Tuesday, 31 December 2019


It seems that 1970s browned glass windows (some call it 'gold' but some is fools) that give photographers such nice reflections are somewhat passé and doomed to the poubelles de l'histoire. So I mentioned the windows on High Street a while back (in passing I'll mentioned that the company involved with that has just gone into liquidation ...) and now plans have been made to change the windows on Europa House on Ferensway to bring them up to date or whatever the excuse is. Still given that the place has never been fully used since 1975 and was sold recently for less than the price of a good new car (£12,000 was the price since you ask) a change might be a good idea. 

You want to know what it might look like? OK here's the picture from the local paper, just don't tell anyone I borrowed it.

I have to say I think this is an improvement ... it's brighter, lighter and there'll still be some reflections.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

The pedagogical industrial complex

In large states public education will always be mediocre, for the same reason that in large kitchens the cooking is usually bad.    Friedrich Nietzsche

That light blue K (the Special K?) is a common sight in these parts as pupils (let us use the proper term, pupils are forced to go to school to learn, students go to university or college to study, in theory) seem to be obliged to wear a uniform with a distinctive if somewhat dull K-badge upon it. Freddy Nietzsche's comment about being mediocre applies to Kelvin Hall school as it is rated  "average" in the Government's school performance results.

Kelvin Hall takes the young impressionable souls from the age of 11 and spits them out at the age of 16. At that point you might think a person would be free to go do what they like: eleven years of state education and you'd be set up for whatever the world could throw at you. Well you might think that and I couldn't comment but in England you'd be breaking the law. For in England's green and pleasant you have to (now let me quote this right for I find it a bit unbelievable) "do one of the following until you’re 18:
  • stay in full-time education, for example at a college
  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training"
Note if you live in Wales, Scotland or beautiful Northern Ireland you can go run in the fields or whatever at 16 but in England you must not, ever be a NEETS (that's Not in Education, Employment, or Training, in case you were wondering).  

So then you might, at 16, and I think you'd be wise so to do, you might choose to go to Wyke 6th form college which is conveniently next door to alma mater to study for your A levels or your BTechs or whatever collection of letters they are using these days. Wyke college, from what I gather is a bright spot of learning (I guess you've got to want to be there and so want to study) and boasts really good exam results. I won't be  a  grudge and say that exams are easier these days, I passed mine forty five or more years ago and things change and there were fewer, far fewer staying on after 16 back then and hardly anybody went on to University despite full grants and free tuition. I'm just going to put it down to having smaller kitchens, I guess.


In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards. Mark Twain

Until a few years ago schools in Hull, as in most places, were run by the local authority. Hull City Council, in my own personal experience, is not fit to pick up the litter off the streets let alone be entrusted with the education of its young people. Hull's education record as perennially bottom-of-the-league was scandalous. Recently most schools have become "academies", that is not-for-profit charities funded directly by central government and independent of the local authority. This supposedly gives freedom of curriculum and allows for more tailored practices and hopefully an improvement in education standards (well they couldn't get any worse).

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Winter Trees

In this bleak midwinter rain has fallen, rain on rain ... and so Snuff Mill Lane fields are nicely awash and home to a few wary gulls and it's all a bit otherworldly.

I know it's hard to believe but I have seen a farmer try to grow a crop in these fields a few years ago. Every now and then it gets ploughed, harrowed and sown with barley or some such; I'm not qualified to say what sort of yields comes out of here but it can't be good since it's been fallow for a few years now. I think this is protected land, as in the Council's 'local plan' does not have in its sights, and it's also a site of scientific interest (but that means diddly-squat if developer wants it).

I've mentioned before that it's a great place for seeing the things of nature with birds, roe deer, weasels and so on. Best thing I saw this year was a buzzard being attacked by some crows. I took a not very good picture ...

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

St Nicholas' Chapel

There may be no Santa Claus (who can say?) but there is definitely a St Nick's with its impressive spire looming out of the evening gloom over the Fisher Fleet in King's Lynn.

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

`You'll want all day to-morrow, I suppose?'

`A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every twenty-fifth of December!'

The fortnight of 'festive' indolence is under way. I recall, when I was a child getting on for sixty years ago, that grown ups would work all the way up to and including Xmas Eve have one or two days off and go back to work until New Year's Day which for some reason found the grown ups sore of head and full of remorse... Then one year, in the 70s, the holiday was at a weekend so it was thought right, fitting and proper to take the Monday off as well, to make up for not having had a day off ... and so the nonsense grew until Xmas Day met and married New Year's Day and gave birth to a tawdry litter of fourteen days of pap and pabulum. Nowadays many just jack it all in and have a two week end-of-year break up (like they were school children again) ...  it's an imposed commercialized pseudo-pagan (well the Xians nicked it from the pagans to begin with) drink fueled marking of the passing seasons in a bland debt-ridden, double-glazed, air-conditioned world where seasons have absolutely no meaning any more.
I blame the Victorians, they invented the modern Xmas with their idiotic Xmas trees (let's put lit candles on a tree and keep it indoors near an open coal fire, seems like a good idea!) and cards with impossible snowy scenes (it rarely snows in this country, truth be told, and, in any case, snow is just the absolute pits!) and the roast bird and the presents and the family get together (and the inevitable fall out ...  If only "one's own kin and kith were more fun to be with...", so true Mr Nash, so true...) A particular villain in all this indulgent, seasonal frippery is, of course, Charles (Gawd bless us, every one!) Dickens with his nauseating sentimental tripe, I hope his chestnuts are roasting on an open fire, eternally ...   Bah!

