100 days – Day 99: An East Wind Coming
3 August 2014
At the end of the Sherlock Holmes’ story, “His Last Bow”, Holmes says to Dr. Watson , “There’s an east wind coming, Watson.”
To which Watson replies, “I think not, Holmes. It is very warm.”
And Holmes concludes with, “Good old Watson! You are the one fixed point in a changing age. There’s an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it’s God’s own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared.”
The story is set in 1914, on the eve of the First World War,the anniversary of its outbreak being tomorrow.
It was rightly named “The Great War” and we are still getting to grips with the scale of the devastation it caused in the next four years – and beyond.
“There’s an east wind coming.” Increasingly, I feel that today, don’t you?
100 days – Day 98: The Joys of Ministry
At the end of last year, I agreed to conduct the marriage service for a bride who works in my old place of business – the wedding to take place a week today.
Looking through my diary last night to check next week’s workload, I came across the event – but with no time written in.
Phoned…. the conversation was “Hello, it’s Sandy Strachan. Is everything still OK for next Friday?” And she hung up on me!
Tried again, and her phone – indeed for the rest of the evening – was on voice mail mode.
I’ve just been in touch with the Registrar….. and, surprise! surprise!… the wedding is still on for next Friday; all the paperwork has been handed in…… BUT, surprise! Somebody else is now conducting the ceremony!
Maybe her phone wasn’t working properly
Joyful or just Tacky?
100 days – Day 97: the Glasgow Empire
at the Commonwealth Games, the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, has allegedly criticised the Games as being “sh*t”
Bolt was waiting in the rain for his car to arrive in the athletes’ village when he was asked if he was having fun in Scotland. “Not really, the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games are a bit shit”, he allegedly responded.
It remains to be seen what kind of reception he receives from the Hampden Park crowd when he competes in the 4x100m relay heats
Will it be “A Glasgow Empire” ‘welcome’?
The “Empire” was a famous (infamous for some performers) theatre in Glasgow, hosting a vast array of variety acts, singers, comedians, musicians and the like. It closed in the early 1960s
If an act was unpopular with the (usually) tanked-up Glaswegian audience – the performer would “die the death” on stage, as the punters made their feelings known, in no uncertain terms. It was the “graveyard” for English comedians especially.
There is a famous story about singer Des O’Connor who was so overcome by fear that he ended up fainting onstage and had to be carried off.
He always denied it, claiming that the only way to get off stage in one piece was to pretend to collapse.
He was then taken off to hospital and lived to tell the tale. But before he exited the stage the orchestra leader asked him “Is this part of your act?”
Mike and Bernie Winters died a death on their first ever visit to the Empire in a tale that has been gleefully recounted by Billy Connolly on television.
The act started brightly with Mike onstage playing a lively tune on the clarinet. After a couple of minutes Bernie’s face peeked through the curtains wearing a silly leering grin. This drew a shout from the audience; “Christ!, there’s two of them!’
If Usain does get “The Glasgow Empire Welcome”, he can always make a BOLT to safety out of the stadium!
PS: Ken Dodd once debunked attempts to psycho-analyse humour, by saying that “the trouble with Sigmund Freud is that he never played second house at the Glasgow Empire after both halves of the Old Firm had just lost!”
PPS: The conversation between Jamaican track star Usain Bolt and a reporter from the Times has been revealed for the first time.
And it suggests the sprinter may have been describing the weather – not the Games – when he said it was “s***”.
In the transcript, reporter Katie Gibbons asks Bolt: “Are you enjoying the Games? Are you having fun?”
Bolt replies “No” and then explains: “I’m just not.. it’s a bit s***” but in its print edition today, the paper adds the description (shrugs, looks up to grey sky).
100 days – Day 96: Scottie Dogs
THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES: BARKING MAD!
‘Many Muslims refuse to have direct contact with dogs, which are considered by some to be “unclean” in Islamic culture. Some overseas Muslim groups have reportedly previously called for a jihad on dogs.
Possibly making matters worse was the fact that Jock, who was supposed to lead out the Malaysian team, sat down and refused to move as soon as his coat was put on, meaning he had to be carried by the team representative.
Mohamad Sabu, the deputy president of the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party said: “Malaysia and all Islamic countries deserve and apology from the organiser.
“This is just so disrespectful to Malaysia and Muslims – especially as it happened during Ramadan. Muslims are not allowed to touch dogs, so the organiser should have been more aware and sensitive on this issue.
“It is hoped this incident can teach other Western countries to be more respectful in the future.”
Dato Ibrahim Bin Ali, a far-Right politician, former MP and founder and president of Malay supremacist group Perkasa also called for an apology.
