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Sunday, July 20, 2014

45th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

If you're old enough, you remem- ber where you were and what you were doing. I was almost 13 and living in Emmaus, Pa. Just before the start of 8th grade. It was a good summer, and I was on a softball time. All through the 60s when Gemini/Apollo were being launched, everyone near a TV watched launches and recoveries and splash downs.

All throughout the decade inventions were being made which spilled over into general technology and oh-so-many payoffs then and in the years to come down to this day. Christmastime of 68 we had Apollo 8 circle the moon, and the astronauts read from Genesis. No political correctness then. No fear of "offending the Muslims."

I remember watching during daytime when the Eagle landed, then Neil and Buzz settled down for some shut-eye, as the rest of us giddily waited, I myself can remember climbing a tree in the back yard, until night time when Neil stepped on the moon. What a feeling of pride of accomplishment as a nation. And how humble that crew was in the coming years.

Years later I worked at General Dynamics where they produced the Atlas Centaur. (and the Tomahawk Cruise missile project, which I was then on) I remember one of my bosses telling me that "back in the day" people would work their regular tasks on their defense projects, then often stay, unpaid, to collaborate with colleagues who were working atlas tasks. I'd walk through the huge bigger than aircraft hanger building in which I worked, past where they built components, and felt a sense of awe in those engineers who'd gone before us. The boss also told me (I was new then) that engineers could no longer do that, help their buddies out because of the way you had to track labor. No "freebies" if you weren't assigned. It's criminal what Comrade Zero has done with NASA. Now it's a "Muslim outreach project." The hell with that. At any rate. Where where you, and what are your memories. Because if you were old enough, you know where you were and what you were doing?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pope Benedict on Clarity (and does Pope Francis cut it?)

Today I had come across Pope Benedict's remarks given in 2006 re: Simon and Jude.  In light of on-going discussions in the Catholic community regards the need for church teachings to be clear, I was somewhat amused but gratified to find these remarks by Pope Benedict.

"Today we are no longer in the habit of using such controversial language, which nevertheless tells us something important: That in all the existing temptations, with all the currents of modern life, we must preserve the identity of our faith. Of course the path of indulgence and dialogue, which the Second Vatican Council has felicitously undertaken, will surely be continued with firm constancy. But this path of dialogue, so necessary, must not make us forget the duty to rethink and to witness always with as much force the guiding lines of our Christian identity that cannot be given up."

"It is important to keep very present that this, our identity is not to be toyed with on a simply cultural plane or on a superficial level, but requires strength, clarity and courage given the contradictions of the world in which we live."

Given the present occupant of the Chair of Peter, and his propensity to give unrecorded remarks to Italian atheist journalists with agendas, and flippant remarks such as "who am I to judge" I would say Pope Francis is falling well short of the mark regards "clarity."  In fact, rather than using "strength and courage" he seems to be pandering to the very people to which the letter of Jude was aimed.  One wonders if Pope Francis has read Jude lately.  


Friday, July 18, 2014

For Mac

Mac, this one is for you.  Hope the corn hasn't grown too high.   The kitties should have no trouble negotiating it either, as I assume "blond" isn't "catching."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

St. Edmund Campion still gets around

Okay, Blessed Blake of Brighton has guilted me into blogging again with his recent muse regards Where Have All The Bloggers gone. Well, I'm not so long past that I can't come out of hiatus. This past Sunday at mass there was a relic of St. Edmund Campion prominently placed in the sanctuary and there was an opportunity to venerate it. St. Edmund was one of the most prominent English martyrs of the reformation.

The relic is being toured around by the Knights of St. Columba, Thames River Valley, Portsmouth Province and you may have an opportunity to view it. Here is the schedule for this 2014 pilgrimage. The tour ends with Mass at Tyburn Convent, close to Marble Arch on July 27th. I understand this is where this particular relic is normally kept. Visiting priests may arrange to say mass at the convent chapel. The nuns there are dedicated to "Eucharistic Adoration for the glory of God and prayer for the needs of the whole human family."

The Tyburn nuns are within a very short distance of spot of the Tyburn Gallows. Some 105 Catholic martyrs, including Campion, where executed here. It is said that over 50,000 people were executed on those gallows. The first person executed was in 1196 the last in 1783. Overall there were some 350 Catholic martyrs for the faith in England.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Newsflash, Pope Francis goes to confession

Why a pope going to confession is bigtime news to the media, I have no idea, except to speculate that there are few practising members of any faith in the media, much less practising Catholics. Granted popes don't normally do this in a public place, but the mechanics and necessity for confession is the same for every Catholic.
For many of us who are Catholic who have been following the situation with pope's seeming disdain for the Traditional Latin Mass, we have been wondering what ails the man, given the on going persecution of the Franciscan order who has decided that for their community they have preferred to practise the Latin Mass. So this is how we hope the confession went down today.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Whither Jerusalem?

