Friday, October 31, 2008

Ministry of Food 1942-1943, (Nowt to do with Jaimie Oliver)

Being a grumpy old git, as you have probably noticed, my memories go back to World War II.

On a tidy up I came across a little item from the 1940s published on a paper bag (Anybody remember paper bags?) from Eden Camp, Yorkshire. Quite a treat if you've not been. Right then, back to the item and memories.

It's about rationing we endured during World War II. I remember it so well, only two ounces of sweets a week, taking the ration books down to the corner grocers and green grocers. (Hands up who remembers them?)

Well here's what we entitle to for a week:

Bacon or ham - 4oz (I never saw ham until 1946 at my great grandfather's wake.)

Meat -1s. and 2d. worth. (In new coinage = three and half pence)

Butter - 4oz (Again I never saw butter until 1946)

Cheese - 2oz-8oz

Tea - 2oz

Sugar -12oz

Margerine - 2oz (Brilliant stuff- fit for greasing lorry bearings)

Milk - 2-3 pints (This is when our famers actually farmed and were not a benefit receiving culture)

Eggs - 1 small egg every four weeks. (Not a typo, every four weeks)

Dried Eggs - 1 packet every four weeks (Brilliant stuff! At the time I preferred it to proper eggs.)

Yes, what memories running to the shops in winter, grey shorts flapping against my legs, causing chapped legs (Remember them and chilblains?)

Eden Camp is worth a visit. Memories for us old ones and how the grandparents lived for the young ones.

Polluting Our Livingrooms

So the BBC hope they have drawn a line under the Brand/Ross Radio 2 debacle.

Brand and Ms. Douglas (Head of Radio 2) have fallen on their swords. I suppose they think that's honourable thing to do. They needn't have done that if they had acted in an honourable manner in the first place!!

Ross will no doubt be back in 12 weeks spouting his usual rubbish for the consumption of toilet humour loving juveniles, probably mocking the BBC and their ineffectual ban.

I notice all the "radio chavs" who support Brand & Ross say they were expanding the boundaries of broadcasting, whatever that may mean. Total rubbish and totally not acceptable in my living room and using my licence fee contributions!!

Is this the final straw? Should the government cancel the funding of the BBC by licence fee? Should the BBC be given a whole new remit instead of trying to compete with commercial radio and television? Do the government still need a national television service? Or should we let the BBC degenerate into the kind of service expounded in the film "The Running Man".

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Totally Unacceptable Behaviour

"Totally unacceptable behaviour" said the BBC as they apologised to Andrew Sachs after Russel Brand's Radio 2 radio show with his guest Jonathon Ross.

Well besides a weak apology what are the BBC doing about their employees unacceptable behaviour? Has any body at the BBC issued Brand and Ross their P45s?

Come on BBC, stand up and be counted, take the moral high ground and sack this untalented duo and stop them spouting rubbish and vile diatribe into our living rooms.

Set the broadcasting standards once more.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Soldier Died Today

A little poem from my veterans site as we near the time to remember our fallen in time of war.

He was getting old and paunchy

And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the RBL Club,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his mates;
They were heroes, every one.

And 'tho sometimes to his neighbours
His tales became a joke,
All his mates listened quietly
For they knew whereof he spoke.

But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For ol' Bob has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer
For a soldier died today.

He won't be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won't note his passing,
'tho a Soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow

Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country
And offers up his life?

The politician's stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.

While the ordinary soldier,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.

It's so easy to forget them,
For it is so many times,
That our Bobs and Jims
Went to battle, but we still pine.

It was not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever waffling stand,

Or would you want a Soldier,
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Soldier,
Who would fight until the end?

He was just a common Soldier,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honour
While he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Little Gem

On a surf and a trawl through the stories and poems on the National Malaya and Borneo Veterans Association site I came across this little gem by E.A. Lampard. I hope he/she does not mind me publishing once again his words.


