Saturday, 15 February 2020

Whole trees in motion

For the past three or four days they've been at it again. Barely had one little storm faded away than they issue warning of impending doom with another approaching Atlantic depression. They've called this one Dennis and it promises the usual big blow and a whole ocean of wet stuff. Maybe a month's worth of rain in a day, there'll be flooding, there will be recriminations ... But as of now it's just a fresh breeze stirring up my neighbour's birch trees and a little drizzle, time to walk the dogs and get the shopping done or just put your feet up and forget about it.

The weekend in black and white is here.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Roses are red

Roses thrive on a rich well manured soil ...

For reasons that escape me our media follow closely the ins and outs of the quadrennial, seemingly perennial, US Presidential wooing game. For as long as I can recall they have bored us with it, as if it mattered more than Tesco not having any milk ... They gave us blow-by-blow reports of Iowa's arcane and somewhat sweet caucas process (that went well didn't it?), of the New Hampshire Democrats' desire to have their very own and original magic Grandpa as their choice and how Biden is vexed and Warren is, well let's not talk about Warren ... Commentators over here cannot decide how to pronounce "Buttigieg" (it's a name that gives those of us on this side of the great watery divide who have failed to find our inner adult the titters  but then we don't have a vote, no wonder he calls himself Pete; President Buttigieg!, nah can't see it ... but then there's been a Trump in orifice, sorry office, for the past four years  and we, well, we have our very own Johnson and his special friend Cummings ...). The wannabes are such a deep well of oddly 'talented' (by which I mean rich) folk all convinced that they have what it takes to be The Candidate; filled with the right amount of righteous indignation and large amounts of steaming hot  phony baloney ... it is, as I say, a mystery why we get such coverage when, from this distance, it is clear the short odds favourite will walk it with his hands in his very deep pockets. I can't say it worries me much: the current guy hasn't started any wars (yet) and the world is still spinning ... from what I see and hear he is far from ideal but as someone once said "The real American is all right: It is the ideal American who is all wrong."

Sunday, 9 February 2020

A Darkness at Noon

A storm in February used to pass by unnoticed, it was the kind of thing you expect, happened every year, through out autumn and winter we'd have storm after storm. A few dustbins would get blown over, maybe a tree or two, a power outage ( to use the American term) was not unknown. But it was winter, you expected it and got on with stuff. Nowadays everything has to have some malign anthropogenic cause and we'd better beat ourselves with birches until we come to our senses and/or die and leave the planet to all those cuddly animals and nice trees and flowers and grasses ... The chiliastic numpties gather in their covens and murmur misanthropic millennial doom and say we must expect these "extreme weather events" even more frequently now that there's so many people on the earth all making nasty carbon dioxide. They are, as I've said before, quite mad and completely wrong: we have fewer storms these days ... but mere facts never faze a craze.
Also crazy is giving these passing Atlantic depressions names: today's puny effort has the name Ciara which means "dark haired"; apt given that it was getting quite pitchy at just gone noon when I took my photo coming back from Tesco.

My bin blew over (almost!) , we must expect more events like this ... We shall rebuild! I don't know if the trauma will ever  leave me.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Puddle Reflections

Between the western edge of Hull and the village of Cottingham there's a no-man's land of so-called green belt, rough unwanted grazing pasture, land really not fit for crops, land that regularly floods, a land fit for gulls, horses, dog walkers, grey-bearded loons and youngsters up to no-good, a land that is a site of special scientific interest. In short just the sort of land developers salivate over; they would love to drain the place and cover with as many units as they can. To add a layer of complication the land is in the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) but much of it is owned by Hull City Council (don't ask how). So you can see how conflict between the neighbouring authorities might arise. Hull has filled its boundaries and has no more room, it would love to take over Cottingham, Anlaby, Willerby and the outlying villages and fill in the gaps in between and then spread out to Beverley. The good people of these villages voted overwhelmingly to tell Hull to get stuffed in a referendum a while back ... Thankfully ERYC usually denies permission for development, as it did for the creation of Hull's Cottingham cemetery, to get that built Hull had to go to a public inquiry (at ERYC's expense) ... I hear that the graves of Hull's dead still fill up with flood water and new drainage is being planned (at Hull's expense). 
The latest attempt is a desire by a charity to build a mini-village of 48 dwellings, huts, a cafe, parking, poly tunnels (?) with associated landscaping and infrastructure... you get the picture ... all for ex-army personnel, they call it a veterans village,  on land off Priory Road, close by this puddle. Quite whether Cottingham village and ERYC social services are up to dealing with the expense of dozens of so-called "heroes" has not been mentioned but it is obviously the thin end of a developer's wedge, cynically using a supposed "good cause" to create a precedent so more permissions will have to be granted. Then all our messy puddles will be gone and the incurable, suppurating pestilence that is Hull will be upon the land that no-man wants.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Uniform Rip Off

