Monthly Archives: June 2017

Rubbish

Jim was NOT happy. ‘Have you seen that rubbish down the road? It’s disgusting – and what’s the bloody council doing about it? Nothing! Not one bloody thing.’
‘Don’t worry Jim, it’ll be all gone by the time you get back from your golf.’
‘Who’s going to do that then? You I suppose. You’re daft – all of you. Stupid, daft women with nothing better to do than do the council’s dirty work – for nothing.’ With that he picked up his golf bag and left – slamming the door behind him.

‘Men,’ murmured Rosemary to herself as she cleared away the breakfast things. ‘It’s a good job there are women in this world.’

The telephone rang. ‘Mrs Bradshaw?’ a voice asked.     ‘Speaking.’
‘Rosemary?’     ‘Yes Peter.’
‘All ready for today?’     ‘Of course.’
‘One o’clock at the recycling plant then?’     ‘Certainly; I’ll be there.’

The line went dead and she replaced the handset.  ‘Right Rosemary; let’s get this show on the road’ she chuckled.

Half an hour later she and three other ladies were busily picking up the roadside rubbish that so annoyed Jim. The council provided bags were soon filled as the four worked their way along ‘Rosemary’s’ road. That done, they repeated the exercise along four more roads before stopping for a break.

Back in Rosemary’s kitchen the conversation was on just one subject – the rubbish they had just bagged up.  ‘We agreed with the council that we would gather the bags for each road into piles at convenient places for the men to collect them. Are we still happy with this?’  There was total agreement.

‘Right ladies, let’s get it finished and ready for them.’
It didn’t take long, and the four were soon standing admiring their work.  ‘Thank you very much ladies, your help has been great. I’ve got all the paperwork so I’ll take that down to the recycling centre later this morning. Have a nice day.’
Rosemary’s three helpers headed for home but she had one more job to do before setting off to the recycling centre. The job took her a quarter of an hour or so and, with that done, she gathered together various other things she needed; left a brief note for Jim and headed off to the recycling centre.

Peter was at his desk. Rosemary handed over the ‘Ladies Tidy Campaign’ papers.  ‘Looks good,’ he said. ‘The lads have called in and reported that the bags have been picked up as planned, and the whole area looks great. Everyone on those roads will be very pleased with what you have done. May I buy you some lunch? You deserve it.’
‘Well thank you kind sir; I accept your invitation. Shall we go in my car?’
‘Yes please. The council gets annoyed when their cars are used for social purposes. Is there room for my case?’

As they drove out of the council gates Jim was arriving home from his golf.  He was not happy with the pile of full rubbish bags blocking his drive.

He was even less happy with Rosemary’s note saying ‘Goodbye’!

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Lanimer celebrations and a General Election

Every June the Scottish town of Lanark holds its Lanimer celebrations – a festivity held on the Thursday falling between the 6th & 12th of June when the town’s schoolchildren parade in fancy dress with decorated vehicles, pipe bands, and a Lanimer Queen and her Court, who have been elected from local children.  The celebrations are based on King David I granting Lanark the status of Royal Burgh during his reign. A condition of the charter stated that the merchants of the town must inspect their March or Boundary Stones each year and Lanark claims to have carried out this duty every year since then.  Over time these Land Marches have become transformed into the annual Lanimer celebrations.

It now spreads over a week beginning on Sunday when the Lord Cornet Elect is led from the town’s Memorial Hall to Saint Nicholas’ Parish Church for the Kirkin’ of the Lord Cornet Elect Service.

On the Monday evening, crowds turn out for the Perambulation of the Marches, when officials and members of the public walk the boundaries. A Scottish Country Dance display takes place at Lanark Cross, followed by the Sashing of the Lord Cornet and the Shifting of the Burgh Standard. The evening ends with the Lord Cornet’s Reception.

An official ride-out around the town takes place on Tuesday night, followed by the presentation of the New Lanark Loving Cup to the Lanimer Queen Elect at New Lanark.

The Lanimer Queen’s Reception is held on the Friday evening in the Memorial Hall and  Saturday sees the Lanimer Ball at Lanark Market when the Lord Cornet escorts the Lanimer Queen.

