Sunday 26 December 2010

Christmas cracker jokes!!!!!!!!!!

Christmas day.The crib at our local church.
I don't know about you lot, but as we are eating our Christmas dinner here at the Grants we pull crackers and read each other the jokes found inside. They are the most awful jokes you can imagine.
But, as the sparkling wine gets imbibed and the turkey goes down, we tend to find them FUNNY!!!!

Have a read of some of these that came out of our crackers yesterday.

1. What do you give a sick pig?


2. How do you get two wales in a car?

Over the Severn Bridge.
(You need to be Welsh to understand that one. The Severn is the river that separates South Wales from England.)

3. What's sweet and swings through the jungle?


4. Why does a giraffe have such a long neck?

Because it's feet smell.

5. Why can't you play cards in the jungle?

There are too many cheetahs.


Oh well, just one more then.

6. What goes woof - woof- tick?

A watch dog.

So what do you think??????

Friday 17 December 2010

The Snow is back!!!!!

As you can see it snowed here yesterday. We had some heavy snow in the South of England a couple of weeks ago but then it thawed and life got back to normal. The temperature rose a couple of degrees and we got back to our normal dark, slightly cold, dampish, English winter. Over the last couple of days the temperature has dropped to freezing and below again and yesterday afternoon the snow came back.

When I arrived home, Sam, my eldest, had decided to leave his mark.

I was asked to do some supply teaching yesterday at Thames Ditton Junior School. It's a lovely school I have done some work in before. During the afternoon the snow started to fall, quite heavily, for a short time. When it was time to go home we had a winter wonderland again.
This is Thames Ditton Station. I had to wait twenty minutes for a train BRRRRRRRRR!!!!

The train was lovely and hot though.
Somebody, like me, must have got bored waiting for a train. They should have had a camera with them. I always find aerosol cans too bulky to carry around.

Tuesday 14 December 2010



Many famous writers have commented on Jane Austen’s writing over the centuries. I thought I would review some of these comments today, 16th December, Jane Austen’s birthday.
I’m sure Jane herself would have loved the comments her work inspired and even laughed at the brutish criticism of some. She would most certainly have been able to reciprocate in high fashion.
I have made a poor attempt at replying to some of these comments on her behalf. I say poor, because my comments lack her rapier wit and sharp waspish sting. While her reposts would surely have been fine tuned and delicately deadly, mine can only be boisterous and blunt.
She was born in 1775, exactly 235 years to the day.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
"One doesn't read Jane Austen; one re-reads Jane Austen."
William F. Buckley, Jr

I wonder what “two,” does????????
J.K. realising she has just made ANOTHER £100,000,000. (I wonder how many noughts her bank account has these days?)

"My favorite writer is Jane Austen, and I've read all her books so many times I've lost count ... I imagined being a famous writer would be like being like Jane Austen. Being able to sit at home at the parsonage and your books would be very famous and occasionally you would correspond with the Prince of Wales's secretary."
J. K. Rowling, 2003
No! no! no! A famous writer doesn’t do that. You’ve got it all wrong J. K.
They write a popular series of books, using the same characters each time, and persuade children, and adults alike, to read them. Of course you must put an adult appropriate cover on the adults copy so they won’t feel stupid on the train in the morning. Then you must jolly well get a Hollywood studio to buy the film rites, but still allow you to have the final say, help market, cauldron loads of merchandise and make a billion pounds.
Now that is what a famous author really does Miss Rowling.
Didn’t you know that????


Good old Rudyard.

Jane lies in Winchester—blessed be her shade!
Praise the Lord for making her, and her for all she made!
And while the stones of Winchester, or Milsom Street, remain,
Glory, love and honor unto England's Jane.
Rudyard Kipling, 1924
Rousing stuff. It makes me want to stand up straight and salute the flag. Ah!!The Empire. Do or die. I’ve got a stiff upper lip already.
"There have been several revolutions of taste during the last century and a quarter of English literature, and through them all perhaps only two reputations have never been affected by the shifts of fashion: Shakespeare's and Jane Austen's... She has compelled the amazed admiration of writers of the most diverse kinds."
Edmund Wilson, 1944
"Also read again, and for the third time at least, Miss Austen's very finely written novel of Pride and Prejudice. That young lady had a talent for describing the involvement and feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The big Bow-wow strain I can do myself like any now going, but the exquisite touch which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting from the truth of the description and the sentiment is denied to me. What a pity such a gifted creature died so early!"
Sir Walter Scott, 1826

Well Walter, you liked her. But I nearly fell asleep reading this. What was your point? Oh, and please remind me what you wrote yourself?????????

