Thursday, 30 August 2012

Plastic, Recycling and Saving the Planet

Today is the last refuse collection in this area under the old recycling system.  We have been issued with a bewildering collection of new bins. 

Equally bewildering is the detailed list of what goes in each bin, when it will be collected, and what will happen if we fail to comply with these instructions.

Since I have no car, I am in the fortunate position of having somewhere to store this immense collection.  This is not the case with my neighbours.......Hmmm, interesting thought.

Looking at the new receptacles this morning it struck me that they are all to the last tiny one, made of plastic.

Now I am not a complete idiot (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary), but a life-long hater of plastic, I cannot help wondering how we are helping the planet by manufacturing even more products of this awful, opaque, often grotesquely coloured material.

My house contains only the barest, most minimal and unavoidable items made of plastic.

When we were married, without a bean between us, I gave detailed instructions to everyone who asked, what would you like as a wedding present.  "Anything as long as it is not orange, and made of plastic"
Those who didn't ask, but were kind enough to give us gifts almost to a man/woman, gave us orange plastic kitchen, bathroom ware.  

Orange was 'the' colour that year, 1971, and I thanked them profusely and with John's complete agreement gave every single item but one away, as soon as was decently possible.

The one item we kept was a vegetable rack, which we were able to house in a large cupboard, I still have it, and use it regularly, hiding it from view immediately after.

Anything which can be made of glass or wood or other natural materials is, anything which cannot be made of anything but plastic is generally something I don't own.

Apart from its ugliness, dust attracting propensity, and apparent indestructibility, I find it aesthetically unpleasing and have a nightmare vision some centuries hence of man-made mountains of brightly hued 
poly something or other, choking the natural world to death.

Who will save us from this unnatural end?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Arachnid update

Sorry about the vile picture, but I have just evicted my lurking monster.

Tripping light-heartedly up the stairs having just watched "Holby City" and with not a care in the world, and , luckily for once, with slippers on my feet, I was half way up the stairs and there on the wall, inches from me was 'him', 'it', 'the thing'.

I somehow shot past it dived into the office grabbed and emptied my  paper bin, and grabbing also my trusty dust-buster, I simply held the bin below the thing flipped it with the duster, tore downstairs and opened the front door with one hand while tipping the bin into the garden.

I can't believe I just did that, but despite now having the shivers it has gone !!!!

Unless of course, that was just a cousin.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Cloud watching as a way of life

One of  my earliest memories was of lying on my back in the back garden, listening to the drone of bees in the nearby lavender bushes and looking at the clouds.  Not with anything at all in mind, more an absence of mind, but just looking.

As I developed into an exceptionally dreamy and fanciful child, the cloud watching became an escape.

Towers, castles, faces, animals, all were there, plainly to be seen or so I thought.

When I was in my teens, about 14 or so, I was madly in love with the head boy of my school, one Graham Stone.  My dreams always included at least one
scene with him as the prince to my princess.  The nearest to reality this ever came was when on a school trip to see "Joan of Arc", the Ingrid Bergman version, he put his arm round my shoulders.  Wow! how daring.

Innocent days, innocent ways.  Still the dreaming and cloud watching went on.

If someone was lecturing me or generally telling me off about something (a very common occurrence) I would look out of the nearest window at the sky and escape from the situation as best I could and find comfort and support in my blue and white world.

As may be obvious, many of the pictures which head my blogs are of sky from upstairs windows, Restricted by the windows only opening half way, the view is always limited but always changing.

I have a particular love of rolling boiling billowing grey or black clouds and were I a better photographer could really go to town in a crazy season like this one, with storms alternating with brilliant sun, rainbows and dazzling diamond raindrops on shrubs and flowers.

The two I've included this morning fail completely to show their true vivid violet blue, the camera can indeed lie or at least distort, and they should not have been taken at all, since I am in the middle of vacuuming the house.  I stopped for a break because, yes, you've guessed, I'm afraid of approaching the corner where I fear the monster spider is lurking.

Any excuse will do to avoid another confrontation.

By the way the clouds are now dark grey, edged with gold, against a royal blue background.  More rain coming I suspect.

I've probably wasted enough time now, so time to face 'the enemy'.  Here goes!

