Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mr D’s Dad……..

……..on the left. Photo taken within hours of being rescued by the Ghurkhas, after being held as a POW . Here, he has just been fumigated to get rid of lice. Mother said he was so thin you could put your hands around his waist.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Three Graces.

Thank you for the clip Paul. It’s simply not true that Zeus named each of his three daughters Grace. Nor were the three charities called Charity, they are in fact from left to right, Euphrosyne, Aglaea and Thalia - who were said to represent beauty, charm and joy.
Antonio Canova’s statue can be found in the Hermitage in St Peterburg, along with I hasten to add, the Lady in the Hat. Aglaea has the most wondrous butt. On one of my visits I was idly running my hand across it when I was accosted by one of the post-graduate art students who act as guides. My initial thought was that I was about to be thrown out, but she simply whispered ‘mine is just as good,’ and giving it a little wiggle accompanied by a giggle she returned to her unworthy American tourists. It’s at moments like this, that a fat old man forgets his age. Seriously, if you like art then you’ll not find anywhere finer.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

On this day in 1995

Much today is made of Blair’s ‘legacy,’ but in terms of Labour Party politics he will always live in the shadow of Harold Wilson. A man who without any sound bites, or spin, genuinely sought to modernise Britain, make it a fairer society and for the first time gave many working people the opportunity of a university education. Ironic that years later it would take not Thatcher, but Blair to reverse it by stopping free university education…….. well maybe not so ironic.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Dmitri’s Yorkshire – In the shadow of the old man II

Once the lead had been dug up, it was often smelted (the process of releasing the metal from its ore) in situ. As the fumes from the smelting were highly poisonous and the furnaces needed a good draw, tall chimneys were used with long flues running up the hillside. This way most of the toxic material instead of being showered over the countryside stuck to inside of the flue. Despite the toxic nature of the flues children were sent up to clean them. This, incidentally is where Charles Kingsley who was staying at Malham at the time, got his idea for the chimney sweeps in the Water Babies.

The photo shows the entrance to a flue which runs all the way up the hill to the chimney on the horizon. (Those readers who are connoisseurs of the Derry Air will note a youthful Mrs D. in yellow shorts.)

As we saw in the last post, the lead ore is found as relatively small crystals in the lumps of calcite dug up. The women and children were given the job of breaking up the rocks and picking out the bits of lead ore. Anything that wasn’t needed was cast aside in the vast spoil heaps that now litter the Dales. What surprises many people, given that lead mining finished over a 100 years ago, is that the heaps are not overgrown with grass. This is because the old spoil heaps have been turned over relatively recently. People discovered that the discarded rubbish often contained large amounts of barium (used in barium meals in hospitals).

The process of extracting the ore invariably required a source of water. Circular puddles were used to wash the material dug up. The lead being heavy dropped to the bottom and the lighter earth and other rubbish floated to the top to be skimmed off.

The bottom line was that the work was extremely hard and the women and kids worked in torrential rain, blizzards and deep snow. The men underground fared little better. The wages were poor and life expectancy was low. While the industry is now long gone, the miner's cottages still survive as seemingly incongruous rows of terraced houses scattered throughout the Dales. There is such a terrace near my home village. It is known locally as ‘frying pan row,’ because it is claimed that years ago people were so poor that when they had finished with the frying pan it was handed over the fence so that the next door neighbours could use it. Thus the frying pan alternated up and down the row as men patiently waited for their tea.
Who benefited from virtually all the lead mined, not just in Yorkshire but the UK? Answer, some guy who lived down in Derbyshire. A fact worth remembering when next you slip in to admire his stately pile. [To be continued - next episode life underground.]

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Some days it’s just too much of an effort……..

Dmitri’s Yorkshire III – In the shadow of the old man

Moving away from the fleshpots, Bronte biscuits, chapels and mills of West Yorkshire I would like to head north to the Dales where I feel more at home.
It may seem incongruous with the view of the Dales created by ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ but I would like to stay with the theme of Yorkshire’s industrial past.

Those who visit the Dales and leave behind their cars, will if they walk far enough come across strange green roads and if they follow them they will be rewarded by even stranger sights.