This leaves just one day – Lanimer Day.  This Thursday is when schoolchildren and others parade through the town in the Lanimer Queen’s Procession – all dressed in costumes accompanied by decorated lorries.  They each receive a Lanimer medal for participating. With the children march the brass and pipe bands, ex-cornets, and visiting dignitaries. The court ride in cars after the parade, and the Queen has an open-top coach. Once the procession has gone once around the town centre, the children mount a stand in front of St Nicholas Church and a statue of William Wallace on the steeple. The court also climbs the stand and the Queen is crowned by a local lady, to acclaim from the assembled crowds. To complete display “Flower of Scotland” and “Scots Wha Hae” are played, and a Lanimer Proclamation read out, followed by “Gods Save the Queen” and the British National Anthem.

However ……

This year – 2017 – there is a slight clash with the Thursday General Election.

The Prime Minister’s surprise announcement threw a major spanner in the works – and the Lanimer committee were left with the unenviable task of reviving this year’s schedule.

They have done it!

The Lanark Lanimer Day has been moved to Friday, June 9!

To everyone – I hope you have had a great week so far – and that tomorrow will give you a really wonderful day of fun and enjoyment.

An event that will not happen this year

The Order of the Garter is the most senior, and oldest, British Order of Chivalry.  It  was founded by Edward III in 1348 and consists of the King and twenty-five knights to be reserved as the highest reward for loyalty and for military merit. Like The Prince of Wales (the Black Prince), the other founder-knights had all served in the French campaigns of the time, including the battle of Crécy – three were foreigners who had previously sworn allegiance to the English king: four of the knights were under the age of 20 and few were much over the age of 30.

The origin of the emblem of the Order, a blue garter, is obscure. It is said to have been inspired by an incident which took place whilst the King danced with Joan, Countess of Salisbury. The Countess’s garter fell to the floor and after the King retrieved it he tied it to his own leg. Those watching this were apparently amused, but the King admonished them saying, ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’ (Shame on him who thinks this evil). This then became the motto of the Order. Modern scholars think it is more likely that the Order was inspired by the strap used to attach pieces of armour, and that the motto could well have referred to critics of Edward’s claim to the throne of France.

The patron saint of the Order is St George – the patron saint of soldiers and also of England – and the spiritual home of the Order is St George’s Chapel, Windsor. Every knight is required to display a banner of his arms in the Chapel, together with a helmet, crest and sword and an enamelled stallplate. These ‘achievements’ are taken down on the knight’s death (and the insignia are returned to the Sovereign), but the stallplates remain as a memorial and these now constitute one of the finest collections of heraldry in the world.

Every June the Knights of the Garter gather at Windsor Castle and the new knights take the oath and are then invested with their insignia.

First a Chapter meeting is held in the throne room of the castle, at which The Queen invests new Companions with the Garter insignia.  The Queen is accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, the Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Kent, with Knights Companions and officers of the Order.

After the meeting, The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh entertain members and officers of the Order to lunch in the Waterloo Chamber before the Queen and the other members of the company assemble in St George’s Hall, marshalled by one of the heralds, before walking through the upper, middle and lower wards of the castle to St George’s Chapel.  All wear the Garter’s traditional flowing blue velvet robes, hoods of red velvet worn over the right shoulder, and black velvet hats with white feathers.

A lunch follows in the Waterloo Chamber, after which the knights process to a service in St George’s Chapel.  They, wear their blue velvet robes and the badge of the Order – St George’s Cross within the Garter surrounded by radiating silver beams – on the left shoulder and black velvet hat with white plumes. The Queen, as Sovereign of the Order, attends the service along with other members of the Royal family in the Order, including the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Queen’s daughter, the Princess Royal.

A fanfare of trumpets announces the arrival on foot of the main procession, led by the Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle and the Military Knights of Windsor.  Bands of the Household Division play as the procession passes dismounted squadrons of the Household Cavalry, lining the route in their scarlet ceremonial uniforms.

After the chapel service, which is relayed via loudspeakers to the crowds, there is an open-carriage procession back up the hill.

The Garter Service for 2017 has been cancelled to allow the State Opening of Parliament to take place on Monday 19th June 2017 following the results of the General Election held on Thursday 8th June 2017

The next Garter Service will take place on Monday 11th June 2018.

