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How went your day? Mine was good.
Following a very quiet shift at the bill paying job, my Aonghus treated me to a carvery. 2 for £10 voucher was about to expire so it had to be done. Thrifty treats are the best ;-)
I sat in on his return run and it was an eye-oener.
EYE not really being the operative word.
All the lovely Tabithas', Mabithas', Crawfords' and Giles' got on.
Most complied with the reminder to show their passes.
Some acted as if the request was to donate a kidney.
I assume they were studying drama through the medium of ham.
The ones not already silently earplugged into their mobiles as they entered the vehicle got them out immediately they sat down and began to text ... ...
The ones by me were texting the person they were sat next
Music lists were synched and downloaded, parents were discussed, and homework grumbled about. All via text.
That done, other people on the coach were texted.
They replied by yelling, "I just got your text." "I'm sending a
Mark shouts "Why? Send me the link"
NOT ONCE did any of them look up or make eye-contact.
So much has changed since MY 'On the buses' days,
Back in those days, we actively kept our eyes open for folks to sit by and verbally chat to. Sometimes for hours.
Or just stayed on high alert to avoid sitting next to the nutter.
Do you know, I was always lucky.
I usually had several empty seats around me for the entire journey
but, NOT ONCE did a nutter sit next to me ! ;-)
White Van Chronicles.
Bristol. Inner Shitty Bristol, to be accurate.
Money was tight when the developers took control of a 1956 era (read error) office block. They had decided to go for refurb instead of bulldoze and build. They were wrong.
I’d had the heating survey job and my quote was deliberately high, hoping that we wouldn’t get it but our new finance weasel moved a decimal point on the quote before sending it off and has thus ruined my last winter on the tools.
Recent revelations of my pending early retirement has allowed me to escape the confines of my part time desk duties and now I spend my days doing surveys and overseeing setups for among others, the now Journeyman, Goldfish and his labourer, Rhino. I thought Goldfish was big but Rhino is so large he is referenced as a geographical feature on Google Earth. He’s had offers of contracts from Bristol Rugby as well as Bristol Zoo.
A discussion ensued with the senior site manager about an asbestos hazard and after three cycles of his ‘no, it isn’t' to my ‘yes, it is’, my eyes began to cross. I decided to go for coffee.
I left my hat and hi-viz at the gate and wandered off into the Clifton district of Bristol. Just up from the BRI is a warren of run down pubs which perfectly accessorize the run down houses between them.
Syringes and small plastic bags in the alley entrances indicated that part of the local economy is an offshoot of the pharmaceutical trade and it cranked up my level of observation.
But among this dross of Zombie world, growing like roses out of a bed of human shit, are several small businesses which bring hope of a life beyond subsistence level for the locals. Cathy’s Cast Offs is a second hand dress shop which seems clean and bright and somehow emanates both, hope for the future and nostalgia of a gentler time with its window mannequins dressed in ‘60’s finery. It reminded me of Rod Stewart’s song, You Wear it Well. They have a flower box with real flowers in it and nobody has stuffed any fag butts in it. There just may be hope.
Further on is a Lebanese cafe which offers an amazing choice of baklava to go with its Arabic coffee as well as the cultural entertainment of trying decipher their menu laid out on a massive chalkboard on the wall behind the counter. Seven types of breads, and untold and unknown cheeses pique the imagination of even the most well travelled.
I entered, announced by the tinkling of a small bell above the door. It was my third visit in five days. As I stepped to the counter, the server smiled her usual smile and said;
‘Double Arabic Coffee and a walnut baklava?’
‘Ohhhh alright then...’ said I, crumbling.
‘You still near the BRI, Jeff?’ she said over her shoulder as she applied steam to the coffee grounds.
‘Yeah, still down there, Azul,’ I said, as I watched her magic show.
She turned and set my coffee on a small plastic tray next to a large, corner slice of walnut Baklava. Steam lifted off the surface of the coffee and honey dripped like sap from the sides of the pastry. My concentration was broken by her voice.
‘AZAR, my name is Azar, not Azul. It means Red,’ she scolded.
‘Ok, Red. Got it,’ I grinned.
I sat down at a small table with a view from the front window, already enjoying the event. I marvelled how the first sip removed all the bullshit from the building site and replaced it with congeniality.
