Friday, July 28, 2017


As I kid growing up in the 1960s in the British Isles I thought the USA was wonderful, well not the USA but NASA and space. I was too young to realise what was the experience of the people of colour, as black people were then called. I never realised there was a difference, because many of my friends were different shades of colour and I really don't believe that colour matters to kids anyway.

Since that time, I have grown and now understand the inhumanity of the slave trade and what was happening in the 1960s in the USA against the black communities was horrific. Yet in all honesty I still believed that NASA was different, sure there weren't any black faces in the control rooms or black spaceman, but why that was never crossed my mind. This is why Hidden Figures was such an eye opener for me.

The film and the book tell the real story of the Black Women who made the space missions possible! For without their very great in put into things it would not have been possible. They were doing this against such prejudice and segregation that made me angry and want to cry that another human would treat another in such a way. If you were white and male you were okay, if you were white and female you were okayish, but if you were black and female then you were nothing !

While the film for obvious reasons cuts out many things and is based on the true untold story, the book gives more detail and crosses the ts and dots the is. Having  read most of the book, the film didn't bother me much as the truth of the women's achievements came across and the acting was terrific.  The fact is that at the time NASA was as backward and as full of prejudice as much of the USA was. Far from being a beacon of light, it was a door slamming, white male dominated place that rather than being the force for change it  was forced to change because without the work of these black women it would have failed.

As I said I didn't know the story of these women and neither did Aly and I really doubt that millions or even billions of others will do so either. That is why it is important that we all know it and the film and the book help us to know the real history. That matters as today we seem to be again regressing into prejudice in so many areas. It seems that we have learnt nothing from the past and if  we don't then I don't know where we'll end up. This film and book show us that we need the talents of everyone regardless of race, creed, sex or sexuality and they do so by showing the lives of these extraordinary wonderful women who opened the doors for millions of others. Yes I know the work of the Civil Rights Movements and the many heroes of that, but I believe that these stand with them as well and their legacy is equally if not more than equal to any other.

From a review point of view, I can't fault the acting of the black cast members and Jim Parsons is as far away from Sheldon Cooper so that you forget he known for that role. You have to turn off some reality while watching it but that doesn't matter. You get caught up in the story away and then at the end of it want to laugh and cry and talk about it as we did. As for the book, it takes some reading but the effort is worth while.

So I believe that this is good for your  heart and that is how I want to end this. It opened my eyes and I am glad it did for I wonder how many other contributions that are hidden are yet to be found. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A review Alice Roberts The Celts Search for a Civilization

  Alice Roberts The Celts Search for a Civilization, just how do I start to review this book? Well it is beautifully written is the best way. Alice Roberts is one of those people who connects well and makes things interesting, because she doesn't go all intellectual on you, by that I mean she doesn't fall into the trap of giving too much to make your brain ache, just enough to make it work. She takes you on your journey as a willing  travelling companion not the old bore that knows everything and wants to prove it to you and is dragging you along.

I had seen the TV programme on which this was based and very good it was too,but the problem with TV programmes, as we all know is that there are so many other distractions that you never fully take it all in. With a book however, it is your main focus of attention ( if you are at all like me ) and nothing takes you away from it, apart from needing a wee, perhaps.

This book does give you many oh moments when you're told something that you never realised before and those oh moments make you go yes that makes sense. Then another surprise comes along and you go oh again and then think about it and for me it was a constant feature of this book. 

I suppose I wanted Alice to give me roots something like a building  like the ancient Egyptians had and say this is where the Celts came from. That didn't happen,  as we discover, there never was a single unified Celtic nation with a capital, but lots of peoples who shared art, ideas, goods over far longer time period than what we realised. Even sharing these things as  the book shows that some we think of as being Celts might not be Celts and it shows us how to distinguish the real Celts. That is one of the real Oh joyous moments of the book particularly as it gets tied together and the realisation that it makes complete sense dawns on you.The idea that they suddenly appeared and invaded everywhere or came from Central Europe is mostly blown away, which I am pleased about as I've never accepted it.  We learn from her that there is as much to learn about the Celts  and what we think we know we probably don't really know or fully understand.