Sunday, 22 December 2019


In much the same way that out-of-works actors are not "out-of-work" but "resting" this shop is not "vacant" but "repairing". This photo was taken some while ago (it has lingered in the draft folder for years) and I believe the shop has been "repaired" and reopened, it may well have closed for repairs again such is the style these days.
I read a piece in the Times the other day about how a town in Scotland, Paisley, had dealt with its empty shops by converting them into flats and accommodation and had somehow revitalised its town centre from the scourge of retail desertion. The major retailers aren't going to be coming back ever so why not? Hull City Council however continues to double down with plans for even more retail space on the soon to be demolished BHS site. Maybe they don't get the Times in the Guildhall.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Forgotten Evangelicals

Blogger allows you to make draft postings and somehow this picture has been hidden away in the "draft" for so long I've forgotten what I was going to say about it (maybe something witty about fishers of men, or has that been done already?). So I thought I'll just leave it here and if anything comes to mind maybe I'll add it later. I can tell you this is in Bridlington and it's tucked away down a steep alley way close by the harbour but then you might guess that from the sign.

The weekend in Black and white is here.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Among the leaves so green, O

I could tell you this road is named after John Wymersley who in the early 16th century ran the well nigh bankrupt Haltemprice Priory close by and came into conflict with Hull City Council as then was in the guise of the Sheriff of Hull who ran neighbouring villages. The dispute I read came to a "battle or skirmish" in 1516 ... I could but Wikipedia has it all written down so neatly that it would waste my time so I'll just copy it here ...

"the Prior claimed that though the priory was within the Shire of Hull it was not part of it, and was within the Lordship of Cottingham, and had taken the issue to the Star Chamber; the case was referred to the Abbott of Meaux; Bryan Palmes; and Sir William Constable who had decided in the Prior's favour. Despite this decision on 6 October the Sheriff of Hull together with 200 people of the town began to approach Wolfreton; the Prior, who had been informed of the Sheriff's intentions roused his tenants, and armed the monks of the Priory, who then blocked the roads, and hurled abuse on the Sheriff and his people. The Sheriff's party returned the insults in turn using foul language. Subsequently, the altercation came to blows and a quarrel with arrows ensued. The battle continued until the monks, many being old or fat, gave way, and fled to their priory, followed by the Sheriff's group. The situation was prevented from becoming more inflamed by the arrival of the Lord Mayor of Hull, who having learned of what was happening hastened to the scene with 60 horsemen. Subsequently, the Prior sought redress in the Star Chamber, with the Sheriff accused of riot and other crimes – the legal proceedings continued for three years at much expense, leading to the settlement that the Prior was given Willerby and Newton within his authority, whilst Hull obtained free right to the fresh water springs of Anlaby"


Ah that was so far in the past and they don't do stuff like that these days except ... well my own little patch of this green and pleasant isle is in Cottingham but Hull City Council claims it owns the road outside my house and is trying to tell me how to keep my hedge in trim. We've been through the hurling abuse at the Sheriff's men stage and I have my complaint before the Star Chamber as I write ... all I need now is 60 horsemen since old and fat monks are pretty useless and scarce on the ground these days. 

To finish I thought I'd include this little video of a song which has been earworm of mine lately. The song goes on and on but this is a short and sweet version and, much like this post, quite mad.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

The Helter Skelter Girl

I found this among the pictures Margot had taken at Hull Fair this year.

The weekend in black and white is here.

Friday, 13 December 2019

The Not So Strange Death of Labour England

 You're going to reap just what you sow

I won't gloat too much, I promise, but a smile and a cheery demeanour are surely in order after the results of yesterday which were far better than I expected (though I did have a bet with Margot for a fifty seat majority). The so-called Left (they are actually repressive gangsters), I see, are still in denial (good), blaming everyone from the media, the BBC, the Guardian newspaper (of all things!), Donald Trump, nasty tricks by the Tories (who would have thought?), lies, more lies... everyone is to blame, in fact, everyone but themselves and the three years of denigration of the electorate who have come round and in the words of a (now ex) Labour MP bitten them on the backside. Labour are as far from power as they could possibly be, this is worse than the thrashing from Thatcher as back then Labour still had people who wanted to govern the country, this lot seem only to want to control their own little faction with purity of thought. There's a lesson here for those who think they can take people for granted: don't even think about it.
Oh and lest we forget, in Scotland the nationalists did so well they'll be wanting a second independence referendum and who can gainsay them? First the EU then the UK ... it all falls apart. Excellent.

Oh as you can see old Warty is looking as sick as a Labour supporter ... this is, afterall, Friday the thirteenth, unlucky for some, so they say ... but I'm not gloating, not me, sir, no sir!