Old buildings, chimneys and great scars on the landscape. They are the remnants of an industry far older than the wool and engineering of West Yorkshire. They are the last traces of an industry that goes all the way back to Roman times. Sadly this great and truly fascinating industrial heritage is quickly disappearing, due to the cumulative effects of the weather and neglect by a society that now spends it’s life looking at screens. The photos here are some thirty years old and I again apologise for their quality – they too are slowly deteriorating.
The industry that I refer to is of course lead and for anyone who wants to understand and appreciate the Dales, lead mining is as vital a part of the Dales heritage as cheese making and sheep.
Lead still exists in the Dales in vast quantities, but the ore is difficult and expensive to get at and by the late 1800s it became cheaper to buy it from Spain.

The ore is called galena and it is a sulphide of lead (PbS for those who did ‘O’ level chemistry).Shown are close-ups of two samples of ore each about the size of an orange. The dark crystals are the Galena, the remainder is largely valueless calcite (CaCO3 a form of chalk) although the brown tinge suggests it may have some Barium in it – more of that later. The calcite makes up a large part of the spoil heaps you see scattered across the landscape. [to be continued]

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

One more sleep....

Tomorrows the day, its here at last! Goodness knows when I'll get a look at the blog again, but I'll try. The packing frenzy is just about over, just some last minute things tomorrow a.m. See you all (well almost all) at Stoke. Goodnight.

Monday, May 14, 2007


And here's an imponderable: why is there only one Monopolies Commission?

Dmitri’s Yorkshire II

Back to the other half of the village which is now in daylight. This is the more ‘famous’ half. The half which attracts legions of earnest ‘Festoons’ in season, but more of that later.

Before we cross the railway tracks to reach it, it’s perhaps an idea to stop and look at the trains - after all, this for many is the village’s main claim to fame. Having done that, it’s over the railway bridge and up the never ending steps.

There are even a few chapels over here but not as many as in our half of the village.Out of season the village’s main street can very quiet,........

.......but in season it literally bustles with activity as people arrive in coach loads to seek out culture and retail therapy opportunities.

Why do they come here? Because of some miserable old sisters who once lived in the Rectory. I suppose if you like tales of suffering, unrequited love and consumption they’re probably the best there is. Otherwise, they’re as dour as the Rectory - always tickled me that for many years the graveyard used to drain into the village water supply.

Back on the main street - I almost forgot, we need to turn right for the Black Bull.

Branwell may be in tonight as his bike’s outside.
Seriously the pubs for me were the village’s main attraction and my young wife and I enjoyed many a happy night getting sozzled and walking home on star-laden frosty nights. Such is the stuff of memories.
D'you remember those 'parent - teacher' meetings? I used to dread those. Particularly when the kids were young. The only seats in the school greater than one buttock size are occupied by teachers. Being of ample proportion, I used to fear standing up and having the bloody thing rise with me! Each child's parents are given 5 minutes or so to hear praise or justify why their progeny should be allowed to remain in school. When the teacher - whom you have not previously met - approaches you with, "Mmmmmm, ah yes, The Lintotts" you are suddenly transported back to a time when teachers were held in awe. Your knees tremble. Instinctively, you know you're not going to hear praise. You listen to a litany of your offspring's inadequacies and then hear, "Tell me, Mr. Lintott, is there a history of A-D-D in your family?" With a superior tone, you reply, "Why yes, and S-U-B-T-R-A-C-T!" Your wife rolls her eyes and intones "M-O-R-O-N! A-D-D stands for attention deficit disorder!" "Attention deficit disorder?" You say, "Yes, I had that once.....for about 30 seconds." "You had it for 30 seconds?" Asks the teacher incredulously. " father was reading me the Riot Act and I chose to let my eyes wonder to the window and things outside. Then WHAP! Cured it instantly!"

Sitting on the grass

Here are Sue Wells and Sue Burroughs sitting on the grass in front of boys houses - it was 66 - so not long after you Babs - I do recall rumours that staff patrolled the deich - but never saw any - and Mr Evans was there same time as me - obviously they knew in those days that Collingwood girls could be trusted to behave - and too busy chasing the Drake girls hiding in the sand dunes
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Sunday, May 13, 2007




Trespassers ?????
Bacon or Sausage ???????

