Sunday, 17 June 2018

Father's Day 2018 - A New Recipient of Congratulations In Order


On this father's Day 2018, I'd like to pay tribute to a father who I can confidently say has never been wished a good day by anyone, ever.

I am not speaking here of my father, my children's father or my grandchildren's father, even.  Nor any famous fathers that we hear about regularly  - or infamous ones which we also hear about regularly. 


This is Bill.

(he's a little shy and wouldn't turn his face to the camera)


Bill is a cockerel. He was hatched with a batch of eggs about two and a half years ago, along with two brothers and five sisters. Sadly, a few months back his brothers and 3 of his sisters died in a dreadful incident which is now known in this household as "The Catastrophe". The cause of this has never been proved - but I have a strong suspicion - and evidence - that it was cats.

Bill was traumatised after the attack. He was silent for at least four weeks, before he had the courage to crow again. He felt, I am certain, that he had failed in his duty of looking after his girls and his brothers, though when there were three cockrels in the flock, Bill was not the head boy around.  After a number of sibling arguments when he was a chick, he was happy to be second or third in the power line and supported his brothers where he could.

Fortunately, 5 of his sisters also survived The Catastrophe and with some new additions to the family, Bill managed to regain his confidence. He began to crow again and to call for his girls on a morning when it was time to go outside. His instincts immediately told him that as he was now the leader of the flock he had real responsibilities to keep up with.
Bill has showed true strength of spirit and now has a happy flock of hens which he takes pride in looking after. When food is available he shows the girls where to go and what to do. He stands back and watches until everyone is fed and watered, before taking any food himself. Often the food has gone before he even gets a morsel, but he never stops his guardianship. Even when the male dog in this household tries to get him rounded up and back in the coop, Bill does a great stand off and keeps eye control with the dog until the dog is bored and finds something else to herd.

On 8th June, Bill became a real father for the first time. I'm not certain which hen laid the actual egg which has hatched out, but Little Blackie must take credit for hatching it and is the rightful "mother" of the new chick. Bill is definately the father. 
The chick is doing fine with the support of it's father, mother and "sisters". I have named it "Blondy" , for obvious reasons and am hoping that it is a girl and not a boy.  

So, Happy Father's Day Bill. Hopefully your new chick will turn out to be not a cockerel, but if it does, I have all faith in you being noot only a father but a friend too.
-

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Discovering Great Writers - Via Twitter

     “I write fiction and I’m told it’s autobiography. I write autobiography and I’m told  it’s fiction, so since I’m so dim and they’re so smart, let them decide.”

Philip Roth 1933 - 2018

One of the signs of my advancing years and certainly since I began life in my 6th decade, is that I discover great writers, only when they have died. 


Sometimes I have read something of theirs over the years, during enforced study or just through recreational reading. Sometimes, I have not known who the writer was at the time. But more often, I haven't heard of the author or their works. 

This sends me into a kind of panic, that there is so much wonderful literature in the world that I can't hope to get around to reading, appreciating and maybe be inspired by.  Perhaps, if I had been an "academic" for longer, this might not have been the case. Before the technological age really kicked in and we only had real books to inform and entertain us, I read widely - or as widely as I could for my intelligence limit. Later, and certainly currently, I read e books, e documents, e everything (e as in "electronic) and my book collection gathers dust on the shelves. 

Rarely do I buy a book new, as Amazon is so easily accessed, where I can download a sample and then realise it is either not to my taste or that I haven't the time to read any more than the sample, anyway. This, however is usually due to my own shortening attention span rather than there not being enough hours in a day.
Occasionally I sort through my books with the intention of getting rid of some but find that I can't bear to part and in fact re read with great pleasure (the best places to read being in the garden in the sunshine, or cosy in bed before sleeping) 

So where do Twitter and dead writers come into this ? (Yes, dead poets also, without referring to the Robin Williams film)
Simply that I find that a writer is 'trending' on Twitter and investigation shows that he/she has recently died. News on radio, TV and other media usually confirms this and the anxious flutter in my stomach begins as I frantically turn to Google to see if I am "familiar with" - to use a literary term - this writers work. 

Perhaps if I was American, or Jewish or both, I might more likely have heard of and even read, Philip Roth who died today aged 85. As I am neither, I haven't. 

I suppose I could blame it on my English education, pre adulthood. After all I didn't read Of Mice and Men until I was about 30 and though I discovered Salingers' Catcher In The Rye "myself " when I was around 25, it would have been appreciated much more in my teen years. I did identify with it very much, later though, so I am always thankful that I found it, at whatever age.

Philip Rothwells biography can be found  here courtesy of The Guardian.




I would have researched more deeply myself but I am already half way through the morning and haven't  completed my list to download from Amazon.