Thursday, 12 December 2019

The Biggest Game

Some seats are marginal and some are so safe they weigh the vote instead of counting it. Such is the condition of the constituency I find myself in today as the country douches itself in cold water puts on a mac and a warm, woolly hat and toddles down to the Polling Station to exercise its democratic right to kick out its MP. Here in Howden and Haltemprice (or is it Haltemprice and Howden? you know I think it might be) there has been a Conservative MP since the Reform Act of 1832, it's considered the second safest seat in the country. So why bother voting? It's just a big game where one side always wins. In this election though I said wouldn't bother I shall be voting and voting for the sitting Tory MP. I want him and his party to have a nice big majority. Why? The hung Parliament of the past two years or so has been a stinking insult to the majority who voted to leave the EU and for all the faults of the Conservative Party (and I could write a book) the other lot both Labour (a party now devoid of meaning, led by an untrustworthy dunderhead, who promise even more delay and dithering on their path to ultimate betrayal) and the Liberal Democrats (who it has to be said are neither liberal nor democratic and have already sold the pass on Brexit) are utterly execrable and incapable of pushing water downhill.

The Lib Dems ... well I post this here because they will be washed out just like this photo.

When I first came to this place elections were held in the school hall across the road at the back. This was deemed to be interfering with the running of the school (how? don't ask me) so now the Council has to pay out for a containerised Polling Station in a pub car park which appears as if by magic the day before and vanishes the day after every election. Is there a big storage space for resting Polling Stations?

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Like water off a ...

Lately I've been reading up a bit on quantum physics and what 'reality' might be. I thought it about time I caught up on all this; the theory is nearly a hundred years old after all and besides it makes a refreshing change from Thomas Carlyle and his delightful but seemingly interminable French Revolution. I can appreciate that there's no analogy suitable for the behaviour of an electron or photon and how you can't know anything about it until you look and how looking changes everything, I can grasp all this... (and pace Neils Bohr I do not find it shocking at all but maybe I really  don't understand it ...) Anyhoo, it got me to thinking that perhaps, there is an analogy from quantum physics for the current election, how once it's over, and we sneak-a-peek inside Schrödinger's election box to see whose cat has died in there; the psephological wave function collapses, as it were, and all other probabilities become zero ... or maybe I should just get out more.
I can't help thinking that all the huff and all the puff of all the political classes flows so rapidly off the electorate's back that it has no effect at all. None but the most obtuse or gullible are going to be convinced by the performance of any of the parties or the not-so-subtle bias of the media. I'm guessing the vast majority made their minds up over the last three and a half years, since the Brexit Referendum and have seen what the Opposition has to offer (the Opposition, to stretch my analogy possibly to breaking point, seems to obey the Uncertainty Principle: you can know what its policy is right now but you cannot possibly know what its policy will be at any time in the future and, much like that old electron in the "only mystery of quantum mechanics", it 'seems' to want to go through the Leave and Remain doors simultaneously) and well, well we'll see. When Friday comes, and "democracy has democked" and the result is out who, I wonder, will be saying "I don't like it, and I'm sorry I had anything to do with it".

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Somewhere like King's Lynn ...

Red Mount Chapel, The Walks, King's Lynn
A man that is tired of London, said some wag, is tired of life, to which I add that a man that is tired of Hull has come to his senses. Hull is a well known dump, the ultimate crap town (accept no substitutes), run by petty minded, petulant jumped up jack-in-offices. I hate the sodding place, I'm sick of it and its gridlocks, its failing services, it's depressing shitty little town centre, its pathetic attempt to be a city, nay a city of culture ... pah to hell with it all. I should leave (should have left years ago), go somewhere, anywhere that doesn't depress, irritate and bore me to death. Somewhere like King's Lynn, perhaps.

This little folly, the Guannock Gate,  has been carefully moved, rebuilt and plonked here as a feature in the Walks. In the city of culture a similar town gate is now a demolished, despoiled and despised hole in the ground, a place where litter and louts and their odious offspring accumulate.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Again with the rainbows

If this looks vaguely familiar it's because I posted it or something so damn similar you wouldn't know the difference back in September, here to be exact where there's a bigger and better rainbow. Only this time I flipped it round juste pour rire.

The monthly theme for City Daily Photo was Rainbow but I paid already and I don't really care ...

Friday, 29 November 2019


"No one left and no one came
On the bare platform..."

The good ship Wikipedia informs me that Cottingham station was opened in the mid 1840s like so many stations, little and large, in this country. I learn that the place was actually designed by a real person, an architect no less (who knew?), George Andrews, I had thought these places just grew by themselves, organically, they all look the same, and that would be, I suppose, because the Boy George designed most of them ... I read that there were "two platforms, a stationmaster's house, and waiting rooms. In addition to the passenger facilities there was a goods shed, and coal depot to the west of the line, reached by points to the north of the station. Goods transit into Cottingham included coal and building materials, whilst goods outwards from Cottingham included large amounts of agricultural produce as well as livestock." 
Must have been quite a busy little place back then. Now it's more Adlestrop than King's Cross ...
Well there are still two platforms, the stationmaster's house is a listed building now though I wouldn't want to live there as there's no floor. The coal depot is no more, I think it's a builders' merchant store or it was, there were plans for a supermarket there (whatever happened to that I now wonder.) There are waiting rooms, that much is true and recently renovated too, but only on one platform and I've never seen anyone use them. The signal box is now a museum piece and goods traffic all goes by road these days and has done for decades. The footbridge remains as do a few dozen passengers each day who want to go to Bridlington or Scarborough or Hull and Sheffield, I believe there's a through train to London once a day but that might just be a myth. There's no ticket office, never has been while I've been here. A modern, somewhat intrusive, innovation is a fancy interactive ticket machine ignored by all; I always buy my ticket on the train ... 'cos sometimes the conductor doesn't turn up and a free ride is always fun.

