Winter is going…

Storm Gertrude is on the way. Actually, by the time you read this Gertrude will have probably passed over but as I write she is on the way. But seriously though… We’re up to GERTRUDE already? That’s the SEVENTH named storm and they only started naming them at the end of last year. Do we get this many storms every year? Is this the year of the seven storms? That’s a good title for a book or a film actually. And I’m not talking an actual calendar year in that but just a general twelve month period. A seasonal year I suppose you might want to call it! Given that it’s the end of January we shouldn’t (touch wood) be seeing any more of them for a while. And surely that means spring is just around the corner.

Well yup… The snowdrops are coming out and the pigeons have come back from a lengthy absence with what appears to be the sole purpose of waking me up in the morning. It’ll soon be time for planting this years bean crop and anything else I can find space to grow this year. New adventures are awaiting… Or they would be If I hadn’t already used up half my adventuring budget on a theatre ticket. Nevermind… More time to concentrate on all other cool stuff I have planned. Yesterday there was proper sunshine, the calm before Storm Gertrude, for most of the day. Perfect for a short walk to the shop. Despite it still being a bit cold and despite the warnings that Gertie is on her way it could almost have been like it was the first day of spring.

But no. Winter has to have its last laugh first doesn’t it. It has to throw the seventh storm our way first. That’s another good film title… It should have Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant in it. Gertrude isn’t going to be as bad here as it will be in other parts, mostly a bit of loud wind and some barer trees (and the phone line went down for a bit) but further north it’s already been really awful according to the news… Scotland battered, floods, collapsed buildings and a red alert from the Met office. Let us hope that this really is the last laugh of this terrible winter because I don’t think the country can handle any more of this.

Seriously… I can’t ever remember a winter this bad before. I’ve seen wet ones and white ones, dry ones and cold ones and sometimes a mixture of all of those… But never anything this foul and damned miserable before. If I hadn’t seen the sun yesterday I might have started thinking that the whole planet had drifted off into deep space and we weren’t ever going to see that yellowy ball of gas ever again. It’s been like the cold and the gloomy, wet, grey skies were never going to clear up. But they are going to… Now that February is here the long, long lonely winter is coming to an enter and the bad weather is, I hope, going to go away.

Spring is on the way. The sheep in the meadow are getting fat with lambs, ready to birth when the warm weather comes along. The daffodil bulbs are waiting just below the surface and very soon the air will be filled with the sound of birdsong… Hopefully not pigeon song though. It might still be a bit wet and chilly out there but winter is definitely going. And thank goodness.


NOPE. Forget I said anything. Here comes STORM HENRY!



You know how it is: You work really hard on something and it comes out looking really good. Then you see something that absolutely boggles the mind. There’s something in your work that shouldn’t be there. What, you ask yourself, is that thing? No… It couldn’t be could it? Yup. That is exactly what it is, A MISTAKE!

Some mistakes can just be corrected. A spelling mistake for instance. On a computer a little red line comes up and effectively shouts ‘Oy mate… You got this word wrong, yeah?’ This even happens sometimes when you get a word right… This week my computer has been trying to tell me that ‘Alright’ and ‘Anymore’ aren’t proper words. Actually it’s just my E-Book editor but still, it’s wrong. I guess you could say that it is a mistake on the part of the editor but ‘anymore’ is a proper word, alright? Even on paper a spelling mistake can be corrected. That’s why pencils have erasers. Just rub it out and rewrite. Simple… Unless you’re using a pen. But then there’s tipp-ex for that. Or is that even still a thing? Do kids today even know what tipp-ex is? As a last resort, if tipp-ex is a forgotten thing of years gone by, you could just cross the mistake out. Mind you, with both that and tipp-ex other people will be able to see that you’ve made a mistake. Unless it is a supposed to be super-neat piece of work nobody is likely to care though.

These spelling mistakes are why going through and checking your work is important. We all make them, even me, and to present a good, correctly spelled piece of writing is more likely to incur a positive reaction from the reader than one filled with mistakes. A word spelled incorrectly isn’t the end of the world and there’s no law that says you have to correct a spelling mistake, but it looks better when things are right and that’s why we do it. It also makes us look more intelligent, which isn’t a bad thing for some people.