“I think it is unbecoming. The hosts have not been sensitive enough – especially in a so-called knowledgeable and civilised society like Britain,” he said. “It is shameful and has offended not only Malaysia as a Muslim country, but Muslims around the world.” ‘
JOCK, the mascot for the Malaysian team, commented, “Woof, Grrr, Arff!!” (loosely translated: “stupid *****”)
100 days – Day 95: Edinburgh
fed up with all things Glasgow, during the heavy emphasis during the Commonwealth Games? Then, come to Edinburgh instead! Better to eat first, as you may well be greeted with that infamous welcome, “you’ll have had your tea” (see below)
some interesting and strange facts about our Capital City:
- There’s a small part of Nova Scotia deemed to be within Edinburgh Castle Esplanade. To encourage settlement in New Scotland, James VI created 100 new baronets of Nova Scotia in 1624. To enable the new baronets to be installed without travelling across the Atlantic, it was decided to allow part of the Castle Esplanade to double up as Nova Scotia.
- Princes Street should really be St Giles’ Street. However George III thought that sounded too similar to a London slum area of the time. Instead it was named after the Royal Princes, the Duke of Rothesay and the Duke of York.
- In 1530, the city boasted almost 300 alewives or brewers
- And in 1775 the city saw the publication of Ranger’s Impartial List of Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh – a prostitutes directory.
- In 1777 there were eight legal distilleries in Edinburgh. And 400 illegal ones.
- The Royal Mile is, in fact, just over a mile long and consists of five streets.
- Rose Street’s name is associated with prostitution – to “pluck a rose” was a common expression for visiting a lady of the night.
- Saughton Park was once home to a tribe of 70 French Senegal natives who lived in bee-hive mud huts. The Senegalese village was created as part of the 1908 Scottish National Exhibition, which included a display on sewage disposal and another on new fangled electricity
- St Andrews claims to be the home of golf, but the rules of golf were first compiled on the Links of Leith and golf is documented as being played on Musselburgh Links in 1672, making it officially the oldest golf course in the world
- Miles away from the battlefields of the Somme, First World War tanks were churning up the grass at Redbraes Park near Broughton Road in 1917. Brown Brothers engineering works at Broughton Road carried out the first trials of prototype Mark VII tanks there.
- Blame nobleman Mackintosh of Borlum for the expression “You’ll have had your tea”. He complained in 1729 that people slurped their tea and would instead insist he’d had his already and have beer to drink instead.
- Naughty Edinburgh minister Rev John McQueen caused outrage in the 1600s. He became so besotted by local beauty Mrs Euphame Scott that he pinched her underwear from a washing line and made a waistcoat and drawers from them.
- Long before rocker Ozzy Osbourne shocked the world by biting the head off a bat, 19th-century showman Ned Holt was thrilling crowds at the Grassmarket by killing rats with his teeth.
- Sex therapists sound like a modern phenomenon. But in mid-18th century Cowgate-born Dr James Graham’s Temple of Health was charging couples £50 a night to cure their sexual woes by way of an aromatic mattress, some powerful magnets and a jolt of electricity. His 12-foot-wide tilting bed was said to help cure impotency and aid concep
- The first man to fly in Britain, James Tytler, did it in a hot air balloon he built himself in August 1784. Tytler suffered the humiliation of crashing several times before finally rising a few feet off the ground. His next attempt took him 350 feet into the air for half a mile. But his final attempt the next year flopped when the balloon refused to launch until after Tytler had left the basket, at which point it sailed high into the sky, thus inspiring the popular put-down: You’re a balloon.
- Indian Peter is among Edinburgh’s most bizarre characters. Kidnapped as a child, he was sold into American slavery then kidnapped again by Native Americans. He returned to Edinburgh to publish the city’s first “A–Z”-style roads directory and launch the city’s penny post.
Everyone knows we gave the world anaesthesia courtesy of James Young Simpson, telephones thanks to Alexander Graham Bell and logarithms thanks to John Napier. But what else can we brag about?
1. Edinburgh was the first city in the world to have its own fire brigade. Firemaster Wilkin also designed the UK’s first fire engine that combined engine, hose and escape ladder.
2. Gentlemen with receding locks can today invest in many kinds of remedies, but in 17th-century Edinburgh one of the top cures for baldness was application of the burnt ashes of dove’s dung.
3 Edinburgh can also be credited – dubiously perhaps – with bringing the “f” word into publication when in 1503 poet William Dunbar’s classic Ane Brash of Wowing was published in the city, which included the first printed use of the word.
4 And finally, if all that has left you in need of a toilet break, give thanks not to the man credited with bringing us toilets, Thomas Crapper. He simply manufactured them. It was Alexander Cummings, a watchmaker from East Lothian who invented the modern flushing toilet in 1775.
100 days – Day 94: Apartheid Lives!
- Multimillion Pound housing developments in London – separate entrances for the affluent and for the less well-off
Left, the luxury lobby of One Commercial Street, marketed to wealthy City workers. Right, the side-alley entrance reserved for affordable housing tenants. Photographs: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
These are “poor doors”, entrances for the low-income tenants to separate them from wealthy home buyers. The trend, dubbed “poor doors” in the US where it began, includes separate bicycle storage spaces, rubbish disposal facilities and access for postal deliveries.
