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Monday, 10 August 2020


A FELLOW PASSENGER

I met him on the Tube. The movement of the train rolled us together and his bag hit me. He damned the line, apologized to me, and we began to talk.
In response to my question he said he had plenty of work. Couldn't complain.
"Yes," he amplified, "we're very busy this year. It's a record for our company, that's what it is. First the freezing cold; then this 'Covid' thing; and now all these strengthening jobs__ fortifying, or whatever you call it."
"Fortifying?" I inquired.
"Yes," he replied. "Buttressing walls and all that sort of thing. We're being sent for all over the place to do that. Sometimes it's a ceiling that's given way; sometimes a floor with a hole in it; but often enough it's the very house. In Kensington chiefly, and Bayswater; but other parts, too. We're at it all the time. It's a n'epidemic, that's what it is."
"But," I said, "Surely this is very odd. I can understand measles and influenza and things like that being epidemic; but how can houses in different parts of London all begin suddenly to go wrong at the same time? That's surely very puzzling. What is your theory to the reason?"
"Well," he said, "I don't know much about these things, but they tell me it's the governments fault with all this exercising in front of the tele'. They have to jump in the air, they tell me, and don't come down for a couple of blooming minutes. And all these Kensington and Bayswater people are big folk; the buildings are not meant for that kind of activity. That's what I understand it is. I'm told that on still nights you can hear 'em crashing about in all directions, them buildings were meant for gentle folk. But of course I haven't seen these programs they are all trying to copy, it's not in my line exactly. All the same, 'keep it up' I say's. It's good enough for me to mend the damage they cause's. That's where me mates and me come in." 
The train pulled into his station; he alighted raising his free hand.
"Good Day, my friend, stay safe as they say ! "
I watched him disappear down the crowded  platform whistling a familiar tune, I was still smiling when I reached the office, it was the start of a good day.


Thanks for stopping by.

 





Monday, 3 August 2020


A MYSTERY SHIP

It bobbed about in the boating pool on the Western Under cliff rocks, secured by a string to an old iron ring that in its day had held many a craft and cargo safe. It was one of the kind sold in shops for five shillings---- a lump of wood shaped like a ship and painted here and there in red and blue. But the sail had gone and the mast was broken short.
Two eyes, bright with excitement, peeped round a nearby rock covered in seaweed, showing that I was not alone. "This your ship?" I asked; whereupon a small boy stood up, though I noticed he came no nearer.
" I say mister, you 're not a Customs office, are you?" he almost shouted across the short distance between us, in a strange sort of way there showed suspicion in his young voice.  When I had assured him that I was nothing so romantic, he came and stood by me; but I noticed he kept a sharp look-out towards the promenade behind us. "I slipped behind the rock because I thought you might be a Customs officer," he explained.
"Smuggling, eh ?" I said; and the sea-imp with curly hair and a face brown as his bare arms and legs looked full of the mischief that makes a successful smuggler. Whatever his enterprise, there was adventure in his eyes, and more excitement than he could control, he was quivering.
"Little beauty, isn't she ?" he said, pointing to the ship. "Safe as a house. D' you remember how rough it was last Thursday ? Well, she never sank once all the morning. She's sailing to-night," he added in a whisper, and I noticed there was another nervous glance towards the promenade, "before the moon is up."
"But her sail has gone and the mast is broken." I ventured.
"No that's the funnel. She was a sailing ship, but of course I had to disguise her, so I made her into a steamship. It's all the better, because a steamship will get there quicker. I suppose it wouldn't take more than a week to get to Portugal ? or would you have chosen Brazil if you were me?"
"You're playing a dangerous game mate," I said, in a low voice.
"Fearfully dangerous!" he agreed, in a whisper, which he made as hoarse as possible. "Did you see that torpedo boat pass this morning? She nearly had me; but before she could fire, I fastened my shirt to the handle of my shrimping net and waved at her, like the Scouts do, you know. I had ripping luck; I must have hit on the signal for ' All's well,' for she went on without taking any more notice. It was a near squeak, though. Do you happen to know if the ebb-tide begins before or after the moon rises? I suppose you don't know of a good drug for an Irish terrier do you? Mrs Wiggins's makes such an awful row whenever anybody goes in or out of the house, and I'm afraid it will wake them all up when I creep downstairs.
"Shss! There's a coast-guard; come on!" and he dragged me down behind a rock. "He's got his eye on us; what shall we do? If you happen to be a strong swimmer, I could get on your back and we could perhaps escape round the point. No? Well, I must bluff him somehow. You stay here." He went and picked up his ship, tucked it under his arm, and marched boldly up to the coast-guard and stood talking to him a moment. Then he proceeded up the cliff slope; the coast-guard however, came over the rocks towards me.
"Young gentleman says you particularly want to see me, Sir," he said.
To gain time, I offered him a cigarette. From the cliff slope came frantic signals urging me to secrecy, so I proceeded to ask a few questions about the currents and the tides round Pegwell-Bay.
I have not seen the young filibuster again; but as the papers have contained nothing exciting from Portugal, I expect in a few days time to learn of strange happenings way down in Brazil.