The book does say, with caution, there are truths in some of things we know, like the Warrior Celts and Druids, but there are also things that we thought we knew that recent discoveries now show might not be true. I loved the way this book explains while things might seen gory to us, what we do now might seem gory to the people of those times. Once more Alice reminds us that history is always written by the conquerors not the conquered, and it is their propaganda that we see the Celts through, Also as our times change then they way we see things change, so we need to try and stop seeing things from our view but as they are/were.   She did put one nail in the coffin for me, regarding so called Celtic Art, which I never felt it was, by saying it was a later middle age invention (mostly not all of it) For one of the most wonderful things about this book is that Alice teaches us that history is living and forever changing as we gain greater insights with the science we have now.

This really is a great book for anyone who wants to know the Celts. It is wonderfully written and easy to read. The only thing that I could find slight erring was that she didn't mention Manx Gaelic as being a Celtic Language which it most certainly is. As she signed my book she more than forgiven for that.  So did I find the Celtic Civilisation through reading this book? Well yes, I did, because it is my genetic make up, the way I feel, my language, my many loves of writing, spirituality, reading and art. Although never explicitly said in the book, I drew the personal conclusion that those we know as Celts have never left and our ancestors were as diverse and adaptable as we are today. This is their civilisation and we are just part of its continuance and if we are really looking for the Celts then we need not look any further. It might have a different name now but ..

Yes buy this book love it and place it on your best sellers list and tell everyone about it - I am glad that I did and it has gone as onto my special book shelf where my favourite books are placed. Prof. Alice Roberts, you are my favourite Celtic Bard and thank you for such a wonderful book.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

TheMurderofSarahPayne after the headlines have faded the reality

Our world's, our lives were never the same again after
I have just copied and pasted this so I hope Sara will forgive me, but that sums up how she and her family feels. 

It is 17 years since this happened and at the time were all horrified by it and when here murderer Roy Whiting  was found guilty and sentenced to, originally 50 then reduced to 40 years, most of us, it we are honest let it fade into our memories.  Yet for Sara and her family, it could not just fade, for there is always a hole in their family. Last night in what was a brutally honest documentary aired on Channel 5 all of us were shown that.We saw the devastation it has had on the whole family how sadly a happy ordinary family was torn, a marriage ended. We saw how members of the family, particularly her brothers who were the last people to see her alive apart from her killer, were torn apart by what ifs.

I must admit I found it very hard watching, particularly seen the pictures of Roy Whiting who sent a shudder down my spine and anyone who has been abused will relate to that, we have seen that type in our own abusers. The frustrations of the Police knowing that he was guilty and yet being unable to prove it until they had the conclusive proof. When the officer in charge of investigating Sarah's murder said he had tried to get the details of what happened to Sarah from her murderer and had not been able to do so, I questioned what good would that do. To know how she suffered and what she went through might do more harm than good and sometimes it is better just to know a little as the details , well would be too heart breaking.

The picture we got was of a little star that shone brightly and made people feel better and I hope and know from what we saw last night that this is the abiding memory that Sarah's family have of her. I hope one day her brothers will find the peace in their souls as I am sure Sarah would not want their tears to continue to flow.

As for Sara, well she is one of my heroes, for so many reasons as this showed. Sarah's Law is needed and needs to be updated to take into account of the social media age. We don't know how many lives it has saved and how many children haven't been abused because of it - I am sure there are some and if just a handful have then it has worked.  No doubt the stress that Sara went through was a cause of her stroke, but as we all saw she has courage and determination that if I was a mountain and she said come, to me  I come because as sure hell you'd have to do so.

After the headlines have faded and yesterday's newspapers are today's chip papers there remains those to whom they will never fade. There world will never be the same again. Perhaps our own world in some small way isn't either, for perhaps we see the world differently a less happy more frightening place. Perhaps we all need to stop thinking in terms of headlines and think more about the people in those headlines and perhaps we should all spend a moment of each day to think of all victims every where.

On a personal note; Sara thank you for our twitter link and please pass on as always our love to your family.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Trying to be positve when feeling negative

Last night too many memories came flooding back and here I am writing this at god alone knows what hour. Trying to fight the pains of those memories and the pains of the M.E.knowing that I will sooner or later fail and once more be reliant on my dear wife to help me.

People are bombarded with how to be "positive" at the moment, told that exercise will do you good. Exercise and "healthy living" is almost the new religion now replacing the so called god of the past. Now rather than go to church you have to go the gym or ride a bike. Oh yes let's all do that and if you don't then it's your fault that you're unhealthy as even disabled people can it - no excuses is the mantra.