In order to win planning permissions many new developments in London are required to include affordable homes, but to get around this, developers are installing separate access for the “plebs”.
In some properties the entrances are not only separate but also have a different look, and one City building has a hotel-style lobby for well-healed residents and a side door in an alley near trade entrances for those in affordable housing.
- Tartaglia – Pasta redemption
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia and West Dunbartonshire Council have apparently had secrete meetings about a new school – a single campus Primary in Bellsmyre to replace three existing schools.
Teachers and parents have been angered by the Archdiocese’s insistence that Catholic teachers have their own separate staff room; non Catholics their own. Oh, and the kids who will attend will have separate entrances – one for Catholic pupils; one for Protestants and children of other denominations and none.
Archbish Phil (who ate all the pasta) Tartaglia
Apartheid is alive and kicking in 21 Century Britain!
100 days – Day 93
On this day (24 July) in 1980, we lost one of the greatest comic geniuses ever: the wonderful Peter Sellers.
I love this rare interview with him conducted by Michael Parkinson:
I still laugh every time I watch this
Strange, indeed, but brilliant
from “I’m All Right, Jack” – captures the union man perfectly
Classic – even after all these years
The last word…..
100 days – Day 92
The Commonwealth Games start today in Glasgow.
Originally, the opening ceremony for the Games was going to feature derelict council tower blocks being demolished, before the organisers realised that the competition would last at least twelve years.
Team Scotland’s Glasgow 2014 parade uniform. Maybe this is why Chris Hoy decided to retire before the games.
A Scotsman, an Englishman and a Northern Irishman want to get into the Games but they haven’t got tickets.
The Scotsman picks up a manhole-cover, tucks it under his arm and walks to the gate. “McTavish, Scotland” he says, “Discus”, and in he walks.
The Englishman picks up a length of scaffolding and slings it over his shoulder. “Waddington-Smythe, England,” he says, “Pole vault,” and in he walks.
The Irishman looks around, picks up a roll of barbed wire and tucks it under his arm. “O’Malley, Northern Ireland,” he says, “Fencing.”
100 days – Day 91
Gott mit uns (meaning God with us) is a phrase commonly used on armour in the German military from the German Empire to the end of the Third Reich, although its historical origins are far older
Does believing that “God is on our side” make it easier for us to inflict pain and suffering on those perceived to be our enemies? If we think God sanctions violence, are we more likely to engage in violent acts?
The answer to both those questions, according to new research, is a resounding “yes,” even among those who do not consider themselves believers.
Social psychologist Brad Bushman of the University of Michigan led an international research effort to find answers to these questions, and said he is very “disturbed” by the results
“I think many people use God as their justification for violent and aggressive actions,” Bushman said. “Take the current conflict in Iraq as an example. Bush claims that God is on his side. Osama bin Laden claims that God, or Allah, is on his side.”
History is replete with other examples of wars fought in the name of God, involving nearly every religion on the planet.
His own research shows that whether people consider themselves believers or not, they are more likely to be aggressive, perhaps even willing to start a war, if they think God is on their side.
“What worries me is when people use God as a justification for their violence. There are scriptures that say you should not take God’s name in vain. This is the most extreme version of taking God’s name in vain,” he said.
from ABC News – March 27, 2007
According to the headlines of local newspapers in Israel, the Jews under attack by Hamas rockets also have “God on their Side”
The Jewish Telegraph opens with a quote from David Ben Gurion, who once said, “In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.” The article claims that even the Hamas have become frustrated with Israel’s miracles:
“[T]he Talmud Yerushalmi tells us that in no way are we to depend on miracles. It argues that we must not desist from our obligations and must not wait for miraculous intervention from the Supernatural. How perfectly relevant are both of these views today. We witness hourly miracles. As one of the terrorists from Gaza was reported to say when asked why they couldn’t aim their rockets more effectively: ‘We do aim them, but their God changes their path in mid-air.’ Amen! And when our God is not busy doing that, He is ensuring that the high-tech brain power of our ‘start-up nation’ is working overtime to produce yet another Iron Dome battery to help protect our cities and us.”
The theme of miracles protecting Israel during the Gaza war is not limited to this newspaper. Another news source called Arutz Sheva reported earlier in the month the importance of miracles to the Jewish people:
“The Jewish nation’s existence for six millennia is a miracle. There is no single Jewish life without a miracle. Miracle is an essential part of our belief; it is a gem of Jewish folklore. It is a source of our hope in the dark, and it is a gift of our dreams. And we know why – because these miracles are true.”
“What worries me is when people use God as a justification for their violence. There are scriptures that say you should not take God’s name in vain. This is the most extreme version of
taking God’s name in vain”
(Brad Bushman – above)