A strange thing today on the local TV news; a Labour MP calling for more competition and openness in business: the business, that is, of selling school uniforms. A fine scam this; where a school is legally allowed to demand its pupils wear the school uniform (I'm not happy about even this but there's more...) and then demand that the uniform is bought from a particular shop or supplier. The school having a deal with said shop is, of course, profiting from its own regulations... Naturally such a practice, enforced monopoly, acts to no-one's benefit but the school and the shop. Many poor parents are finding uniforms prohibitively expensive (for each child between £255 for primary school and £340 for secondary school; that's per year ...I'm sure you'll agree this is  absolutely ridiculous! ) and this restricts their children attending the appropriate school. Simply buying a cheap uniform and stitching the school badge (as my mother did for me way back when I went to school) is not good enough for the money grubbing school who now require the school logo on socks! on blazers, on trousers! probably on the underpants ...
By way of a reaction to these scandalous practices and high prices a system of recycling uniforms (called Re: Uniform) has sprung up centred here at the Methodist Church on Cottingham Road/Newland Avenue. 
So a bill is being presented today in Parliament, the Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Bill, I think every parent in the land will be wishing it to pass ...

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Never Fails to Disappoint

I knew that the light show in town was going to be a dull affair, I'd read what folk had said about it on social media. Still nothing could quite have prepared me for how truly insipid and utterly pointless the installation called Navigate would be. This was being put on by the Council to mark the start of the Hull town council's latest £24million trick to pull in punters by calling itself Yorkshire's Maritime City, frankly they need not have bothered... and if this is a measure of what we can expect then they should give up now and go lie down in a darkened room.

We'll start in Queen Victoria Square with something called Zenith, supposedly an "immersive sonic landscape of the sea". It was eight or so silly lights and some indistinct noise that might have been music or just random noises on a looped tape. It put me in mind of a dismal 1970's disco.

Next and not moving far at all is something called Meridian: four beams of light from the City hall. Wow! Just wow ... maybe a Gee! as well but mainly just wow ...

Oracle I posted before in its daytime slumber. It gets no better illuminated. It too had some rumbling noise to go with and the white light points to the direction of the wind. But as the Bard sang so many years ago you don't need a weatherman to know which way the money goes  ...

The crowning  inanity award has to go to this automated drum machine outside Holy Trinity church, going by the name of Pendopo. I read that its metallic percussion was inspired by east Asian drums and not by the thought of easy money from a Council lacking two brain cells to rub together.

The most impressive light show, however,  was nothing to do with this tawdry pathetic nonsense; the church behind was all lit up in varying hues but hardly anyone paid it or Andrew Marvell any mind. I'd like to see those lights from inside the building, through those massive windows, now that might be worth the bus fare ...


Still it didn't take more than ten minutes to see what little there was to see and the trip wasn't a totally wasted journey as I managed to do my shopping in Tescos and get the things we could only get from town.

Saturday, 1 February 2020


I go along this street, Strathcona Avenue1, every day to pick up the newspapers, a pint of milk and a loaf of bread. The street dates from the early 1930s and was built on the fields of the old West Bulls farm around what is now Bricknell Avenue. It is very typical of the housing built at that time, boring three bedroom bay-windowed terraces with small gardens front and rear. Most of the outer western edge of the town is filled with stuff like this, not exactly made of ticky-tacky but they all look just the same.
Over the fifteen or so years I've been around here what has changed most markedly is the disappearance of front gardens and their conversion into parking spaces. The street on a weekend is packed with parked cars as many houses have two or more vehicles each so off-road parking is considered a must-have... This means less space for blackbirds, dunnocks and thrushes to rummage around and their numbers have declined, though house sparrows seem to have made a bit of a come back in the past two years. The street is one of those that has it's feet in Hull and its head in Cottingham meaning two councils run the place.

