Monday, November 27, 2006

Un oiseau rebelle VIII

Just in case you’re getting withdrawal symptoms Paul, here is Parus Scargillus. Found mainly in Barnsley, it has been known to venture further south. Perhaps if they turn up this week I’ll let you have a sample of the long-tailed variety as well. Meanwhile - don’t use the ‘T’ word.

L'amour est un oiseau rebelle
Que nul ne peut apprivoiser,
Et c'est bien en vain qu'on l'appelle,
S'il lui convient de refuser!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

My Girl of our TImes

Whilst I admire some of the recently published women of our time, the girl of our times for me is Alice, my granddaughter. At the age of 6 last year on a visit to Gatorland, she was "selected" from the audience to help with the 'gator wrestling show. She followed the trainer onto a small island surround by a moat full of gators, where she picked a gator. The trainer then said to her "Alice, I need you to help me out here, I'm a little tired so I want you to take your shoes and socks off, jump down, grab the gator by the tail and pull him up here for me. Now he may not like that and may thrash about and bite you, but don't worry we have plenty of bandaid back there. When you get him up here, jump on his back and fight him until he's tired, then I'll take over. Can you do that for me Alice?" Alice, nods, takes of her shoes and socks, moves to the side of the moat, and prepares to jump in,her Mum screams, and the trainer grabs her and pulls her back. "Alice, Alice " he says, "you don't really want to jump in do you? How about if I get him instead?" "OK" says Alice, nodding casually as if it's something she does daily. For her efforts, after the show, Alice had a free sit on the gator for her picture taking. It cost the rest of us $10 each!
Is this what they mean by the innocence of youth

Ain’t it just like the night………..

I guess some readers might have spotted where I was going after my last post. There’s clearly no mileage in ‘women of our times’, whether envy is an issue I’m not sure, but back to safer ground. Well, only marginally safer. As I’m up for a suggestion of controversy, I’d like to propose Bob Dylan as the greatest musical inspiration of our times. Arguably others produced equally good music, equally good poetry, but combined with an unintentional leadership of the Sixties counterculture, who else described life as it is so well and at the same time made people pause and think about what really matters?

Some claim not to be able to understand him. To them I say sit down, relax with a bottle of your favourite plonk and open your ears. Bob is true artist, he paints the canvas but invites you to add meaning.

There are a thousand and one quotes that come to my lips but the first is:

‘He hears the ticking of the clocks
Walks along with a parrot that talks,
Hunts her down by the waterfront docks
Where the sailors all come in…………..’

I’m happy to provide an interpretation if anyone needs it……

Finally, as a blatant attempt to appeal to our male constituency, who has ever matched Lay Lady Lay when you’re out on the batter (as they say in Dewsbury)?

Have we a touch of YOU TUBE to go with this Paul, Tambourine Man, Times they are a changin’, Rolling Stone…………….?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Un oiseau rebelle VII

This post is designed to test our resident pop guru. This lady in her own way also became an icon of our times, albeit in a somewhat different way. Back in 1963 my girlfriend wore a sack dress, had winklepicker shoes and lacquered hair (it made strange crackling noises when she rested her head on my shoulder. She wanted to talk about Adam Faith and I’d just discovered Schopenhauer; then I saw this lady and I knew exactly where I was going. I wasn’t the only male to be similarly captivated. ……… Who is she?

For those who prefer feathers here’s another of my German goldfinch……….

Thursday, November 23, 2006

redressing the balance!...