Move over i'm coming through.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Worth waiting for....

This is the one clump of tulips that are full out around the house, all the others are in various stages of buds. Its lovely to see them, even though the temperature has reverted to a cold 8deg. celcius today. Thought this would be a change from my cold and snowy pics.

Dmitri’s Yorkshire

We offspring of the Legion are a restless lot. After a life of travel it’s not surprising that we are now scattered to the four winds and while some of us have journeyed further than others, it is not surprising we are often left with the nagging feeling that part of us belongs somewhere else.
On this blog we have enjoyed several trips along Yorkshire’s east coast. Today, however we are going to leave behind the biting East wind, the salt spray and sea frets and travel to, if not the heart of Yorkshire, then into its very sinews, where it was once the dynamo of the industrial revolution. To go to the land where Victorian wealth was created, we must journey not only to the other side of the A1 but back in time also.
Readers who are used to my pristine digital photos will find that today’s offerings are well over thirty years old and have suffered badly from the ravages of time. So I trust you will forgive the dust spots, the old emulsions and weird colours.

The village we are visiting today is where I once lived. Hard against the Pennines, the hills are steep and dissected by small streams that before steam were the motive power for the wool and engineering industries. Old mills lay scattered across the landscape with their tall Satanic chimneys and for every mill if you look hard there is one of the many diverse offerings of non-conformity. Wesleyan or Baptist it doesn’t matter as most tended to add ‘Strict and Particular,’ to their particular communication with God.

The worker's houses are perched on the steep hillsides and even a visit to someone a few doors away can involve a steep climb. Years ago the women at the top of the street would emerge with a bucket of water to clean the pavement and one by one, doors would open as neighbours would use the same water as it scurried on its way downhill. The weekly washing was usually hung across the street, but I can no longer find a photo. The porous sandstone used in the construction of the houses is now sealed by a hundred and fifty years of industrial grime, which means for seven months of the year the village has a bleak, gloomy countenance. Inside the houses however, are warm fires and endless cups of tea you could stand your spoon up in. We also had shops open literally all hours, 365 days a year long before the advent of the Asian shopkeeper.

Here, before global warming, the winters were hard but a walk to the pub was always worth it, with foaming draughts of Timothy Taylor’s or Samuel Webster’s on offer and the barmaids were a sight to behold.

There is another half to this humble village, a perhaps less humble half, divided from us by a railway line, a stream and a steep climb. But for the moment we’ll leave that in the dark.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Saved from the shredder III

Showing my age now. Did anyone else go to see how Britain was leading the world?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A bit faded but still legible....

Mr. Duxbury presented this to me, after I had been in a gymkhana on that date.Its not signed by him, nor by either of the riding masters, Herrs Loy and Gruner. So I have no idea whose signatures they are.

Saved from the shredder.

I have spent the last three days trying to rid myself of the paper detritus of my life. Amazing what you keep ‘just in case.’ As part of operation ‘Aegean Stable’ I have finally plucked up the courage, after nearly ten years, to tackle my late mother’s effects, I was busily feeding the shredder when this came to light. Does anyone else still have theirs?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Technical Desk

In an unprecedented scoop for The PRS Blog, the services of Builder Bob have been secured to provide on-line help for all your technical projects. Coming soon, the answers to all these questions and more:

How to tell when your husband needs a new hammer drill?
How deep do you need to bury next door's cat?
Can women sharpen chisels?
Is it possible to tarmac over Lancashire?
How to have fun with an Acrow?
Is there life after death?
Why I always drink Murphys?

This week, part one of know your bricks.

Frogs The frog is the indentation found in some bricks which increases handling and the depth of mortar and hence bond strength
Next week Kiss marks and Rubbers

Mid –week quiz.

This week’s first quiz is on pond life. No-one from New Labour was available, so the question is, which one of these photos contains a frog? 1,2,3,4,5 or 6?