Wednesday, 24 April 2019


A Wood turners workshop (2)


The ML8 in Woodturning Mode



On the lathe is a finial that has been turned by a thirteen year old young lady that wanted to learn woodturning.

Oh what a joy to find someone so young with interests other than a phone or a computer. Originally, a few months before this last Christmas just past, a friend of mine with a young family of three girls asked if I could turn for one of his daughters some lace bobbins for her birthday. Like all children, when overhearing what  he had asked of me from the kitchen, this young lady came running in to the lounge where we were asked in a very demure way 'could I show her how to make them herself, it surely couldn't be that difficult'
My friend visibly went pale knowing the cost of the hobby; A Lathe in his little garden shed would be the end of his sanctuary for all time, bearing in mind he was outnumbered four to one at home.
You can't say no though to the charm of a thirteen year old, and so started a journey with pleasures for me that have far exceeded anything I could have imagined.
She wanted to learn; her skills and design knowledge and unending patience as she attentively listened to me explaining the do's and don'ts, gave me a sense of purpose I would never have expected. I began to understand how teachers must feel when a child wants to learn, the little frame by my side had a thirst for knowledge that far exceeded anything I had come across in my long life, changing my opinion of the youngsters of today.  

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And so on to the purpose of the blog:


ML8 in Metal Mode




Turning a small face plate out of an old rusty piece of  hex, this is to hold a 'Jam Chuck' in the tail stock revolving centre.
                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                       
                                                                    An old piece of hex
                                                                                                                   
                                                                      Turned and drilled

                                                  The Jam Chuck that will hold a goblet
                                                                       for polishing.

Friday, 5 April 2019


A Wood Turners Workshop

I have turned bowls, pens, pill boxes, clocks, etc. etc. until the cupboards and shelves in our home are full to breaking point, and the little lady indoors decreed 'No More'.
So a couple of years ago I turned my attention to other things in my small workshop, which by the way is an 8' x 6' metal shed lined with tongue and grooved floor boarding. (very warm, especially in the winter months) 
When I  first started this hobby I joined a wood turning club and learned a lot from all the friendly guys in the club, but one thing I quickly learned, they were all very well off and their equipment was very up to date with all the latest gadgets on the market, much to expensive for my pocket.
The majority of my equipment has come from garage sales, second hand shops and car boot stalls. I have over the years learned to repair, and bring back to their working life all manner of tools, sharpening after de-rusting, replacing broken handles most of what I use to create the treen that is the art of woodturning.
My lathe is a Myford ML8, it cost, a good thirty years ago, £60 at a car boot sale. Since then I have added to it many extras and chucks including a compound metal slide, three and four jaw metal chucks, sanding table and so many gadgets you wouldn't believe.
I WOULD NEVER EVER SWAP IT FOR ANY OF THE MODERN LATHES
Which brings me  to the reason why I have been asked to explain how I have made a lot of the tools I use.

Metal . . . . . an alien material for me to start with, very frightening spinning round in the chuck. But perseverance and a lot reading, of course after acquiring some old engineering books from the second hand book shops. I would now never even consider buying a tool if after a lot of thought, I think I could make it myself. And anyway the majority of tools these days don't have the right thread for my spindle nose on the Myford, so I have to make my own.
The first tool I made was  a cup chuck, I forget  what prompted me to make it but I was so proud when it held so steady and true, spinning away on the thread I had cut with my newly acquired taps I had found at the local flea market. I was from then on in a new world of my own, able to solve a lot of problems that previously had been way beyond my finances.
So, this 'blog' will be the journey that took me into the world of amateur tool making, possibly to encourage some of you with limited finances to take up the very rewarding hobby of woodturning.            