There is in England a well known tune called Jerusalem, most often sung in Anglican churches.  The melody isn't nearly as well known in America, but it should be, as it is hauntingly beautiful.  The problem for English Catholics is the words aren't particularly good for Mass -- i.e. the lyrics used are from William Blake's poem, which refers to England's "Dark Satanic mills."  So most times when it's requested for a Catholic Mass, it gets turned down.  HOWEVER, I think there is a remedy to this.

At Ronald Reagan's funeral, the tune of Jerusalem was used, but the words used were not Blake's but the newer words to "Oh, Love of God, How Strong and True" which uses the same melody as Jerusalem.  This song would be quite appropriate for a Catholic Mass.    I wish this song were better known in US Catholic Circles.  The video is of the National Cathedral Choir singing "Oh Love of God, so Strong and True" -- US Catholic churches incorporating this song into their Easter cycle would benefit, and also English Catholic could enjoy their beloved melody without singing about "dark Satanic mills."

"O love of God, how strong and true!
Eternal, and yet ever new;
Uncomprehended and unbought,
Beyond all knowledge and all thought.

O love of God, how deep and great!
Far deeper than man’s deepest hate;
Self fed, self kindled, like the light,
Changeless, eternal, infinite.

O heavenly love, how precious still,
In days of weariness and ill,
In nights of pain and helplessness,
To heal, to comfort, and to bless!

O wide embracing, wondrous love!
We read thee in the sky above,
We read thee in the earth below,
In seas that swell, and streams that flow.

We read thee best in Him who came
To bear for us the cross of shame;
Sent by the Father from on high,
Our life to live, our death to die.

We read thy power to bless and save,
E’en in the darkness of the grave;
Still more in resurrection light,
We read the fullness of thy might.

O love of God, our shield and stay
Through all the perils of our way!
Eternal love, in thee we rest
Forever safe, forever blest.

Friday, November 22, 2013

JFK remembered, 50 years on

Jack with best friend Lem Billings
Jack (left) with best friend Lem Billings in France, 1937
It's not very often you remember EXACTLY what you were doing almost to the moment 50 years ago when something happened. For those of us old enough to remember, November 22, 1963 was such a time. I have always marked the assassination date of JFK as the end of my early childhood. I was 7 and 2 months when it happened. And yes, I remember that "like it was yesterday." Although I do have a definite memory from 1958 of my mother telling me the evening of the Chicago parochial school fire, to pray for nearly 100 teachers and school children who died, I was kept away from graphic images, just after the event. But nothing was shielded from us in '63 when I was in 2nd grade.

We were in the middle of a lesson in the early afternoon at St. Francis School, in Allentown, Pa. Our nun, Sister Angelita, was called out into the hall, something very unusual, and sister came back in and informed us, rather excitedly, that "Father Walters was listening to the radio in the rectory, and heard that the president was shot in Dallas, we don't know how bad it is yet, let's pray." I can remember thinking: What the heck is he doing in Dallas? So we all did pray, and shortly thereafter we were given our customary bathroom break. We marched in silence upstairs to the 2nd floor to "do our business" and we were each lost in our own thoughts on the way back down to our classroom too. Even at a time like that normal decorum was held. I don't remember anyone crying at that time, we got the news. We were all pretty much in shock that such a thing like that could happen. If there were tears, there certainly no wailing and moaning. Everyone absorbed it best they could.

Shortly thereafter, we were assembled in the school chapel (which had until the year before served as the parish church) and told of Kennedy's death. We said more prayers, and were released home. We were told that priests had gone to Parkland Hospital and the President had been given last rites, which to us Catholic children was a comfort. One of the Dallas priests had released the news of his death to the news media, and naturally other official announcements had taken place. We were released close to our normal time of day, as after the assembly it made no sense to go back to class. Again, we pretty much were walked in silence down to the corner as usual where we were released, each with our own thoughts, either to walk home by ourselves, or with mom, if our mothers if they were there to pick us up.