I sighed and eased my boots around the table legs and felt better. The baklava was perfect and I achieved a personal best in making it last three bites. I nodded my head in appreciation of this vast achievement.
I watched the world, or at least a version of it, passing by the window. At ten-thirty, a different demographic inhabits the walk paths. Gone are the office workers and builders of the earlier hours rushing to work, and what you get is a mix of all kinds of people, not all betraying the purpose of their travels.
Students were easy enough to clock, as were grannies taking their treasures to day-care or to the shops. Still others walked by. I watched and only watched, not applying assumptions or speculations regarding their motives.
A woman in a full burka crossed the street from the other side and walked towards the cafe. I watched, noting a slight disapproval in myself at the sight and then analysing that to try and discover why I felt like that. I have never heard a reasonable explanation for wearing that garment but I reasoned that nor had I ever heard one for wearing a kilt.
I contemplated. Perhaps she is showing respect for her other half so only he/she may enjoy appreciating her form. Or perhaps she is forced to remove all sense of personal identity and is subjugated by her culture. Or maybe she is going to a traditional family gathering and is showing respect to her elders.... or perhaps I drink too much coffee...
I shifted the thought into my “ignore until totally bored” pile for future contemplations.
As she walked past the shop door, another woman in jeans and a puffer jacket passed her going in the opposite direction. I began to consider her and why she wore jeans and quickly came to the sexist conclusion that it was because they showed her ass off the best.
Burka turned and shouted something to Jeans and Jeans turned around. I sat fixed, quickly workting out the various possible imminent scenarios.
Jeans looked at Burka and showed bewilderment. Burka then removed the face panel and genuine smiles erupted from both of them as they hugged. Jeans hadn’t recognized Burka until she removed the face panel. Clearly they were old friends. They laughed and traded conversation for a few minutes, swapping phone details before going off in opposite directions.
I had just a few sips left of my coffee and I thought about traditional dress. It must be nice to just wear your kilt or your robes and leave others to misjudge and misconstrue your beliefs, values and your appreciation and respect for your forbearers all based on your choice of clothing.
Now, where could I source a Sergeant’s dress uniform for the Army of Northern Virginia?
Every once in a while someone wants to place a hyperlink into a comment on an article or a blog and notices that they can't. SocialGo doesn't make this easy. In the main article dialgue there is a button (the chain link) in the menu at the top. But in comments that menu is not available.
It can be done. The image below is an example. It's a link I just posted directing to another blog here on the cloud; but it could be anywhere. In between the quotes you put the full web address - just copy it from the address bar at the top of your browser. The word "Link" is what I chose to have displayed for the link. That turns into a hand when you hover the cursor over it. The rest is recognised as HTML code by the site and causes it to become a hyperlink.
Although it's wrapped around in my image that is one continuous string of text. I have used an image because if I typed it in, then the site would start executing the codey bits and not display them.
I hope folk may find this useful. OK; back on my head.
That title is gratuitous and not really accurate, but I couldn’t resist. More of that in a moment. Another early morning drinking coffee and looking out into the darkness with our friends at the BBC. iPM strikes again. Recently I posted a blog pointing out the broadcast of two interviews with the wife and husband of a marriage in which the husband had conducted a long term affair with a woman. I posted it really as a demonstration of seeing things from different points of view, but the responses to the blog proved fascinating and, as blogs do here, developed a life of their own. Not long after, a relationship therapist discussed the interviews on the same programme. Gerry spotted this and kindly pointed out the link.
The story continues. A mistress, not “the” mistress, has put herself forward to be interviewed. I heard it this morning. Fascinating stuff.
First, the title of this blog. It is pure indulgence. I doubt very much that either of the “mistresses” is anything close to a slag. They don’t sound like it to me. Secondly, the term “Fat Slag” was applied to the first mistress by the “betrayed” wife, it was an insult from an embittered person and should be understood as such. Finally I have my doubts that either person is actually fat. Body image is complex, I know more than one person who thinks they are fat when they are not. The reverse applies, in my view, they are quite normal and healthy. Finally, the title is not accurate either. The Empire Strikes Back is episode 5. Episode 4 is a new hope. Well this is episode 4. So, shall I keep the title, shall I? Of course I will. Never let the truth spoil a good title …. Whatever.