A Wood Turners Workshop

I have turned bowls, pens, pill boxes, clocks, etc. etc. until the cupboards and shelves in our home are full to breaking point, and the little lady indoors decreed 'No More'.
So a couple of years ago I turned my attention to other things in my small workshop, which by the way is an 8' x 6' metal shed lined with tongue and grooved floor boarding. (very warm, especially in the winter months) 
When I  first started this hobby I joined a wood turning club and learned a lot from all the friendly guys in the club, but one thing I quickly learned, they were all very well off and their equipment was very up to date with all the latest gadgets on the market, much to expensive for my pocket.
The majority of my equipment has come from garage sales, second hand shops and car boot stalls. I have over the years learned to repair, and bring back to their working life all manner of tools, sharpening after de-rusting, replacing broken handles most of what I use to create the treen that is the art of woodturning.
My lathe is a Myford ML8, it cost, a good thirty years ago, £60 at a car boot sale. Since then I have added to it many extras and chucks including a compound metal slide, three and four jaw metal chucks, sanding table and so many gadgets you wouldn't believe.
I WOULD NEVER EVER SWAP IT FOR ANY OF THE MODERN LATHES
Which brings me  to the reason why I have been asked to explain how I have made a lot of the tools I use.

Metal . . . . . an alien material for me to start with, very frightening spinning round in the chuck. But perseverance and a lot reading, of course after acquiring some old engineering books from the second hand book shops. I would now never even consider buying a tool if after a lot of thought, I think I could make it myself. And anyway the majority of tools these days don't have the right thread for my spindle nose on the Myford, so I have to make my own.
The first tool I made was  a cup chuck, I forget  what prompted me to make it but I was so proud when it held so steady and true, spinning away on the thread I had cut with my newly acquired taps I had found at the local flea market. I was from then on in a new world of my own, able to solve a lot of problems that previously had been way beyond my finances.
So, this 'blog' will be the journey that took me into the world of amateur tool making, possibly to encourage some of you with limited finances to take up the very rewarding hobby of woodturning.            

Wednesday, 9 December 2015




My Star of Gold
 

To make an issue, and get excited about what at first seems unexplainable without ever thinking through what could be the cause of certain events that happen to you in this world we live in, is perhaps what many would describe as a ‘gut reaction’ that has, when thought through, more than likely a very simple explanation.
 

The majority of things are reasonably rational in this world, but some things are not. Many is the time that I have wondered and pondered an explanation to some of the events that have happened to me in my life. The incident I am recalling I will just tell you what happened, it’s then up to you to draw your own conclusions. If you have an explanation that to you may be obvious, I would very much like to hear what you have to say.

I can remember back to a time far beyond my reason to remember. A time when I hadn’t realised the meaning to anything that life had to offer, perhaps four or five years old. My elder sister usually had charge of me, and this was a time that was just that, a sunny afternoon spent whiling away the balmy hours in the tall grass verge opposite our home.

I seem to remember boundaries to my world, the apple orchard at the top of our road in those days being one of them, we never ventured further than the last house on our street, about ten houses up, the farm houses in the distance looked miles away to me. Then there were fields of cabbages or brussel-sprouts or some such vegetables growing in vast quantities. That was a boundary, no further. Across the road in front of our house was another boundary; there were more fields and another orchard full of trees with a fence around it that my small frame could just about squeeze under. I remember sitting on the grass verge in front of that fence opposite our house with sis’ one day making daisy chains in the summer sunshine, it was a time when mischief was not one of my pastimes, that, without doubt, came later. I was quite content to just sit there in the clumps of grass that bordered the field.

Down the road, that was never used by vehicles in those days, just tractors and farm lorries, I never thought it went anywhere, it exceeded my boundary, no cars went past our house, you had to be rich to own a car and there wasn’t many rich folks round our way, so our road was pretty quiet all things considered.