The house of Henry James, Rye, Sussex.

"The key to Jane Austen's fortune with posterity has been in part the extraordinary grace of her facility... as if she sometimes over her work basket fell... into woolgathering, and her dropped stitches... were afterwards picked up as... little master-strokes of imagination."
Henry James, 1905
Henry James, although an American, lived most of his life in England.The last years in Rye in Sussex on the South coast of England. The house he lived in is a beautiful Georgian brick town house, of ample size, tucked away in a corner of the town next to the church.
Henry James must have had a bracing walk by Rye harbour, taking the sea air, a salt marsh away these days, and breathing in the ozone to clear his brain before he wrote this lovely perceptive metaphorical piece.
"...Jane Austen, of course, wise in her neatness, trim in her sedateness; she never fails, but there are few or none like her."
Edith Wharton, 1925
“Wise,” “neat,” “trim,” “sedate.”
No she bloody wasn’t!!!!!!!
"To believe (Jane Austen) limited in range because she was harmonious in method is as sensible as to imagine that when the Atlantic Ocean is as smooth as a mill-pond, it shrinks to the size of a mill-pond... Look through the lattice-work of her neat sentences, joined together with the bright nails of craftsmanship, painted with the gay varnish of wit, and you will see women haggard with desire or triumphant with love."
Rebecca West, 1928
Oh yes. “haggard with desire or triumphant with love.” That’s more like it.Lets get some powerful feelings into these comments.Lets get the blood pumping.
"I am inclined to say in desperation, read it yourself and kick out every sentence that isn't as Jane Austen would have written it in prose. Which is, I admit, impossible. But when you do get a limpid line in perfectly straight normal order, isn't it worth any other ten?"
Ezra Pound, in a letter to Laurence Binyon, 1938
OK Ezra, I think, I know what you mean.
Jane Austen? Why I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book.
, Robert Underwood Johnson
A little understanding and compassion is required towards Robert Johnson. It takes a lot of courage to tell the word that you are illiterate.

Jane Austen's books, too, are absent from this library. Just that one omission alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn't a book in it.
- Following the Equator

Mr ,”Following The Equator,” if that is truly what you are doing in life, you must at some point have got very wet walking through vast oceans, sweaty to the touch and eye, in heated tropical forests, cracked on your skull with falling coconuts on far flung tropical islands and got savaged by marauding lions and perhaps bitten by venomous snakes. Your brain has anyway.
Walt Witman thinking over what he has just written about our Jane.

I haven't any right to criticise books, and I don't do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Everytime I read 'Pride and Prejudice' I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.
She makes me detest all her people, without reserve. Is that her intention? It is not believable. Then is it her purpose to make the reader detest her people up to the middle of the book and like them in the rest of the chapters? That could be. That would be high art. It would be worth while, too. Some day I will examine the other end of her books and see.
Mark Twain
One day,” it would be worth while,” if somewhat repulsive and repugnant, to examine your “other end,”Walt, and spank it mercilessly with a smashed and splintered plank of wood, toothy with bent rusty nails.
And finally:
Jane Austen, uncertain and in need of fortitude in her bodily life, had a mind that moved swiftly, certainly, like a powerfully launched arrow shaft, splitting imperceptibly the air around it, flying straight to it’s bulls eye inside all our imaginations for ever and ever.
Tony Grant 2010

A few, ripe quotations from Jane herself.
I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal."letter of December 24, 1798
[At a ball, where being introduced is a prerequisite before a gentleman can ask a lady with whom he is unacquainted to dance:]
"There was one gentleman, an officer of the Cheshire, a very good-looking young man, who, I was told, wanted very much to be introduced to me, but as he did not want it quite enough to take much trouble in effecting it, we never could bring it about." letter of January 8 1799

"He seems a very harmless sort of young man, nothing to like or dislike in him -- goes out shooting or hunting with the two others all the morning, and plays at whist and makes queer faces in the evening." letter of September 23, 1813