The lady mentions this Fat slag aspect, remarking that she is overweight herself, but thought that a reference to the Vis characters was probably unfair, as do I. Obviously this is radio, but I doubt it all. She didn’t sound fat. She didn’t “feel” skinny, but no. My image is “normal”. Certainly not a slag either.
Anyway, a précis. This “mistress” began an affair with a man in a loveless (read sexless) marriage, she knew he was married from the outset. It lasted for eight months. Then he had the guilts and fessed up to his wife. After a negotiating interregnum the wife persuaded him to stay, she went nuclear and cried is how I see it. A further interval and he’s back and soon they are at it again. This time it lasts for five years. The “mistress” has now ended it.
Now, these two illicit lovers seem to be hand and glove. Made for each other. A lot of common interests (see below), intellectual equals and a healthy interest in a good sex life. I wonder though if the nature of the relationship allowed it to be so. If the “mistress” had felt compelled to iron his shirts and press his trousers if they would have gotten along quite so well. Apparently he was always smart, "well looked after".
“She was a tidy wife; sex is messy.” What a line, but she beat me to it.
OK, ancillary data. The lady is a writer – of erotic fiction – and the man was, or became, her agent. They met on an online forum. Ooer, thought I. Did my blog alert her to this, is this a Cloudey. She sounded smart and interesting, just the type of person that should write and that does well on here. But no, or at least probably no. The forum on which they met is dedicated to spanking. It seems along with discussing Nietzsche, visiting museums, galleries and vigorous sex they shared an interest in spanking. They met on a spanking forum. I feel so sheltered and ill-informed; if I live to be a hundred and stay sharp I still won’t have met nearly enough people or heard nearly enough stories.
This lady is an active writer still and if she is a member of this forum: marvellous! What a story – change the names and write it.
I think they were happy. But I wonder, as I said, if they would have been as happy in any other relationship than an affair. She said she gave him a peaceful, easy feeling - and they (the BBC) played the Eagles at some point. I was smiling at the end.
The link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b087ttn5
This is clearly going to run. What next, I wonder.
Even in the small hours of this September morning in 1913 there is no lack of activity at Carlisle Citadel station. One of the busiest stations in Britain, it is used by six major railway companies, and is the staging point where Anglo-Scottish expresses are handed over from the Scottish companies to the English ones and vice versa.
Two sleeper expresses have arrived from the North and are being handed over to the Midland Railway to be taken on to St Pancras, one from Glasgow over the Glasgow and South Western Railway, and another from Edinburgh over the North British. Both will be going over the famous Settle and Carlisle line, where three years ago the Hawes Junction accident occurred.
The Glasgow train is due out first, at 1.35. When Driver William Nicholson backs his engine onto the train to couple up, the platform inspector tells him that he has 243 tons behind his tender. Even though Nicholson’s engine is in the highest of the Midland Railway’s power classes, Class 4, this is 13 tons more than it is supposed to take unassisted up to Ais Gill summit. He asks for an assisting engine, but none is available.
Nicholson knows that finding another engine will take more time than he’s likely to lose with the big train, and that no one will blame him if he runs a little late with an overloaded locomotive, so he accepts the situation. He has taken heavier trains than this with a Class 4 engine unassisted up to Ais Gill before. His real concern is about the coal in his engine’s tender.
Enginemen at the Midland’s Carlisle depot have been making many complaints about the coal that has been supplied recently. It comes in small lumps, with plenty of dust mixed in. Steam locomotives perform best with large lumps of coal, preferably about the size of a man’s fist. Small lumps burn through too quickly, and you can’t build a good thick fire with them. The smallest pieces and the dust get blasted straight up the chimney without burning at all. Worse, small coal can clog up the fire-grate, restricting air access to the fire. All these factors reduce the heat of the fire and therefore its ability to produce the steam the engine needs. Only a couple of nights ago a train came to a dead stand on the way up to Ais Gill for want of steam.
