Remembrance of William Robertson Davies – 28, August 1913 – 2, December 1995.

The Deptford Trilogy.The Deptford Trilogy – Robertson Davies

Fifth Business.
The Manticore.
World of Wonders.

From the first page of the first book in the trilogy:

My lifelong involvement with Mrs. Dempster began at 8 o’clock p.m. on the 27th of December, 1908, at which time I was ten years and seven months old.
…………I had a boy’s sense of when a snowball was coming, and I knew Percy. I was sure that he would try to land one last, insulting snowball between my shoulders before I ducked into our house. I stepped briskly – not running, but not dawdling – in front of the Dempsters just as Percy threw, and the snowball hit Mrs. Dempster on the back of the head. She gave a cry and, clinging to her husband, slipped to the ground; he might have caught her if he had not turned at once to see who had thrown the snowball.

The consequences of this simple act of throwing a snowball, had a profound effect on the lives of several of the books characters. Culminating in the disclosure of a secret which has twisted its way through all three books; especially as the snowball had enclosed a hidden stone.

William Robertson Davies:
A playwright, critic, journalist, and professor who died on this day in 1995 aged 82;  having received during his lifetime honorary degrees from 26 American, Canadian, and British universities.

“Be sure you choose what you believe and know why you believe it, because if you don’t choose your beliefs, you may be certain that some belief, and probably not a very credible one, will choose you.” ~ Robertson Davies.

“Money, it is often said, does not bring happiness; it must be added, however, that it makes it possible to support unhappiness with exemplary fortitude.” ~ Robertson Davies.


Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden.

Joseph BoydenAmazon link.

The moving story of two Cree Indians from Moose Factory Canada: who became snipers in the Great War.
An intense description of trench war interspersed with an account of what it was like being Indians, forcibly taken as children, from their families. Then ‘educated’ as Canadians with knowledge of their own ways and language forcefully eradicated.

“Taking the Three Day Road”, a traditional Cree reference to dying, is given a new meaning by the narrative of Niska, an aunt to one of the men. She escaped from the education system and carried on her life as an Oji-Cree medicine woman, but is now trying to bring one of the two home on his return from the front. He is physically and mentally wounded by his experiences; she is determined to save him.

In Remembrance of the Great War:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae, May 1915

On this 200th anniversary.

Last noon beheld them full of lusty life,
Last eve in Beauty’s circle proudly gay,
The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
The morn the marshalling in arms, the day
Battle’s magnificently-stern array!
The thunder-clouds close o’er it, which when rent
The earth is covered thick with other clay
Which her own clay shall cover, heaped and pent,
Rider and horse,—friend, foe,—in one red burial blent!


by: Lord Byron (1788-1824)

Magna Carta Libertatum (1215).

English Common Law –

The right to a trial by jury, habeas corpus, and the right against self-incrimination. By contrast, France and many other nations have a system based on Roman Law, commonly known as Napoleonic.

We have it because of the following three sections (38,39 & 40) of Magna Carta, maintained through revisions made in 1225 & 1297:

Nullus ballivus ponat decetero aliquem ad legem simplici loquela sua, sine testibus fidelibus ad hoc inductis.

 Nullus liber homo capiatur, vel imprisonetur, aut disseisiatur, aut utlagetur, aut exuletur, aut aliquo modo destruatur, nec super eum ibimus, nec super eum mittemus, nisi per legale judicium parium suorum vel per legem terre.

 Nulli vendemus, nulli negabimus, aut differemus rectum aut justiciam.

Runnymede: 15 June 1215.

It has been described as:
“the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot”

The implications of this are that in common law countries  – people tend to act until the law says they cannot; while in civil law countries  – people tend to wait for the state to tell them whether they can act and, if so, how.

The original charter does not have numbered sections, it was a single, long unbroken text. Numbered sections; 63 in all, were introduced by Sir William Blackstone in 1759.

See link for text in both Latin & English: Documents/Magna_Carta.html

My Billingham 335 camera bag.

Bag - Billingham 335One of the original Billingham series 335 camera bags.