Yet for some of us the fact is that no matter how we want to be positive our hearts wont allow us to be, or perhaps it is our brain. The black dog, as Winston Churchill called it swamps us and we crash into depression. Then there are those of us with "invisible" disabilities like M.E., we'd love our old life back when we could exercise, get out enjoy life, but there are most days when we can't and even when we can it is for a limited period. As for riding a bike well that is something I have never been able to do and I know I am not alone in that.

There times when we all feel that as much we want to be positive we do get swamped by being negative, negative thoughts, negative feelings, negative memories etc., then we just need to retreat for a little time and rebuild. We could just snap out of by the result of some good news happening or a loving action or another soul. Some might find it harder and need medical help. I don't believe for one moment anyone wants to remain in a negative state  I don't that is for certain, yet for me it is a daily battle to remain positive as I know it is for millions of others.

Now these words are down I need to rest for awhile and then if I am lucky I will rebalance. The final words I have is peeps, be kind to each other and just remember that the a person who is being negative is trying to be positive and just thank your lucky stars it is not you. 

Sunday, July 09, 2017

A visit to Ballacosnahan thanks to @MLProduce

I do hope that Jenny will forgive me as I've not said much about the visit we had to   Ballacosnahan to see the Manx Laoghtans and more importantly, as founder members of her fan club Big Mel and the very beautiful Little Nell.

These were just some of the beautiful Laoghtans that there are there. Having just had their hair cuts they looked very posh and varied in colour from chocolate brown, to a creamy coffee colour. The young lambs are a shade darker.

These poor souls were in what I called the hospital wing as each had a problem. Unlike many others might do, Jenny and her partner do not put down any of their sheep unless they have to do so. I was delighted that even one who had been attacked was here being given every chance of life.  The reality is that it is a farm, which has to make money and some (I think Jenny said rams) get sold for meat and some get sold on.
As you can see they're very beautiful to look at and I get the impression very intelligent. While they are domesticated, they retain a certain cautiousness of wild sheep, which is no bad thing. They are very independent minded and do well here as they've adapted to the Manx Weather. They are hill sheep and that is one thing you do notice about the farm it is very much a hill farm. We were invited to go up to the top, but to be honest we were too polite to take up the offer as Jenny and her partner were very busy getting the barn ready for hay to go into it and we didn't want to keep them any longer than we had to. If we get another visit then, yes we'd love to go up the top of it and take more photos.

Yes one of the highlights was seeing these two. Mel is a very loving mother and Nell is very beautiful. While it would have been nicer to get closer, I was pleased to see how Mel took Nell away from strangers and not even the temptation of food could stop her.

Ballacosnahan is very much an "organic" farm, as people have to say these days, I prefer to say proper farm where nature has a place to flourish and the farm land and stock get along. We saw many butterflies when visited. Even the chickens seem to know that they can wonder where they please as these ones did.
I couldn't help but feel that there was a lot of love going into what they were doing and the whole place echoed with that love. I also couldn't help but also feel that it was a struggle for them as love doesn't pay the bills and I know Jenny has to do extra things to help out when she has so much to do. That seems to be a reality facing all farmers these days and why so many people are leaving farming. From what we saw, it backed up what we felt we knew, that they really have to be at it every day of the year. I am tempted to make further points here, but this is not the place to do so and would taint the happy memory of the time we spent there.

So thank you dear Jenny our friend, it was like meeting an old friend and we hope to continue to be very old friends and yes we would like to come again perhaps at lambing next year - Aly has her wellies at the ready, but if not then, thanks for this opportunity. We send our love and never ending  best wishes to you both.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

The more we connect the less we communicate

This week has been quite a hard week, but it ended up with a nice end so I am not complaining. It has however highlighted to me one thing - The more we connect, the less we communicate.

Let me explain, when we connect we do so without a need for face to face communication with each other. This means what we write, for connection over the internet is mainly done through writing, doesn't have as far as we know a visible impact upon another. Many can and do say in what they want, no matter how nasty or untruthful this is and there are many many examples of this. Hidden behind the keyboard the true nature of people comes out some would say. I am not so sure about that, what I do think is that the more we connect with each other in our little bubble the less we care or can cope with real human interaction.

