24th December

Christmas Eve!

Asda opened at midnight and despite having just had a delivery from Tesco we set off to get those elusive “last few bits!”

Even though it had only been open a few minutes the car park and store were already full. Despite this we managed to get everything we wanted and a few more things besides!

That was when we discovered the problem! Asda had evidently forgotten to bring any staff in to operate the checkouts! It was bad enough that there were trolleys and pallets all over the store given they’d had since 4pm to re-stack the shelves. We joined the shortest queue we could find just before 1am and it was gone 2 when we finally left the store! Oh well at least it’s done!

Just before we went to bed at 3:30 I got an e-mail from Amazon advertising a Frank Zappa CD – under the advert was a note to say that the CD would be posted from Australia and wouldn’t arrive in time for Christmas! You don’t say!

amazon

I made a Tunis cake this morning but when it came out of the oven it hadn’t risen very much. So I decided to try again only this time I used the electric whisk instead of just beating/mixing by hand. However when it came out of the oven it was, marginally worse! So we decided to stick the two bits together!!!

santa claus is coming to Madgascar

♫ ♪ ♫ Santa Claus is coming to….Madagascar ♫ ♪ ♫

Mada-who-ha?

No not who-ha gascar!

Ben left a glass of milk under the tree for Santa and as soon as he’d gone to bed there were two furry noses (and paws) in it!

image

Advertisements

23rd December

Ok so today I’m seriously pissed off by a conversation on someone’s Facebook page about, of all things, Morris Dancing!

His basic premise was that all Border Morris dancers (the one’s with the black faces) are card carrying racists who vote for UKip! This is of course absolute bollocks and he had obviously never met any of the sides that I’ve had the pleasure of dancing with over the years. Border Morris, as far as I’ve witnessed, is probably the only form of Morris that is actually growing. This is probably why it’s frowned upon by the traditionalists (that and the fact that most border sides allow both men and women to dance togther but I shall come back to that point later!).

His first comment concerned the fact that “Black faced Morris is sensibly frowned upon by many local authorities” to which I pointed out that I had never in all the time I’d been Morris Dancing been frowned upon because of a black face. He then came back with 3 examples one of which was local where Motley Morris had been dropped by a school who had invited them to dance at an open day once they found out that they were Border Morris and would have black faces. I found this out from a story in the Daily Mail which had the usual spin that the newspaper puts on this sort of thing! However I would point out that it was NOT the local authorities decision. The second example he gave was a side being prevented from dancing in front of the slavery museum in Liverpool. As far as I’ve been able to ascertain this did happen but again I don’t know if it was a council decision or just some over jealous busybody from the council.

I did find a quote from someone who was there which read:

There were any number of asian and afro caribbean folks among the hundreds watching, photographing and videoing us today in Liverpool and they all seemed so offended many of them had to have their photos taken with us as souvenirs or come and chat about what we were doing there.

His final example concerned a group he refered to as the Bacup Nutters who he had “heard” must dance white-faced when they visit Manchester. I looked into this as well and it turns out that this group is actually a clog group not Border and their full name is the Bacup Coco-Nutters. I have to say that from the video I saw of them on Facebook they are more Black & White Minstrels than Morris Dancers which neatly brings me to his next point!

He brought up the Black and White Minstrels and as far as I could see he was suggesting that there was a direct connection between Border Morris and The Minstrels. Well firstly in my opinion there is a world of difference – The practice of “blacking-up” for minstrel shows included the caricature of an afro-american face (and indeed mannerisms) where as Morris Dancing is purely covering your face in blacking – ie no attempt to ape or parody!

It should also be noted that in it’s heyday the Black & White Minstrel show used to attract TV audiences of in excess of 18 million people – did that mean that the entire country was racist back in the 60’s? Times have changed and we no longer accept the parody of black people in the same way that Benny Hill became persona non grata when it was deemed that his show was sexist. We constantly as a society judge the past on the morals of the present.

The  tradition, which my accuser denies, is that the reason Border Morris Dancers black up is that it is a disguise and that during the hard winters of the 17-18th Century out of work labourers and builders sought to anonymously supplement their income by a bit of dancing and begging. Although other theories exist involving the King of Morocco and Moorish Dancers. References of Black Faced Dancers go back as the 16th century in Europe so the denial of a tradition is a weak argument!

It was particularly annoying when he ran two pieces of information together to try and insinuate racism. He claimed that Border Morris had only existed since the 60’s and that the practise of blacking was known as “niggering up”. Whilst it may be true that the Border Morris style has expanded since the 60’s the term he refers to originates from the early 20th century and was a description of an older black-face tradition using the terminology and culture of the times – in fact the word he objects to was not always considered derogatory.

The thing I objected to most was the blanket assertion that all Border Morris dancers were racist because they black their faces. In fact there are sides that use other colours such as one side that uses red and green, another blue and a female side who paint their faces as tigers!