By the way, this was my 300th post.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Quick warning

This is nothing to to with my earlier post, but I have had a phone call purporting to be from Windows about a potential virus.  The caller informed me that my computer was under threat and that he would 'talk me' through a quick procedure to prevent this.
I asked  him the name of his company.  He mumbled, I asked for their phone number and he replied "sit at your computer and just quickly answer these questions".  Whereupon I hung up.
 I immediately dialed 1471 but the number had been withheld.
I then went upstairs and turned my computer off at the mains for an hour.
Over cautious, maybe, maybe but this I am sure is a scam.
Apart from anything else, windows updates remotely and requires no input from users.
Don't get caught!

Aaaargh !! I don't believe it's that time again.

There's no need to say it, I know.  I have bleated on endlessly about  these THINGS, but they won't leave me alone.

I was taking a short break from bed-changing, laundry etc and having a quiet cuppa.  I'm off coffee at present ( and no, I'm not pregnant).  Sitting at the computer idling through my favourite blogs and suddenly I was aware, you know the feeling, that the corner held something I didn't want to see.

The dark patch in the corner was the biggest house-spider I've ever seen, much like the one in the picture (which incidentally I am avoiding looking at,) and not moving.

I stared at it for ages, about a millionth of a second, and tore out of the room to fetch my trusty dust-buster, long of handle and with the 'business end' about a metre from my hand.  With my new-found, since John's death, totally fake courage, I opened the window wide and tried my usual manoeuvre of lifting it from underneath onto the nylon 'feathers'.  It retracted some of its ten foot long legs and descended a further few inches nearer the floor.

Thoroughly alarmed by now, hair literally standing on end and talking at the top of my voice to the invader, I had another go.  It dropped to the floor and while I stepped back in sheer terror, vanished.

Now I know it's here somewhere, but it is hiding and that is worse than seeing it.

It is absolutely no use anyone telling me, "they do a lot of good you know, keeping flies and other insects down, or even less use, "they are more scared of you than you are of them".

Want to bet!

The one in my office is bigger than the one in  the  Google image.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Claiming the moral low ground

A word which seems to be used very easily and often, and which is all over the blogs (and their titles), in the Christian sector anyway, is sin.

Sin in the Anglican tradition is reasonably clear-cut, being basically a deliberate rejection of ethical, religious and moral codes or mores.

We are told to believe that even if we choose deliberately to sin, there is always hope of salvation provided we reject our sinful ways and accept Jesus as our new path.

One of the things which repels and fascinates  me in equal measure is the concept of sin as seen through the eyes of the Catholic Church.

There is a long history of individuals, communities and whole continents whose way of life is seen as deeply sinful and whose only possible ultimate end is in Hellfire.

Breast-beating, rending of garments  and self-flagellation are not viewed as ridiculous or 'over-the-top', ways of doing penance. Instead it is seen as at least one step on the way to salvation.

Another rather unpleasant manifestation of the "I am saved, and I want everyone to know it" faction in the Christian church is  the "My sin is greater than yours", where individuals dwell loud and long, and usually very publicly on their past wicked ways, compared with their new stainless mode.

For me, having had the opportunity to view at very close quarters, quite a long time ago, one of the Catholic church's 'fallen angels', persisting in his chosen sin, while attending mass daily and confession weekly.  From whence he would emerge shiney new, and all ready to continue on his hedonistic way.  It seems to me, that there is a very great difference between the absolute certainty of forgiveness, provided the formula is followed, and the trembling, uncertain hope that there may after all be a chance of forgiveness if all previous ways are set aside.

Over simplistic I know, and biased I know, but to me it seems that the Catholic Church can be seen as "purveyors of misery to the masses", while the Anglican Church can be seen as the hope in the bottom of Pandora's box.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Time like an ever rolling stream......

In the intercessionary prayers in church this morning, a special mention was made of the celebrated world-renowned concert organist, Carlo Curley.

He was a close friend of our own concert organist Donald Mackenzie, musical director at St. Mary's, and had performed in the church together with him less than a year ago.

As the service came to an end this morning Donald paid a tribute to his friend by playing his signature tune.

Carlo Curley was only 59, and he died yesterday.