Update some time in the future on how far I've progressed in my reading.



https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=roth+american&index=aps&tag=googhydr-21&ref=pd_sl_63bbrs6dzf_b&adgrpid=50012175821&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=259090047086&hvpos=1t1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=7940787649987241319&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9046276&hvtargid=kwd-301998801537







Friday, 18 May 2018

Poem In Process


Poem In Process



I start in the slush queue 
Un noted, un seen, un read 
Waiting for anothers perusal
for the start of the journey.
Perhaps with a request for change
coming from a holding place.

Revised, replaced, released
I go on my way
towards acceptance and publication
or to be felled by the scarlet slashes of the correcting pen.

But maybe, I will silently withdraw
and leave myself curious and wondering. 



Sunday, 30 July 2017

Identity Crisis - What's Yours Called ?

Transaction, Translation,Transformer, Translucent, Transfix, Transpose,

Transverse... ...

You get the idea of where I'm going here.

A lovely way to while away a Sunday morning - looking up words to find their meanings and origins. The more alert of us reading this will spot the similarities immediately in these words - the prefix Trans.

This prefix occurs in the English language, usually in loanwords from Latin (transcend, transfix) with the meanings "across", "beyond", "through", "changing thoroughly", "transverse". It's also used in combination with elements of any origin : trans-Siberian, transvalue, transempirical 

In Chemistry, according to Wikipedia, it "denotes a geometric isonomer having a pair of identical atoms on the opposite sides of two atoms linked by a double bond".  I shall investigate this further when the need arises to use it in this context. 

In Astronomy, the trans prefix denotes something farther from the sun than a given planet : trans-Martian, trans-Neptunian (I didn't know this until today, either)
A further meaning "on the other side of ", referring to the 2 words you have probably noted I have not commented on so far - transsexual, transgender.

I am not however, here debating the ins and outs, ethics, morals or otherwise of those who label themselves transexual or transgender. 
What I question is the actual fact today that the prefix "Trans" is now used prolifically in media and social situations as a word in itself.

Below is the first 6 pictures which appeared, in this order, when I typed "Trans" into Google Images. I didn't get the chance to type Translation, Transmigration or even Transgress before the images appeared.










And your point is... ? I can hear you thinking. 
Only, that it seems to me, and to many others who dare to voice the view, that we are being "educated" into using specific language to define and label people, where none is really required. It only seems like yesterday when to recite the rhyme Monday's Child, and reaching Sunday was not an announcement of the person born on a Sunday's sexuality. 
Perhaps this is constructive progression. It is the changes in the English language that keep it alive, after all. But, and there is a but here - who can honestly say that they think these changes are for the better ? Or need to be force fed to the masses on an hourly basis ? (see BBC )

Or is it, as Peter Hitchens suspects in his blog today :

"...  the whole ‘Trans’ issue has been cooked up so that nobody can ever say anything about it (including here) without being somehow in the wrong, and open to attack by the Thought Police. Now that there’s no more mileage in homosexuality, it’s the best way of making conservatives look like bigots.
But those of you who have clung to the Tory Party through thick and thin must have wondered a bit last week when it endorsed the idea that anyone can be whatever sex, sorry ‘gender’, that they want to be. 
Here’s the simple explanation. The Tory Party itself has changed sex, from Right to Left. It is a ‘Trans’ party. I’m puzzled that it has yet to change its name. How about ‘Doris’? And it now feels free to come out. Yet still you vote for it."


Peter Hitchens blog

I have yet to look into why he chose the name Doris , but shall endeavour to find out.

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Saturday, 31 December 2016

Time and Tide Wait for No Man

Here we are again on the last day of the year, looking back on the year past and forward to the next year. Some of us will be glad to see the end of 2016 and happy to see the start of a new year, while others will be cautious and perhaps nervous of what 2017 will bring. 

Of course, the concept of a "new year" is a purely man made notion to help us fix ourselves in time within days, weeks and months and likewise in hours, minutes, seconds and even nano seconds - which I understand is equal to one billionth of a second, one nano second being to one second as one second is to 31.7 years. At this point my mind boggles and fails to comprehend the enormity of "time" as we as humans on earth, know it.




Our idea of a month comes from the moon and many cultures over thousands of years have used months with lengths of 29 or 30 days to divide the year up into manageable pieces. With this system though, there is the problem of having moon cycles at 29.5 days not dividing equally into the 365.25 days of a year. Luckily, we have the rhyme to remind us of how many days are in each month :


 30 days hath September, April, June and November
 All the rest have 31, except for February alone
which has but 28 days clear
and 29 in a Leap Year.

Ok, it doesn't roll off the tongue too easily but its worth memorising  - while your memory still works a bit... and for when you  have forgotten where you put your diary. It's all well and good having a "planner" on your phone which records times, dates and events, but you can bet your life when you need to know the date, the app has mysteriously moved itself to another page or other not immediately accessible (to me) area of the device. 