I remember asking my mother at home: Do we have a president now? And she thought a moment and told me Johnson was now president. I do remember that night as I was lying down to bed thinking of poor Caroline and John, Jr. I felt terrible they didn't have a dad anymore. All that weekend, apart from me going to church on Saturday to light a candle, and Sunday to Mass, we were GLUED to the TV. I DO remember seeing Oswald get shot on TV, I called out to my mom "Oswald's been shot." Frankly, I can't say I was glad he was shot, but I was quite relieved he was. Let's say at age 7, I was not "nuanced."

I am quite sure my interest in history was kindled with his assassination. His biographies were among the first I read. And frankly, I had smelled a rat regards the hagiography that had been painted about him by the time I was age 13. What exactly did he mean when he was quoted as saying in "The Making of the President" about being glad the republicans had made a "tactical mistake by releasing their vote counts too soon" downstate in Illinois. I remember thinking "if everything's on the up and up, why would that matter when the votes from various precincts came in if they were all going to be counted in the end?" I knew there were gaps and cover ups and inconsistencies re: the timeline of his early years. They'd concealed he'd ALWAYS been prone to being a sickly child, and frankly he'd had a bad back from early childhood, and there was the lie re: him spending a year in England going to the London School of Economics. In later years the book "The Search for JFK" came out by a brother/sister pair, the Blairs, and they did extensive research and brought the truth to light where the Kennedy family had painted the myths about Jack and the adoring media just didn't look too closely at the inconsistencies. The press had long known of JFK's womanizing, and the Judith Exner story came out about that same time in the early 70s, then EVERYONE had to admit what had once been a "gentleman's agreement" couldn't be covered up anymore. And the "Camelot myth" was passed on by the liberal press. NOT his fault, OR Jackie Kennedy's for that matter. He didn't ask to be made a tin hero. The administration was never called "Camelot" when it was happening. That business was promulgated when shortly after his death she'd given an interview with a newsman she'd trusted. She mentioned in passing that before they went to bed, her husband often liked to listen to musical theatre records, and that Camelot, then playing on Broadway was a favorite. So the media from ever there on beat the "Camelot" myth to death.

But for all his flaws, he also had strengths. Basic Optimism. The space program. Love of Country. Anti-communism. A great sense of humor. NONE of those qualities shared by the present occupant in the White House, in my opinion.

I've since confirmed with many people that for them too, who were old enough, they also demarcated time between pre and post assassination. So it wasn't just my imagination. I always sigh a bit when I watch episodes of MAD MEN. They caught the period so well. I get a bit frustrated that people say "Oh, things would be so different had he lived." I highly doubt that, other than, of course, for the Kennedy family. Some things, no doubt would likely be different. I question whether or not Bobby would have been shot, for instance, and certainly Mary Jo Kopechne would have lived too, because Ted wouldn't have been driving her around over a bridge, as the "reunion" had been held for the office girls who worked Bobby's campaign a year after he was shot. But as far as the larger world stage and events that transpired, I don't see that things would have been radically different in the long scheme of things. I'm glad I've never found out if he would have championed abortion on demand as did Ted. I'm glad I never saw that day.

The Vietnam War was just starting to heat up under Kennedy. He'd have continued it, I'm quite sure, given he was strongly anti-Communist and didn't want them taking over eastern Asia like they had eastern Europe. JFK was very much a cold warrior. Had he won re-election, the crowds would have likely yelled "hey, hey, JFK, how many kids did you kill today?" The birth control pill, and the loose sexual mores and shocking rise in unwed motherhood and later abortion on demand still would have likely happened. Johnson's so-called "War on Poverty" although well meant at the time I'm sure, had the unintended effect of making dad in the home not a necessity in too many minds, as single motherhood was relatively monetarily rewarded, which combined with sexual revolution and the pill made dear old dad superfluous. The war on teachers being able to mention God or morals in public schools had already started in '62 when the Supreme Court said you couldn't have prayer in public school. The drug culture would have happened. Just a few short months after the assassination, the Beatles radically did change to course of popular music headlong into Rock and Roll. Although rock started in '55 with Bill Haley and the Comets, the Beatles really supplanted any chance of the other genres like "standards" being the most popular music. Drugs and hippies came in big time after that, and popular culture became rather more crude and crass. Being a "drama queen" became tolerated behavior in public mores. And if you tried to hold to an older standard of grace and courtesy, you just weren't hip and "cool." Nat King Cole would have been embarrassed by the gang banger culture perpetrated by some "artists" today. I can't imagine Arlene Francis doing "Survivor" any more than I could have imagined Jackie Kennedy going out in ratty jeans.