Already in a fairly sombre mood, yesterday being the third anniversary of my husband's death, and today 12th August, my late mother's birthday, it struck me anew how commonplace the loss of a loved one is, and just how easily life moves on seamlessly.  The departed one having left scarcely a ripple.

At the time of  loss it feels as though life as such has lost all purpose, and a certain resentment is felt, at how quickly our seemingly overwhelming grief appears to have no impact on the world around us.  As time passes, along with a dulling of the sharp edges, a sort of philosophical "well it happens to everyone, no-one is  left untouched" takes its place.

Slowly for me at least comes the realization that we are indeed, great and famous, or humble and unknown, all equal in this one respect, as the gospel has it, "and the place that knew him shall no him no more".

Carlo Curley was famous, had many fans world-wide.  My John was known to only a few, but at the end of time they will have equal importance.

Rest in peace.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

The way we were

Among the very few (only 50 or so) photos of myself I have kept is the one on the left.

I was the magnificent old age of 20 at the time, had been in the WRAC for 6 months and was helping to set up a halloween party at Shrivenham where I was based.

I'm the one in the floaty flirty dress.

Never keen to be photographed (a hangover from my bespectacled with black patch youth)I nevertheless always loved 'pretty' dresses and this was my very first, bought with my own money and without supervision.

I will attempt to download and put in the right place a few more, kept as a pictorial record of my earlier years.

This is one taken by a colleague one lunchtime in 1958.  I had left the WRAC and returned to live at home with my parents in West Wickham in Kent.

The building was the head office of The Electrical Trades Union where I worked for eight years.

In case you didn't recognise me I am sitting on the lawn front left of the picture.

That dress I remember well, it came from M & S and was made up of emboidered panels red yellow and white.!

This is the best picture of me ever taken.  My youngest brother Roger is the one with the guitar, and I am directly in front of him with a CND banner completely hiding my face.

We did a few Aldermaston marches in those years, 1958 - 1964 ish and this was on the way to Trafalgar Square.

My brothers and I belonged to a sort of folk group with a socialist  message and used to sing as we marched.   Such energy!

This was taken in the orchestra pit at Sadlers Wells we (The New Opera chorus) were rehearsing for a performance of Carmina Burana with the Nederlands Dance Co. performing the ballet on the stage over our heads,  Somewhat cramped but great fun, and we sang well enough for the ballet co to ask us to make a recording which they would use on their world tour.

In this picure I am the one on the right of the central pair, behind the violinist.

This is me on honeymoon in Oxford, John insisted I pose for it, hence the somewhat resigned expression.

That was in February/March 1971 and it was freezing.

After that, it was downhill all the way, with increasing age and weight until I would actually hide rather than be photographed.

Now that I can look back without the angst which accompanied so much of those times, I can see that I really wasn't all that bad, but the self-image thing is powerful and the results can be very long-lived.

These days while I still avoid photographers whenever possible I know that it doesn't really matter.

When the age old question was asked, "would you rather be beautiful or rich" I would unhesitatingly answer "beautiful".  These days asked the same question the answer would be "either would be nice, but it doesn't  matter.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Where did all this fervour come from?

This is both a personal and a general question.

Never interested in sports, games, athletics, competitive events of any sort at any time in my life, suddenly I am finding a new and unexpected enthusiasm for all of these.

Thursday is a non-St. M's day, so has become my main household chores day - or at least that is the theory.

Since watching a little of the opening ceremony (not by choice, but because there was no alternative), last Friday evening, I have found myself being increasingly drawn in to the discussion, argument, and criticism of the previous day's events.

Amazingly quite furious about the disgusting Chinese, Korean, Indonesian debacle (badminton, with the emphasis on the bad).  Wildly enthusiastic about the Bradley Wiggins  gold, the women rowers, etc etc.

Every time (roughly every half hour), I slack off from the chores I'm supposed to be doing, I switch on to BBC 1 and find myself sitting, and this morning, cheering on the current British favourite.  Today it was the wonderful Becky, swimming like a dolphin on speed, and looking like a cert for a gold.

What is  happening?  Where did I go?

This is not me, or at least, not the me I remember.

Somebody, I forget who, once said that patriotism is the last resort of the scoundrel.  Well all I can add is move over scoundrels, room for one more?