Other mistakes can’t be corrected. Last week I sent an email to a lady. The correct thing to do would have been to put ‘To whom it may concern’ or ‘Dear Mrs/Miss Insert Name Here.’ My brain was elsewhere though and only after I sent it did I realize what I had done- I had sent an email with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ TO A WOMAN. Face palm. That lady, at best, probably came away from reading that first line thinking that I don’t know proper letter etiquette. It probably won’t get a positive response. It was the same with one I sent a few months ago where I copied the main body of the e-mail from another and changed a few bits to avoid re-writing the whole thing. I needed a different address line so I deleted the the ‘Dear Mr Insert Name Here’ and intended to replace it with ‘Dear Sir/Madam.’ I didn’t, for some reason, and sent the email without an address line. That didn’t get a positive response, big surprise. A mistake like that can be corrected in some circumstances, like if you have an ‘unsend’ feature on your email account (which I don’t) but other times it can’t and you have to look a bit foolish for the sake of your error.

Most of the time our mistakes our minor but we can make big ones that affect the rest of our lives. I made one at University whereby I picked the wrong essay question. In hindsight I’d have been better off doing one of the others as the poor mark I got on that essay took me down by a whole degree level- I ended up 0.7% off a 2:1. A few more marks would have seen me get it. The other mistake was in leaving- I thought I’d only be here for six weeks, at the most, and I thought nothing of just using the place as a halfway house. As we all know those six weeks have long since expired. Had I known I’d still be here all these years later I wouldn’t have even considered using this place as a halfway house. This type of mistake is, alas, one of those types which we can’t correct but there is no use griping about them. In the end, perhaps, these mistakes turn out for the best for these are the ones that ultimately shape us. Had I not made that mistake at university where might I now be? Almost Doctor Churchill perhaps? I wouldn’t be sat here writing about mistakes for sure. It is no use dreaming of what might have been. These major mistakes happen and there is nothing we can do to change them. We have to move on from them, we have live and do our best to forget about them- Move on and attempt to sweep away their consequences as best we can.

A mistake is just an accident by another name. We don’t mean them, we don’t intend them. They just happen and we have to correct them, if we can, or move on. Some have consequences and other’s don’t. It does us no good to dwell on them for these things are going to happen. Likewise, it does no good to chastise others for their own mistakes because we all make them and by their very definition they aren’t purposeful. What is important is that we correct the ones we can correct and move on from the ones we can’t.



Agatha Christie & The Joy Of Murder

Ok… I was going to write about murder today then I deleted the whole thing and wrote a piece about how I was struggling to come up with ideas. Now I have ditched that thing about ideas and decided to get back with the murder thing, sort of. Not in the same way. There is a reason for this. I might have found that Agatha Christie’s long running play, The Mousetrap, is going on tour and coming to Liverpool. And I might, just possibly, definitely did buy myself a ticket. I love Agatha Christie too much to pass up this chance. As I mentioned in a recent ‘travel plan’ article on London, The Mousetrap is one of the plays I might want to see when I’m there. Well instead of seeing it in London I have the chance to see it in Liverpool and I couldn’t resist. This week has been a bit of a bummer (ending with today where my brain has been half blank) but it couldn’t have had a better ending than this.

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Rebels, History & Popular Culture

   The idea of rebellion, resistance to authority and the established order, is a much utilized theme in popular culture. Look at Star Wars. Without the rebellion there wouldn’t have been an original trilogy. Luke would still be a moisture farmer on Tatooine and Obi Wan would still be enjoying a life of retirement in his cave. It crops up as a futile gesture in Orwell’s 1984. Resistance to Big Brother is portrayed as impossible. Resist, even if it is only in the mind, and you will be brought down. On the smaller scale we have rebellion against a parent figure or a school- Like in Rebel Without a Cause where James Dean’s character reacts (quite reasonably in my opinion) against his parents and the world around him.

   In real life, in history, rebellion has also been a common feature. Some of those rebellions can be considered justifiable, for example Glyndwr’s revolt of the early 1400s, whilst others are not so much- Henry Bolingbroke’s revolt against Richard II perhaps. What you think of a rebel, a revolutionary or a revolutionary depends on your point of view, depends on how you interpret the sources. You could argue that Bolingbroke was absolutely right to depose Richard, that Richard was a weak king, or you could take the opposite view and argue that Richard wasn’t so awful as he’s sometimes made out to be. The same is true of Glyndwr. You could make a case that he was a hero or you can call him an upstart if you want. Everything is a matter of perspective. For myself I think that Henry IV (Bolingbroke) was an absolute monster who looked like Ming The Merciless from Flash Gordon. But how, I wonder, does that matter of perspective translate into popular culture? How does it appear when it comes to film and television and literature?

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