Streetscape is the theme for the first day of the glorious month of February. Go see other much more interesting streets from much more interesting places here.

1The street takes its name from Donald Smith, 1st Baron Strathcona, a Scottish-born Canadian businessman who made his millions from other people's work and then gave some of it away so becoming a philanthropist and not just a common bum. I think I mentioned a while back the tale I heard of how he wanted to be known as Lord Glencoe but the murderous connotations of that place (a bloody massacre in case you've forgotten) meant a change and the invention of the Strathcona name. I admit I'd never heard of him until I moved here; I guess he's better known in Canada as he ran the Hudson Bay Company for seventy five years and many institutions and places are named in honour of his big beard and gratitude to his bounteousness.

Friday, 31 January 2020

Bonsoir old thing, cheerio! chin chin!

Two score and seven years ago our fathers dragged us into a Continent, conceived in Error, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created European...

Three years and seven months after a majority voted to leave the EU the UK is now, at 11 pm January 31st 2020,  leaving that damned institution. There will be muted celebrations I expect, this is the way things are done here not with a bang but a whimper. Still, a Brexit Party house just a few doors down is putting out the flags in a show of Union rags to put the Mall in London to shame. Now I wouldn't want you to confuse me with those sentiments. I wouldn't have that Butcher's Apron on my property. I wanted to leave the EU but I'm no mad British Bulldog patriot, je ne suis pas un rosbif! I do not feel particularly British or English (I've never, ever felt European, I don't know what it means to feel such a thing, it's an invented identity that has no history or meaning) I'm just a Hartlepool lad a long way from home ... but I digress, anyway I had no choice in the matter, ma and pa just left me here to sing my song. No. I just want this country to be responsible for its own mistakes and its own successes like any other independent state. Make our own laws, pay our own taxes, spend our taxes as we see fit, trade freely with whoever will trade with us, kick out the bastards in our Parliament every now and then and make our government humble and sore afraid of the people. Not too much to ask, I think, just some basic independence.

It might be thought appropriate here to say that I wish the EU well without us ... well no, sod 'em, if you'll pardon my French... They and their vocal friends in this country have done their best to delay, thwart and obstruct the will of the majority. They are dangerously antidemocratic. This is absolutely unforgivable and will be their downfall. They still think they have some right not to have their noses rubbed in their defeat. I sincerely hope the sensitive souls are suffering. I look to the rise of other successful Leave parties across the states that remain trapped in the humourless and historic absurdity that is the European Union. This will no doubt happen but vita summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam ... 

The lips of the tyrants are trembling and pale, 
In dismay they are dreading the shock, 
Of the millions who, bold in the truth of their cause, 
Are as strong as the adamant rock!

The weekend in black and white is here.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Sorry! Not in service

This is Hull: Unique. Lively. Historical. Exciting. Friendly. Colourful. Cultural. Artistic. Limitless. And Sorry! Not in service.

The other day we went for a bus home at the bus station or Hull Interchange. We had, we thought, just missed our bus but as we entered the bus station we could see our bus waiting in a massive queue of buses trying to get into (and out of) the bus station ... we had reckoned without the power of the Hull time shift which magically slows down time to match the user. So it was that our bus was some ten minutes late getting into the station and though we boarded immediately it took some twenty minutes to leave the station. The journey home though was rapid, there being no traffic on the roads by that time. The driver as we got off (or debussed as some have it) apologised for being late ... well no worries, mate and thank you driver!.
So what was the cause of this town wide disruption? ... a small accident on one road; that's all it took to feed back and gridlock the whole town for a couple of hours. This was not a one-off event it happens two, three times a week, sometimes two, three times a day.  A survey recently made the town to be the fifth worse in the country for road delays despite being nowhere near the top five in size, I think it's about twentieth. Still this being Hull no doubt someone is working to take the place to the top of the list ...

