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This blog is a bit of a departure from previous blogs. We were ploughing though some old political papers belonging to my wife’s grandfather and found some lyrics which I thought may be of general interest. By way of background grandfather held political office from 1920s through WW2.

According to the notes the lyrics are sung to to the tune ‘The Wearin’ of the Green.’   I have presented the lyrics as best I can, in the same manner as those found. There is no indication of the origin of the lyrics, dates or any other detail. The lyrics are with other bits and pieces relating to the 1930’s. What is probably of interest is how the lyrics may still resonate in our current economic situation.

The Wearing of the Pound

Tune: ‘The Wearin’ of the Green’

O, Ramsay dear, and did you hear

The news that’s goin’ around

The Frenchmen and the Yankees

They are flying from the Pound.

So drop the Russian Bogey

Let the clarion call resound

We must cut the workers’ wages

For the saving of the Pound

The women and the children first

Is the maxim of the sea

And that’s the sentiment with which

The Government agree,

So cut the social services

Let misery abound,

The only thing that matters

Is the saving of the Pound

                                                Chorus:            O, the saving of the Pound

                                                                        O, the saving of the Pound

                                                                         The only thing that matters

                                                                        Is the saving of the Pound.

Then let Ramsay fly from Scotland

And Philip come from Churt

Let Thomas don his dress suit

And put on his boiled shirt.

The bankers are in trouble

and some money will be found

So we’ll search the worker’s pockets

For the saving of the Pound

Your tobacco will be dearer,

And your beer will cost you more:

If you paid two pound in Income Tax

You now must pay a score

For Norman’s told the Saxon,

Gael and Celt to hand around

And sacrifice their principles

For the saving of the Pound.

                                            Chorus:            O, the saving of the Pound

                                                                        O, the saving of the Pound

                                                                        They’re starving men and women

                                                                        For the saving of the Pound.

I met with Philip Snowden,

And he took me by the hand,

And said, ‘How’s dear old sterling, boy,

And how does it stand?’

It’s reducing teacher’s wages

That will make it safe and sound;

We must cut on Education

For the saving of the Pound

‘Bear ye one another’s burdens,’

Is a saying old and true’

So we’re bearing Baring’s burdens

And Lazard’s and Schroeder’s, too;

The Unemployed must suffer,

But the City will be sound;

To hell with all that matters,

But the saving of the Pound.

                                                            Chorus: O, the saving of the Pound

                                                                              O, the saving of the Pound

                                                                               The only thing that worries

                                                                               Is the saving of the Pound.

 Hope you enjoyed.

Rhumtetum

 

You’re Het

Mousa in his stud pants

Mousa in his stud pants

I needed an excuse to kick start my blog. This last while my blog has fallen away for a variety of reasons (excuses) and over the last few weeks, despite having some good ideas I just haven’t got round to it, until now. The catalyst for the change being Martha Rodriguez, http://areelcoolsummer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/back-to-our-youth-authors-playing-tag.html ,  in a game of author tag. Hence, the title ‘you’re het’ a scottish variation of the usual tag term ‘you’re it.’ For some reason the idea has struck a chord and I have returned to my blog. The next blog, which I will post towards the end of this coming week, is something truly exciting found among old, 1930’s and 1940’s, political papers in our garage.  I’m sure that it will be enjoyed by everyone who reads it, but readers will have to wait another day or so for further details. Oh, for any new readers, I always include a picture of one of our cats in my blog. Why? I just do. The picture today is our large tom cat wandering around our livingroom with his anti-spray pants on.

 Back to the game of tag in which Martha kindly involved me.

The rules of the game, as supplied by Martha, are as follows:  
1.  Go to page 77 of your current WIP (work in progress).
2. Go to line seven.
3.  Copy down the next seven lines or sentences as written and post them to your blog or website.
4.  Tag seven authors.
5.  Let them know they’ve been tagged.

Like Martha, I’m still shy of 77 pages, I have taken my 7 line extract from page 27 of my WIP entitled ‘Seil’.