The day Pegasus delivered a bridge

One of the great films of my time is the 1955 story of ‘The Dam Busters’ – a British 2nd World War film that starred Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd. The film recreates the true story of 1943 when the RAF’s 617 Squadron attacked 3 German dams with Barnes Wallis’s bouncing bomb.  What is rarely mentioned though is Richard Todd’s involvement in the war itself.  He had volunteered the day after the conflict had begun and, in May 1943, was posted into the 6th Airborne Division.  He later admitted that he had kept his pre-war job as an actor a secret because he wanted to do useful things in the war itself rather than being transferred to ENSA.

His first practice jumps were from moored balloons but he was soon doing practice jumps from Whitley bombers.  This training was the lead-up to parachute jumps into enemy territory – and this became fact for Richard on D-Day Tuesday 6th June 1944.

It was on that day that Richard Todd – and a great many more – dropped into Normandy to help change the course of the war.  He and many others were there to defend a bascule/moveable bridge built in 1934 that crossed the Caen Canal between Caen and Ouistreham in Normandy and was a major objective of the British airborne troops during Operation Deadstick.

On the night of Monday 5th June 1944, a force of almost 200 men, led by Major John Howard, took off from an airfield in southern England in six gliders to capture not just this vital bridge but also “Horsa Bridge”, a few hundred yards to the east, over the Orne River. They were to land, take the bridges intact and hold them until relieved. The attack was successful and played an important role in limiting the effectiveness of counter-attacks in the days and weeks that followed.

It was following the success of D-Day – Tuesday 6th June 1944 – that this whole successful attack was renamed Pegasus Bridge in honour of the operation – the name being derived from the shoulder emblem worn by the British airborne forces – the flying horse of mythology Pegasus.

Plane spotting can be a crime

On Saturday 4th June 1977, five young British men – all members of the West London Aviation Group – were released from jail in Athens. They were accused of spying and had spent ten weeks in prison for plane-spotting. Their original sentence was ten months but they were released after ten weeks on the condition that they would pay heavy fines. The men were simply interested in planes. The Greek police and courts did not understand that collecting serial numbers of aeroplanes was a hobby.

The Greek authorities could not understand what these young men – all in their twenties – were doing. Each had to pay a fine of £555 to obtain their release. Other plane spotters have had similar experiences.

Apparently Greek agents had tailed the spotters’ rented car as it travelled from airbase to airbase, parking on public highways as the occupants noted down aircraft numbers.  When they swooped on the departing Britons, the security police accused the men of taking notes which might describe the layout and features of the military runways they had visited. The five were immediately taken for interrogation by the Greek central intelligence agency.

“It was good cop, bad cop, just like you see on TV. One interrogator would be quite nice and then the other one would turn nasty.”

After 48 hours of questioning, the five were put on trial.
“We were very nervous. We had no idea if they were going to release us or put us away for 20 years.”

During their brief court appearance, the spotters attempted to convince Judge Stephanos Matthias that the taking of aircraft serial numbers was a genuine hobby in the UK (likening it to the Greek passion for football) and that it was not a cover for espionage.
“How can this silly, tasteless and costly game be a hobby?” retorted the judge.
While even Wing Commander Ioannis Marinakis – chief of air force intelligence and a prosecution witness – said the group acted “amateurishly”, all of the defendants were found guilty of violating security regulations under article 149 of the Greek penal code.

“They wanted to make an example of us. They didn’t want us going home and telling other plane-spotters about all the great numbers we had collected. That would have opened the flood gates.”

A snippet for 1st June

On 1st June 1967, The Beatles released their ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ – their eighth studio album. It was recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios and included a couple of songs that I love – ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’ and ‘When I’m Sixty Four’ [which I was a few years ago!]  The album was an instant success; won four Grammy Awards and was named Album of the Year in 1968.

One thing I liked on the cover was the four Beatles, dressed like members of an Edwardian band, standing in front of a collage of celebrities and historical figures.

The music itself included a lot of technical wizardry that could not be achieved when the band played live on tour – but that difference made absolutely no worry to the audience.