March 7, 2012

I like badgers. They are strong, goodlooking, will eat almost anything you offer them, they wisely stay in during the day and ususally only come out at night and their hair makes wonderful brushes. In literature Brock has some wonderful roles.

Unfortunately Old Brock has come into conflict with Old Homo and his farming activities. He has become the object of blame in the saga of bovine Tuberculosis (TB). Dairy farmers in the UK blame the badger population for the presence of bovine TB in their herds. The badger being cited as carriers. I remember birds, particularly starlings , being blamed for the spread of TB from herd to herd.

When I was child my father worked as a cowman, milking herds of guernsey cows. Our milk was unpasteurised, and all the better for it, and when bottled on the farm for sale was labelled T T . A “soubriquet” that caused me some amusement as I could not see how milk could be “Tourist Trophy”.  T T stood for Tuberculin Tested. Our milk was regularly tested for the the Mycobacterium tuberculosis that causes T B.

In humans TB is passed from person to person by droplet infection. One assumes that this is so with Badgers and cows.  Apparently one needs to be in contact with another infected person for something like eighthours to become infected. I cannot imagine badgers spending that long in contact with a cow or cows and thus passing on the infection. However, cows do spend those sorts of amounts of time in contact with each other (and even more so with modern methods of intensive milk production)

Today I received the accompanying cartoon on Facebook  and repost it here with full acknowledgement to Andrew Birch ,the artist, and in the hope that he will appreciate my motives:

Of course we mayy have dominion over the cows and badgers but we also have a moral repsonsibility to them. Our ingenutiy has given rise to a problem, increased occurence of T B In our dairy herds, and it seems that our dominion over nature allows  us a scapegoat, however poor the evidence.


I looked through the list:

March 3, 2012

I looked through the list of my posts today. I was looking for a story that I was sure that I had posted and could not find it. If it is there it exists under a title that I do not recognise. What I did find was a swarm of posts with the legend Draft appended to them…. pieces that I had started off to write and which were never completed or posted. Some were completed and then pushed aside for future consideration. These were full of the vitriol I oft-times feel for my fellow humans and yet realised that if I published them would be at worst ignored at best dismissed by some readers with little thought as to the ideas or feelings behind them:


As she entered the small town square it seemed that the populace looked up in unison, on some unseen unheard signal. On seeing the old woman the market traders started to pack up their stalls, parents ushered their children and even their dogs into their houses and shuttered the windows and doors. Even those masters of independence, the cats, were scooped up and taken indoors. The town square was, as if by some invisible broom, swept clean, was empty of towns people

She sighed and started on the inevitably fruitless search for a morsel to eat. Next came the equally fruitless knocking on doors and pleading for a bite to eat.


Behind a door a baby’s cry was stifled by  a parental hand.

As she approached the well for a drink she saw that it too was inaccessible to her by dint of a huge timber cover locked and chained in place. With a sigh the old woman settled at the foot of the large tree that offered shade at the far end of the square.

Time passed and no-one stirred. Suddenly the woman caught sight of a dust cloud in the distance beyong the gate of the town. As she watched it grew larger and eventually she could make out the figure of a handsome young man. The cloud was caused by his enormous, richly embroidered cloak trailing behind him.

As if on a new signal there was a flurry of activity as doors and windows were unbarred and children ran excitedly into the previously deserted square. market stalls were set up and even the dogs appeared to be excited.

The handsome young man strode into the town square and held his arms spread out in front of him. Children crowded around him and half dragged half guided him to a stool that had been set out near the tree.

The woman gazed in wonder as a carpet was spread at the young man’s feet and in no time atall became  covered with fruit and cakes, bread and bowls of spiced meat.

The children sat at the edges of the carpet and their parents stood behind. A large dish of water was drawn from the well and handed to the young man. He first drank and then washed his hands and face in the cool liquid. A skin of wine appeared and he drank a draught.

The young man spoke.

He told stories and sang songs. He recited poems and rhymes. Every story, song and rhyme was greeted with applause, laughter, smiles even tears from time to time.