COMB: Single - medium size, set firmly and evenly on head, straight and upright, evenly serrated with 5 regular and distinct points, the front to extend approximately halfway between nostrils and point 0£ beak and extending beyond back of head.
BEAK: Medium length, sturdy, slightly curved.
FACE: Fine in texture, free from wrinkles, folds or bristles.
EYES: Moderately large.
WATTLES: Moderately broad, medium length, well rounded at lower edges, fine in texture, free from wrinkles and folds.
EAR LOBES: Medium size, almond-shaped, flat, smooth, uniform in thickness.
HEAD: Moderately broad, medium size.
NECK: Medium length, moderately arched, carried well forward.
HACKLE: Abundant, falling gracefully over shoulders and back.
BACK: Medium length, broad at shoulders. tapering and sloping slightly to base of tail where it rises in a gentle concave sweep without any break where back joins tail.
SADDLE: Fully developed, moderately long.
TAIL: Main tail - carried well back, well spread, with an angle of 350 above the horizontal, feathers broad. Sickles - broad, moderate length, well curved. Lesser Sickles - abundant, Coverts - abundant, broad.
WINGS: Broad, long, carried above lower thighs, tips not to extend beyond stern, Shoulders & Fronts - well concealed by hackle. Bows - nicely rounded. Coverts - two rows of broad feathers across wing. Primaries - moderately long and wide, concealed by secondaries. Secondaries - moderately long, broad, tapering convexly to stern.
BREAST: Broad and deep.
BODY & STERN: Body - moderate length, good depth and width, back and breast line to conform, Stern - well tucked up; fluff, short.
LEGS & TOES: Legs - medium length, fine boned, straight when viewed from front. Lower Thighs - medium length, well developed, tapering neatly to hocks. Shanks - medium length, smooth, scales neatly overlapping. Spurs - medium size, hard. Toes - four, fairly long, strong, well and evenly spread.
APPEARANCE: sprightly, alert, active.

...yep, that just about covers it! :)

Un oiseau rebelle VI

Thought I’d better get in quick before we go clip crazy. According to my ornithological friends large flocks of goldfinches are now arriving in Britain from Germany. I spotted this specimen this morning strutting across my bird table, my question is, how can people tell they’re from Germany?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Un oiseau rebelle V

A true oiseau rebelle. No PRS boy will need prompting as to who this lady is. Instantly recognisable and a true icon of our generation, she was a source of pleasure and an inspiration to men everywhere (as well as being a lot easier on the eye than a half-naked Cat Stevens or Arthur Mullard). I kept this photo as a bookmark in my ‘A’ level maths book and at times it was the only thing that kept me going – but alas we men are simple souls!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Un oiseau rebelle IV

Tired of Paul pandering to the women with a succession of Toy Boys, it seems apposite to have a ‘Woman of our Times’ slot. Contributors will doubtless savour the irony of perhaps the most chauvinistic of our Blog members pioneering this breakthrough.

Journalist and television presenter Joan Bakewell was born in 1933 in Stockport and educated at Stockport Convent High School For Girls and Newnham College Cambridge.

Many of us will remember her as one of the presenters of BBC’s Late Night Line-Up (1965-72), when Frank Muir spoke for many men in this country by dubbing her 'the thinking man's crumpet.'

I’ve never been labelled a thinking man, but when I briefly met her in the late Sixties I was completely bowled over by her intellect, wit and beauty. My apologies for the poor quality of the images, they really do not do justice to this ‘Woman of our Times.’

...and here it is... bunker too many! :)

40 years ago...

...think it very much depends upon the size of the attachment, you can see, I managed to squeeze five on a page: the church; view from the church; the MI room; the other church, (think Babs will recall this one!); view down the more following...

Un oiseau rebelle III

Here, the hawthorn bushes have been carrying a heavy crop of berries and a dozen or so blackbirds have been steadily munching their way through them. Yesterday an explosion of black feathers settling on the lawn announced the return of our local sparrowhawk. What with other visitors such as the fox, kestrel, barn owl and a stoat that hides under my flowerpots it’s a harsh world in our garden and it’s necessary to adopt the policy of live and let live. The sparrowhawk may be the exception; if she has our bullfinches, then she might find herself the wrong side of a pie crust.

Please note it wasn’t my intention to reopen the ‘T’ word discussion.Unfortunately not my photo, this super example borrowed from Our bird only emerges when my camera is in the house. Nevertheless, there’s still time as she sometimes sits in the hedge to watch the progress with the concreting…

Un oiseau rebelle II

Apologies to Graham (fresh back from the land of Carmen) for missing this vital page from the earlier entry. The reason is I have difficulty getting the Blog to accept more than three concurrent images. Nevertheless, here it is to assure you of your place in posterity. Graham was a key player in the lighting team and as I recall often used to invite the girls to climb up the ladder to see where he worked. (I don’t recall getting an invite, although there’s probably a logical reason for that. Most curiously of all the girls would refuse to descend from the lighting gantry until the boys had left the stage – probably a reason for that too…