The weekend in black and white is here.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Very Reasonable Doubt

I came across a sticker just like this a few years ago. Even then  the case of Jeremy Bamber was a long running and worrying affair but I thought he'll at least win his appeals and this injustice will soon be over. But Mr Bamber, convicted  in 1986 of the murders of his parents, his sister and her six-year-old twin sons is still behind bars and years later there are still stickers on cars ... I don't know if he did what he's accused of, I do know there's abundant evidence (the suicidal, schizophrenic sister with access to the gun, for example, and shockingly doubtful forensics;  you know how it all goes in these cases) to make the conviction troublesome to say the least and where's there's reasonable doubt, so the old myth goes, you must acquit ... Thirty three years is damn long time to do for any crime, an eternity for an innocent man. There are stories that new evidence will gain a release in the near future but hope is, perhaps, best kept in a jar and not let loose upon the  world ...
Still when I was a child back in the sixties he would no doubt have been hanged for such a heinous crime and that, for those who like finality in these things, would have put an end to all doubts ... there's more if you can face it to read here.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

The Money Pit

At some point after the stinking little port of Hull was granted the right to exist those who lived in the ancient town of Beverley grew tired of having to sail/row slowly down the twisting, meandering mud stream that was (and remains) the river Hull and decided they needed a road to get to the place that was going to take away their trade and their preeminence as a leading town in England. And so the Hull Road came about, straight as can be through the hamlets of Woodmansey, Dunswell and on through the largest village in England Cottingham across the swampy mires of Wyke until running into the Beverley Gate and the delights of what is now Whitefriargate. Down this road came King Charles I and his mates looking for a bed for the night before being told to go sling his hook. Later on to maintain the road, toll booths were put in place on the Beverley-Hull turnpike.
But times changed, the stinking little port grew and grew and became the stinking big town spreading ever outwards and reaching up and swallowing large chunks of Cottingham (its appetite is still not sated and it would swallow the whole and other villages besides if it had its druthers)  and the road is no longer Hull Road but Beverley Road and despite its historical significance no kings would come down here if they'd any sense.
The stretch of Beverley Road running from the town centre up to Cottingham Road is, now how shall I put this without appearing too blunt, a dump. In the thirty eight years I've been here it has always been a dump, a grey depressing dump. Behind it old slum housing with attendant social problems has been cleared and replaced by new slum, sorry social, housing with attendant social problems but the late Georgian/Victorian buildings put up by the expansion of the mid 19th century remain on the road itself. The condition of these buildings varies from maintained to totally neglected as in bombed out by the Germans and still not demolished nearly eighty years later, another building had all its internal walls  taken out (don't ask why) and is in danger of collapse. To add to its woes the area has somehow become a Conservation Area, so nothing can be done without jumping through the extra hoops of planning permission and cost. None of which would matter much if this wasn't one the main roads into the town, a gateway to use Council planning parlance, and it's hardly a delight but in its defense I would say that other roads into the town also produce the urge to turn around, leave and never come back. I know other cities have similar dreary roads, I recall Liverpool's long and winding roads even after more than forty years,  but that is their problem.
Now this has not gone unnoticed by those who claim to run the place. It has been spotted that the place has had economic decline in recent years (recent years? how recent is well over half a century of decline?). The cash strapped Council fresh from putting millions of pounds of paving in parts of the empty town centre put in for some cash from whatever source has the stuff and managed to bag a couple of million to do up the place. They have a plan, and (God help us all) the plan has a name: the Townscape Heritage Scheme. Well they've had this plan for a few years now but nothing visible has shown itself. The plan is to give grants for part of the cost of renovating buildings, put in new railings and boundary walls, remove a few street signs, install heritage lighting and no doubt polish the dog turds on the pavement and so on. I'm sure none of this will do any harm but honestly it's a drop in the vast ocean. And as any fool knows a couple of million can soon be eaten up in a council plan, especially as extra staffing will be needed to get the plan off the ground (ça va sans dire!), and approving the grants is "proving slower than anyone anticipated" (of course it is, this is Parkinson's Law in action). Clearly there is little reason why a private individual would sink good money into this place and even with grants it's becoming difficult to get any progress. So why waste any more public money? Simply knock the crumbly edifices down (it wouldn't take much; one simply fell down just the other year!), scrub it clean and start again with acres of prime development land or greenery if you wish right in the heart of town ... and as this will take an absolute age to do you could invite the king to come have a look.

The weekend in black and white is here.

Friday, 22 November 2019

It's beginning to look ...

... a lot like mid-November.