He pulled out a remaining  cheese and ham sandwich, removed the cheese and the ham and offered them to the cat. The offer was  received with gratitude, and little time was taken to savour the taste as the cat bolted the food down.

 ‘I told you, he was hungry.’

 ‘Aye! We have to get to school,’ said Zander.  ‘Leave him, let’s go’  

The two boys turned away and walked the two streets to the school. Behind them walked their newfound  friend, or more importantly Jack’s new found friend: a muscly lilac grey, proud cat. His smiling Cheshire cat face smiled more than before, his chest struck out with purpose and his tail stood as erect as a telegraph pole pointing directly to the sky.’

I have, in this game of chance, tagged the following authors

Ben Woodward http://www.booksbyben.com/

Rahma Krambo http://www.rahmakrambo.com/

Noah Murphy http://k23detectives.com/

AR Silverberry http://www.arsilverberry.com/ 

Susan Leigh Noble http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/susan-leigh-noble.html

Michelle I Brooks http://www.BoneDressing.com

Jemima Pett http://jemimapett.wordpress.com/

Cheers

No blog in a while; what to write? That question has been preying on my mind this last week once I had cleared a large work related project which had taken up most of my time over the last few months.

Mousa with his pants on

Should I bring forward one of the chapters of my second book, which has also suffered over the same period?  Should I proffer my apologies for the delays in releasing an illustrated copy of Bernie Bolts Bergen, for reasons beyond my control? Neither of these options felt right, but recent newspaper reports discussing aspects of Scotland’s unique diet, lack of sunshine and the arrival of two pandas provided an opportunity for a little wordplay.

First our diet, we Scots are famous for our unhealthy approach to food. Our love of fry ups, fish suppers, take-away Indian and Chinese, as well as the ubiquitous Macdonalds have helped to establish us as one of the world’s most obese nations.  This week’s addition of the Braveheart Butterball, deep fried frozen butter in an irn-bru batter served with Irn-Bru ice cream is a wonderful example of our love for the unhealthy. It’s not that we don’t know better, studies, published this week, show that we are well aware but either we can’t be bothered or we have decided that life is here to be lived for the day. 

Other studies this week show that people in Scotland lack vitamin D which can be increased if we all eat oily fish or increase our exposure to sunlight. The latter at this time of year is asking, if our current weather system is anything to go by, for the impossible. We have spent days recently with the house lights on for most of the day because it has been so dull; with low energy bulbs  it ain’t much better.

Munchkin in artificial light

Some professor appeared on the radio suggesting that the Scottish government should have supplements added to our food to remedy this deficiency, but surely another alternative would be to send us on holiday every year to sunnier climes to allow us to charge our vitamin D batteries. It would appear that the government is doing neither. 

The only government action taken that can be remotely linked to all of this, and I mean remotely, is that the Scottish Government has borrowed two big adorable Pandas and put them on display this week in Edinburgh Zoo. The pandas are, among other things, there to cheer us up ( I will be going to see them over the next few weeks) and go by the name of Tian Tian and Yang Guang, translated apparently as sweetness or sweetie and sunlight or sunshine, respectively. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the Scottish government have brought us sunshine and sweetness. Will it make us any healthier – who knows.

The last comment on all this nonsense sits with Edinburgh Zoo’s famous penguins (see link http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-16270214) who have poo’ed on the Panda parade and like the weather made it a little more difficult to enjoy any Sunshine in Scotland.

Rhumtetum

Geese, Pink Footed Geese.