[On arriving in London:] "Here I am once more in this scene of dissipation and vice, and I begin already to find my morals corrupted." letter of August 1796
[At a ball:] "Mrs. B. and two young women were of the same party, except when Mrs. B. thought herself obliged to leave them to run round the room after her drunken husband. His avoidance, and her pursuit, with the probable intoxication of both, was an amusing scene." letter of May 12 1801
You know how interesting the purchase of a sponge-cake is to me." letter of June 15, 1808
[On the Peninsular War:] "How horrible it is to have so many people killed! And what a blessing that one cares for none of them!" letter of May 31, 1811
"Kill poor Mrs. Sclater if you like it while you are at Manydown." letter of February 9 1813

"I am sorry my mother has been suffering, and am afraid this exquisite weather is too good to agree with her. I enjoy it all over me, from top to toe, from right to left, longitudinally, perpendicularly, diagonally; and I cannot but selfishly hope we are to have it last till Christmas -..."- letter of December 2 1815
Phew!! Who said Jane Austen couldn’t be sexy?

Saturday 11 December 2010

JANE'S Birthday on Thursday 16th December.


I've got something special planned.

It might make you laugh. It might make you cry.

All the best,

Friday 10 December 2010

Handels MESSIAH "The Hallelujah Chorus"

Mary Simonsen, wrote a post mentioning Handel's Messiah. It brought back fond teenage memories when I was made to listen to The Messiah by a teacher who was a Handel fanatic. He got all of us 16 year old lads totally addicted to it.

Here's The Hallelujah Chorus.


Saturday 4 December 2010

Kings College Cambridge


PLEASE ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!

Here's some information about Kings College Cambridge.

All the best,

Thursday 2 December 2010

A Local Shopping Precinct Experience

Of course this sort of thing happens all the time in our local shopping precinct in Wimbledon.

All the best,


For WORLD BOOK NIGHT a million books are being given away in the UK and Northern Ireland.

Might be worth getting a flight over to get armfuls of freebees!!!!!!!!!

Alan Bennett and Nigel Slater
Alan Bennett and Nigel Slater are amongst the authors having their books given away.

We have snow in the South 2.12.10


Recently Britain has been affected by heavy snow in the North of England and Scotland. Now it's hit the South, with a vengeance.

The weather forecast for the whole country shows a white out.

Here are some pictures from this morning.

A cosy corner in our garden where we sit out and drink wine on a Summers evening.
Taking Abi to school this morning we went via our local train station. Here are commuters listening to announcements about cancelled trains. On the Southern Region network, about fifty years ago, they designed a system which uses a third rail. This rail carriers the electrical power line. The trains pick up the power through pads that contact the third rail. Of course in extreme weather conditions like heavy ice and snow the third rail does not work efficiently. Other parts of the country, The Northern Region, use overhead cables. These tend to work better in adverse conditions. And again, other areas use diesel powered trains, which keep going the longest. Deep snow drifts on the tracks are the only thing that stop diesel trains.

My road, outside my house, at 6.30am this morning. I went outside to clear the snow off the car.Our house in the snow. 6.30am!!!!!!!
Our back garden.

Looking down our road in one direction.The weather forecast on the telly this morning. The whole of Britain is looking decidedly,WHITE!!!!!!

Our road and some poor bloke walking to work down the middle of the road.
Abi on the way to school.
Abi feeding the guinea pigs before she goes to school. The guinea pigs are very comfortable outside. They have plenty of straw, wood chippings and after Abi has finished, fresh food and water.

Saturday 27 November 2010

The Importance of Parks

I was on Wimbledon Common yesterday afternoon for a couple of hours. I usually go running on the common but yesterday I cycled there and did some walking. I hurt my right heel running the day before and it's giving me ,"jip."

If you look at a map of London you will notice that there are a lot of parks; green spaces. English towns and cities and all local communities have their parks, commons and recreation grounds. The emphasise is slightly different for each but fundamentally they are the same, they are large areas of trees, open grassland, ponds, lakes, recreation facilities and sports facilities provided for the enjoyment of the population and they are free. They are what make big cities, towns and communities human places to live. Parks keep us sane. Walking in a park, taking in the wildlife, the changing seasons, or perhaps playing a sport, keeps us healthy in mind and body.They are places where you can go and be silent within yourself, get in touch with your inner being before you once more enter the fray.They almost have a spiritual quality.