I don't know which is the more disappointing, misleading and tawdry. The tinselly fake-snow eight week build up to that stupid whilom Christian, whilom Pagan end-of-year exercise in conspicuous consumption and phoney bonhomie or the tinselly, fake, five week exercise in mendacity, vilification and knavery known as the UK general election. This year's offerings from the town that has the culture are particularly unimpressive, the town tree I'm told is much taller than the usual twig but someone hadn't turned the lights on so I couldn't see or maybe the helpful Grinch had stolen them (Hooray!).

Indeed there seemed to be no festering, sorry, festive lights at all in Queen Vic Square (Hooray! Hooray!). The only seasonal thing of any note was a gaudy illuminated  ginger bread house affair on King Edward Street. Council must have spent all their pennies on that and couldn't afford any more (Hip, Hip, Hooray!)

This looks impressive but it's all an illusion like everything these days.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

The Feel Good Legacy

You can if you like just look at the picture of the pretty lights on Ferensway and move on. I'm going to prattle on about the City of Culture and stuff like that so if that bores you terminally press on to better things ...

Just the other day there were reports on local TV and in the local paper of the final evaluation report by the University of Hull on the year 2017 and the City of Culture and what , if any, its long lasting benefits might be. I've tried to find a copy online but failed so what I'm commenting on is second hand, might not be accurate, indeed may be a pack of stale tosh but that never stopped me before so here goes. 
The picture I get is one of desperation. For example nearly 80% of the "visitors" to "events" in 2017 came from either Hull or the East Riding neighbourhood, of the other 20% I bet a fair few came from Lincolnshire just across the Humber Bridge. Less than 1% of visitors were from abroad. It seems that, despite being the "national" UK City of Culture, they now claim that the year of culture was to be a local thing, aimed at Hull folk and they never intended to be aiming to attract a foreign (or indeed national) audience, well that was at least one measurable success they had. This was local culture for local people we now hear ... well more on this below.
It's claimed that five million people came to Hull to see the "events" but this figure cannot be anything but a guesstimate (or, as I call it, an outright lie): I came to Hull several times during the year, I "saw" some of the "events" but I was there to do my shopping and would have been there in any case much like many of the so-called "visitors" from Hull and hereabouts. I can only assume I was counted several times as a "visitor". It was not so much a case of "Let's go see the big thing in Queen Victoria Square" as "Oh look there's a big effing big thing standing in my way, and what the F*** is it doing there?". Surely passive (or irate) "visitors" like this cannot count, indeed should be counted as a negative visitor ... and anecdotally I should add I did not notice more folk in town during the year. I admit, though, I was asked once by a tourist where Humber Dock was ...
Still and yet there's the glorious legacy, as they like to call it. It seems those who volunteered to be part of the show did, on the whole, think it was positive for them. How nice for them I'm sure; but then these were only a few, a very few out of the many thousands who live in the place. Young people apparently were not too impressed by it all with mainly 50+ year olds attending most of the offerings. Also youngsters at school apparently missed out and continue to miss out due to curriculum requirements (shame, indeed, that their educational needs should take priority over this cultural hogwash).
Surely all that money has left something behind, something tangible ... (I love that word! tangible!) Well it seems there was a 1% increase in tourist spending in 2018 over 2017 but then inflation was ~2.5% so that actually is a decrease in real terms ... There have been some hundreds of millions of public and private investment spent in the town in the past six years but the best the report can say is this could "at least be partly attributed to the UK City of Culture" or maybe it is partly due to this splendid blog or who knows? ... like I say : desperate.
Now, look around the town: has it got better? Are the shops full of wealthy customers eager to keep the local economy thriving? Hardly,  they're shopping online or going out of town to Sheffield or York. The photo shows the old House of Fraser shop, Binns, as I call it draped with lights but it shut back in summer (I'm told it will open as an "artisan food hall" whatever that is ...) and there are dozens more shops like this some empty for many years.
There is apparently a legacy organisation, with the absolutely ridiculous title of Absolutely Cultured ("core purpose is to put culture and creativity at the heart of people’s lives to drive Hull’s ambition and aspirations.")  that is described as "vague in terms of resources, responsibilities and modalities of implementation." which is I take to be a polite way of saying they haven't got a clue ... I can say I've heard of it but cannot see anything that it has actually done and its website hardly inspires.
Ah but culture is not to be measured in such crude financial ways, the benefits to the people of Hull are intangible, some might say. They get a boost somehow from all this publicity, they get to feel good, to have pride in their city. Hmm well in 2018 4% fewer Hull folk felt better about Hull than in 2017. I guess those who took the £32 million or so that was raised, the out-of-town installation makers, the out-of-town providers of torch lit parades (Continentals do such a good torch lit parade, don't you find?), the strange out-of-town American guy who took photos of hundreds of naked folk on the streets of the town (for a big fat fee, of course), the gangly out-of-town oik who was in charge and the out-of-town journalist whose sole qualification seemed to be that she went to Hull University once and was second in charge (for oh so reasonable a fee) I bet all these and so many more out-of-townies who selflessly had to force their snouts into the trough (again the fees were reasonable)  are indeed feeling a lot happier about Hull.
Let us, therefore, seek the cultural legacy elsewhere since it clearly ain't here, mate.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Poppycock or false memory day