That afternoon all those years ago, I heard the distinctive sound of horse’s hoofs coming up the road, even way back then there was an enquiring mind developing underneath a mop of blond hair that I had, when it turned a dirty brownish colour I can’t remember, but it was definitely blond, there are photographs to prove it.

Anyway, up I jump to see this large white horse; there again it could have been grey, but I like to remember it as white, it was coming towards sis and me.

You have to understand I was only about three foot nothing, this huge animal snorting and puffing down at me I remember was quite frightening, and ever since I have had an unhealthy fear of them and they seem to know this, so I usually give them a wide birth, but I do admire their muscular structure, so long as there is space for me to run if need be.

Sitting astride this animal was a beautiful young woman with a grey shawl around her shoulders, as the years have passed my mind has probably exaggerated her beauty, but to me then as she looked down at me from that great height, the sun behind her gave a halo of light all around her as she sat there, and I immediately had the vision of an angel. I knew about angels you see from my Sunday school teacher, and the pictures she had shown us as we listened to her stories each Sunday afternoon was just like this lady that was looking at me and smiling. 

The way she looked at me with glassy eyes, bending over to reach down to me from her elevated position astride this magnificent animal. I think of her face now as serene, the sun behind casting her face in shade but illuminating her dark brown hair around her head, small as I was, I remember being transfixed and holding my hands out to her but not quite reaching, the desire to just touch this angel so great. She held my gaze and didn’t say a word.

I turned away from her with reluctance and found myself walking over to the fire buckets that hung on the fence on big iron hooks bordering the field, by the side was a standpipe put there during the last war. The red buckets were empty, full of dust from many years of neglect. Even then in days gone past it gave me great joy to find a stick from somewhere and clout each one of these buckets kicking up a din that would annoy everyone within earshot.  Reaching up to one of them I managed to lift it off its hook and carried it over to the standpipe. I had to wash it out getting quite wet in the process, the water splashed up and out of the top because the pressure was very fierce and for a little toddler such as I was difficult to control, I managed to get some water in the bucket and with a great deal of effort, both hands holding the handle, struggled back to her as the metal rim bumped against my knees. With relief I put the bucket of water where the horse could drink it, and once again this lovely lady stretched out her hand to me. Strangely, I found I could quite easily reach out and hold it this time not even having to stand on tiptoe. I couldn’t feel anything though, just a kind of warm soft delicate touch, it reminded me of the floating dandelion seed heads that I tried to catch in the late summer breeze as they floated above my head, jumping up to catch them they would hop out of the way as I closed my hands around them.  

I watched a bracelet full of charms fall down around her wrist and I remember staring at them, some of them glinted and caught the sunshine as if they were on fire. Each one was different from the other; there was a horseshoe, a heart, what looked like a purse and a star that I seemed to remember I paid particular attention to.

I looked up into a lovely unblemished face as a tear emerged from a dark brown bewitching eye, it slowly travelled down a rosy cheek to eventually drop off the bottom of her chin. So gradually it fell, falling and splashing onto my hand, I was fascinated, it was warm and silky spreading down through my tiny fingers, something inside of me prevented a reaction to wipe the moisture it left away, soaking into my skin and drying almost immediately.

There was disappointment and bewilderment and as I looked up to question the strange tingling it left on my hand, she had gone though, no horse, nothing, an empty road in front of me which I found myself standing in the middle of.

Turning round there was sis still making her daisy chain. The fire bucket was in the middle of the road empty, no water, not even wet.

As I went to pick the bucket up, I opened my hand to grab hold of the handle and the little charm in the shape of a star that had caught my attention on her bracelet made a clatter as it fell onto the metal at the bottom of the bucket.

I picked the bucket up and removed the charm, putting it in my pocket, as I replaced the bucket on the hook I noticed how dry everything was around the standpipe, no water that I know I spilled and splashed all over the place.

Sis looked at me rather oddly I remember, but carried on with her daisy chain.

Why were my little white socks that my mum had put on me that morning with the toes protruding out of my little sandals wet through? Was it the moisture from the depths of the tall grass on that very hot sultry sunny afternoon?
 
The thing is I carried that little charm all wrapped in a tiny hanky of my sisters that I must have pinched from her and stuffed tightly in a weights cigarette packet for many years.