Friday, November 17, 2006

Un oiseau rebelle

Singing classical music with women wasn’t going to do my image any good. Nevertheless, my Collingwood friends persisted. ‘It’ll be a laugh,’ suggested Bob demonstrating an early theatrical bent. ‘You’ll never know when it will come in useful,’ added Derek, sounding every inch like a man destined to reach the highest echelons of the Army. Thus I relented and joined the cast of Carmen. Rehearsals started early after Christmas and they at least provided respite from the stultifying boredom of dark Sunday evenings on the Fliegerdeich. Mr Brynmor Evans had a mountain to climb. He worked relentlessly on our timing and eventually the verve and passion of this great opera began to emerge. Herr Sniehotta worked hard at impersonating an orchestra on the piano and when he fell short, Mr Evans would produce a sock, tuck it under his jacket and demonstrate on the violin. I was surprised to discover a pride in what we were achieving. Even more interesting was a young lady who occasionally turned to flutter her eyelashes and offer a shy smile, her pony tail acting as an early warning signal.

While the girls threw themselves into the deliciously, taunting, teasing Havanaise, I found Carmen’s role as a passionate, superstitious and reckless flirt, beginning to appeal to me, despite finding her heartless side quite chilling. By Easter we had transferred to the stage and the urbane Mr Gilman took over. The young lady with the pony tail was now doing more than fluttering her eyelashes and one day guided me into the dark void behind the backdrop of the set. There in the gloom I was surprised to find another dozen couples already firmly ensconced. My friend’s advice was now beginning to make sense. With costumes and the makings of a real orchestra, the great day proved to be a huge success, right from the thrilling opening bars of the prelude. We all felt very proud. My horizons had been irretrievably broadened and for me this was PRS at its best.

However, another five years would pass before Derek’s wisdom would become fully apparent. By now I was sat in a little harbour bar in Cromarty. Playing Chopin on the rickety pub piano was a talented and extremely attractive medical student from the Sorbonne. In response to requests for something from the opera she gave a rather saucy rendition of L’amour est un oiseau rebelle. Replete with a Gauloise she had my undivided attention. On finishing, perhaps to stop me leering, she rifled through the opening bars of the Toreador’s Song and asked me if I knew the words. With me propping the bar up in motorcycle leathers looking like a poor man’s Marlon Brando, it was clearly one of those carefully crafted putdowns that women specialise in. My response shocked even my friends. I hadn’t forgotten a word. On this basis the young French lady relented and decided I must be a man of some intellectual gravitas. It took her two days to discover different – but perhaps with hindsight I was simply a poor bit player. I do remember her murmuring in my ear prends garde à toi! Like Derek said you never know when these things will come in handy.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Withernsea prom... we go!...Courtesy of ma's big cardboard box of photographs, I believe this is a picture of the promenade at Withernsea, (a place which incidentally seems to becoming more famous by the minute!), taken facing north...Fer those in the know, I do believe that could also be the Sunlounge Cafe behind which lies Pier Towers...and now I'm wondering if that might even be the remains of the erstwhile pier...As you can see, the picture is too grainy and I cannot enhance to give more clarity...Strange that the subject of late should be of the shifting sands of Spurn too for I have unearthed many pictures of three generations back gallivanting about in the Humber, both at Spurn itself and outside the Crown and Anchor, Kilnsea...alas they too are not of a quality enough to reproduce in here...However, as I progress through the pile, there might be more!...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sad passing.....