Oh and while we're on the subject of Hull and mildly silly ideas ... the town council has just written to the Government to ask it to allow it to try out a Universal Income scheme. You might not have heard, it's a scheme to give everybody Government money (£100 per week is the sum mentioned) regardless of need. Yup sounds stupid, is stupid;  which is why the idea got cross party support in Stupidville.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Cultural Compass Bearings

In town yesterday and came across this odd thing in Prince's Dock; a compass cum lighthouse. It's to do with some light show (a "stunning light show" to give the proper description) for the hoi polloi at the end of the month. Hull, or rather its pathetic town council, has a thing with light shows, almost amounting to a fetish: put up a few coloured shiny things and folk are thought (by the delusional council) to touch their forelocks in gratitude and go "gorblimey and gawd bless you, gov" and acquire a warm "cultural" glow in their hearts and appreciate how their miserable lives have been improved by a few magic photons.
I've just read some more about this courtesy of the local rag: seems it "contacts the Met Office and displays a weather omen showing what people can expect for the following hour."(I'm at a loss for words!) ... you'll want know what a Councillor responsible for this tosh had to say ... “This incredible installation from Kazimier is a great example of how art and culture can play an important role in the exciting regeneration and future of our city.” He called it "art and culture" and he's a Councillor responsible for "culture, leisure and tourism" so he must know. There am I thinking it just panem et circenses but then I lack culture and couth.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Blue skies and trees

Snuff Mill Lane

The anticyclonic gloom of the past week has been briskly blown away by a cold front, well, I say cold it's down to a comfortable 6°C so really just a tad below average for late January. Here's some trees from Snuff Mill Lane, Priory Road and thereabouts I took on my morning walk.

Priory Road

Priory Drive

Near Hotham Road North

Near Hotham Road North

Golf Links Road

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Gaudy, Maudlin and Twee

On Beverley Road a woman went missing just about a year ago. Her body was found in the Humber some weeks later, a man has been charged and is awaiting trial. The is apparently the last place she was seen and so, as is the style these days, it has been appropriated for what is now a slightly gaudy, somewhat maudlin and, dare one say, twee shrine. I can't see what purpose this serves but I suppose it does little harm.
I wonder when we'll get the seat back.

Friday, 24 January 2020

More Gloom

Somewhere in all that fog is the university.

The weekend in black and white is here.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

The Old Myth ...

... that we're all in the same boat.

These decorated containers were outside Dock House on St Peter Street close to Drypool Bridge. It's a shelter or hostel for homeless people. This was in June last year so they may not still be there as I read that the homeless shelter was having to move ... it sits on land earmarked for housing.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Newfangled gadget

Being a very late adopter of technology I've just got myself an iPhone and have been playing with its camera. I find it a bit of a strange beast giving hit and miss results. I'm used to peering through an eyepiece, holding the camera in both hands and pressing a shutter button and not used to having to put on my spectacles and concentrate on a screen and dabbing ever so gently at a white button ... feels all wrong but I suppose I'll get used to it. These of Princes Quay shops and the Maritime Museum were the best of a blurry bunch.

The fountains in Queen Victoria Square seem to be a magnet for odd behaviour with screaming kiddies running in and out trying not to get wet (here's a hint: don't go near and you won't get wet). Some however think it a fine sport to deliberately get as soaked as possible and then complain that they're wet ... youth of today are simply beyond help.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Feather-footed through the plashy fen ...

This guy came prepared for the Snuff Mill Lane seasonal puddles. He had a dog, some sort of Spaniel as I recall, a happy, mucky old thing that somehow ran round the edge without so much as getting its paws damp ... his human had a less than dainty approach.
Since September rain fall in these parts has been abundant topping up what an old TV weather presenter once called "the angst filled aquifers" ... and we've still got "February Fill the Dyke" to come.

February fill the dyke, 
Be it black or be it white; 
But if it be white, 
It's the better to like.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

To lose two looks like carelessness

On our way to Cottingham via Snuff Mill Lane we came across an amusing sight ... a pair of artfully arranged riding hats possibly by the same guy who brought us the "spectacles on a bench" installation that was such a success the other year.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Kaleidoscopic vacuity