My camera bag has jumped up & down asking for its picture to be taken 🙂

This bag is at least 28 years old and still going strong – other than a little leather cream and brushing dirt away, it has not needed and still does not need any repairs: maybe the brass needs a clean but that’s probably going a bit far !

One of the best investments I have ever made; it will probably see me out.

They are rather expensive as camera bags go, but as the saying indicates “you get what you pay for” and with 28 years of use, it is the cheapest bag I have ever owned.
It has seen rain, snow, sandstorms and been in & out of more Land rovers than I care to remember, planes & at least one Helicopter (never a nice experience at the best of times) with all my gear safe & sound.

There…… now maybe it will shut-up & just go back to being a silent container for my precious camera gear.

P.S no velcro or plastic (one makes a noise & the other goes brittle in the sun!) both of which are almost de rigueur on things today.


Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.

But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

“To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others” 



“England is not the jewelled isle of Shakespeare’s much-quoted message, nor is it the inferno depicted by Dr Goebbels. More than either it resembles a family, a rather stuffy Victorian family, with not many black sheep in it but with all its cupboards bursting with skeletons. It has rich relations who have to be kow-towed to and poor relations who are horribly sat upon, and there is a deep conspiracy of silence about the source of the family income. It is a family in which the young are generally thwarted and most of the power is in the hands of irresponsible uncles and bedridden aunts. Still, it is a family. It has its private language and its common memories, and at the approach of an enemy it closes its ranks. A family with the wrong members in control – that, perhaps is as near as one can come to describing England in a phrase.”
George Orwell: Why I Write.

Getting old.

Be warned – this is a rant about constantly hearing how bad those of us who are, shall we say ‘more experienced in years’  messed-up the world.

It wasn’t me – Honest Gov.

I cannot attribute this because I have no idea where I got it from – so if anyone takes exception please let me know & I will take it down.

At a store checkout, the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she should bring her own shopping bags in future because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.
The woman apologised and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”
The cashier responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”
She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day. Back then, we returned milk bottles, pop bottles and beer bottles to the shop.
The shop sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilised and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.
We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got blunt.
But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every shop and office building. We walked to the shop and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two streets.
But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby’s nappies because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 2200watts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
But that young lady is right. We didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the county of Yorkshire.
In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the post, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not polystyrene or plastic bubble wrap.
Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she’s right. We didn’t have the green thing back then.
We drank water from a fountain or a tap when we were thirsty instead of demanding a plastic bottle of overpriced water flown in from another country. We accepted that a lot of food was seasonal and didn’t expect to have out of season products flown thousands of air miles around the world. We actually cooked food that didn’t come out of a packet, tin or plastic wrapping and we could even wash our own vegetables and chop our own salad.
But we didn’t have the green thing back then.
Back then, people caught a train or a bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mothers into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical socket in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerised gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza place.
But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we oldies were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?
Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart-ass young person.
Remember: Don’t make old people mad. We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off…

“Their Finest Hour” – Sir Winston Churchill.


Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, DL, FRS, RA (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965)

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their Finest Hour.’

       —House of Commons, 18 June 1940, following the collapse of France. Many thought Britain would follow.


The remembrance of history changes: once in a while it is worth re-setting the clock!

30th January 1965.

At the time, Churchill’s funeral was the largest state funeral in world history, with representatives from 112 nations.

Seasons Greetings.

I wish everyone seasons greetings and especially – A Happy New Year – thank you all for visiting.

I am now going to take my usual twice yearly departure from the world: avoid all contact with news, computers and work (never a complete success, but one can hope   🙂   ) see you in 2015 !

Remember ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ ? (some of you must be old enough……) I remember watching it in the cinema and thinking how far in the future that date was.

It has now long gone and here we are approaching 2015, how the world has changed; I am not sure I can honestly say for the good. We have all this new technology, but that has given us such things as ‘rolling news’ when disaster became entertainment (don’t even think about the video game approach when reporting war) it has trivialised death.

So, once in a while I escape and reset my equilibrium; it helps me view the world with less pessimism  (a pessimist is only an optimist with experience) so hope for me yet.

On a brighter note – with luck WordPress will have stopped all these changes that have bedevilled us and we will have a change free year (I see four-legged pink things flying by and it’s not the Guinness!) we can but hope.

