Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pleasant Sunday - Snow this morning -36F

Please be sympathetic to my 'artistic' adventure into Photoshop Elements. It is so pleasant to go into the kitchen and smell blue hyacinth. So subtle and distinctive. I have this theory that the scent of the blue is preferable to the red ? In a few years some IT person will invent a way of trasmitting smells through cyberspace and all you will need to do is scratch the picture on your monitor for the room to be filled.......

We had steak, egg and chips for lunch. Aldi frozen oven chips have now further refined them. The Lidl brand tells you the chips are cut from whole potatoes - Aldi now tell you the variety, namely Maris Piper. A first class choice for chips or roasts. Delicious ! Followed by Xmas pudding and custard.

Picture 2 is a photograph of a JD painting which I consider to be rather good ! JD is David's pal who lives in the New Forest and ubnfortunately has MS. He can't get about much anymore and so he paints. And very well too.

He in turn has a friend who is an approved copy-artist who has official commissions to copy famous paintings. According to him JD's work will soon be good enough for people to buy. Praise indeed !

My research into the childhood book I mentioned proved fruitful. i.e.
clipped from

The Magic Door
As a child, I had a copy of a book called “The Magic Door” (Author unknown). It told stories about a class of schoolboys who find a door knocker. This door knocker open a door into History, where the boys have various adventures. They meet Alfred the Great, they meet the Romans in Britain etc., Eventually they go back to Prehistoric times and meet the dinosaurs, one of which escapes through the door into the modern world. The book had a number of coloured plates, and I vaguely recall a green hardback cover. It was all very exciting stuff, and like many of us who are getting on a
bit, I would love to recover just a bit of my childhood. Any ideas? - Roland
SOLVED: The Magic Door by Dan Billany, solved by Matthew in Chicago, IL
POSTED: Monday March 24, 2003

The bad news is that, however diligently I searched, all I got was 'no copies available'. The extract above is exactly as I remember reading the book and, from the bit about the dinosaur escaping into the modern world, so did the author of Jurassic Park.

Unfortunately Dan Billany died in the war leaving only three books. T.S.Eliot rated him highly and had encouraged him to write more. So my boyhood impression of brilliant was not wide of the mark.

I enjoyed my Sunday chat to David and learning all the news which unfortunately contained Brooke having had a flu type cold, and Sky currently suffering.


David ....... You remember your shared bedroom at Rostellen well. I suppose it was a little barrack-room-ish. But you had a nice view ! And a three bedroomed prefab at the bottom of the garden as a playroom.

Sorry about the lack of chip-cob pictures but I've not been out with my WoW chums for a week or two. More will surely follow.

I forgive you your non pc joke because it is very funny. I had to read it twice before the penny dropped.

bungus...... I think you had previously told me Tripoli and I'd forgotten. Always pleased to hear stories about the rebellious.

I thought of it when I listened this afternoon to the final part of The Good Soldier Ċ vejk and the adaptation has been first rate. Obviously for radio it was edited substantially and unfortunately many good bits were left out.

I certainly intended no euphemism re Peggy Owen. A rather chaste kiss in a corridor outside an annual school dance was it. But cherished !

Re John Buchan. I thought everyone had read The Thirty-nine Steps and in those days I thought it a great novel.

Anonymous ..... Thanks for the up date on the 'bed-block' !

By dint of painstaking research I finally unearthed a picture of a full kit-inspection type bed layout.

The bed-block or 'biscuits' are the carefully folded blankets and sheets at the head of the bed. They are spot-on for accuracy.

This is obviously much later than 1953 though. The mess tins and brushes are still correct. But the mug is porcelain - ours were white tin with a blue rim. And I can't see his 'irons' (knife, fork and spoon) also the luggage at the side has replaced the kit-bag.

The spit-and-polish boots are genuine !

Quotation time ......

"There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line."

Oscar Levant

stop press - Just watched Strictly come Dancing and please click here if you want
to know who went out. Don't open it if you have video-ed it etc.



Jill said...

You are quite right, the blue hyacinths smell differently to the other colours, and I think their smell is more pronounced too.

I don't think I missed much by not going in the army - or any other service. Ro did National Service, as a PT Instructor, trained people who went off to Korea.

I did watch Strictly yesterday - I thought they handled the John Sergeant bit as well as they could, but I didn't vote (and shan't again). I watched it tonight, I hoped Jodie Kidd would be kept in. Who was that gorilla sitting with Zara, is he the rugby player she is living with?

Liked the colours of the painting, but not the photo shoot bit of your window sill, what's wrong with a straight-forward photograph?

We have Mcains Oven Chips. Haven't found a decent roast potato in the frozen range, have tried Aunt Bessie's, Mcains and Tescos. M & S are about the best, but they are fresh, not frozen.

Son in Southend says they have a new Liddls there, just opened, they have been buying things there and are very pleased. So they are moving south.....

bungus said...

Some people love the smell of hyacinths while others (myself included) find it cloying, soporific and even possessing a deathlike quality.
On the other hand I like hawthorn and elderflower which some other folk consider, with justification, to smell of cats’ pee.

And I’m afraid that I have not yet found any oven chips which do not give me indigestion (not something I suffer from otherwise).
But I’m more than willing to give the Aldi ones a go when we have freezer space.