How can children remember something that happened before they or in many cases even their parents were born or someone they never met? Indeed why  should they even bother? Who benefits from all this? The dead? Long past caring.  The living, then? How? The land fit for heroes threw them on to the jobless scrap heap but every November out came  the bloody poppies and British Bloody Legion with their bloody flags, their bloody medals and their damn bloody marches.
It has become a routine that is only done because it has always been done. This year the PM put his wreath upside down! (titter ye not!) The other guy who wants to be PM turns up even though he has voted against every British military intervention there has been and has fraternized with just about every 'enemy' while he has been an MP, at least he didn't bow his head only because he's too damned ignorant. No-one dare say "Let us stop this nonsense now and get on with our lives". 
As a child I was told that on Remembrance Day we remember those who died in the War. The War then was the Great War, WW1. Now the War is WW2 though that too is fading, Korea (where was that now?), Falklands (oh yeah dimly recall), Afghanistan, Northern Ireland (maybe not so much NI as that wasn't officially a war and besides half the enemy were in the pay of the secret service), any patch of a scrubby useless middle eastern shithole that the British Army has been sent to and come home again having achieved precisely zip and at such a cost ... Ah yes I was told and you tell your children still they must remember these 'sacrifices' and show their respects. What for?
Now memory is as you know a pretty untrustworthy thing at the best of times but if you are going to tell your children stories what do you expect to happen? I was told by my mother that her father's brother joined up at the start of the war; both brothers enlisted together, leaving their jobs in the steel works, joined the Gordon Highlanders (the kilts were a thing back then). Poor old great uncle Thomas however died in the war, I was told, and grandpa married his brother's bereaved fiancée. That's a nice story with such a romantic ending... Or so I was told ... Hmm today I find, thanks to computers and internets that never forget, Great Uncle Tom actually lived to over 70 and died in 1959 and worked in a pawnbroker's shop and was in the Northumberland Fusiliers. Grandpa Joe, was living in a different town to his brother, was actually in the Gordon Highlanders in France from 1915 onwards (I guess something had to be true) and when I knew him as a chain smoking (Capstan full strength or Willy Woodbines) old man he cursed the British Bloody Legion whenever he could, he'd no time for poppies or poppycock. He never, ever mentioned (maybe he forgot) being wounded in 1916 but computers and internets they never forget ...
There I've done with my bit of remembering. Now what? Hmm?

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Honey Fungus (I think)

On Snuff Mill Lane the other day large numbers of these pretty brown critters had sprung up alongside a blackthorn and ivy hedge. I think it's honey fungus (Armillaria mellea) a destroyer of broadleaf trees, particularly fruit trees. I'm told they are edible but somehow I don't think I'll try. I recall the saying that everything is edible at least once. Did I mention there were large numbers of them?

Friday, 8 November 2019

Pier review

Bridlington pier attracts all sorts who bring along all the right gear to catch either the light or the odd passing codling or flounder ... I have a tripod, I just can't be bothered to traipse around with it.

These guys are not allowed to fish off here during the summer in case a passing tourist (there are still a few who pass) might be harmed by seeing grown folk waste their time in the pursuit of the big 'un. There must be some hidden thing I'm not getting, each one finds their own way through that gap twixt cradle and grave.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Old Warty

Avid followers of my dreary tales will know of my pumpkin cultivation (if that is the word, they just romped along all by themselves) and will, no doubt, love to know that the only one that grew anything like a pumpkin ended up as all good gourds do: top sliced off, gutted and crudely hacked about in some really messy ritual. (I don't like Hallowe'en but making a mess still appeals) But then what do you do with the damn thing? Being a novice at this game I put old warty face on the garden gates' spikes  for any passing wildlife to enjoy; plus I'm sure he'll annoy the neighbours (who do things neat and tidy in the garden). He sits there still, a girning, toothy memorial to the sunshine of the summer of '19.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

"Looks like an accident in the cutlery drawer"

Over last weekend and to the annoyance of many gridlocked motorists Castle Street was blocked off and the new footbridge (which we last saw parked up in preparation in a car park a few weeks ago) was shuffled into position in a faultless manner and much quicker than expected. The road was reopened fifteen hours earlier than forecast to much rejoicing. The bridge is only the small matter of thirty odd years late (who's counting?) ... and it won't be fit for pedestrians until spring.

The title was Margot's comment upon first seeing this. "Like the dish ran away with the spoon?" said I. Still you don't have to look at it when you're on it.

The weekend in Black and White is here.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Waste for Energy

As the train draws into Sheffield station you cannot but be a bit overawed by the outsized industrial plant with attendant chimney right in the heart of town. What do they make here I wondered, what new industrial delight has Sheffield brought forth?
But then a few days later and after a very small amount of searching I find this is no more than a commercial trash incinerator/power plant/community heating concern. That must be nice for the neighbours, I thought, what kind of idiot place would build that in its centre? Then I remembered that the small town of Hull has just built a very similar place also in the heart of town though that heart is somewhat more sclerotic and rotten. That place too will be bringing in other people's trash to turn into electricity though at what a price. Didn't we used to burn cheap, local coal and make sparks cheaply that way? Now we burn anything but coal and that is considered fine and proper (but it's damned expensive; not to say stupid), ah but the greenie bumpykins are happier; they are never happy as such just less unhappy. Maybe we could burn them and increase the sum of human happiness ...
I was going to look up a load of stuff about this place but it's an incinerator and frankly it bores me rigid but fortunately I find someone has already written a piece a few years back so you can (should you want on a slow rainy day) go look at this and I can just go think of something nice like blowing up Parliament with gunpowder ... drat it's no longer sitting.