One last note: You conspiracy people are annoying. Give it up. Face it. ANY president, just by nature of the job probably has a lot of people out there who want him dead. So all this crap about the Mafia, etc. or Oswald being a mere set up patsy really doesn't bear out. Oswald shot Kennedy as his lone assassin. End of. The forensics and science all back it up. So give it up already. Rest in peace, JFK.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Alas, poor Yorick

The other day I was going through things my late husband had.  This picture was taken shortly after his last chemotherapy treatment.  He'd undergone the therapy for a number of weeks on and it was very uncomfortable for him.    In the beginning, the mask, which is custom made for each person to keep their head in place, was too tight and very trying for him, they had to remake and alter a 2nd time, and then another adjustment.   Oftentimes after he'd finished the treatment, marks from the tough plastic mask would remain on his face for a long time, sometimes even an hour later you could see where the mask had been.

He never complained about the cancer, but you could see he was a happy man when that phase of his treatment had ended.  I think he did most of his purgatory on earth.    At any rate, I hope he is happy now, and has met my mom and dad and other relatives.   I'm very sorry that none of my relatives ever got to meet him.  It would have been my mother's 83rd birthday today.  I don't know what dad would have made of Q, but I think my mom would have adored him.  If there is cake in heaven I hope they had some, and thought of me.  It will be the 18th anniversary of her death 4 days from now.  Hard to believe it's been so long  Like Q, my mom had died of cancer.  Going through her death, helped prepare me for his.

There have been a few times where I've almost thrown Q's mask away.  And it puzzled me why I hadn't.  The other day it occurred to me why I hadn't.    Close up, one can see the shape of the face.  It's almost a modern day death mask - no other human had or will ever have those exact features or facial measurements. It's unique. And and a reminder that one day we all come to death's door.  Some sooner than expected.  And you never know what your own fate will be.  No person is ever replaceable.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies
Thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy 90th, John. And many more.

My father-in-law, John, celebrated his 90th birthday today.  He is quite spry and very lively.  There was a nice party for him this afternoon in the public lounge in the apartment complex where he and my mother-in-law, Lorna, lives.   John is quite a pistol and my husband, Q, inherited a lot of his charm and sense of fun, and sartorial sense.

Q's parents will never be that elderly couple who sit around in sweats - they are always so nicely turned out.  I don't think I've ever seen John without a tie on, for instance.  This afternoon just as we were going down the hallway from their apartment to the reception room, John gave his wife and me a little bit of a startle by taking a few running steps pushing her wheel chair and then letting go on purpose to give his wife a bit of a thrill.  "There you are my dear, now you're free wheeling!"  WHEEEEE!!!!

They are a delightful couple and had about 30 folks besides us at his party.  They had a nice spread of sandwiches and other goodies for their guests along with some cakes. John and Lorna also recently had their 60th wedding anniversary towards the end of December.  Their friends had taken up a generous collection for them to go out and have a really good time.  When asked by a woman if they have any plans for a spree John joked that it would probably run to "fish and chips" and the lady said "well, feel free to have them in Paris!"  I think they would be tempted, as they both were quite adventurous travelers.

When my husband was a very little boy, there was a big department store in Kent who put out a  magazine which featured the cartoon antics of two bears, Claude and Cecil.  Q and his dad often called each other by these pet names.   Whenever Q called his parents he always started off with "Hello, Claude" when his dad answered the phone, and of course, John answered "Hello, Cecil."    I quite miss hearing this exchange between my husband and his dad.  Q had a pair of cuff links which were golden bears wearing top hats, so I presented these to John as a gift today.

John shares a birthday with Lincoln, and it occurs to me that when John was born there were still people alive who would have seen Lincoln in the flesh when they were children!  John served with the Royal Marines during WWII and then had a long career in the Civil Service as an accountant.  He was quite a sport in his day, playing field hockey for the Marines when he was still in the service, and he is really enjoying the English wins in the rugby "6 Nations" tournament which is now on going.  I hope for his sake that England wins.  Happy Birthday, John!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Happy Anniversary - or should have been

Today should have been Quentin's and my  2nd Anniversary  - but it was not to be.  I have physically been feeling a lot better.  [Still fighting periods of depression, but it's getting better.]  I wanted to get out today and do something rather than be stuck at home. So I went to Mass this morning, then I hopped the train over to Windsor, and had a nice day out.  The weather was on the crappy side, but just good enough with occasional bursts of sunshine.  Which on a winter weekday makes it a perfect day to go.  