Sing me a song of the old ways;
Tell me a tale of the past,
Of the time when England was mighty,
And everyone thought it would last;
When men raised their hats to the ladies,
And ladies wore dresses and skirts,
And children respected their elders,
Or received a sharp tap where it hurts;
When lovers were pleased to get married,
And made do with the little they had,
Kept out of debt and were happy,
And the young ones knew their own Dad.
When parents showed by example,
The ways and the means to get by,
Through hard work and honest endeavour,
And today those rules still apply.
Tell me the tale of the schoolroom,
When teachers were strict and upright,
Where discipline ruled and we knew it,
But we all learned to read and to write;
Where they taught us the value of friendship,
And to get stuck in with a grin,
An esprit de corps that was solid,
Working together to win.
We listened and learned when they told us,
That nothing was gained by the cheat,
Played hard by the rules and triumphed,
And stood on our own two feet.
So sing me a song of the old ways,
Of pride in the land of our birth,
And tell the world of this England,
The noblest place on God’s Earth."

Thank you E.A. Lampard.

Monday, October 13, 2008

One to ponder.....

Just read an American academic, Paul Krugman, has won this year's Nobel prize for economics.

Are the Swedes missing something here?

After what has happened in America recently can we really trust the American economic/financial systems or should we not trust Swedish Nobel selection committees?

Boggle, boggle, boggle!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

An Enjoyable Break - Part 2

Well where were we?

Ah yes, finished the fish and chips. Time to look round the bungalow. SWMBO had made the reservation and decided to push the boat out - she went for the "deluxe" bungalow.

Now let me tell you a little about 'deluxe'. The TV remote control box - strange it has a rubber band wrapped around. Turning it over in my hand I realised why - it held the batteries in the box. Though the adjacent caravans had exterior aerials we had a little mobile job sitting on the front window sill. Switching on the TV the set up gave us a snowy but acceptable picture. Clicking on teletext amazed me. I felt like a time traveller. No fast text, you know the red, yellow, green, blue buttons. Not even a next page button. Every page had to be entered separately. As an avid teletext reader this system soon had me on a rant.

Moving on to the bedrooms. Not much in the way of bedding. Pillows? I have sealed thicker envelopes. The duvet was quite adequate. The covers, well the bottom cover was battleship grey and the duvet cover was a bright orange/green/yellow pattern out of a 1950s American movie, you know the kind Rock Hudson/Doris Day down on the farm.

Bedroom 1

Bedroom 2

The kitchen was fairly well equipped including a quite up to date electric Kettle and microwave. The boiler for hot water and heating was really good.

The Kitchen

The bathroom seemed to be OK at first. After a while though I became disillusioned with the toilet. Being a fella used to standing up to take a pit stop it became a little annoying that the toilet seat wouldn't stay up. Moving on to the shower. Does anybody remember their mother buying the new modern bathroom appliance then attaching the rubber tubes to the bath taps? The latest fad from America - the shower! Well that's what we had in our bathroom.

The Shower

Having said all that let say that with all its shortcomings the bungalow was exceptionally clean though the fittings may have seen better days and I would certainly stay there again.

After the first day the weather changed, the deities realised WE were on holiday so they sent rain with lashings of Force Ten gales etc. At times I felt a little like Noah but where would I find two of everything? There wasn't much timber either in this bleakish part of the Welsh coast. However, Harvey the pup couldn't wait to sally forth as often as possible. I'm pretty sure he manufactured some of those 'pee' breaks. At seven in the morning or ten o'clock at night, black, swollen clouds settling on the sea, winds prepared by dervishers and Harvey wants a 'pee'. I ask you. He did it on purpose, he enjoyed it and he was on holiday.

Well the weather didn't change all week. So while SWMBO played at 'Crafting' (apparently this is using her colouring crayons whatever to make Christmas cards) I mucked about with Sally Satnav, not used to her going mute on me and frying my brain at the daily newspaper Sukudu puzzle, with a bit of watching the old fashioned TV thrown in.
At the end of the week I checked the weather forecasts for our return home. BBC forecasted gales and heavy rains so we decided to return a day earlier. Quite a pleasant journey home, arriving Friday evening. However, BBC lived up to their usual standard of forecasting and lo and behold Saturday weather was fine. Didn't the Met Office and the BBC spend millions on updating their equipment a couple of years ago? I still find I can forecast the weather to a higher standard using the highly technical, old proven method of sticking my head out of the toilet window!
Alls well that ends well, I suppose and it was a pleasant, welcome break.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Hook the Poor Sod In

Not content with talking a load of tripe, Flash Gordon, our unelected PM, has imported some tripe, i.e. Emperor Ming, aka Peter Mandelson, into the Cabinet. (With apologies to tripe.)

