An Alphabet Of Things I Don’t Like: T

Toilets.

I mean Public Toilets of course, not those in my house, or the houses of friends and relatives.

I have to be pretty desperate to use a public toilet, believe me. And since many of them were either closed down, or are no longer attended by someone who cleans them regularly, I would quite honestly sooner go up a tree.

It is not just the fault of the provider or the establishment where they are situated, of course. The users must also carry a lot of the blame for the state of so many of them these days.

Even those that might appear to be ‘reasonable’ on first sight can still turn out to have floors that are damp and sticky with urine, and evidence that the interiors have not been cleaned for a very long time.

There are some notable exceptions. Using toilets in first class hotels is usually a pleasant experience, and airports and hospitals tend to have regular cleaning routines that make the toilets acceptable, if not gleaming.

But as a rule, I avoid them all.

Found Online: A Roman Mystery

Reading various articles today, I found one about the interesting object shown above. It is an intricately made metal dodecahedron. They have been found in various Roman archaeological sites around the world, but nobody can confirm what they were once used for.

I love things like this! An ancient mystery that remains unsolved to this day.

Here is a link to the full article, which I did not replicate for copyrght reasons.

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the-mysterious-bronze-objects-that-have-baffled-archaeologists-for-centuries?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB

A Life In Music: Roland Kemp

One of my greatest and oldest friends is Roland Kemp. Photographer, video artist, and musician, he has spent most of his life in one band or another. The first time I met him when I was just 17, it was when a friend took me to see his band play in a small hall in Eltham, South London.

Over fifty-one years ago.

His latest project is this song, called ‘The New Blues’. This is right up my street musically, and comes with an excellent video showcasing the female vocalist, Molly Alro, and many images relevant to the lyrics. If you enjoyed it, please give the video a ‘Like’ on You Tube.

Lyrically Evocative (30)

In 2004, I heard a song by the British band, Keane. It was called ‘Somewhere Only We Know’. I liked it a lot, but not enough to buy the album it came from as some of the other tracks did not appeal. Many years later, the song was covered by Lily Allen, to be used as the soundtrack for the John Lewis Christmas TV advert, in 2013.

Her plaintive vocals touched my heart, and for me they lifted the song to a new level.

Earlier this morning, I commented about her version on another blog post, and listening to the song once again, it made me remember just how relevant the lyrics are to me.

Here are those lyrics.

I walked across an empty land
I knew the pathway like the back of my hand
I felt the earth beneath my feet
Sat by the river and it made me complete
Oh, simple thing, where have you gone?
I’m getting old and I need something to rely on
So, tell me when you’re gonna let me in
I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin
I came across a fallen tree
I felt the branches of it looking at me
Is this the place we used to love?
Is this the place that I’ve been dreaming of?
Oh, simple thing, where have you gone?
I’m getting old and I need something to rely on
So, tell me when you’re gonna let me in
I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin
And if you have a minute, why don’t we go?
Talk about it somewhere only we know
This could be the end of everything
So, why don’t we go?
Somewhere only we know
Somewhere only we know
Oh, simple thing, where have you gone?
I’m getting old and I need something to rely on
So, tell me when you’re gonna let me in
I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin
And if you have a minute, why don’t we go?
Talk about it somewhere only we know
This could be the end of everything
So, why don’t we go?
So, why don’t we go?
This could be the end of everything
So, why don’t we go?
Somewhere only we know
Somewhere only we know
Somewhere only we know

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Rice Oxley Timothy James / Hughes Richard David / Chaplin Thomas Oliver
Somewhere Only We Know lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Mgb Ltd.

And here is Lily’s version, with the animated TV ad.

An Alphabet Of Things I Don’t Like: S

Saudi Arabia.

This mainly desert kingdom has far too much influence outside of its own country.

And there are good reasons for that.

The proven oil reserves in Saudi Arabia are the reportedly 2nd largest in the world, estimated to be 268 billion barrels (43×109 m3) (Gbbl hereafter), including 2.5 Gbbl in the Saudi–Kuwaiti neutral zone. … The Saudi reserves are about one-fifth of the world’s total conventional oil reserves.

On May 20, 2017, U.S. President Trump and Saudi Arabia’s Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud signed a series of letters of intent for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to purchase arms from the United States totaling US$110 billion immediately, and $350 billion over 10 years.

The UK licensed the sale of at least £4.7 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, since the beginning of the civil war in Yemen, but the real figure was expected to be higher as claimed by CAAT.