For some reason there are TWO train stations in Windsor, only a few hundred yards apart.  My train from Feltham to Windsor only takes 23 minutes and terminates at Eton & Riverside.  Walk about 150 yards and you could hit the side of the base of the castle with a baseball.  So if your knees are good you can be at the admission entrance within a 5-10 minute walk.

When Q was young he had a Highland Westie.  My favorite dog was a Springer Spaniel.  One of the few pleasures we had together was stopping in Richmond Deer Park on the way either to and from the hospital when he was doing his chemo treatments.  People walk their doggies there and we usually saw either one or the either breed, but quite frequently both.  I once told Quentin jokingly that whereas St. Therese mentioned that when she got to heaven she would send roses as her sign, that I would instead send spaniels.  I've noticed since his death often when I am in a place he enjoyed I DO end up seeing a highland Westie -- so I must say it has me going a bit.  Today was no different.  Just as I was reaching the entrance to the castle, two fellows with dogs met up -- and one of them was -- a WESTIE.  So I wonder if Q has a hand in this!  I kind of hope so.

There were FEW people touring in the afternoon today.  I got some photos where there was NO ONE in some of the long shots that normally would have been crowded with people.  For the 1st time I waltzed right in to Queen Mary's dollhouse - and that can easily be a two hour wait or more in the summer on the weekend.  I got to really look at every little bit of it.  And there were some of the "semi-state room" rooms open that are normally never open except in the winter -- essentially some normally more private rooms in the part of the castle that had been burned in the fire.  In particular a red drawing room done to  George IV's taste that overlooks the back gardens, and a "corner dining room" that looks out either towards Eton or the back gardens.  Victoria loved eating there, and apparently the present queen likes to take her guests there for dinner and breakfasts if she has a weekend house party.  The only drawback is you are not allowed to take photos on the inside of the buildings.  I expect besides a potential security issue it might cut into their guidebook sales.

Here are some more photos of the outside:  1st the Round tower -- the oldest part of the castle, though the top 30 feet was added in the 1800s to make the place look, well, "more castle like" as if it wasn't castlelike enough already!

 Next up is a bit more of the garden which surrounds the Round tower -- it used to be filled with a moat - but now it's a nice private garden.

This is a picture of "the bit" of the castle in the  Upper Ward across from the state rooms.  This is what the queen considers her "real home" as opposed to Buckingham Palace which to her is like working "over the shop."  Every day at 11 they have a changing of the guard here in the quadrangle.

 I stayed for evensong in St. George's, which is in the Castle Grounds.  Very splendid church which I've always loved.  I sat in the stall occupied by Haille Selassie when he was a member of the Order of the Garter.  18 boys and 10 men sang.  The Anglicans, I must say, really know how to do evensong. The boys attend the co-educational St. George's  school which is located at the foot of the Castle hill.   Louise, the queen's youngest grand-daughter currently attends, as had Beatrice and Eugenie back in their day.  I especially missed Q at Mass and at Evensong.   He really loved Windsor.  We did get to drive through it a few times when he was still living, but he wasn't well enough for the long walks by the time we knew he was sick with cancer.  But I highly recommend visiting on a winter's day during the week.  You can really look at everything at length without being crowded or have any wait times.  And DO NOT MISS evensong.  There were 20 of us from the public there this evening, and I expect in the summer you probably wouldn't get to sit in the choir stalls.

This picture was taken from the north terrace of Windsor castle.  At the bottom of the picture is St. George's school - the yellow buildings.  The long red building in the train station (Eton Riverside) and near the top you can make out the Eton College church if you click on the picture you should be able to make it out.

You can't really do Windsor without taking a picture of some Guardsmen, so I did.  You don't see too many guns in England, but this is one of the few places you will.

And this following picture was taken just before I went in to evensong.  Really incredible virtually NO ONE is in this shot.

Last week I'd come over to Windsor to catch a matinee at the Theatre Royal of Sheridan's THE RIVALS where Mrs. Malaprop and Anthony Adverse made their appearances.  Nice to finally actually SEE that play rather than just read about it.  Got a cheap seat for only £11 in the 3rd row.

The day would have even better if my dapper Qbunny could have attended in person if not just in spirit.  But I have to content myself with the thought that he is in a far better place.  Missing him terribly.