I can't see Emperor Ming resigning a third time, but they said that about Kevin Keegan, didn't they. I don't think Flash Gordon will make the next epsisode.

The mind boggles!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

An Enjoyable Break - Part 1

Well, just back from a week's break in North Wales.

Started out very well, weather wise. Sunny intervals all the way.

We were on our way to Dinas Dinlle, just south of Caernarfon. SWMBO and Harvey the pup in her little car and I toddled behind on my bike. I thought I was pootling behind but after a pit stop by the car party, unknowingly to me, I had powered into the lead. Thinking I am not catching up I piled on the power to the next rendezvous. Nary a sign of the car party. A few text messages then off through the sea side towns of the Welsh coast, on to Caernarfon.

As I left the A55 I decided it would be a good idea to check the location of our holiday bungalow, so stopping in a lay-bye I connected my satnav. Problem! Somehow I had put Satnav Sally in mute mode. After a little bit of fiddling, a quick sod it and I decided to follow with display only.

Back on the road, it wasn't too long before I rapidly closed in on a vaguely familiar silver car (Are all cars painted a variation of silver?) I recognised the bird dropping marks on the boot. Yes, it was SWMBO and Harvey, my faithful companion. Harvey that is. So backing off the throttle I trailed behind the car party.

Arriving in Caernarfon, we followed its peculiar one way system, I hadn't been here for about ten years but I remembered the route. Unfortunately, SWMBO had a 'Wigan moment' (Now that's another story.) and she managed to peel off into the town centre. I continued on the A487 and A599. Didn't worry too much about SWMBO as she had Harvey with her.

Eventually, Satnav Sally displayed a right turn. Bad move as she proceeded to indicate a route along a chicken run, even a pedestrian would have had difficulty navigating this lane. At last the chicken run opened out back onto a road leading to our caravan camp and our holiday bungalow. The car party arrived as I took possession of our accommodation.

Well after changing out of my bike gear into what passes as my holiday gear, off down to the beach we trekked. A lot easier these days, memories of trekking down the beach with the family years ago flashed through my mind. Sherpa Tensing wasn't in it! This time just a good stock of dog poo bags and a frisbee.

Harvey demonstrating how to paddle to SWMBO.

Harvey instructing SWMBO on pebble recognition, NB the redundant frisbee!

"Come on then, throw the pebble, haven't got all day."

The tide had just gone out so the sand was wet and firm. Let off the lead, Harvey ran all over the place - at last freedom. Our biggest test and worry about him was the recall. We shouldn't have bothered. He loved the beach, sands, pebbles and sea. When the little chap was worn out, chasing pebbles thrown by SWMBO, he completely ignored the frisbee, we meandered our way down to the chipshop.

I have usually enjoyed fish and chips at the seaside, recalling memories of al fresco dining at Blackpool, Southport, Rhyl et al. Mounds of hot, freshly cooked chips with fish the size of a whale covered in the most tasty batter and mushy peas, slightly spiced. Accompanied with huge doorsteps of buttered bread and steaming hot tea in a pint mug - with change out of a bob! A feast fit for a king! The worries of the war and post war poverty simply slipped away.

Rudely catapulted back to the present by SWMBO asking what I wanted for my 'tea'. With such good memories I asked for fish, chips and peas. After what seemed like an age we made our way back to the deluxe bungalow. Unwrapping our meal the chips were warm and the batter on the fish had become limp and greasy. SWMBO put it down to the modern packaging of plastic boxes making the food steam and lose its freshness. Edible but it could not match my memories of yesteryear.