Saturday, 12 October 2013

Furniture and Football and Foolishness.

The Saturday edition of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune newspaper is hardly worth buying (by a person of my age and circumstances).

For it is always dominated by (a)  reports of local High School (American) Football games, and by (b)  all too many advertisements for  furniture. (I'll warrant that this is also the case for many other local 'papers).

I can "live with this"  so to speak, but it raises a couple of questions.

First:  Do American people develop a lust for new furniture each weekend?

Second:  Why is furniture (and beds/ mattresses)   always on SALE?  (i.e., why do these items never have a fixed and advertised price?)  

The answer lies deep in the nature of capitalism (hee hee), and in the mythical "free market",  and in P.T. Barnum's observation about "suckers".

Capitalism attracts so many suckers: especially the Republicans for whom the so-called free market  is more potent than the free grace of God in Jesus Christ.

I should of course also criticize Democrats. But it is the Republicans who are at present "hoisting the free market and less government" flag as if it were the teaching  of Jesus.


Of course my American capitalist/republican/tea party friends are free to write me off as a romantic socialist , rather than as a Christian who tries to be faithful to the teachings of the bible.

But I will always take the teachings of  the bible (with regard to justice) over and against the suckers of the current  *Republican ideology/idiocy.

*Name it and shame it!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Don't worry - you probably do not have Altzheimer's disease.

Folks of my generation (early baby boomers)  sometimes make mistakes regarding engagements and appointments.

For instance -  I thought that I was to have lunch with my friends Barbara and Kay on Thursday, and with my friend Muriel today.

Turns out that it was the other way round -  i.e.  Thursday with Muriel, and today with B and K.

In the event I was alerted to my mistaken thoughts because Muriel telephoned to confirm our Thursday arrangement.

Was my mistake  a sign of Alzheimer's Disease? 

Stuff and nonsense!  It was no more or less than an indication that in retirement I check my calendar less often than when I was working  and in the midst of things.

IN A SIMILAR VEIN -  I had written in my calendar that the Sarasota "Pride" Festival was on Oct 12th.  I had promised to staff the St. Boniface Church (Sarasota) booth between noon and 2:00.p.m.

As I "talked this up" with my lesbian and gay pals I was shocked to discover  that they had heard nothing about a Pridefest on Oct 12th.

With that in mind I did a web search and discovered that the 2013 Sarasota Pridefest is on Oct 19th, not Oct 12th.

Was my mistake  also a  sign of Alzheimer's Disease?   

Stuff and nonsense!  It was no more or less than an indication  that it is all too easy to make typing errors -  e.g. 12th instead of 19th.

Many of us made these same errors in the days of "Selectric" typewriters.


HERE ARE MY TWO "anecdotal" points.

1. When we were young we often forgot the dates and times of events, but we did not panic about this: - we simply relied on the memories of our nearest and dearest family members and friends.

2. Every single person I have known who developed "full-blown" Alzheimer's Disease had been extremely "vague around the edges" in their fifties and sixties.


Hugsfromjmp.  All is well!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Lunch with M.Q. (or RICE PUDDING)

M-riel Qu-nn and I attend and serve in the same Episcopal parish here in Sarasota.

 We are about the same age and come from similar backgrounds in England , she in Oldham, Lancashire and I in Bristol.

I always enjoy being with her.  So we hung out together for lunch today at an Indian Restaurant up at the fast growing University Parkway/Interstate 75/Lakewood Ranch area.

This is where retail centre of gravity for Sarasota and Manatee Counties is moving.

"Indian Food"  - what a strange concept, since there are so many regional foods in the Indian sub-continent  which cannot be summed up in just  two words.

Nonetheless  M.Q. and I were at an "Indian Restaurant" for a lunch time buffet.

The food was good, but not great.  That seems to be typical of such luncheon buffets where the spices and curries are somewhat muted.  (I experienced the same at an Indian Restaurant in Davis Square, Somerville, MA.)

M.Q. and I were satisfied enough with this "modified Indian Food".  More importantly we enjoyed each others company, and got "caught up" with news and gossip.

There was but one offering for dessert.

  If  you've had a buffet lunch at an Indian Restaurant you'll already know what it was.

Yes indeed  -   cold rice pudding -  and very good it was.