After an hour or so the storyteller stood and moved the stool nearer to the tree where the old woman sat and started to feast of the gifts that had been given him.

Suddenly the young man seemed to notice the old woman watching him and proffered a loaf of bread and a a cup of wine. The old woman smiled her thanks and he smiled back as  she ate and drank.

“Tell me who are you? And why are you so popular?” the woman ventured after being pressed to eat some ripe figs.

“My name is Story,” the young man replied,” and I am indeed lucky for no matter where I go in this great world of ours the people always welcome a good story. Tell me who are you?”

The woman paused and sighed,” MY name is Truth and I am afraid that those same people that love your stories do not like Truth. They say that Truth hurts. They are scared. No one really wants to hear the truth.”

The young man nodded and smiled at the woman. He stood up stretched and started to gather together what remained of the gifts given him earlier.

He paused and looking down at the woman said, “You know, I very rarely go without. Indeed I often have enought to provison an army it seems. Why don’t we share and travel the  world together? When we approach a town, a city or a village then you can hide under my cloak. I would be glad of your company upon my way.”

And this is what they did. Story and Truth. Truth and Story

Still, today, you will find, where ever a good Story is told, Truth is not far behind.


I cannot remember when or from whom I first heard this story but for the last ten years or so of my career I  made sure that this was the first story that I told to any new class or group that I taught. I have told it to children as young as five, changing the woman’s name to Lesson, and to groups of adults of all ages. Among the latter I have been asked permission to re tell the story.
If, perchance,  anyone reading it here knows the author or where the story originates, please let me know.

Please also tell the story, in your own way of course.

And try to consider the truth (or lesson) within this story itself: You do not like the truth, do you?

the FIshes of the Sea……

March 2, 2012

Genesis 1:26 ” And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth,” and Genesis 1: 28″ And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth,” are two of the most frightening verses in the whole of Hebrew and thus Christian scripture.

Why frightening? Simply because they illustrate the arrogance of human kind and in that arrogance provide excuses for the destruction that we have wrought and continue to wreak upon this planet of ours.

Later (in Genesis 9) this supposed God is purported to have said (to Noah )” And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. ” How ture might this be seen to be if only we could, like Dr Dolittle, talk to the animals.

Throughout these Scriptures the biblical writers appear to seek to justify mankind’s supposed superiority by references to our supposed dominion over other forms of life. Psalm 8 makes reference to this “dominion”. Oh yes, I know that this particular Psalm suggests that mankind is a little lower than angels. Just a little lower. perhaps because it is needful to keep the non-preistly (or kingly) minions from becoming too big for their boots…err sandals.

I rather like James 3;3. In this passage the author references such things as Horses with bits in their mouths and the rudders on ships. Later he goes on to say, ” For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind, ” Some how he is tryingto make the point that the tongue, “a little member”, causes a great deal of damage.

Is it an irony that those early references to mankind’s dominion are actually very damaging products of that “little member”? Given, that is, the oral sources of these arrogant scriptural tellings.

As a child I always wondered how man (as it was told to me then) could have dominion over “the fishes of the sea”. Understanding dominion as the power or right of governing and controlling. I could never understand how we could govern or control fishes, or almost any living creature for that matter> it was only much later that I saw and understood that htis was in fact an attempt to put humankind at the head f all living things and that this would be used to excuse so much destructive behaviour towards our planet.

LBC Post…for others writings on the topic go to: Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, Rohit, The Old Fossil, Will Knott, Grannymar,

Just how small and insignificant we ALL are……

February 23, 2012

See the moon up there?


At last! I can see again ……

February 18, 2012

A few days ago I broke a springy,  titanium arm on my spectacles and had to leave them for repair at the Opticians. It was a painful experience, being without said optical correctors. I developed a constant dull headache. Certainly not my idea of fun.
It is little wonder that I forgot that I was due to type a post yesterday afternoon. I had to use a pair of  “drug store” spectacles to do any reading and found myself preoccupied with that struggle. The drug store specs do not correct my astigmatism which mean that at times I would suffer from a queasy tummy, not unlike motion sickness.
Well, you poor things, I am back and typing away as badly as ever. I really should post a completely uncorrected piece for you. Then you might be able to forgive my erratic grammar.