I like geese. I don’t know why, but I do. I think it’s because they have presence, and are more than capable of letting people know of their authority, as those with guard geese can testify. My partner tells stories of  various family gander, in full honk, with wings flapping, charging at her as a young girl, before their Christmas demise.  I think one of the reasons I like these creatures is that they reassure me that, depite all the economic turmoil and other worldly problems, life continues. Throughout my life I have witnessed large skeins of geese flying overhead as they make their way to and from a local loch (nature reserve) about 7 miles from home. They arrive around late September and leave around April, spectacularly marking the seasons. Last week on my drive to work I saw my first pinkies, as they are known by some, of the season.  Last week’s gaggle of Pink Footed geese was a small one, less than fifty I suspect; while today’s sighting must have approximated 200-300. Up to 20,000 will winter here in Fife. (picture gobirding.eu)

As I drove past the gaggle in the field I had a strange thought. I wondered what would happen if a teenage goose (is there a name for such a goose or does it just move from being a gosling to a goose?), decided not to come. What if a teenage goose wanted to holiday elsewhere, with other teenage geese? At some point in time, every family’s holiday plans hit the independent cries of  that ‘sounds boring’, ‘I’ll just stay at home’,’I’d rather be with my friends’; usually accompanied by the some form of ‘you can trust me’, or ,’ more often than not, the phrase, or variation thereof, ‘after all I’m sixteen now; I’m a grown up.’ In a moment of madness I started to wonder if teenage geese pass through the same developmental phase.

OK, staying in Greenland or Iceland may not be an option for young geese given how cold it gets there and how hard feeding becomes. But if If staying at home isn’t a viable option, there does appear to be several other destinations where they can spend winter. A few miles from me is one choice and may be preferable to other geese resorts such as Montrose, Aberlady, (both Scotland) or  even Norfolk, the latter is warmer than any of the others but a slightly longer flight. Who knows, there may be some geese put off by longer flights. Which raises another question, which skein do the geese take? In September are there scheduled skeins leaving for different destinations and do different destinations offer different things? Is there an 18-30 club equivalent for teenage geese? Is Loch Leven,Fife, the party capital , the Ayia Napa, of Scotland for geese or is it Montrose, after all, Montrose is at the seaside? Maybe, Norfolk is a better choice after all more geese winter there than here, however, maybe,just maybe, it’s the other way around and Norfolk is the Costa Brava for geese while Fife is for the more discerning goose. It would also appear that some geese may actually fly from resort to resort moving south as the temperatures drop arriving at Aberlady, Aberdeenshire and if it gets too cold moving south from there. There may of course be another reason, that being that these geese are enjoying the best of all possible worlds by mixing the partying resorts with the quiet ones.

As you may have gathered from the above I know very little about these creatures and should, perhaps,concentrate on the cats, cue a cat pic.

Tigh, from our very first litter – still going strong.

Anyway, the geese have returned in their thousands once again. For the next six months or so, I will see them every morning on my way to work, perhaps, as they recover from the night before. But they will be there, reminding me that some things in the world continue as before and that there may just be a better and simpler life  than the manic one that we lead.

Meows

Rhumtetum

Many years ago, as a young man,  on my very first foreign trip, in the beautiful city of Bologna, a place I will some day revisit, I enjoyed a meal courtesy of our hosts. At the end of that meal, we were invited to sign the guest book and my senior colleagues signed the book ‘Here’s tae us. Wha’s like us? Damn few, and they’re a’ deid. Mairs the pity.’ As they did, I wondered how arrogant that entry must seem to, not only, the restaurant owner but, to others following in our steps in this beautiful eatery. That memory came back this past week as a result of two different but, I believe related events, and a comment made by one of our contentious sports journalists on the exceptionally poor performance of Scottish football teams in Europe this week. His, the journalist’s, argument was that we, Scottish Football, hadn’t embraced change due to our own arrogance; for some reason the comment resonated.

Much has been written, in Scotland and possibly beyond, our arrogance is such that we believe that we are still of sufficient importance for others to be interested, this week about the problems in Scottish Football as all our teams crashed out of Europe.  Excuses have been proffered, ranging from lack of resources, facilities, money etc, yet, teams and countries with fewer resources do better. We apparently have one of the best coaching teaching set ups in the world which doesn’t translate to success either. Why, then is our national game in such a mess? Is it our psyche? Are we afraid of the hard work, dedication, commitment and graft to make it to the top?  Does the problem then lie with our youngsters, as some would suggest.