The top imports of Saudi Arabia are Cars ($8.87B), Broadcasting Equipment ($4.83B), Refined Petroleum ($3.72B), Gold ($3.33B), and Packaged Medicaments ($3.15B).

With a total worth of $33.50 trillion, Saudi Arabia has the second most valuable natural resources in the world. The country has the second-largest proven petroleum reserves and is the largest exporter of petroleum in the world. It also has the fifth-largest proven natural gas reserves and is considered an “Energy Superpower”.

Despite its archaic laws, human rights violations, treatment of women, and dominance by the family of Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, it seems that country can continue to do what it likes, where it likes, with no fear of any foreign reprisals. Even its blatant involvement in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center was blamed on Iraq instead, and the wrong country paid a heavy price for placating Saudi Arabia.

And those archaic laws I mentioned?

Criminal law punishments in Saudi Arabia include public beheading, stoning, amputation and lashing. Serious criminal offences include not only internationally recognized crimes such as murder, rape, theft and robbery, but also apostasy, adultery, witchcraft and sorcery.

Stoning? (To death) Yes that’s right. One of the punishments for adultery.
It looks like this.

Public beheading is done by a sword, in the main squares of the cities.
Like this.

In fact, executions are so common, the country has had to resort to advertising for more executioners. (Source: BBC)

Saudi Arabia is advertising for eight new executioners.
Apparently no special qualifications are needed for the jobs, whose main role is “executing” but also involves performing amputations on those convicted of lesser offences. The advert was posted on the civil service jobs portal.

Yet these barbarians are described by numerous western governments as ‘Our friends’.

Disgusting.

The Homestead: Part Twenty-Four

This is the twenty-fourth part of a fiction serial, in 920 words.

Before the next winter set in, daddy talked about the hunting trip again. He reckoned a few days away would provide us with some deer and wild hogs, not to mention plenty of game birds. As well as the Henry rifle, daddy had bought an old fifty-calibre Hawken from a man in town to take along. It was slow to use, but daddy said that it could knock down the biggest buck from a ways off. We both tried it out in the woods, and it sure had some kick to it.

Henry was going to use my horse and tool box while we were away. He could do a few small jobs locally, and Walter would be busy sorting and storing the crops. Mary had woven some baskets, and she said they were fish traps. Her and Susan were going to take them up to the deepest part of the creek and set them. Mary said salted fish would make a change from meat come winter. I wasn’t much for eating fish, but I had to admit that Mary could make anything taste good. Even beans.

Daddy told me to leave my forty-four with Henry, and he made sure they both had the shotguns handy, just in case of trouble. Susan made me a dandy case for my hunting knife, and her and Mary packed us up enough food for a month. Heading south not far from the banks of the Arkansas River, we could see how so much more land was being settled, or fenced off. Derby was growing, no doubt about that.

After travelling all that day and the next, we turned inland and daddy started to get the feel of where we might see some game. The pastures at the edge of the woodland looked good, so we got the wind against us, and set up a hide of sorts, leaving the wagon in a dip where it would not be spotted. After a dull morning with nothing happening, a herd of deer appeared walking out of the trees to our left. Daddy readied the Hawken to take the leading buck, and told me to aim for the biggest doe, which was at the back of the herd. He counted us down from three, and we both fired.

When the smoke cleared, the herd had scattered. The big buck was stone dead on its side, daddy had got it right through the neck. But my shot had hit the doe in the top of her leg, breaking the bone. She was dragging the leg as she tried to run. Daddy spoke quietly to me. “Hit her again, Phin. Don’t make her suffer now”. My second shot was still too rushed, but brought her down. As we walked over to finish her off, I apologised for being clumsy. Daddy smiled. “You’ll learn Phin. Can’t be helped. Why don’t you go back and get the wagon, bring it over to them?”

By the time I got back, he had gutted the animals, and tied their legs so we could lift them up, and fix them to the sides of the wagon. It was too cold for us to sleep outside if we didn’t have to, and we didn’t like the idea of sleeping next to the dead animals inside.

The next morning, we drove for a couple of hours before seeing some woods up ahead. Daddy thought they might be a good place to find hogs, so drove off the trail and hid the wagon at the edge of the woodland. We blocked the wheels and put the brake on, leaving the mares some feed as we walked inside. It was dark and damp in there, with lots of ground cover hiding many of the roots. We had to walk real careful, and stay quiet. Daddy couldn’t smoke his pipe neither, as the hogs would smell it. We were both wearing coils of rope around us, to use to drag out any we managed to kill.

