‘Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness‘ in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians. . . . . . It creates a hostile work environment.

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They keep talking about drafting a new constitution for Iraq … Why don’t we just give them ours?
It was drawn up by a lot of really smart people, and it has worked for centuries but we’re not using it anymore.
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Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that during the mad cow epidemic our government could track a single cow, born in Appleby almost three years ago, right to the stall where she slept in the county of Cumbria?
They even tracked her calves to their stalls. But they are unable to locate 125,000 illegal immigrants wandering around our country. Maybe we should give each of them a cow.

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The secret to happiness is a good sense of humour and a bad memory.

I was invited to go to the annual Christmas Day Party this year of the ‘Earl Shilton Dementia Society‘ but I can’t remember what day they said.

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Posted in Politically incorrect, The truth | 9 Comments

Old Age Pensioners

1Let’s put the pensioners in jail and the criminals in a nursing home. This way the pensioners would have access to showers, hobbies and walks. They’d receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc and they’d receive money instead of paying it out. Free heating in the winter. No gas, electric bills or Council Tax to pay.

They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly if they fell, or needed assistance. Bedding would be washed every week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.

A guard would check on them every 20 minutes and bring their meals and snacks to their cell if they wanted it. They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose. They would have access to a library, gym, spiritual counselling, pool and education.

Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ’s and legal aid would be free, on request. Private, secure rooms for all, with an exercise outdoor yard, with gardens.

Each senior could have a PC a TV radio and daily phone calls. There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to.

The criminals would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised. Lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week. Live in a tiny room and pay £600.00 per week for the privilege, and have no hope of ever getting out.

What do I have to do to be thrown into prison? Think about this. . . . .

Just saying.

Posted in Just kidding, Only partly true! | 6 Comments