Monday, 4 November 2019

And quiet flows the Don

Here's the river we've been trailing all the way up to Sheffield. The Don was once a jet-black flowing cess pit of pollution but since the 1970s it's been cleaned up and now salmon and other fishes spawn and thrive in its rushing waters.That's a nice little success story that's no-body shouts about for some odd reason.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Masbrough and Millmoor: nothing to see here ...

As our train slowly drags its weary way up the Don valley we pass through what was once the dark Satanic mills country of south Yorkshire; a place of coal mines, iron works and heavy engineering that once led the world but is now a land  struggling to find a use for itself. I doubt Sir Walter Scott ever ventured up here to find romantic inspiration for his twaddle tales of derring-do ... So here in Rotherham, a place that has know better times, is Masbrough or Masborough (depending on who is doing the spelling, I favour leaving out the 'o'; I don't pronounce it so it's not there ... it is said that Middlesbrough, a town near to where I was born, is so because the Town Clerk couldn't spell ... But I'm digressing again)  where was I? oh yes, Masbrough, a suburb of Rotherham just across the river, comes to us as a passing, fleeting view of an old unwanted station. This was once the main station for Rotherham, from the 1840s until the mid 1980s.  All we have now is an unused platform and some railway buildings which I read are now a restaurant but it was once a thriving, busy station, you can read more here. The station's last use was for 'football specials' which leads us neatly onto the next picture ...

This is a really bad picture of  Millmoor football stadium once home to various Rotherham football clubs over the years until Rotherham United were thrown out for not paying the rent a few years ago. The place, I read, is the home of Westfield United of The Bud Evans BD U18 Division 5 which is quite possibly the least exciting piece of information I've ever found out in my entire life... a paper ran a piece on the place should you need cheering up ...

Saturday, 2 November 2019


At fifty or so miles an hour this is about as much of Conisbrough as I manged to spot from the train on our way to Sheffield the other day. Still it's enough, I think. I've been trying to find out something about this place and well, here goes. The castle, you've noticed the castle I take it, big old Norman keep, recently reroofed and famed as the inspirational source for Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. He called the place Coningsburgh so no-one would know ... I admit I've never read the book, (who reads that stuff these days?) but as a child I was suitable appalled by Roger Moore's acting in the TV series ... 
Erm what else? Oh yes; Kilner jars originated here but went bust way back in 1937. There was an Earth Centre I recall it was some sort millennium thing (there was a great madness about the land at that time) consisting of a big hole in the ground or former colliery or former glass works (Kilner's Works? I dont know or care much. It's all a bad memory best forgotten)  into which money (>£41 million!! as I say madness was stalking the country) was poured à la Maynard Keynes. It had an ecological theme that, quite naturally, failed to appeal and no-one could be bothered to visit so it went bust and is now a housing estate I hear. There's also Archers Way which once had another, sillier name but you can search for that yourself. 
I'm sure Conisbrough is a nice place. It certainly has a very long history, the Old English Cyningesburh was recorded back in 1000, and if I had the time and inclination I could tell more ... it's just that we went through at fifty miles an hour and it's gone now...

Friday, 1 November 2019

A River Runs Through It

The theme for the City Daily Photo's start of the month shindig is 'brown'. Since there runs a big streak of glorious brown stuff right through the heart of town what else could I post other than another view of the river. As ever it's a symphony of browns. The river is empty now and rarely used, you know it's bad when they decide to turn the old dry docks on the right into a heritage feature; mind you I said they should do that years ago ...

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Something will turn up

"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery." 
                                                                                                                     Charles Dickens

There is a saying that any noun can be verbed and vice versa: the technical term for this trickery is anthimeria; it is one of the useful features of the English language. However turning an adjective into a noun, well, it just sticks in the craw .... "Find your extraordinary"  is the dumb, illiterate slogan of the University of Hull1. With such a stupid motto it comes as little surprise that the English course at this establishment has slipped down to 75th in subject ranking. This is a sorry fall indeed for a department that was once one of the leading English departments in the country (well it was when Margot got her First there, way back when we were all a lot younger). It should also not surprise anyone that the university's overall ranking is 81st though this is a rise of 13 places from last year (source The complete university guide : the Guardian has the place ranked 106!). The university has already had to make £15 million cutbacks and now announces a further £25 million. Clearly all that building of student residential accommodation was not cheap (I've seen a figure of £28.5 million for one block alone; though the loss of a cricket pitch is beyond calculation...) and a new sports centre didn't exactly come free (£17 million) and there's the undisclosed costs of sponsoring the UK's Olympic Team (Team GB) (Why on earth? Just why? Bonkers!) which leads to the Vice Chancellor saying the “plummeting league table results are “untenable””  (really?) and things will get worse before they improve (if they ever do). 
Now it really should not have come as such a surprise that the expansion of this place was a bubble that could not grow forever; that massive expenditure might not bring in the revenue expected. The university, along with many others, has overestimated revenue: in short the result, as Micawber could have told them, is misery ... and cuts (approaching 10% of spending)  to staff and courses will only reduce teaching quality, feeding back to lower student intake and so on ... The intention is to have a smaller but better University; well smaller is easily done; better is much harder to achieve and does not automatically follow cutbacks.
I find it extraordinary (that much abused adjective again) that anyone would choose to come to this place let alone pay at least £9,250 per year in tuition fees plus living costs and leave with debts of £40,000 for a piece of paper that says you have met the academic approval of the University of Hull (whoop! whoop!). So let me tell you that, extraordinarily, 16,000 students are enrolled here. I wish them well.