But after creeping around for a good while, we heard no sound that might be hogs. Daddy whispered that we should turn back, and try for some more deer somewheres else. I could just see the light at the edge of the trees, when there was a crunching sound, like someone running through a big pile of leaves. As I turned to look at daddy, he raised the Hawken, with his back to me. But he had no time to fire before a huge hog crashed out of the undergrowth into him, knocking him down, and causing him to drop the rifle.

I raised the Henry and looked along the barrel, but I was afeared to shoot in case I hit my daddy. Then there were two shots, and the hog fell over on its side. To my left, I heard some grunting and squealing as the rest of them ran off from where they had been hiding, and I walked over to help daddy up. But he couldn’t stand. He had shot the hog with his old service pistol, through the pocket of his long coat where he kept it. But it had bit him bad, the long sharp teeth tearing his thigh. It was nothing like the pigs we kept back home. Covered in dark hair, with a huge head, it looked fierce even though it was dead.

Daddy’s shout snapped me out of it. “Phin, take your belt off son, you need to strap it around my leg. Real quick now!”

An Alphabet Of Things I Don’t Like: R

Remakes.

It will come as no surprise to long-term followers of this blog that film remakes feature for ‘R’. With a handful of exceptions, the constant remakes of great films are usually unnecessary, and completely pointless too.

Yes, they remade ‘Carrie’, that classic Stephen King adaptation from 1976.
And it was truly awful.

Taking on one of the best British gangster thrillers ever, they remade the wonderful ‘Get Carter’, in 2000.
Why? Please tell me why!

Seemingly out to murder another classic Michael Caine film, they remade ‘The Italian Job’, in 2003.
COME ON! Just stop it!

I could also write a book on how they remake foreign language films for people who can’t handle subtitles, always ruining them in the process.
One of the worst examples has to be ‘The Vanishing’. They changed the ending in the US version, to make it ‘happy’.
GRRRRRRRRRR!

And don’t get me started on Japanese Anime classics with western actors voicing the characters!
How wrong does this sound? Very wrong, believe me.

BUT WAIT!

While I am on ‘R’, I have to mention ‘Reimagining’. In case you don’t know, this is the blatant plagiarism of classic fiction, ‘Reimagined’ for the modern reader. Take ‘Jane Eyre’, set it in modern-day California, call it something else, and you have ‘reimagined’ the original. You get the idea.

DOUBLE GRRRRRRRRR!

Film makers and writers, I have a suggestion for you.

DO SOMETHING ORIGINAL!

A Tip For All Writers

Ray Bradbury’s Greatest Writing Advice

“I’ve had a sign over my typewriter for over 25 years now: Don’t think!

Ray Douglas Bradbury; August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012) was an American author and screenwriter. One of the most celebrated 20th- and 21st-century American writers, he worked in a variety of genres including fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mystery fiction.

Ollie’s Sad/Happy walk

I took Ollie out earlier today, hoping to take advantage of the sunshine while it lasted. With full darkness by around 4 pm now, it makes sense to be out long before that.

It was a crisp and cold day, with bright sunshine that was uncomfortable to look into. It had also stirred up some insects, and four bites on my head later, I was beginning to regret my decision.

Ollie wasn’t too happy either, as there was nobody else around. With no other dogs to greet and sniff, he had to resort to sniffing anything left behind by the early-morning dogs, those taken out before their owners leave for work. It was sad to see him looking decidedly fed up after almost an hour of us being the only two on the usual route.

He was staring along the path that leads to each of the three entrances, his concentration intent, no doubt hoping to spot a canine pal arriving. But to no avail. As we headed home, he plodded along reluctantly behind me, making me feel extra guilty for leaving home forty-five minutes earlier that usual.

Suddenly, his head shot up, and he started into the distance. I looked in that direction, and could see a dog running for a ball a long way off. Ollie wasn’t waiting for permission, and took off like a rocket. When I finally caught up with him, I saw he was wth our next door neighbour, and her dog Henry. She was accompanied by a friend with a small Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and both dogs were chasing balls as if their lives depended on it.

Although Ollie has no interest in the balls, he ran alongside each dog as they chased them, and kept that up for at least fifteen minutes. Then a lady arrived with a large white Retriever that Ollie loves, and he scooted off to see that big dog, yelping with delight.

I felt vindicated. His sad walk had turned into a happy one, and he got some great exercise into the bargain.