Saturday, 1 February 2020

A Great And Harrowing Novel

Vintage Books 2000


A novel indeed.  But rooted in meticulous historical research.  

A tale of the deadly 1900 Hurricane which hit Galveston, and caused the deaths of maybe up to 10,000 people.

A tale of  meteorologist Isaac Cline;  a good and honourable man who despite his integrity and heroism got it wrong.

A tale of American hubris and racism, as a result of which the embryonic U.S. Meteorologist Service censored the more accurate reports of the Hurricane's path from a Roman Catholic Priest/Meteorologist in Cuba.

A tale of perfidy and stupidity at many levels.

A tale of immense bravery and courage.

                A gripping novel about a tragic event.

Friday, 31 January 2020

A Sad And Tragic Day

By the time you read this the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will have ceased to be a partner in the European Union.

It's a divorce which only one side wanted. No one in the E.U. has been clamouring for, or has wanted the separation.  

The U.K. Prime Minister Boris Trumpist Johnson has been heralding that the departure is "the will of the British People".

Well, the referendum, called by the feckless and irresponsible former P.M. David Cameron came out as 52% for Brexit, 48% to Remain.  That's an underwhelming majority.

I took a tumble at Sarasota's Bayfront on Wednesday morning (29th Jan) as a result of tripping on an crooked  and uneven  pavement. (No serious harm -  bruising to my right knee and to the "heel" of my right hand, and copious bleeding from my right elbow.  I am "all better" now, so please no sympathy messages, but I'll accept a healing gift card for Dinner for 2 at Ruth's Crist Steak House).

Brexit has come about because of crooked (Cameron/Johnson) and uneven (Corbyn)  political leaders.

As one who was British born and raised I have an aching sadness for my native land which I love deeply.

It's sometimes said that the Times of London had the following headline back in the 1920's.  "Fog in the Channel, Continent isolated".

Today as Brexit begins to take effect my sad headline is this:

Fog in the Parliament, The United Kingdom isolated.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Zion At One Of Our Gigs

Zion and I have a regular gig (every other Thursday) at Sarasota's "ALSO Youth"  (see above for info.)

On the  Thursday after Thanksgiving (2019) one of the participants took some photo's of the famous Mr. Z, using the camera they had bought on so-called Black Friday, i.e. six days previously.

They work full time, at varying hours, so it was not until today that they were able to make another visit to ALSOYouth, bringing these three photo's from November 2019.

Someone is dangling a treat above Z's head

Zion salivates

Treat eaten, he smiles!

Zion's bandanna identifies him as an authorised Humane Society of Sarasota County therapy dog.  I wear a lanyard  to identify me as an approved owner. I love my dog so much.  My pleasure is increased on account of our ability to be an HSSC approved team by which Mr. Z spreads the joy at two retirement communities; at New College of Florida; and at ALSOYouth 

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

No Mein

Bought this 20 oz package for one of those days when I would be too tired to prepare a meal from scratch.

That day was today.

Oh misery me.  About 2 oz of chicken in tiny pieces; nine or ten bits of broccoli; the smallest possible slivers of onion, carrot and red pepper; a ton of spaghetti; and a sauce which was saltier than the Dead Sea.

So awful that I threw half away.

A Traders Joe's FAIL


Caveat Emptor!

Monday, 27 January 2020

The Cross Bows, The Circus, The Child.

Sunday Jan 26th saw me at the Circus with my friends Ashley and Barbara.

Well, a bit more than a Circus -  it was

Oh yes, there were the traditional circus acts:  

a Contortionist  (ouch); 

Trapeze artists (have you on the edge of your seat); 

a High Wire walker (complete with back flips on the wire); 

a  Cross Bow act in which the woman shot an arrow to the man's heart - well a paper heart which he was holding, and the man shot an apple which was perched on the woman's head; 

a silly duo comedy act in which one of the comics guzzled Dr. Swindoll's Elixir -  cures everything that ails you -  only to find that it was 80% alcohol, which sent him into nonsense drunk man act, complete with exaggerated staggers; pratfalls etc; 

and a marvelous gravity wheel act, with a young man who also served as a stage hand, as an usher when we arrived, and as an accordion player we liked him a lot because he smiled throughout the show - exhibiting genuine pleasure at our entertainment.

In short  the show was a re-creation of the small traveling circuses of yesteryear, complete with the charlatan elixir tout.

  We loved it!

If you can open the following links you will get a broader description than mine

But wait there's more!

The  best part of the show for me was off stage.  

They were sitting directly in front of me, a woman, a man, and their wee lad aged between two and three.

He resolutely refused to sit on mum's  or dad's lap.  They were at the end of the row, and this youngster stood on the lowest riser for all ninety minutes.  If there was on stage dance he danced; he copied the exaggerated gestures of the performers; had he been able he would have been on the high wire and the trapeze.

The imitations of a wee lad were the sincerest form of flattery!  (I was able to tell his Mum about the pleasure he gave me). 

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Bring back these words!

Char-a-banc  (From the French for "benched carriage")

Originally horse-drawn, later motorised.  Used for day trips and excursions. Had a giant and heavy hood for rainy weather.

Later supplanted by motor coaches. (In British usage a coach is the name for a point to point journey, either as an excursion or as a city to city road journey.  One would take a coach from London to Bristol. not a 'bus).

In my childhood and youth some of the old timers  (such as my grand-mother who was born in the 1880's) might still refer to a motor coach as a "sharrabang"  ( English pronunciation of the French word!), or more simply as a "sharra".



A vehicle used for furniture delivery, or for house moving (again, originally horse drawn)

From Pantechnicon, a 19th-century firm which owned a building with a Greek-style facade of Doric columns in Motcomb Street, Belgrave Square, London, UK, with a picture gallery, a furniture shop, a shop selling carriages, and a warehouse for storing customers’ furniture and other items. The firm used large horse-drawn vans to collect and deliver their customers' property, which came to be known as Pantechnicon vans.


Perambulator (Rooted in  the Latin  per-‎ ("through, along; during") + ambulō‎ ("walk; traverse").

A baby carriage.  My twin and I probably took our earliest journeys in a "Pram" as they were called.

The "Royal" babies are still transported in a Pram, at least for those special occasions which bring out the photographers.

Prams were never horse drawn, nor motorised.


One of my favourite words is "peregrinate" -  meaning to wander around with no special destination in mind.

When I was in Pittsfield I would take a mid-morning break walk from the office.  I would announce: "I am leaving for my morning peregrination  -  it's legal in public these days".

The word is also used for Peregrine Falcons.  It is rooted in the same word from which we get the word "Pilgrim".

Church Musicians will also be familiar with a form of Gregorian chant which is known as "Tonus peregrinus".