Nooo… not my erotic grandma.

That is, of course, an example of one of my ideas of fun. I love a jolly good pun. I think that I love a jolly bad pun even more. Why? The very thought of the look that passes across your face, dear reader, when you finally understand exactly what I have written or said amuses me.

I wonder , does paronomasia beget paranoia?

More thoughts about Others’ ideas of Fun? follow a link… Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, Rohit, The Old Fossil, Will Knott, Grannymar,

As Promised….

February 18, 2012

Ha! Where are you going, you crawling wonder?
Your impudence protects you sorely,
I can not say but you swagger rarely
Over gauze and lace,
Though faith! I fear you dine but sparingly
On such a place

You ugly, creeping, blasted wonder,
Detested, shunned by saint and sinner,
How dare you set your foot upon her –
Such fine a lady!
Go somewhere else and seek your dinner
On some poor body

Off! in some beggar’s temples squat:
There you may creep, and sprawl, and scramble,
With other kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Where horn nor bone never dare unsettle
Your thick plantations

Now hold you there! you are out of sight,
Below the fol-de-rols, snug and tight;
No, faith you yet! you will not be right,
Until you have got on it —
The very topmost, towering height
Of misses bonnet.

My sooth! right bold you set your nose out,
As plump and grey as any gooseberry:
O for some rank, mercurial resin,
Or deadly, red powder,
I would give you such a hearty dose of it,
Would dress your breech!

I would not have been surprised to spy
You on an old wife’s flannel cap:
Or maybe some small ragged boy,
On his under-vest;
But Miss’s fine balloon bonnet! Fie!
How dare you do it.

O Jenny do not toss your head,
And set your beauties all abroad!
You little know what cursed speed
The beasty’s making!
Those winks and finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice taking!

O would some Power the gift give us
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notion:
What airs in dress and gait would leave us,
And even devotion!

” I am made to feel guilty….”

February 14, 2012

A few days ago I was stopped in the street by a pretty blonde woman pushing a child in a pushchair. There was a light of recognition in her eyes and a slight feeling of familiarity in my mind.
It turns out that she was in my class at the age of eleven, back in about 1994. I remember her and her classmates well. It was one of those classes that installs itself in your mind when others remain a vague nonentity. In this case they are remembered for all the right reasons, even young Kane (not his real name) who everyone else viewed as evil is memorable for his kindness, amidst all his problems, to his classmates. Interestingly he has turned out okay whereas his “lovely” twin brother went right off the rails.

Back to Young Helena (again name changed to protect the innocent). She told me that she is married with four children. The youngest , celebrating his second birthday on the day in question, was in the push chair and was quite capable of carrying on a conversation  with me when I was introduced as “Mummy’s teacher.”

Helena is not working. As she said she believes that her job is to bring up her children and, given that her husband’s earning power is greater than hers and child care is so expensive, that is what she is doing. Helena’s children do not got to Nursery in spite of the fifteen hours of free child care per week that the government (the New Labour Government) have granted each child. Her daughter does not enjoy it.

Helena looked extremely sad as she said, “I am made to feel guilty for not going to work and wanting to bring up my own children and now the Social workers accuse me of not allowing my children to socialise by using the free fifteen hours at the nursery.”

Here we have an example of the Socialist, Authoritarian movement to subvert the place of the family in the bringing up of children. That, and the pressure from society for people to work to get money to buy things must be almost irresistible.

Of course Helena and her partner provide lots of opportunities for socialising for their children. It’s not as if they are  inexperienced or unsuccessful as parents. They have an eleven year old daughter ready to attend secondary school next year.

Well done Helena, I’m proud of you.

A further, and even more telling, example of the results of these pressures is the recent report that increasing numbers of children are  entering Primary schools still wearing nappies (diapers) and not toilet trained.