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Last Day of the Year

... to most of you, unless you are in the Home Office, or one of their minions, a magistrate, or a pissy bank manager or two, Comrade Zero's bot, or anyone involved in governing the borough of Hounslow (even if their mothers are Welsh.)  [My musical theatre friends should get the last reference.]  I'm trying to remember  a year of my life worse than this one.  I can think of one or two that equaled it - but not many.  2011 at least had the bittersweet joy of being married to Q.  The long-awaited visa eventually came through - and for spite they had sat on it another month after they put the stamp in the visa.  Had they sent it on time it would have made my life a lot easier  - so most of the year was spent fighting the government and still to date not having satisfaction of what is still owed me by the government.  So I've had to work with the MP and ending up in the process writing to the Queen - and got letter back from same, or at least her minion.  Those bastards at the UKBA also tried to say that they only processed visas "out of order for exceptional circumstances."    And of course, it's not just Theresa May's Home office that is so messed up -- it's pretty much the entire UK Border Agency.

I will not write here the detail I wrote to the Queen,  but all I can say is I wish it were the days when heads could roll.  I also need to also find justice for Q. regards the outstanding medical issues for possible malpractice.   I haven't been able to file a needed lawsuit for lack of money - mostly due to government inaction on the visa and all the tumble down effect that had on my life.    And there are still other Q issues to solve which I won't go into here.

Physically I've been fighting an off and on  iron deficiency which really took a major toll too and was pretty debilitating. Thanks to Mac M. and Juliet W. for pinpointing what was physically wrong.  Have yet to use the NHS and really don't intend to unless hit by a bus and it's involuntary.   Have had "issues" with various institutions including courts.   Did you know so-called magistrates can be so pissy as to not give their name or bank managers so ****ing lazy and incompetent to not cash a crummy check for £120 pounds when you bring ID in person, even though it is drawn on that bank?  I'm contemplating picketing along with a formal complaint to whatever board handles that - even if they don't find in my favor, it will cost them £500 pounds in having an investigation on them - so a certain arrogant SOB bank "manager" might get a boot up his buns.  "Rags" was such a little weasel trying to take his name off his tie when I demanded to see it.  And of course, it's not just Theresa May's Home office that is so messed up -- pretty much the entire UKBA.

I can count a handful of days that were good.  I managed to go to the theatre 4 times this year - saw Sweeny Todd, which I'd never seen before (was always waiting for a good production.)  Also saw One Man, Two Governors and the Reduced Shakespeare Company's Olympic's special, and The King's Speech.  And Juliet W. also took me to the proms one night, so I finally got to experience that.  It was my first time in the Albert Hall.  All I kept thinking of was the Hitchcock movie...a lot of the nights people go really casually dressed,   You can sit up in the Gods for only £5 a lot of the nights.  Not much seating area, but people bring blankets and you can  bring a stash of food in.   So it's all good.  All that marble is especially welcome on a warm night.

 I got to go to Henley 3 times this year - twice for the Regatta and once for the informal Town and Country a month later - where I presented an award for the ladies single intermediate skulls winner.  It was an event that Q sponsored annually.  I hope I did my Qbunny proud.

Because I presented a prize, I also got a free boat ride to trail the race in a nifty long boat that looks like the one in the foreground of this picture.  There are splendid houses like this all up and down this stretch of the river.  While here I met a friend of a friend who lives in one of them.  Must be nice!!  By chance when I was about 14 I read a National Geographic coffee table book called "This England" that was published in the early 60s.  I said to myself then:  "Someday...."  I didn't know that "someday" I'd get to step into the picture literally.

This is me with Diana D - she and her husband David were good Henley friends of Q and have been really kind to me.  This was taken late June on the Wednesday of Henley week, so still uncrowded - I didn't want to go up on the weekend.  Too crazy!  We were properly dressed (anyone can go, but you can't get into the Steward's Enclosure in just anything.  It does make the event fun.  The MEN get to be the peacocks at this event.  The women get to be peacocks at Ascot.  My Qbunny, had that English sense of dressing right for the occasion, and I knew he would have thought the ladies in the next picture's foreground, nicely dressed as they are, OVERDRESSED - which to him was almost as big a sartorial sin as being under dressed.

He would have said:  "that's ASCOT dress, not Henley."  Straw hats are the thing, and not too fussy.  Notice the complete ice-cream suit of the man just over the left of Diana's shoulder in the 1st pic.  Also for ladies LOW shoes, with small stacked heel at most, skirt/dress, knee length at least.  You *will* be called on it for short skirt and they'd chuck you out of the enclosure.  It's dressy SPORTY - but not "dressy/Ascot."  It's worth clicking on the picture to see the detail of the men's jackets.