Here from the height of last year's summer is the terminally dull and unoriginal mural that appeared on a gable end on Spring Bank. There are, in the wind, plans to turn this Victorian thoroughfare, a place of many cultures from the Middle East to eastern European, a place that has a vibrancy all of its own, not all together legal, not all together understood by those powers that want to be; in short a place that may not be to everyone's taste but certainly does not need any interfering busybody coming in to "improve" things... to turn this into a pitiful, pastiche of Tobermory or that unique neighbourhood in Bristol with painted houses. Yes, as you might have guessed, there is public money in the form of arts grants washing about and that means people will have the c(lapt)rap, sorry Art, thrust upon them volens nolens by talentless, parasitic oiks who, seemingly, could not get gainful employment other than through the public purse. It is called a community art project, but communities do not make art, communities make sewage and litter and children that need educating and patients in hospitals and so on but never art. Artists make art and on this street artists leave few traces.
I believe this is a spin off of the City of Culture, a so-called 'legacy event' ... a legacy of peeling fading paint and second grade 1960s art school doodles with vacuous, archaic, pseudo-socialist, concepts such as Unity. Unity of what? With what? For what? Pshaw! Unity, that fabled imaginary strength of the multitudinous and disparate working classes, is much like God and religion; what little there was of it died and fell apart a long time ago and is not much missed.

Friday, 10 January 2020

... and carry a big stick.

As if having authority from the almighty weren't enough church authority by the middle ages had sought a more temporal power to keep the great unwashed in order and to organise the day-to-day business of hatching, matching and dispatching the god fearing (and, no doubt, feared by god) populace. To that end arose the position of virger or verger and obviously such a position requires a staff of office, the virge, basically a big stick quite possibly used to clout the unruly in to behaving themselves. Here's Holy Trinity's verger with his ornate magic wand with the triple crowns of Kingston-upon-Hull ... 

It's all really quite silly, this quasi pagan vesting authority into a stick (God's rod; the phallic imagery is clear, is it not or is that just me?) but then you see it popping up all over place not least in our Parliament and town councils with their fancy maces which have to be present before any business can be carried out. Parliament even has its own verger, Black Rod, by royal appointment. All utterly ridiculous or verging on it.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Small Tortoiseshell

Back in August I posted how we were having a good year for Painted Lady butterflies a few days later a host of these pretty fellows turned up to feast on the buddleia and pose on my letter box. These are small tortoiseshell butterflies (Aglais urticae) a species recently thought to be headed for extinction due to parasites, man-made chemicals, global warming, Brexit and the fall of Sterling against a basket of currencies  and so on... clearly no-one told these guys. As the Latin name suggests nettles feature strongly in their life cycle so I always leave some growing if I can (OK laziness plays a great part in this).

These are not to be confused with the Large Tortoiseshell which really is extinct , at least in the UK and Ireland.

Friday, 3 January 2020

Sad soft fries

More of an update on the old Co-op/BHS mural. In early October the council announced that the whole lot was to be demolished, too much asbestos, too tricky to remove, too expensive, too dangerous, too, too, just too much everything...  You get the picture. Then later in the next month and a bit like the cavalry arriving in the last reel of an old-time movie, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (quite a mouthful that) declared that the mosaic had Grade 2 listed protection as it has "special architectural and historic interest". This does not save the mural by itself. I think what this means is that the council now has to apply for special permission to knock the thing down and many a Grade 2 has been lost over the years. This late intervention, however, puts the game into extra time as they say ...

Finally and on a silly note I came upon a site that writes 'haikus' that depend on your GPS location or where ever you happen to want it to be. They're  actually just three line random bits of junk since a haiku must have 5,7,5 syllables, but still it managed to 'know' about the Co-op mural in some strange way that makes the internet a pleasing nightmare.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Faites vos jeux

You recall, well of course you don't, I'm just being polite, the old Clarence Mill and its slow, painfully slow demolition. Well the place where it stood is surrounded by a board fence and, as is the style these days, that has become the canvas for any Thomas, Richard and Henrietta to come along with a can of paint and decorate the neighbourhood. Originality or even talent are not needed just a wilful desire to spray any old rubbish around the place and call it "self-expression". It's really just a mess.

My old post reminds me that there were grand plans for a hotel with a casino ...  I have no idea what's in store for the place now, I guess the wheel's still in spin.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Next Year's Weeds

So that's one more year seen through without too many disasters, still standing (or rather sitting) at the end of it all can't be too bad to paraphrase old Nietzsche (again). So take deep breath and let's go through another turn round the sun and see what a year will bring ... 

City Daily Photo asks for our "photo of the year" again. I chose these bountiful thistle seeds from the year's wanderings in my time. They may be a gardener's nightmare but then I'm not a gardener.

Happy New Year to almost everyone ...