I think I will take my copy of 2001 with me on the plane and wonder, what will happen when we eventually find a real TMA.1. that should put the cat among the pigeons…… 

Rosetta’s lander Philae.

Rosetta’s lander Philae has landed on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Philae_s_primary_landing_site_mosaicPhilae’s primary landing site mosaic.

On 6 August 2014, the Rosetta mission achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first mission to rendezvous with a comet. During the coming months, Rosetta will orbit the comet, deploy the Philae lander and accompany the comet through perihelion (August 2015) until the nominal end of the mission. During its 10 year journey towards comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the spacecraft has passed by two asteroids: 2867 Steins (in 2008) and 21 Lutetia (in 2010). The spacecraft entered deep-space hibernation mode in June 2011, and ‘woke up’ on 20 January 2014.

Journey milestones:
1st Earth gravity assist: 4 March 2005
Mars gravity assist: 25 February 2007
2nd Earth gravity assist: 13 November 2007
Asteroid Steins flyby: 5 September 2008
3rd Earth gravity assist: 13 November 2009
Asteroid Lutetia flyby: 10 July 2010
Enter deep space hibernation: 8 June 2011
Exit deep space hibernation: 20 January 2014
Comet rendezvous manoeuvres: May – August 2014
Arrival at comet: 6 August 2014
Philae lander delivery: November 2014
Closest approach to Sun: 13 August 2015

rolis_web_img5The comet seen by Philae from 40 metres above the surface. ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR

Touchdown was confirmed at ESA’s Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany at 16:03 GMT/17:03 CET on 12 November. Studying the first data returned from the lander, revealed the astonishing conclusion that the lander did not just touch down on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko once, but three times.

ESA_Rosetta_OSIRIS_FirstTouchdown-1024x702The mosaic comprises a series of images captured by Rosetta’s OSIRIS camera over a 30 minute period spanning the first touchdown. The time of each of image is marked on the corresponding insets and is in GMT. A comparison of the touchdown area shortly before and after first contact with the surface is also provided.

The images were taken with Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera when the spacecraft was 17.5 km from the comet centre, or roughly 15.5 km from the surface. They have a resolution of 28 cm/pixel and the enlarged inserts are 17 x 17 m.

Above images and information obtained from ESA web site.

A fantastic achievement: I wonder what discoveries are going to be made in the coming months ?

This is as important as watching the first moon landings. I still have lots of news clippings & magazine articles, not to mention that famous Earth image. I could never have believed that a mission landing an object on a comet would be achieved in my lifetime. Moore’s Law has a lot to answer for  🙂

5 November 1605.

 From a transcript of the: Examination of Jhon Jhonsone (sic), 5 November 1605.

And confesseth that when the king hadd come to the parliament house this present day, and the upper house hadd bene sitting, he meant to have fored the match and have fledd for his owin safety before the Powder had taken fier, And confesseth that if he had not ben apprehended this last night, he hadd blowen upp the upper house, when the King, Lords, Bishops and others hadd ben there………

The attempted removal of James I of England VI of Scotland and his whole parliament, by blowing them up on the eve of the state opening of the second session of James’s first English Parliament.

14th October 1066.

Senlac hill – the morning of the 14th October 1066.

The last uninvited army in England

“My son,” said the Norman Baron, “I am dying, and you will be heir
To all the broad acres in England that William gave me for share
When he conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little handful it is.
But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:–

“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.

From: Norman & Saxon by Rudyard Kipling.


“Listen: this story’s one you ought to know,
You’ll reap the consequence of what you sow.
This fleeting world is not the world where we
Are destined to abide eternally:
And for the sake of an unworthy throne
You let the devil claim you for his own.
I’ve few days left here, I’ve no heart for war,
I cannot strive and struggle any more,
But hear an old man’s words: the heart that’s freed
From gnawing passion and ambitious greed
Looks on kings’ treasures and the dust as one……..”

Abolqasem Ferdowsi, Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings

That’s how the light gets in.

The birds they sang
At the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
Has passed away
Or what is yet to be

Ah the wars they will
Be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
Bought and sold
And bought again
The dove is never free

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

Leonard Cohen.