I think the most splendid jacket I saw was this one.  Can you imagine any male in the US wearing this as a matter of course for the right event?  I like to think of Henley as "the best of England."  And the ritual is there not for people to play act in.  Most of them genuinely do like the boat races.  Although they *are* seen, they do not, for the most part, go to *be* seen.  If that makes sense.  By chance, when I was in my last year at UCSD I did do a bit of rowing myself - and have to say it was very fun!

 I didn't realize the true impact of "the River[Thames]" until I'd lived here.  And yet in English history, legend, story, and life it's all there.  It's not just Henley itself - but it's all that Wind in the Willows, "THE" 'boat race' between Oxford and Cambridge, punting on the Thames [thank you Dorothy Sayers for the unforgettable punting scene in Gaudy Night with Peter and Harriet], river pageants, Isaac Walton mystique.  IF you've seen the movie "Hope and Glory" there's an idyllic bit at the end of the family going to live with granddad along the river.  It represents "peace and tranquility and all being right."  It plays a bigger life in the English mind than you'd think.  Or certainly amongst "Q's" kind of people.  His parents told me one of the proudest days of Q's life was when he qualified to be a judge at boat races.  I'm VERY glad he did NOT see the debacle THE 2012 boat race was, whereby one spoilsport thoroughly ruined the race and it effected the outcome of the race too.  Had Q seen that I think he would have jumped through the TV set, and had his hands around the perp's throat before the coppers did.  As it was, the perp almost had his head decapitated by an oar.  Q had asked me early in our relationship which I preferred?  Oxford or Cambridge?  And I said "Oxford of course."  He was glad he finally had an ally. Since he was about 4 he always rooted for Oxford and mom and dad always rooted for Cambridge.  Amongst certain people the rivalry is like the Army/Navy game in the US.

Did go out to Windsor once, and hope to go soon again - the ticket's good until mid-April, and I think I can handle the walking again.  Parking can be hard to find in Windsor - but I can catch a bus outside my front door up to Feltham train station (about a mile from here - or I can hoof it, if I'm up to it) - then the train to Windsor is only about 20 minutes and it ends up right at the foot of the hill up to Windsor, and not far from Eton college.  It's only about 12 miles away.   Before I lived here I'd always visited Windsor -- I especially like the gardens and St. George's which is pretty splendid.  Quite a number of English monarchs, including the Queen's dad are buried here.

Fr. John Boyle was in London briefly, so got to have lunch with him, and finally meet him in person.   Also had nice Italian lunch with Stephen F. from Manchester who was in London for the day.   Stephen is an old friend who I've known through the internet for ages - we'd also met a few times before when he was in San Diego.  I'd also scored a copy of the libretto from FOLLIES that day when we stopped by Samuel French - it was something I'd long wanted and it had been reissued, unbeknownst to me - so it was a pleasant surprise.

I'd also been out to Blackfen and Our Lady of the Rosary this year.  Mac M has been most supportive.  Was out for a blogonic in February, and was VERY fortunate to arrange for Q to have Fr. Tim's 10:30 Saturday Latin Mass be offered for Q on Oct 21st - his one year anniversary of death. The picture here is the elevation at that mass.   And I also went over when Mac renewed her vows early December.    Fun, but too bad they are WAY over on the other side of London.  A crummy 20 miles as crow flies turns into either: 120 mile round trip in car via M-25 (gas 1.39 a liter about 8.50 a US gallon) OR two train changes plus bus and longer to get there.   Works out same price either way, roughly.  I also had to move, but remain in Feltham and hope in the New Year to get a job locally as a) I like this end of London as it is close to everywhere I'd want to go.

But even some of the good days can get wrecked.  Like Dec. 8th - I was finally feeling good enough to get a few things done on the same day - a bank errand (a different one!) and then walked over to Mass -- where I found I had completely forgotten the parish had its 80th anniversary celebration.  Really wonderful Mass with different communities contributing, and a great reception afterwards.  Then went shopping, home, made dinner and found I had *lost* my wedding ring.  Well, temporarily anyway.  4 days later found it in a place I'd checked twice already.  But I was just sick with grief in the time it was missing.  Fr. Chris V. of St. Lawrence, Feltham has been most kind, as well as has his Anglican priest cousin, Fr. Paul W.   And the aforementioned David and Diana D., and I had lunch one afternoon with Q's parents in Fleet.