Alongside this footballing debate, but receiving far fewer column inches in Scotland was Eric Schmidt’s , Google’s chairman,  statement that ’education in Britain is holding back the country’s chances of success in the digital media economy.’  The speech was delivered in Scotland, it is no leap of the mind to say that the statement was if not targeted at Scotland certainly included Scotland. Once upon a time, we could state without fear of contradiction that Scottish Education was among the best in the world, I’m no longer certain, despite pockets of excellence among a few of our Universities, that the statement holds any longer. The comments, anecdotal stories, observations and employer statements that suggest a decline in our education standards are in many ways not too dissimilar to the type of comments about Scottish football made a few years back.

The warning signs for our education systen are there but,  like our football there appears a reluctance to acknowledge the decline and a temptation to hark back to a past where the mantra of Scotland having one of the best educational systems in the world is constantly repeated. If we repeat it often enough it must be, a bit like the constant claim that Glasgow Rangers v Glasgow Celtic being greatest club derby in the world.  Perhaps, the slide is masked by how we measure and perceive our game, how else can we reconcile more and more youngsters achieving examination success with a decline in standards. It doesn’t add up, or does it?

It may be that it doesn’t add up because we are no longer teaching the things that matter, like our football we measure and teach for our own backyard not for the bigger stage. If we want to play on the big playing fields, we need to change. Our education system may not be at the same low point as our football, but if we don’t take appropriate steps we may well reach that point. We need to change; one of the biggest barriers to change in Scottish football to date it is argued has been arrogance of people, structures and systems, however, last  week’s embarrassing results may be the shock required to force that change. It’s difficult to think of a shock to the education system in the same vein; more likely will be a continuing decline in meaningful work opportunities and a brain drain as our brightest leave for greener pastures. An article printed today suggests that unless Scotland changes it will be a third world country by 2030, an extreme claim, maybe. The case for change is strong, part of that change must be that we teach the things that matter.  Schmidt, I believe is right we do need to bring ‘art and science back together’ and ‘reignite the passion of children for sciences and technology.’ You never know, in doing so we may be able to reinforce the disciplines of hard work, dedication and commitment that are required for all works of life including a decent football team.

What about the cat, I hear you cry. For those who expected cat pics I would hate to disappoint, there is no other link.

Cheers

Rhumtetum

Chapter 1 : Mrs Johnstone

 

Boom!

Boom!

Boom!

 

The door thundered on its hinges and the windows, the pictures on the entrance hallway wall, and even the small china cat which sat on the wooden telephone table reverberated with the noise. The hammering of fists on the red front door echoed both inside and outside the terraced house. The thumping was like no other that Jack would hear ever again, it was official, urgent and panic stricken all rolled into one.

Jack stopped, rooted to the spot. He had been running up the stairs to his bedroom when his world crashed around him. He looked down from the sixth step of the steep staircase to see his mum charge through from the living room, the room door smashed against the living room wall as she did so and she flung the front door open. There stood two people; Jack could only see one, but he could hear the voices of two. As strange as it sounds Jack’s life was flashing by as if in slow motion. This was a day that he would never ever forget.

‘Come! Come quickly!’

It was a man’s voice.

 Jack could also hear the sound of a woman’s voice, but he couldn’t make out what she was saying. He did hear his younger brother’s name being mentioned followed by the hysterical shrieks of his mother as she ran down the garden path. She staggered down the steps at the foot of the garden supported by the woman that had been at the door, which was now wide open to the world.

Jack stood, numb, still on that sixth stair. Something serious had happened; his mum had gone with the two people who arrived at the door, his dad was at work and he was on his own.

Jack could hear more voices outside. He edged his way down the stairs to the open front door to see what was going on. First his right foot, then a pause, then his left foot, yet, another pause and so on. Each of the six steps was deliberately and slowly negotiated and his ears strained to pick up any sounds that would give a clue to the cause of the commotion outside. After what seemed a lifetime, it only took five minutes, he reached the bottom stair and started to walk across the hall to the open front door.