The train leaves Carlisle at 1.38, three minutes late. For the first thirty miles or so the going is easy, but when the train hits the long climb up to Ais Gill and the hard work begins Driver Nicholson and his fireman, James Metcalf, are soon in trouble. Metcalf does his best, and Nicholson takes a turn with the shovel too, but despite their efforts steam pressure in the boiler begins to drop. By the time they reach Mallerstang signal-box, about three-and-a-half miles from the summit, the engine can only manage about 20mph, and the boiler pressure is still falling. And now fate deals another bad card to the struggling enginemen.
Because the train’s vacuum brakes are designed to fail safe, air has to be continually evacuated from the braking system to make good the inevitable small leakages and keep the brakes off. This is done by a device called an ejector, which is worked by steam from the boiler. The boiler pressure is now so low that the ejector cannot work properly, and soon after passing Mallerstang the brakes begin to rub on the wheels, slowing the train more and more until it comes to a standstill, half a mile below Ais Gill summit and less than three miles from the site of the Hawes Junction accident.
The regulator is wide open but the train will move no further. There is nothing for it but to have a blow-up, as engineman call it: rake out and build up the fire and wait for the boiler pressure to rise. Three o’clock in the morning out in the wilderness of the high fells is not a good time or place to be stranded even temporarily, but although they are stuck on the main line no one is anticipating any danger. All the Mallerstang signals will have been reset behind them, and it’s a clear night with no mist or rain to reduce visibility.
Meanwhile the Edinburgh train has left Carlisle at 1.54, sixteen minutes behind the Glasgow train, in charge of Driver Samuel Caudle and Fireman George Follows. Caudle’s opinion of the coal in their tender is no higher than Nicholson’s. He reckons that if his engine will steam on this stuff it’ll steam on anything and, sure enough, as they start the climb the boiler pressure begins to fall. But the train is much lighter than the Glasgow train, well within the capabilities of their locomotive, and the situation is not worrying enough to deflect Caudle from his habit of having a little in-journey maintenance session.
As the train approaches Kirklees Tunnel, near Mallerstang, he takes his oilcan and leaves the cab to walk around the outside of the engine on the footplate to do a spot of oiling while the train is running. This procedure, well-nigh incredible as it will seem a century or so later, was normal practice in Victorian times, and though recent improvements in lubrication techniques have made it unnecessary many older drivers like Sam Caudle still do it out of habit and pride in the job. He doesn’t think it’s dangerous, so long as you hold on and don’t do anything silly.
Caudle expects to be back in the cab in time to see the Mallerstang distant signal, but the wind is stronger than he thought and he has to take extra care. He is still out there when the signal comes into sight. Giving it a glance, he sees it at clear. Or so he thinks.
Distant signals are the ones with the yellow arms, and even when they are ‘on’, as enginemen always call it, you don’t have to stop at them. But you must slow down, because that ‘on’ indication means that the red home signal further along the line is also ‘on,’ and there you do have to stop.
So Caudle sees nothing to worry about, but he’ll have another look when he gets back to the cab, just to make sure.
But in the cab an emergency is waiting for him. The boiler water is out of sight in the bottom of the gauge glass and Fireman Follows is struggling with the injectors that feed the water into the boiler. Injectors, like the vacuum brake ejector, are worked by steam from the boiler, and they can be temperamental things. One is running slow because of the reduced boiler pressure and the other has stopped working entirely. This is potentially a matter of life or death, quite literally.
The fire of a hard-working locomotive burns almost at white heat, and all that stops the furnace, or the inner firebox as it is called, from melting is the water that surrounds it and conducts the heat away. If the water level falls below the crown sheet of the firebox, in a very few minutes it will soften and rupture explosively, filling the cab with a lethal mixture of steam and scalding water shot out at boiler pressure. It is vital to get that injector working, and Caudle immediately devotes all his attention to the task. He eventually has it running again, but he has been so engrossed that by the time he looks out of the cab the train has gone right past Mallerstang signal-box, and he has missed all the signals.
Caudle realises this, but he’s not overly worried. If the distant signal was at clear, that means the other signals will have been clear too. He knows he should slow right down and proceed with caution until he can make sure of the next signal, but the increasing gradient and the low boiler pressure have already reduced the speed to under 30mph and it’s still falling, so he leaves the controls where they are and concentrates on supervising Follows’ struggle with the fire, making sure he puts each shovelful in the best place.