As we ate  M.Q. and I indulged in our memories of "Rice Pud" when we grew up.  In my home it was a frequent "afters" offering on Sundays after "Sunday Dinner" at about 12:30 or 1:00 p.m. The same was true in M.Q's home.

We agreed of  course,  that without doubt English rice pudding is

resistant to any and all criticisms,

hailed by the world's greatest chefs,

admired by the French, 

envied by the Scots

 and  without par in the Universe.  (Of course you already knew that).

You see, the secret of English home-made rice pudding was that the milk was not homogenized. So as the pudding was cooking,  the cream rose to the top, where it formed a delicious and tasty "crust", the like of which is unknown in the "New World"

It looked a bit like this.


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Hard times come again no more.

Forgive the parochial nature of  this post..  I am British by birth and an American citizen, so whilst I am perfectly aware of the hard times in many countries, I write this from and for an Anglo-American perspective. 

In the light of the ghastly and dangerous stand-off  in the American House of Representatives , I have had the chorus of one of Stephen Foster's songs on my mind all day. They go like this:

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more.

Foster, who himself knew many hard times,  penned these words in in 1854, less than a decade before the American Civil War (or whatever you chose to call it)  when hard times were visited upon hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Thanks to the perfidy of conservative politicians, and the recklessness of bankers and financiers, and the short sighted policies of business leaders and investors  the hard times are being yet again imposed upon the working poor and the working middle classes in in Great Britain and in  the U.S.A.


1. The very poor never expected anything better.

2. The working poor hoped that their hard work would bring some measure of  economic security.

3. The lower middle classes had high hopes of fairly comfortable lives and peaceful retirements.

Each of these groups have been victimized by the typical conservative parties ( Republicans and Tea party members in the U.S.A., and  Tory and Liberal Democratic parties in the U.K.).

Each of these groups have been betrayed by the so-called left wing or liberal parties (Democratic Party in the U.S.A. and Labour Party in the U.K.)

Hard times come again no more?  Fuggetit.  They are with us even now.
Stephen Foster's words are a powerful lament for our own times:

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more.

In my own powerlessness I sing this lament for the poor in every place.  jmp
A.  Wikipedia will be a useful source for British people etc. who know very little about Stephen Foster, even as they are familiar with some of his songs: "Old Folks At Home", "Beautiful Dreamer" , "Jeannie with the light brown hair",  "O Susanna".
B.  You Tube has a number of renditions of "Hard Times". 
One, by Thomas Hanson is a restrained and poignant version.

Another, by Emmy Lou Harris expresses all the passion of the song.

If these links fail please do a You Tube search for "Hard Times Come Again More"  where you will find both the Emmy Lou Harris and Thomas Hanson versions.
C.   Here are the words.
Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh hard times come again no more.

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more.

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,
There are frail forms fainting at the door;
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh hard times come again no more.


There's a pale drooping maiden who toils her life away,
With a worn heart whose better days are o'er:
Though her voice would be merry, 'tis sighing all the day,
Oh hard times come again no more.


Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,
Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
Oh hard times come again no more.


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A night off

I have been posting to this blog since 2007, during which time I have posted 1998 entries, and the blog has received 132,917 page views.

Therefore please excuse me as I take a night off.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Meeting David C for the first time

I met David C today.  David is the brother of C and brother in law of R - my  Sarasota friends who live down at Gulf Gate.

David C and his wife are moving from Belchertown MA to west central Florida.

The moment I encountered David C I thought "now there's an honest face for you"  As we chatted over lunch my initial hunch was more and more confirmed  -  I was meeting a man of deep and gentle truth, and purity of heart.

Later in the day his sister wrote to me saying

"David would have loved to spend the afternoon asking you questions about theology and history.  He is a farmer who reads ancient history and the Congressional Record and quotes both"
In these days of bitterness, boredom and cynicism it was such a pleasure to meet such a man
"in whom there is no guile".

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Sniff Sniff - Sweet Smells

So you walk out in your neighborhood in the late afternoon or early evening,  just as your neighbor is barbecuing some chicken, or ribs, or sausage, or hamburgers.

Damn  -  that's such a sweet smell.  You want to rush over and steal a sausage from her grill.

Then you ask -  "why does the smell from the grill across the street seem to be so much more delightful and enticing than the smell from my own grill?"

Does this important question have a definitive answer?