JD’s painting, which is reminiscent of the Cornish books I was speaking of yesterday, is not perhaps in my favourite genre but I find it extremely powerful, atmospheric and compelling, with great colour and tremendous brushwork (esp the sea in the foreground).
My opinion may not be worth much but I would regard it as being very saleable.

Your mention, that ‘The Magic Door’ may have influenced Jurassic Park, reminds me that I once went to a Staple magazine Open Day at Matlock and heard a talk from a published author about a children’s book he was writing wherein a young boy took a walk on the beach and there met several characters from fiction (I think one was Long john Silver).
I read it when it was published and enjoyed it although I thought it ran out of steam somewhat in the last quarter.

From your remark to David, may I assume that Rostallen was the name of a house where you once lived? Possibly the one on Derby Road at Mansfield, next door to my cousin Janet?

I suppose I was a bit of an updated ‘Good Soldier Svejk’ myself.
At Malvern, after 2 days service, never having worn boots other than football boots, I developed blisters and was excused boots. All I had available to wear instead were the shoes in which I had arrived. When a 14 year old one-pipper saw them he asked, “What are thouse, Sapper,” to which I replied, “Shoes, sir. I am excused boots.” “Well polish thim, “ he ordered and I was obliged to black Cherry Blossom my brown suedes.
My first time on guard duty, at Cove near Farnborough, I was made Stick Man which meant that I was able to sleep (in full uniform) for most of the night and only had to rise early to take tea round the guardhouse and the Sergeants' Mess. Stick Man was an honour for the best-turned-out soldier on the guard. The next morning my Training NCO congratulated me for bringing honour on his squad. Later he collared me again and said, “I take it back, Sapper. I’ve been told the only reason for making you Stick Man was because you were considered too scruffy to be seen on the gate.” I was not punished, however, as the reason for my unacceptable appearance was that, at that time, I had not yet had my battledress tailored to fit.
Also, when on guard at the gate of Azizia Barracks in Tripoli, a soldier in uniform entered and, in passing, said, “Good evening,” to which, as he was wearing a beret, I responded, “Good evening”.
“Don’t you usually salute an officer?” he asked, quite pleasantly.
“I’m sorry sir,” I replied, “I hadn’t noticed your pip.”
And when, at the Annual Inspection, the Brigadier AOC asked me how much a year I had been earning before being conscripted and I told him £700, he said, “Oh you’ll be worth at least a thousand after your experience gained with us,” I could not resist saying, “I think I have forgotten more than I’ve learnt, sir.”. Luckily, our CO quickly said, “This is the chap who made such a good job of lettering up your photograph album, sir.”

Unlikely though the story is, I enjoyed the Hitchcock film of ‘The Thirty-nine Steps’ but I have no recollection of ever having read it.

What a terrifying picture of the full kit inspection layout.
You always knew that, however meticulous you had been, someone would be able to find something wrong and they always did, with someone’s freshly blancoed gaiters thrown in a coal bucket, shiny bulled boots thrown out of the window, mugs dashed to the floor and smashed (we must have had pot ones although when I got to Tripoli a fellow Lance-Jack who was due for demob passed on his wellused enamel one to me. Some time later a newly arrived pink-skinned one-pip officer told me that, the enamel being damaged in many places, it was unhygienic; but he accepted my pointed riposte, “It’s seen a bit of service, sir.”
I am only sorry that the photo does not enlarge by about ten times, so that I could examine it minutely to find where the kit is below standard.

Addendum to quote:
“To late – I’ve already crossed it ......”

Don’t know when your dad served in Tripoli but I was there over 10 years before Ghaddafi took over in 1969. King Idris, a Senussi appointed by the British and UN was a pretty benevolent ruler at that time although one did hear vague mutterings in favour of adopting Nasser’s Egyptian system. As is usually the case, it seemed that most of the inhabitants didn’t care so long as they were pretty much left to get on with their lives. The American Airbase at Wheelus Field outside Tripoli (the largest not in the USA) and the large number of British tropops stationed in and around various parts of Libya had brought employment and money. Oil exploration had just begun and several big budget films were shot there – in ‘Ice Cold in Alex’ the bar entered at he end of the film was in fact the main Post Office at the focal point end of Sc Istikal and Sc 24 Dicembre.
I found the native Libyans sociable opportunists who, once they knew you a little, were always pleased to invite you to take a glass of tea with them (and good tea it was too!). Jerrycans were quite highly prized and always had a tendency to disappear. My impression was that they were frequently flattened and, along with other items, used to construct shacks on the outskirts of the city.
The barracks occupied by our forces were built by the Italians after Mussolini occupied the country prewar. I was billeted in 3 during my 18 month stay and there were at least another 4 or more within ten miles of the town, one used as our offices, another converted into a BMH where I was briefly confined with a mysterious near-east migraine-like headache which had me literally banging my head on the wall but which disappeared after a few days on tranquilisers and painkillers.

bungus said...

There were no British tropops in Libya at any time. There were quite a few troops though, in the 1950s.

Having read a bit more about the Good Soldier Schweik he reminds me somewhat of Candide, the hero of perhaps my favourite book (although I have only read it - several times - in translation).

Sorry to hear that your granddaughters have been unwell. I hope that they are now recovered and continue in good health.