‘Hi! It’s Jack, isn’t it?’

As Jack had stepped across the hall way a young police officer appeared in the entranceway. Jack stopped.

‘It is Jack?’

Jack nodded.

‘My name is Kim’.

He glanced up at the police officer; she wasn’t wearing her hat. Why he had noticed that she had no hat on, he wasn’t sure. It seemed to make her more approachable; she seemed nice and she looked pretty, but why was she here, he wasn’t in any trouble; he hadn’t done anything wrong.

‘What’s happened? Where’s my mum?’

Even though it was clear that something was troubling the police officer, she kept cool and smiled softly. She spoke gently to the ten year old boy whose life was entering a period of turmoil that would stay with him for the rest of his days.

‘Your mum will be back later. Let’s go into the living room. Shall we?’

Jack led the police officer through to the living room. A pile of un-ironed clothes lay at one end of the black leather sofa, at the other end was a neat pile of ironed clothes and a half ironed shirt was draped on the ironing table. Despite the suddenness of events Jack’s mum had had the presence of my mind to switch the iron off and place it in the cradle on the ironing board. Jack sat down on one of the four dining room chairs at the table at the end of the room. Kim sat on one of the two black leather chairs and nodded to Jack to come and sit with her. Jack walked over and sat down on the chair which faced the large TV in the corner; it was his dad’s chair. Jack and his younger brother, Jason, would sit with his dad on Sundays and watch the football.

‘What about Jason? He’ll be worried if he gets home to find it’s only me in the house.

‘Don’t you worry about that,’ replied Kim.

Kim and Jack talked about all sorts of things over the next 30 minutes or so. They talked about school, who his friends were, what he had been doing over the autumn break, what is hobbies were and what computer and DS games he liked. Kim shared Jack’s interest in computer games; he thought that it was strange that an adult, and a police officer, knew so much about computer games. He liked her, she seemed interested in him, but he was still unsure why she was in his house.

The front door opened. Jack jumped up from his chair.

‘Mum! Mum!’

A face peered round the living room door. Jack’s heart sank when he realised it wasn’t his mum. He was puzzled, it was Mrs Johnstone, Zander’s mum, who lived a few streets away. Mrs Johnstone looked very pale; she looked as if she had been crying. Normally a very well dressed and presented woman Mrs Johnstone looked a bit disheveled, her blouse was heavily creased and her hair looked as if it hadn’t been brushed or combed at all today. She had obviously left her own house in a hurry. What worried Jack more was that Mrs Johnstone had another police officer with her. He was a tall young man and he too spoke gently.

‘Kim, can we have a quite word?’

The two police officers went through to the hall. Jack could hear their hushed voices but not well enough to make out what they were saying.

‘How are you?’ asked Mrs Johnstone.

‘I’m Ok. What has happened?’ Jack asked

‘I’ll explain later. Would you like to come and sleep over at our place tonight? Zander would love you to come and stay over.’

‘I’ll need to ask to my mum,’ he replied.

‘I spoke to her earlier. It’s Ok. Let’s go upstairs and grab a few bits and pieces, your pyjamas and toothbrush.’

Jack nodded. Something was wrong. Why was this happening?

The two police officers smiled as Jack and Mrs Johnstone passed them in the hall and climbed the stairs to his bedroom. Once in the room he pulled his old sports bag from under his bed, placed it on the bed and unzipped the bag. Inside the bag was a dirty pair of socks, the gym kit that he wore before mid-term break and his training shoes. The bag was slightly smelly.

‘What will I do with the dirty stuff ?’ he asked.

‘Just put it on the chair in the corner and we can sort it later,’ replied Mrs Johnstone.

‘Where are your clean clothes?’

Jack pointed to the chest of drawers against the wall. Jack opened the top drawer and took out a pair of pants and a pair of socks.