I also got up to the Richmond Deer Park 3 times this year.  Once for lunch at Pembroke Lodge - where David Niven was posted for a spell during WWII when he was in Phantom Regiment.  Richmond park sits on the top of a promentory in west London about 8 miles as the crow flies from where I live.  One of the few pleasures Q and I had together his last year was going there on the way home after his radiation treatments.  I was sorry the "Fenton" episode happened shortly after his death.  Oh, how he would have laughed.  We always managed to see either an English Springer Spaniel or a Highland Westie, and sometimes both on the same day.  We'd had DDDs of those same variety.  The deer are incredibly tame. You can drive through the park, but the speed limit is only 20 for good reason.  Like cops everywhere, the local constabulary *loves* nailing people going over the limit through the thing.  Good reason too - some of those deer will literally graze along the boarder of the road.

My parents-in-law just celebrated their 60th anniversary on the 22nd of this month, and I was able to arrange that they get congratulations from the Queen.  I was happy to do that, because I'm sure Q would have remembered to do that.  Seems she's the only efficient one with a half-way decent staff.  My father in law answered the door at 7:30 in the morning on the day of their anniversary.  The letter had to be specially signed for, and it had to be reported back to Her Maj. if it hadn't been delivered by 9 a.m. that day!

 I was able to get up to see them for Christmas and they have been very kind and supportive.  So I guess that has been the very best thing this year. This photo, as far as I know is one of the few if not THE only photo of Quentin taken with his parents in recent years.  I took it almost exactly 2 years ago -- literally days before we found out Q was seriously ill with terminal cancer.   I envy his parent's 60 years together.  Q and I didn't even get a 1st anniversary.  John will be 90 this next Lincoln's Birthday and Lorna is two months younger than her Maj.

Next year?  Please God, let it be better - I can't take too many more like this.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dr. David Starkey - Newest Recipient of the Prestigious HA Award

Some people should be horsewhipped.  Let's start with this idiot, Dr. David Starkey who makes excuses that no one ever explained to 'Asian' [i.e. in this particular euphemism it means MUSLIM] Pakistanis that British girls are not to be passed around as sex slaves.  As typical, the Torygraph isn't open for comment on this news item, otherwise they'd eventually have their servers melt from the torrent of invective from their readership.

Here is a pull quote:
"The historian said “nobody ever explained” to the men – eight of Pakistani origin and one from Afghanistan – that women could not be treated in this way.

Dr Starkey called for better teaching of English history to create a “common identity” and overcome the challenges of multiculturalism.

But the comments are likely to prompt condemnation just a day after the men were handed sentences of between four and 19 years for the offences.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the group plied five victims with drink and drugs and "passed them around" for sex.

The girls were abused at two takeaway restaurants in the Heywood area of Rochdale by the men aged between 24 and 59. The takeaways are now under new management.Speaking at a conference staged by Brighton College, the private school in East Sussex, Dr Starkey said that the “only way we are going to get to be able to survive as a multi-cultural society is if we re-address the story – the real story – of English history.”
Later in the story he makes this astonishing statement:  “Those men were acting within their own cultural norms. Nobody ever explained to them that the history of women in Britain was once rather similar to that in Pakistan and it had changed.”

Someone remind me WHEN in UK history was it ever 'okay' to pass women around in a rape gang?  I majored in European history, especially British history, and I just don't remember that.

No, Starkey, you dumb bunny.  It wasn't that they weren't taught 'British History' -- it's that they have not developed a sense of morals any civilized human being should have.  Teaching them about Magna Carta isn't going to make them stop thinking every woman not wearing a burqa and accompanied by 2 male relatives is 'available.'

For more disgust and outrage see this story re: how the police knew about this 'Asian' sex gang as early as 2002.

Hey, here's a thought for the Home Office you can apply when you're not busy persecuting the widows of Englishmen:  How about when these 'Asians' come into your country they have to sign a piece of paper which states:  'I understand that whilst I am in the UK I am not to grab women and rape them and pass them among my buddies merely because they are not wearing a burqa and attended by a male relative.  I further understand that if I do violate this law, that I will be taken to the place from whence I have come, have my body wrapped in pigskin, and will be strung up by my testicles and hung until dead."

Start with that.

7 months of UK Border Agency Torture and No End in Sight

Unless they sent me something yesterday. I was too depressed to even check the mail. So that's 'my' update. Or all of it that I am giving publicly. Because to get into how bad it is is too depressing. A month now since I talked to the MP. NADA. Zilch. Zip. Bupkis.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

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