Further up the line on the stalled train, Fireman Metcalf has just got down from the engine to walk the half-mile up to Ais Gill signal-box to warn the signalman that they have had to stop for steam when Driver Nicholson looks back down the line and sees a light in the distance. He recognises it at once as the glare from the chimney of an engine coming up the bank behind them, working hard. Shouting at Metcalf to run back down the line to try and stop it, he tries to start his own train, but there is still not enough steam pressure and it won’t move. All he can do is sound the whistle in the hope of alerting the crew of the approaching train.
At the back of the train Guard Oliver Whitley has heard the other train coming, and he runs back blowing his whistle and waving a red lantern, but he has only time to get about a hundred yards down the line before the train passes him, still steaming.
On the Edinburgh train Fireman Follows has taken a break from firing and looked out ahead. At first he can see nothing, but as soon as his eyes have adjusted from the glare of the firebox to the darkness of the night he sees two red lights. For a moment he thinks they are the lights of the Mallerstang signals at danger. He has just blown the whistle when he spots a third red light, and this one is moving. It’s a red lantern being waved, and the other lights are the tail-lights of a train, very close. He yells ‘Look out, Sam, there’s a red light in front of us!’ Caudle immediately shuts off steam and puts the brakes on, but it’s far too late. His train hardly slows at all before it crashes into the back of the stalled Glasgow train.
Fourteen people were killed, and two more died later in hospital.
‘I never expected that any train would be standing in the block section [on the line between two signals],’ Driver Caudle said at the enquiry. A dangerous assumption to make at the best of times, it was all the more so for being based entirely on his glance at the Mallerstang distant signal while he was out oiling the engine. A hasty glance that gave him the wrong answer. That signal wasn’t ‘off’ at all: it was ‘on,’ because the signalman had correctly restored all his signals to danger after Nicholson’s train passed. Caudle then compounded his mistake by allowing his worries about the injector and the fire to divert his attention entirely from the driver’s primary responsibility of observing the signals and ensuring that the line ahead is clear.
And his complacency led to a woeful lack of observation and caution. He didn’t see the Mallerstang signals, nor the red lamp the signalman waved from his window when he realised Caudle’s train wasn’t going to stop at the signals. He didn’t slow down even after he knew he’d missed those signals. He didn’t hear Driver Nicholson’s whistle. It was his fireman who alerted him to Guard Whitley’s red lantern.
Although the bad coal and the overloaded locomotive played their parts, the enquiry held Driver Caudle principally to blame for the accident. Nevertheless it was a terrible blow to the prestige of the Midland Railway, coming as it did so close in time and space to the Hawes Junction collision. It was all the more galling to the management because all the effort and expense it had put into implementing the recommendations of the enquiry into the previous accident couldn’t have prevented this one.
What might have prevented it was some means of giving the enginemen a warning in the cab when they passed a signal at danger, but the only British railway to have installed such a system at that time was the Great Western, and it was still at an experimental stage. The Great Western went on to install it system-wide, but over half a century would pass before cab signalling became widely applied elsewhere in Britain.
For enginemen, Ais Gill was an object warning of the dangers of not keeping a good look-out, and of forgetting that the unexpected can happen at any time.
Apologies in advance, but this is a bit of a begging letter. The world is currently marking the centenary of the First World War, and 2017 is supposed to be the 'Year of the Royal Navy'. Yet in both of those landmark events, we could end up with one of only three surviving WW1 ships of the Royal Navy scrapped.
You may not have heard of HMS President, but if you've ever been to London, you've probably walked right past her. Here's my blog on why she deserves to be saved, and how she came by her rather un-British name.
Once upon a time there were two snails, Sheldon and his wife,
Sheldon decided he wanted to keep fit and told Michelle he was going to take up jogging.
She rolled her eyes at him.
He caught them and rolled them back to her.
She blew the dust off, stuck them back on her little antennae
and the signal retuned to BBC1.
"You? keep fit? I should like to see that." She laughed.
They made him look a bit like a conker case, however, so he brushed them off and made do with a well timed hair flick.
He assessed the situation and tried to run as Michelle looked
*There was another obvious meaning here, but I edited myself ;-)
It was no good. His shell was too heavy for running.
He tried standing up but each time he tried, his shell pulled him over backwards.