‘Why don’t you take a couple of pairs with you? Just in case.’

Jack turned around.

‘Mrs Johnstone, has something bad happened?’

Mrs Johnstone smiled and avoided answering the question.

‘Come on. Let’s hurry we might get a lift in the police car if we are quick,’ she said

Jack finished packing his bag. He collected his toothbrush from the bathroom and he descended the stairs behind Mrs Johnstone. Kim and the young policeman were waiting at the foot of the stairs.

‘Kim. Do you think we should give this young man a lift in the police car?’ said the policeman.

 Kim smiled. ‘Yes, Scott. I think we can do it on this occasion.’

The police man opened the front door; he and Mrs Johnstone were followed out by Kim and Jack and they walked down the garden path in pairs. At the bottom of the garden, stood some neighbours, a few of the women were in tears. As Jack approached them not a word was spoken and everybody bowed their head. Along, the street, maybe 100 yards or so, Jack could see the flashing lights of a police car, police van, an ambulance and a fire engines.

‘What’s happened?’ asked Jack.

‘It’s Ok. Let’s get in the car,’ said Mrs Johnstone .

The two police officers waited until Jack and Mrs Johnstone had fastened their seatbelts in the back of the car before they climbed in. The two police officers jumped in the front. Scott, the policeman was driving, while Kim turned and spoke to Jack trying to reassure him that he would be Ok. Jack now knew that there was a problem, he still hadn’t worked out what it was but whatever it was it was bad and it had something to do with him or his family. He started to cry, Mrs Johnstone hugged and hugged him; she didn’t know what else to do. It wasn’t her job to tell him that his little brother had been killed in a hit and run accident that should be the job of his mum and dad. Her thoughts turned to Jack’s mum ‘poor woman, she must be going through hell.’

As many will know we have 10 cats. They are all British Shorthairs, among the ten are three toms, one despite his large size is a little cowardly but the other two are large, confident, bold and personable cats.

Leo in hiding

Being cats they know how to manipulate their humans in order to gain food, attention and by and large anything else they want. All cats have these innate skills and have reached their position of power in households across the world by deploying these skills with great mental acuity. Numerous sayings have developed over the years from ‘Dogs have masters, cats have staff’ , “You can keep a dog; but it is the cat who keeps people, because cats find humans useful domestic animals,’ to Churchill’s famous ‘I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.’ But the coolness, control, superiority and decorum of our cats was visibly shattered this week. Other cat lovers confirm our findings that the cool, elegant and at times imperious nature of these creatures disappears when confronted by small humans.

This week we had two of our grandkids over, two children, one aged 16 mths and the other 5 yrs of age who proved to be too much for ten cats. Within five minutes not a cat was to be found, a whole battalion of mice could have wandered through the house, followed by flocks of budgerigars, sparrows and finches, flights of butterflies and flutters of moths. The offer of such bounty would not have brought the cats out of their various hidey-holes so long as the little people were present. Large male cats, even our overweight female queen ignored the whisker test and squeezed their bodies into holes that even the mice would have given some thought to before crawling through.

Cleanest, but maybe not the cleverest hiding spot

The stand down was maintained for a couple of hours; one cat thinking that the grandkids had left, carried out a brief scouting mission only to realise that the kids were in the back garden. He quickly turned about lowered his chest and stomach to the floor, halving his height, and skulked at pace back from whence he came.

Eventually, the kids went home and one by one the cats started to reappear and assert their authority once again. Order was once again restored and the cries for food, attention and anything else they wanted resumed as if nothing had happened.

Yes, the cat may well be superior to us, but perhaps only when we are at a stage where our minds have developed sufficiently for the cat to exercise control. Mini-people represent a challenge best left for mum. If mum, and it is a debatable point, can knock off the rough edges and provide the basic skillls the cat can then work on the rest. Until then, I’m afraid the little terrors (oops children) hold the upper hand.

Rhumtetum