London has it's famous parks, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regents Park, Green Park, Battersea Park, St James's Park, Primrose Hill and Battersea Common and these are just the well known ones. Every community has it's local park. Where I live in South London, The Sir Joseph Hood Park is my local. More famously there is the royal park, Richmond Park, two miles in one direction from me and two miles in the other direction is Wimbledon Common. I visit both regularly to walk, run and cycle.

Here are some pictures from my walk on Wimbledon Common yesterday.

AND here is a link to the common website:

The windmill in the centre of the common.Trees and shadows.

Wide open spaces. There are two golf courses on the common, London Scottish and The Royal Wimbledon Golf Club.
Gates and fencing.
One of the park keepers cottages. Park keepers or conservators are employed full time. They ride on horse back around the common and wear a fetching dark green uniform.
Christmas must be on the way.
Swans on Queensmere pond.
A walk in the woods.
Autumn yellowing leaves.
Light through the foliage.
A dead tree or a dinosaur as my youngest daughter used to call it.
A frosty morning.

Saturday 6 November 2010

Bonfire Night 5th November

The Scout Hut and grounds,  a few hundred yards from my house where our local Guy Fawkes celebrations happen on November 5th every year.

Quite a large crowd gathered to watch Guy Fawkes's effigy burn.

A policeman keeps order.

In England we celebrate Guy Fawkes night on November 5th every year.We have been doing this for four hundred years. Guy Fawkes was a Roman Catholic terrorist who, in 1605, tried to blow up The Houses of Parliament and the Protestant, King James Ist and all the lords and nobles of the time.Guy Fawkes, whose real name was Guido Fawkes, was born in York within a short distance of York Minster. For such a large undertaking as killing the King and the whole government,he could not possibly have been alone in his endeavours. In fact, although he is the most famous of the group, he was far from the most important. He was merely a hired soldier who knew about explosives and how to use them effectively to blow things up. There was a whole cabal of plotters who eventually were caught and paid for their treachery with their lives. They were hung, drawn and quartered. A brutal and vicious way to die.

You might say that plotting and terrorist acts have been going on throughout history, and so they have. So why is there so much significance placed on this particular, failed plot? It was the scale and audacity of their undertaking that shook the establishment. The plotters were brutally executed as a sign to deter others. King James wanted others, who might think of plotting against him, to realise that this sort of undertaking was not a good idea. He made villages and towns throughout the country remember the plot each year. They had to burn a bonfire and also burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes, to show what might happen to anybody who tried it again.

The celebration was so strictly observed it actually became a tradition.Eventually it was an occasion of fun and enjoyment. It was a happy gathering in the darkening, damp, cold, autumn days. Nowadays we eat burgers and hot dogs and wave glow sticks about while we watch fireworks go off and see the effigy of Guy Fawkes burn. Oh yes, we still burn him, after all this time.

Here is a link that provides more information about Guy Fawkes:

Sunday 24 October 2010

You've never seen the The Prince Wales like this!!!!!

Mordern tube station. The bottom of the Northern Line.
Cherry Pie Music, South Wimbledon.
Old milestone. Ten miles to Whitehall (and St Paul's Cathedral.)
"Georgie Porgy"
Young's beer is lovely. I have a pint once in a while!!!!!!!!!!
Such a nice day today I went out for a run around South Wimbledon. I always take a small digital camera with in case I see anything i would like to snap.

I came across The Prince of Wales. You've never seen him like this before. Would Jane have warmed to him more if she knew he was a pub?????

By the way, Youngs, is a great South London beer. It used to to be brewed in Wandsworth but they have moved their brewing premises out of London to a brand new modern complex.
Beer had been brewed on the site in Wandsworth since 1581.

Also a local, old milestone. It is a Georgian mile stone. The main road through the London Borough of Merton would have been the main coaching road to Portsmouth and Chichester. Originally it began as the great Roman road, Stane Street, that lead from the Roman, London Bridge, to the south coast.

The small local South London recording studio, Cherry Pie Music. Maybe, just maybe, the next great singer or band might come from here. You never know.

The tube station at Mordern, is the southern most station on the Northern Line. You can only go north from here.


Saturday 23 October 2010

Jane Austen Day at the Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library Oxford has put a digital archive of Jane Austen's handwritten manuscripts, brought together from collections around the world, on line for us to read and enjoy. These are Jane's original manuscripts before editing; blots, spellings mistakes, crossings out,lack of punctuation, they include the lot.

For one day only..........................."Volume the first."