By the fourth attempt Michelle was laughing so hard, little silvery trails were leaking out.
Sheldon was determined. He finally came out of his shell, pulled
himself up and ...
ZOOOOMM ! He sped off into the distance.
Two hours later he reappeared, no longer upright.
He dragged himself over to Michelle and gasped;
"There, I did it. How fit do I look now?"
Michelle pondered for a minute or two.
She then got out of the pond and replied;
"To be perfectly honest, Sheldon, you don't look fit at all.
Without your shiny shell, You just look sluggish."
First of all, the warning... Coarse language, punctuation, spelling and lots of incoherent thoughts follow:
No apologies... none... they're bullshit and we all know that. They are rarely issued in sincerity and even rarer, (more rarely?) accepted in honesty. They are usually false currency proffered and taken in respect to the bystanders rather than the protagonists.
So to the Thank You's .... there are many. and they are indeed sincerely issued and it is not something I am either good at or accustomed to.
Firstly, to thank Skylark. For the blog, which started in reference to tone and seemed to me to shift into a statement/rant by the third paragraph. What you showed me, albiet in deep retrospect, is that I need to follow primary messages better and not side track into the examples rather than the intentions. But even then, are there any safe examples where we can go? Dunno. It is a minefield. Even Michael McIntyre can piss people off.
I learned from that one. Don't think I will be recommending Mein Kampf for a Her-indoors' German reading class.
Nextly, I 'd like to thank those multitudes who came enraged, to my side, offering counsel, and debating the issues on the pages, visible and otherwise. Further humbling is that many of you don't agree much at all with most of my philosphies except the one about when all else fails, laugh and walk away... Sometimes, I feel in a minority here and it was an incredible and unique experiece and brought physical emotions from me when I read the pages here and the messages, first and second hand from you all... I will not soon forget.
And now the Neutrals... BDC (JD), JB, Whisks, et al, You lot added reason, humour and common sense in an insane arguement. You should be running the planet.
And nexly, to my worthy and honourable Members of the Opposition. You moved me. I actually gave a shit about something. You enraged me. You raised and heated my blood more that a whole slab of Viagra, (but not in the literal sense) ... Can't remember feeling so alive. Couldn't type fast enough to reply to it all. I actually wondered if you lot were spinning my wheels or sincere in you words.
And then, in retrospect, I pondered your lives and how you arrived as such conclusions and beliefs. I had to remove the usual pub answer when I hear things so impossibly opposite to my own experieces becasue unlike the psychos in the pub, you lot are educated and intelligent and not just funtional morons.
I have read tactical analysis regarding combat aircraft from one of you on your own blog and it was faultless.... another of you inspired me with your story of memories being tangible items and I have written several stories based on that concept including a blog about an elderly blind lady at the seaside, Can't You Sea.
So I had to wonder how you, otherwise smart, intelligent people, came to such conclusions and moreso, how you have managed to stay alive tracking such a liberal path.
And so, a challenge....Neither side of the issues managed to convince the unconvinced of the merit of their points. Neither side had the words. It didnt happen.
Yet, the passions and convictions remain.
I will shortly open a group. I will openly invite anyone who posted on that blog. Or hid behind someone who did....
And I want to take suggestions from you lot for a reading list. Your chance to change my views on something. I wil pick one of the suggestions and read it and discuss, question, but not debate or argue the points made with any member of the group.
If someone thinks I need enlightenment on say Feminist Ideology then suggest perhaps Simone That-French-Bird and I will read (again) it and we will discuss such.Your words didn't work so find me better ones...
But two rules, the books for me have to be relevant, not Idiot's Guide to Self Harming or a book of Suicide Note Templates.... I am offering you all a chance to Educate Prop....
But in return, I will offer a title to you so you may perhaps learn a little bit about the Dark side....
'They would beat us, kick us, ... we never got decent food... our kit was shit... but every now and then, some shitstorm would happen somewhere and they'd let us off the lead.... yeah... that's what I miss.....'
If this works, we can exercise our passions and remove some of the pains and hopefully reach across our respective sand bags...
I've just stumbled across this site which displays some of the most interesting personal ads I've ever read.
They become especially interesting when you scroll down to read the "personal information" section at the very bottom.
There must be a story or two in these...