Back in 1968 (IIRC) I had an argument with Jack Straw , then President of The National Union of  Students, and some of his far left cronies about a proposal before a committee that the Union should call for “provision of free Nursery Places for every child from the age of three.” I’m not completely sure that this was meant as full time nursery education but my memory is that it was. Someone even said that this should be from the age of two.. As I recall the Israeli Kibbutz system of bringing up children was also cited. (I realise that this varied)
My response at the suggestion that children aged two should be sent to nursery full time was the (very unPC now) statement, ” You will be encouraging women to abdicate their responsibility for the bringing up of their own children.” to which someone muttered, “Of course.”

Okay,  today I would say “parents” and not “women” but my belief is still the same. The State has no place in the bringing up of children except to ensure that no harm is done to them.

I haven’t touched upon the extension of formal educational ideas to the care of children as young as two years old.

There are time when I despise the people who have influence over my government’s policies for young people. Policies like this are more dangerous for the future than the need to impose cuts on spending because of the greed of individual people and the incompetence of previous governments.

As I write I hear that  a British Minister (a Muslim) is due to call for “Europe to become more confident in its Christianity”…… Aaaaaaaargh!

Still, as I said: Well done Helena!


U S Supreme Court 1943

February 12, 2012

I was recently made aware of the case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette in 1943:

The statement made was :

This is from the majority decision by the Supreme Court, in 1943, when they ruled that the states could no longer compel children in public schools to recite the pledge of allegiance. I wonder how many people have actually ever read and thought about this, rather than just whining about it no longer being done?

“Words uttered under coercion are proof of loyalty to nothing but self-interest. Love of country must spring from willing hearts and free minds, inspired by a fair administration of wise laws enacted by the people’s elected representatives within the bounds of express constitutional prohibitions. These laws must, to be consistent with the First Amendment, permit the widest toleration of conflicting viewpoints consistent with a society of free men.

Neither our domestic tranquillity in peace nor our martial effort in war depend on compelling little children to participate in a ceremony which ends in nothing for them but a fear of spiritual condemnation. If, as we think, their fears are groundless, time and reason are the proper antidotes for their errors. The ceremonial, when enforced against conscientious objectors, more likely to defeat than to serve its high purpose, IS A HANDY IMPLEMENT FOR DISGUISED RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION. As such, it is inconsistent with our Constitution’s plan and purpose.”

I find the whole thing fascinating……. Why do so many members of the American Electorate appear intent on destroying the ( spirit of the ) Constitution and its various amendments?

To make things worse, under Eisenhower,the phrase “under God” was added on 14 June 1954. In effect flouting the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. It seems to me that the use of that one phrase establishes the existence of  at the least(a form of) mono-theism as the religion of the USA.

But what I find most disturbing, as I do in my own country, is the thrusting down the throats of young children of something which they cannot be expected by any reasonable adult to understand.

I have lost count of the number of versions of the “Give me a child until the age of seven…” quotation that I have heard but the first that I remember goes thus:”T he Jesuits say, ‘Give me a child until he is seven and he is mine for life’ ” This came from our school Chaplin…and Anglican Priest.

I am told that modern science supports this claim, however it is put into words….. I just need to find the science. Certainly it seems that belief in this adage has given rise to the (to me )horrendous attempts to impose a curriculum on parents and child minders by the Government of the UK. Notably a Labour Government.  But in the US this sort of thinking belongs to the Christian Right it would seem…

Você pode parar de esperar: Maaari mong itigil ang paghihintay: Sie können stoppen warten: يمكنك التوقف انتظار: آپ انتظار: نہیں روک سکتا ہے

February 10, 2012

ನೀವು ಕಾಯುವ ತಡೆಗಟ್ಟಬಹುದು

Можете да престанете да чека

Isn’t Google translate wonderful?

wait in Afrikaans is verwag, wag, wag vir
wait in Dutch is wachten, afhalen, te wachten staan
wait in Finnish is odottaa
wait in French is attendent, attendre, attends, attendons, attendez
wait in German is warten, warte, warten
wait in Norwegian is vente
wait in Portuguese is esperar, espera
wait in Spanish is espera

Hang in there…

February 10, 2012

It’ll be worth the wait….