This year, 2016 which was a leap year, is being stretched out a little further, with an extra second being added just before midnight. It's to regulate the Earth's rotation - which fluctuates - with the UK's timescale. Earth time, apparently, falls behind the atomic clocks kept by the National Physical Laboratory, that keep what is known as civil time and so an extra second is occasionally added to regulate atomic and astronomical time.

Peter Whibberley who is Senior Research Scientist in the Time & Frequency Group at NPL says :
"Atomic clocks are more than a million times better at keeping time than the rotation of the Earth, which fluctuates unpredictably.
Leap seconds are needed to prevent civil time drifting away from Earth time. Although the drift is small - taking around a thousand years to accumulate a one-hour difference - if not corrected, it would eventually result in clocks showing midday before sunrise."

Hmmm... ... ... 

So, as I write this, and time continues to flow (or is it us that are moving through time ?) the new year has already arrived in Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand where it is now 2017.I am grateful for the extra second to stabilise us, here though I wouldn't have known it was going to happen if I hadn't heard it on the news.

Here's hoping for a new year that will bring peace and stability to those in this world who are suffering in so many ways due to war, greed and power seeking. May the notion of equality and a caring society become not only a man made notion, but a reality, for all.

Happy New Year, 2017 










Friday, 7 October 2016

Since my mother now 91 years old, moved out of her home of 62 years and into a care home, I have stored in my spare room a large collection of paper work, written over many years by my mother and father. They were both involved in the Methodist Church since childhood, Dad being a Local Preacher and Mam leading a weekly Women's Group at "The Chapel" at Whitburn for around forty or more years. 

Whitburn Then and Now by J Gordon Holmes

When we look at these writings - readings, anecdotes, poetry and stories - with Mam, she remembers things sometimes and has forgotten them completely at other times, but she is always amazed that she wrote them and pleased that we can share them and the memories, together. One about people who collect things which we read the other day was particularly apt. It is a slow process as she finds it difficult to concentrate - as do I most  days. 

My Dad, who died in 1989, was a writer, musician, artist, local historian and aeroplane information collector, (I have written about this elsewhere) and was meticulous in his presentation of any aspect of his work. He grew up in an age where handwritten documents were the norm and like my grandfathers collections of information were made into "scrap books", a tradition that was passed on to us children. Many hours were spent cutting out pictures and articles from newspapers and magazines and pasting them onto sheets of paper, which were then labelled and made into "books" on our preferred subject. Needless to say, I remember many of my scrap books were entitled Animals and Nature, while my brother's were Aeroplanes and Space.

The scrap books and collections of other hobby type things are of course no value to anyone but us. Anyone today who has a plane hobby or an interest in the Lake District will I am sure get all they need from the internet - though I believe there is still an interest in Real Books for many people.







The boxes of my dad's papers labelled Local Preachers are of particular interest to me. 

As I have said, his life, my mothers and our family was to an extent, centred around Whitburn Methodist Church and incorporated many groups, meetings and clubs throughout our childhood and into our teens. 
Though our family was loving and caring, and I remember my childhood vividly as one of contentment, we were not very open in our thoughts and feelings. Perhaps this was a sign of the times, just our family's way, or a combination of both. I attended chapel and Sunday School every week and listened to hundreds of sermons over the years, some I understood, many I didn't. But I only heard and saw my father preach and hear his sermon on one occasion at Whitburn that I can recall. This was no doubt because we children left the service at sermon time and went into the "school room" for our Sunday lesson and also that the ministers and local preachers worked on a "circuit" of churches of around 12 in the area. If my dad wasn't preaching at one of these churches then he would be playing the organ at one of them.

One small brown envelope contains "Emergency Sermons" carefully numbered and referenced which was kept in the Vestry of the chapel, for those colleagues who had to take a service at short notice or for some reason had not prepared their own.



     




Reading through the documents over the last few months has given me a different perspective of my dad's thinking and beliefs. The Connexional Examination for Local Preachers on Trial, which my dad passed in 1952 aged twenty six is particularly poignant as it is based on the text - When I consider Thy Heavens which was the title of one his books years later. I will never know if the emergency sermons have ever been preached but the sentiments have been written down and so seem to me to have a permanency about them.

I have thought that one day I will publish the writings of J Gordon Holmes that were not published when he was alive. As the link above shows, I have begun with Whitburn - Then and Now and will do more in the future but for now I am content to peruse the thoughts and memories of my parents, from the writing on the pages.

Publications of J Gordon Holmes (1925 -1989)

In Every Age the Same
Whitburn-Then and Now
The Barbary Coast 
Churches of Sunderland North Circuit
A Winged Lion. Salient - The Story of 607 Squadron - series Sunderland Echo 1971