There is more, even stranger than that. You might think a figment of a young imagination? I don’t think so, it was so vivid and has over the years become even more so as I relate different events that I couldn’t explain, they all go back to that encounter when I was so young. My dreams at that time were all about the clouds, all about the stars and how each time I felt lifted to float above my troubles. I could see down below me the trauma of my life’s ups and downs all disappearing leaving clear the road ahead, no matter what that held. Underneath my pillow was my little star that no one knew about, that was my secret from the world. It seemed to give me a comfort totally unexplainable; Mum, I’m sure knew it was there, when she made my bed she must have noticed it and had a look to make sure I hadn’t started smoking, but it was always returned to the same place and nothing was ever said or the contents of that cigarette packet questioned.
There was the time I had the ‘mumps,’ terrible nightmares started and kept me awake until I reached under my pillow for my little star, clutching it in my hand as I fell asleep, only to float above the horrors and see them disappear. So familiar were my dreams I seemed to know them off by heart.
Who and what was it that presented me with all those wonderful memories I have had in the years that followed? Was that star meant for me to find, purposely placed or given with the knowledge of future events? It has been a lovely thought to hang onto.
I do remember where it ended up; trying one day to impress a pretty girl that I took a fancy to in later years, I gave it to her to put on her charm bracelet, hoping I suppose she would take notice of the little hooligan that was always following her. It was gone, I had given it away, and it obviously didn’t work its charm for me anymore, because she totally ignored me after I had given her the present of my precious little golden star. 
Many years later, after growing up, (It was in my travelling around the country period), I was walking along an isolated country lane after sampling one of Wainright’s favourite walks feeling quite melancholy but never the less uplifted in the beautiful scenery this land we live in has to offer, when passing a small cottage I noticed the net curtains in one of the windows being pulled aside. Standing behind the glass was a young woman of astounding beauty, draped in a grey shawl, her arm raised to hold the curtain to one side she very sheepishly smiled and touched the end of her very fine gold chain around her neck, hanging down between her well developed open front, catching the sunlight shining through the window was the little gold star I had once treasured in my youth.
In an instant she had gone, the curtains fell back to shield her from my gaze and I was left alone to ponder on the enchantment that life very often puts in our path that we take.
 
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Wednesday, 10 June 2015




Speed !

How much faster do we have to go? Is there a limit? Time these days passes so fast, half way through the year, goodness its flying past me much too quickly, everyone in such a hurry to get there just that little bit sooner.
I had to have a check-up at the hospital this week and as usual the car park was rather full. As I pulled into a vacant space out the corner of my eye a very young oriental girl of about seventeen or eighteen took a very nasty tumble, how she fell I am not quite sure but was obviously in terrible pain. A couple of people went for help while I cradled her in my arms and tried to console and reassure her.
Image if you can this poor young thing looking up to see a huge wheel inching towards her face; a monstrous 4 x 4 doing its very best to obtain a vacant space a few yards further on from where she lay. She screamed, bless her, who wouldn’t? This arrogant inconsiderate individual had to grab the space he had seen that his brand new shiny monster could be parked in, not caring an iota about this poor young thing that was in his way. His excuse . . . . . he was going to be late for his appointment! If I could have got my hands on him he would have needed another appointment in A & E! But fortunately for him I was restrained by one of the nurses that stretcher’d the young girl into the hospital. Needless to say the consultant was rather concerned about my heart rate when I eventually calmed down.
It seems to me its got to be bigger, and of course much, much faster. But why?
Perhaps I am missing something hear, has the speed limit been lifted? Have these monsters special dispensation to exceed the seventy-mile an hour limit on our roads, and are there a lot of steep muddy dirt tracks they all need to travel up that I haven’t in my seventy odd years driving around this country seen?
I’ll stick to my little Ford thank you very much, it only needs a little space to park in, and I am never late for an appointment because I always try to leave home with time to spare.
Incidentally, the young lass had shattered her ankle and was hospitalised, she was made comfy by all the marvellous staff hear in Bournemouth General and although very drowsy with whatever they had injected her with a little smile was on her face when I paid her a call before returning home.  
 
Thanks for stopping by
Please call again.