I suspect that the thing he objects to most is the fact that Border Morris has become so popular. I sense that he is a traditionalist and he mentions the Morris Ring a couple of times. Coming back to several points mentioned above I would like to point out that the Morris ring had to change it’s constitution last year to allow women to join – yes that’s right they had been discriminating against women long after it was considered wrong. However although they now allow women to join they are still not allowed to dance because in their words folk dance is a traditionally male activity and that because of its arduous nature, women should not be able to dance with men. However they will now allow women in because we recognise that ladies have as much ability to organise or play music – oh how very 21st century of them!!

So I’m guessing that in his opinion it’s ok to be sexist but not racist!

What a twat!!

22nd December

One of those moments today. I was sitting at the computer making a list of food that we need for Christmas while Sarah listened to the CD of Christmas songs that I burnt yesterday in the kitchen. At one point the Band Aid song Do they know it’s Christmas came on…..

It could have been because I was thinking about the food we needed or it could have been that the thought had been planted in my head by some images I’d seen of the events of the year but suddenly that song, which has become so much of a wall paper song because it’s been so over played over the years, became as relevant as the day I first heard it 28 years ago!

And the Christmas bells that ring there
are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it’s them
instead of you

So remember those less fortunate than yourselves this Christmas. Those who are suffering because of war or because they don’t have enough to eat. Remember that although you may not feel it you have a roof over your head, food on your table and you live in peace you are one of the fortunate ones in this world.

santa

He’s making a list, 
Checking it twice; 
Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. 
Santa Claus is coming to town

Santa came to visit this afternoon!

21st December

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes…again

Stonehenge winter solstice

Join together ‘neath the mistletoe
By the holy oak whereon it grows
Seven druids dance in seven time
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming

Ring out these bells
Ring out, ring solstice bells
Ring solstice bells

winter solstice

It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine

pb-101222-winter-solstice-eg-01

Snow and ice have cooled our minds
Cold winds have blown away our fertile thoughts
Silent nights have stilled our tongues
Like the bear, the fox, and the toad
Our creativity hibernates without the warmth of the sun.
Come to us now, Inspiration, as the sun returns!
As the sun grows in strength
So may the fire in our hearts!

So today is either the end of the world or the start of a new age. The new year is coming the nights will start to get light as the sun returns. Let us hope for peace and happiness in the days ahead.

Today is my 6th wedding anniversary which falls each year on the Winter Solstice even though we married at the Summer Solstice. We meant to go back last year but with the current world situation we couldn’t afford to do it so we now hope to celebrate our 10th anniversary on the Summer Solstice in a land far away.

trees 2a

20th December

I finally got round to doing something with the footage I shot when we went down to Brighton at the beginning of November to see the London to Brighton veteran car run.

I’ve also decided that today will be the last fast day of 2012 and I will resume again in the new year. this is partly due to the fact that next Tuesday is Christmas day and I can’t see me getting by on 600 calories somehow! I’m not sure if I’ll have lost any weight this week as there has been a lot of chocolate birthday cake around not to mention mince pies at work!!

19th December

On Monday night I narrowly missed getting stuck in a massive traffic jam on the M25 after there had been an accident just outside the Dartford tunnel. I was about to turn onto the M25 when I saw the queue so I headed off down the M20 instead. The news reports were predicting that the M25 could remain closed on Tuesday morning causing traffic chaos. Luckily for me I had yesterday off and luckily for everyone else they managed to get the road open in time. So this morning when I was driving to work I was confused by signs that the M25 was closed again – surely it couldn’t be from the same accident could it?

Apparently there was another accident in virtually the same place at 7am this morning which caused the motorway to be closed for the second time in 3 days. Traffic chaos was an understatement with traffic jams in both directions on the A2 plus the M25. Once again I was lucky enough to be going in the opposite direction so my journey to work only took an hour longer than usual!! This included an emergency stop at a petrol station in Pratts Bottom because by the time I got there I was desperate to go to the toilet!!

trees

I saw this beautiful illustration on Pinterest today – it reminds me of the time earlier this year when we went camping at Nethergong. I clambered out of the tent in the middle of the night and was dumbstruck by the sight of the sky full of stars that was visible above the trees behind the tent. This picture goes some way to summing up how I felt standing there.

image

Another 2 hours journey to get home again this evening, awful traffic and atrocious weather combined to give an average speed of 17mph which is bad considering that about 70% of the journey is on motorways. I tell you Friday can’t come soon enough!!

18th December

image

It was Ben’s Christmas play at school this morning so I’d taken the day off so I could go.

Afterwards I had to go to the school for a meeting with the woman from HR that annoyed the he’ll out of us during the headteacher recruitment earlier in the year. She hasn’t got any better, doesn’t really offer any useful advice and spends most of the time covering her own arse! Not the way I wanted to spend my day off and I had a headache by the end of it.

In the afternoon we went Christmas shopping in Maidstone this afternoon.  I was looking for a few little bits to finish off Sarah’s presents when I had a really random idea! It cost me the grand sum of £7 altogether – hope she likes it!

Bought a bowtie in a charity shop for 50p!