Sad news this morning. Just found out an old roommate of mine (Richard 'Jock' Pringle) who is now listed as 'deceased' in the TWA locatee list. I don't know when he died because his sister Margaret didn't know his whereabouts when I asked her a few years back, but I do hope she was able to find him before this sad occurrence. I remember him as a bright and fun-loving wit and a good chum. Whenever he died, he was much too young (late fifties?). Our sympathy goes to his family.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

For the homesick

Three sketches of English churches. (In my advancing years I feel it important not to be left behind in public manifestations of devotion, especially when there is talk of Black Magic abroad). They are St Dubricius, Whitchurch, Herefordshire; St Swithun’s, Brookthorpe, Gloucestershire and lastly St Michael and All Angels, Dinedor, Herefordshire. The first churchyard is dominated by a three hundred years old tulip tree on the right of the sketch. The river Wye runs immediately behind the church and up until eighty years ago it was traditional for all wedding parties to arrive by boat.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Science is what you know

Having been challenged earlier to comment on the philosophic implications of the Magic Roundabout reminds me of something that Bertie once said: ‘Science is what you know. Philosophy is what you don’t know’. Apart from the programme’s clear existentialist overtones, frankly this has me stumped. However, to show willing I offer the following: By all accounts the reason for the off-the-wall, if not surreal character of the Magic Roundabout is that it started life in 1965 as a French children's programme called Le Manège Enchanté. For many PRS-ites this may be sufficient explanation.

The five minute slot, just before the early evening news was on the face of it an innocent children's animation series, but in preparing it for British TV a carefully crafted satire for adults was interwoven into it, allowing two generations to enjoy the programme (rather like the Simpsons today). In addition, many young people in the UK now enjoying the liberating effects of tetrahydrocannibol, soon developed more complex, counter-cultural and multilayered interpretations of the programme. Dougal’s predilection for sugar quickly made him a disciple of Timothy Leary; Dylan, who always looked permanently stoned, was assumed by many to be growing something considerably stronger than carrots in his garden; while Zebedee's "Time for Bed" declarations sent thousands of students prematurely to the sack every tea time. Or as was said by aficionados of the Roundabout: ‘as it was in the springing, bed without bend Amen.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Surely The Greatest!

Continuing the theme of sportsmen of our era, I would suggest a contender for the greatest sportsman of all time must surely be Mohammed Ali. Those who watched in incredulity that magic night of the 25th of February 1964 will surely never forget the sense of shock, surprise and elation. With hindsight it was one of those seminal events that inspired the Sixties. I attach below a contemporaneous account of that amazing evening that may help you relive the moment:

‘At dinner one topic of conversation - the heavyweight championship between Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston. For months, the hype has built to bizarre proportions, Clay adding a theatrical dimension to the pre-fight build-up. Confounding his critics with his predictions, the Louisville Lip has shocked the boxing world by adding glamour, and humour to a brutal and corrupt sport. A fan from the days when he predicted ‘Archie Moore must go in four,’ I can’t help feel that this is his nemesis, despite his insistence that he will win in eight rounds. Even his staunchest fans believe that this time he’s lost his marbles. Ex-convict Liston has an awesome reputation. In his wake a trail of broken boxers, including the skilful and popular Floyd Patterson demolished in one round. If anything, the brute looks even more formidable on a black and white screen. Awesomely fit, skipping to the remorseless rhythm of Night Train, and glowering like a grizzly bear with haemorrhoids, he’s told the press: ‘The good guys is supposed to win, but I’m going to change all of that.’ Despite making fear a haplessly weak word in the lexicon of primeval terror, paradoxically Clay can’t wait to get at him.
Few take coffee, instead there’s a rush down to the common room to stake out seats. As the transmission begins the atmosphere is subdued, as if we’re about to witness murder – if not foul then exceedingly brutal. Our most ambitious hope for Clay is that he survives to live a normal life. At the bell, wide-eyed with adrenaline he takes the fight to the champion, who broad-shouldered and scowling seems more awesome than ever. Jabbing and leaning away Clay taunts Liston making him swing wildly, intermittently throwing in hesitant demonstrations of the famous shuffle. It’s a rashness that dwarfs insanity. Not that we are fooled. As the bell goes the referee moves in to separate them. The next round continues in the same style - Clay jabbing, weaving, and fading away. Despite taking punishment, Liston still appears unstoppable. In the fifth he lands some punches but perplexingly, there’s no evidence of the poleaxing blows that have destroyed other opponents. Then to our amazement, Liston refuses to come out for the eighth round. Clay has tipped the boxing world on its head. Elated we head for the Union. Cassius Clay has staked his place as one of the inspirations of the Sixties. Not just because of his brash talent, but because tonight he’s taught us that anything is possible.’