As I say this was highlighted for me this when I was in the unfortunate position of being the same room as a person knowing that they were lying and they just didn't care. Their lies showed in their body language and their lack of vocal skills, which made me completely at a loss of how to deal with them, I really felt like I was on another planet. Now this person and I know talking to so many others just carry forward their internet life into "real" life robotically,  it is their world in which they can say and do what they like regardless of others.

When I was talking face to face with friends about this, in their various employments and in their leisure time all had come across it and all had found it was very much a generational thing. It really seems that those born in the last 30 years are becoming androids almost and not human, their humanity has gone from them. Even the horrific events on the news, they know how to say the right thing, but after that they retreat back into their world.

Now fair enough this is a generalisation and not all are like that and thank goodness for that, but many many are. Selfish, self-centred, careless, unthinking, lacking respect and as I've said robotic, programmed to look after self and bugger everyone else.

Those of us born before the internet had no choice but to communicate face to face, many of us didn't even have a telephone to distance ourselves from others. Long distance communication was a letter. Looking back now, I think we were the lucky ones as not having that barrier between us we all had to learn how to really communicate. That is think about what we said, to consider our words, for if we didn't there were real consequences in the real world and we saw or felt them. We learnt the skills of reading body language, if we knew it or not and our actions were tempered by that, we couldn't lie and get away with it (as much as we tried ). I am not saying everything was perfect, it was far from perfect, just the way we interacted and really communicated with each other was far better. I honestly believe that the majority of us were less self centred, self interested, because we couldn't be. Our communities were better, because we were communities not people locked in rooms, our kids played with each in the real world not on a games thingy.

Yes I am rambling. I am really sad to see this change happening in people. While this is mainly happening in younger generations, sadly all generations are starting to retreat, starting to just connect not communicate with each other. Okay I know some will say I have made sweeping generalisations, yes I have, but I really don't want to see the day when we just connect and not communicate generally. I really believe if that happens then that will be the end of humanity as we understand it, homosapiens might continue, but human kind most certainly won't.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Mavis Upton I love you Handcuffs,Truncheon & a Polyester Thong by Gina Kirkham my review

It is more years than I care to remember that I sat and read a book all the way through as I have done with   Handcuffs,Truncheon & a Polyester Thong by Gina Kirkham.

This beautifully written book by Gina will have you laughing out loud many times, make you think and even make you cry as it did me. It will also make you forget that you made a drink and by the time you remember, it is stone cold.

Mavis the main character in this and through whom we get the whole story is so wonderfully written that you forget that she is a character, for she becomes real to you. You laugh with her not at her and you're on her side. The story of the engine being stolen, well that is just comic genius in my opinion. Mavis is the not quite, who becomes the quite and even when she is successful, the not quite bit of her comes out. She is very, very human and her life touches every part of our shared humanity, the comedy and sadness, the loneliness and the success.  The single mother, who loves her daughter, she also a daughter with a loving mother and who yearns for the father who left. This thread, the one of the missing father weaves like silver through it and is one that many of us can relate to. Gina leaves the story of him as an opening or is it closing chapter.

I loved the mother, as much as I know Gina loves her mother. I don't want to spoil it for others, but this was one part that made me cry and I know from her blogs that this was the hardest part for Gina to write. I can not do justice the the Mum in the few words I have here and when you read this you'll understand why.

The daughter equally well written and true to life a wonderful character for whom Mavis works so hard for and feels guilty about leaving as her job takes more and more time.

There is in truth not once character that is not well written and believable, quite simply we all know these types and have come across from them.

Mavis the police officer, again reminds us all that the police that we take so much from granted and only see the uniform not the person, we need to think more about and give them the respect they really deserve. Any one in the Police Force or who has been in the Police Force will recognise more than we civilians do, but through Mavis we can a glance at this otherwise closed world. The "gallows humour" is one of the funniest of many funny parts in this wonderful book.

This is a book that deserves to be a film, but part of me doesn't want it to be as film can never quite capture what your mind does when the author wonderfully weaves their magic. Marc Bolan wrote about when the writer talks to you as a friend - Gina is that writer and that friend, a bard like the old days who captures your imagination as they weave their magical words creating places and worlds for you to be. 

Yes Mavis I am totally in love with you and want more of you and your adventures, so if you can have a word to Gina to get her pen out again, but not one full of earwax. Oh yes Gina, I am also in love with you for without you Mavis would not be in our lives.