1I wonder if the U of H knew, I'm sure it did due diligence (didn't it?), that "Find your extraordinary" is the title of one of those odd books designed to spur entrepreneurs onto bigger and better things. It has the subtitle "Dream Bigger, Live Happier, and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms" (no really it does!)... You'd think entrepreneurs would not have time to read such tosh but then again business folk have put the U of H in its present parlous position so maybe it's required reading. You can find this essential guide on Amazon and suchlike places and no, I'm not putting up a link, go find you own extraordinary

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Dialogue of the deaf

On Monday this week our House of Commons huffed and puffed and denied the Government's motion to have an election on December 12. On Tuesday, the very next day, our House of Commons met and over a period of several hours, with votes to see if amendments could be put forward (passed),  said amendments (to let 16 year olds and EU nationals vote in the election!!!???) then rightly rejected by Mr Deputy Speaker, then finally and solemnly passed a bill by an overwhelming majority to allow an election on ... December 12. 
So the great conversation will begin, or rather the uncivil shouting match will continue, with neither side listening to the other, cue much media bias, expect revelations about the PM's private life, about the Labour leader's senility, how the NHS will be sold to the USA, how Labour will turn the UK into Venezuela ...  all very nice and all no doubt true. But there is really only one issue: Leaving the god forsaken European Union as soon as possible or letting the possibility of leaving slide into the mire of Labour and Liberal Democrat betrayal. So, though I cannot possibly vote Conservative myself, I hope for a thumping great Tory landslide, a clear majority to get the UK out once and for all. Vote Boris!

I have shown these two distant friends before here and here.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Monday, 28 October 2019

An old wife's tale

 "Tid, Mid, Misere; Carlin, Palm, Pace-Egg Day"

I sometimes think folk invent things behind my back, while I'm not looking new traditions spring up, fully formed, that I'd never ever heard of. So imagine my suspicions when after looking up what the devil a Carlin Pea might be, and why this unbecoming little shop should proclaim itself to be the home thereof, a whole new-to-me north-of-England 'tradition' appeared out of the virtual mist. 
The short version is that Newcastle-upon-Tyne (a city someways to the north of Hull, inhabited by amiable troll like folk who grunt to each other in a dialect (known for no good reason as Geordie) so impenetrable that outsiders grimace and ask for translators to help with normal intercourse... but I digress... ) was under siege by some Scottish army or other (there were so many back in the day, the day being 1644 and the war being the Civil War ), the populace were all dropping off with hunger when a ship from Norway (of all places!) or was it France? (seems more likely given the politics of the time) came up the bonny Tyne laden with dried, black peas and saved the day and lifted the siege (I assume the Geordies didn't share their good fortune with the Scots). Now all this happened on the fifth Sunday in Lent, known, apparently (well I didn't know) as Carlin Sunday. Hence Carlin peas, hence a 'tradition' in the North-East of England of eating these peas on the fifth Sunday of Lent. Now, I was brought up in the NE of E and spent my first eighteen years there, you'd think this nonsense might have passed by me at some time, but nope ... this is all news to me. Not that a meal of softened black quasi-mushy peas gently sautéed in butter or dripping or what have you has much appeal, but it would have been nice to have been offered ...
Which is all well and good but leaves unanswered, why Carlin Sunday? I mean 'Carlin' is old Norse for an old woman, or a crone, (it's French for a pug but that is by the by) ... Old Wife's Sunday seems a bit far fetched.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Yet More Driffield Amusements

Driffield, let's be honest, is not a big place. A visitor would be stretched to say it had more than one street, named rather sweetly as Middle Street. Now Middle Street is not to be mocked; it is long enough to have two halves: Middle Street North and Middle Street South. But the visitor need not worry about such quaintness, Driff has one street and most everything is on it. So let us just say that we are at the southern end of the strip and here's the Butcher's Dog, which I assume is a public house of some sort. I post only because I think the sign writing is superb ... I don't go in pubs these days, haven't for years. I'm told that now you can't smoke in them they reek of farts, sweat and stale beer ... delightful!
But what is that piano keyboard peeking out on the left? Why it's nothing less than a singing barber ...

Now this has three of my pet hates all in one window: Hallowe'en (boring commercialised Yankee reimport of a Scottish export), the Beatles (vastly overrated crud) and Elvis (just plain emetic yuck from the get go!). So well done  them! Barbers, with or without singers,  I also haven't been in since even longer than pubs.