It was a sad day for me…

It was a sad day for me on Saturday, 7th of December.

The ‘event’, of which I was part, was in Trafalgar Square, London where an amazing number of people could be seen swarming in all directions; the ideal spot to interact with a lot of people.

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Trafalgar Square & the National Gallery 1908

The National Gallery takes pride of place at the top of the Square with a street running in front of it, which has now become pedestrian. In doing so, it has enlarged the area of the square to allow for added spectacles, buskers and demonstrators.

I was one of those peaceful demonstrators competing with poorly drawn chalk drawings of world flags, various disguised buskers and even a Scottish piper, who didn’t get full credit for his performance. The outlandish seemed to take priority for those tourists wanting to experience the thrill of the crowds.

You may be wondering why a scene with a lot of colourful animation would leave me feeling sad?

Why would seeing someone dressed as Darth Vador or Yoda, a white mouse or a half naked man, pulling in a hundred people to watch him act the fool, dismay me?

It is simple.

The event I was part of was to inform people about the ignoble transport of primates to their death by Air France/KLM, one of the last major airlines profiting from the commerce. We hoped people would sign our petition, but no. Our stand hardly benefited from cursory glances as people passed by in a hurry to inspect smudged chalk flags on the pavement, and to add coins to their own country’s symbol.

How can people be so insensitive? Monkeys and other animals are dying (the ones who die in transport are the lucky ones) with help from AF/KLM, and this only for profit.

Atrocious experiments on monkeys, dogs, cats, not to mention rodents, are not viable for anything but their own species. It is a commerce fuelled by those pharmaceutical companies who thrive on us all and our illnesses, often causing disasters with their drugs like Thalidomide, among many less publicize catastrophes.

Operating on a monkey to give it Parkinson’s disease and then trying treatments on it to cure it, is nothing short of STUPID! Monkeys do not get Parkinson’s. A false Parkinson’s will give false results….

So if you fly Air France/KLM, keep in mind that there is every chance that while you’re in your seat watching an in-flight movie or sampling one of their meals, there will be hundreds of monkeys in the baggage hold either dying or destined to die futilely in laboratories.

If you pass by a stand advocating anti-vivisection, take a minute to look and perhaps sign a petition. It really is for your own good as well as all those tortured animals and people, victims of the effects of medicines tested ineffectually on animals.

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Trafalgar Square & the National Gallery today 2013

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50th Anniversaries

ImageWhen I logged on to the internet this morning, two very different 50th anniversaries were announced.

Strangely enough, the first to appear on the internet search engine was that of Dr. Who.

I was fifteen when he first made his appearance on British television and now fifty years later, he is still in the public eye and popular. A special film called ‘The Day of the Doctor’ has been made to celebrate the occasion and will be shown worldwide. He has become a cult figure much as ‘The Prisoner.’

President_Kennedy_and_Vice_President_Johnson_prior_to_ceremonyThe second anniversary that is being marked is that of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Who doesn’t remember the moment when they heard the news? Practically everyone can say where they were when the news hit them, because it did impact everyone in some way.

I was in the school library and heard the news via the school loud speakers. My friend sitting across from me burst into tears. I did not cry but was nonetheless shocked that a person as important as the President of the United States could be vulnerable in the modern age.

ImageThe assassinations of Lincoln and McKinley in 1864 and 1901, respectively, were in the old days before the Secret Service was responsible for the President’s security. Both men liked being in contact with the public, so made themselves vulnerable.

As a result of McKinley’s death, it became the Secret Service’s job to protect the number one man.

By the 60′s, it didn’t seem possible that an iconic figurehead such as Kennedy could be killed.

Ha! Little could we imagine that he was to be the first of a spate of assassinations (or attempts) of leaders around the world.

Today, I am bemused by the fact that a fictional character’s 50th anniversary would take precedence over that of an American President; a man who was larger than life in most of what he did.

Perhaps it can be attributed to the fact that Kennedy’s anniversary is a death, while Dr. Who’s is a birth? It would be interesting to know if either man will be remembered for their 100th anniversary…

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Guy Fawkes Night

Fireworks!

Guy Fawkes Night

Guy Fawkes Night (Photo credit: Mike_fleming)

Whether it is Independence Day, Bastille Day or a plethora of other national days, fireworks are part of the celebrations in remembrance of freedom or independence.

You will not find Britain among those ‘freedom from something’ holidays. As most people know, the United States’ Independence Day is actually celebrating its freedom from Great Britain, as are a number of other countries

Britain, however, has never been in a position of subservience and consequently has not needed to free itself from anything, but they do have a night they celebrate with fireworks. They are actually commemorating that time when fireworks didn’t go off over 400 years ago.

Let me explain quickly.

English: The Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, ...

English: The Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, Laing Art Gallery (Tyne and Wear Museums) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1605, the Catholics made an attempt to blow up Parliament, the English seat of government. Guy Fawkes was found in the cellars beneath the House of Lords guarding barrels of gunpowder, destined to send King James I to his Protestant heaven or hell.

In times gone by, Britain’s internal conflicts have usually been religious ones. The country has see-sawed back and forth between Catholicism and Protestantism for centuries with some interesting results. The most outstanding one in my mind is the creation of Anglican Church by King Henry VIII, who is known for his six wives. When the Pope refused to let him divorce his first wife, he simply established the Church of England with himself at its head. He then divorced his Catholic wife and married his second. Easy peasy.

Portrait of Henry VIII

Portrait of Henry VIII (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A simple rhyme to remember what happened to each of his six wives in order is :

Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived.

But I digress.

Guy Fawkes night is on the 5th of November in remembrance of the foiled Gunpowder Plot and at the same time a failed Catholic attempt to be rid of a Protestant King and government. If it were a national holiday once, it is no longer, but there are always firework displays around the country as well as those held in people’s own gardens.

Also known as Bonfire Night, a stuffed dummy called a Guy, may still be burned in memory of Guy Fawkes. What people have forgotten is that before the dummy called Guy, it was the effigy of the Pope that was burned, and I will bet you a barbecue that a good number of folk have even forgotten it has anything to do with religion at all. The Catholics will be out there celebrating Bonfire Night with the best of them!

English: Spectators watching a bonfire on Guy ...

English: Spectators watching a bonfire on Guy Fawkes’ Night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Heavens and Earth – Les Cieux et la Terre

Eleanor steeplejack corr

Hanging from a steeple in France

How many steeplejacks are also farriers? Care to take a guess?

The extremes of hanging from death defying heights for one job while having both feet planted solidly on the ground shoeing horses for another, is rare. I doubt that you know a person who is qualified to practice both skills, but I do.

Where this seems to touch on the realms of fantasy is when you replace that dare-devil man that you have imagined with a woman. I know firsthand the intrepid woman who performs both these manly professions, because she is my daughter.

I might have predicted something of the sort from the time that she was a baby. How many children of any sex walk, unaided, at seven months? How many, without help, climb on furniture to the top of a wardrobe at eighteen months? She did. Léa Vertige corrI have a brother who was fascinated by toy cars and trucks from the time that he could crawl with one in his hand. He is now an expert mechanic who could probably dismantle and reassemble a vehicle wearing a blindfold. So there are indications if we’re willing to heed them. It is perhaps only with hindsight that they become so much clearer. 
Nonetheless, I’m still wondering what it meant when my baby daughter repeatedly stripped off all her clothes and donned a hat.
SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA   Farrier tools 

Combien de cordistes sont aussi des maréchaux ferrant? Envie de devinez?
Les extrêmes – suspendu d’une hauteur qui défie la mort pour un boulot et puis aie les pieds solidement plantés sur terre lorsque l’on chausse un cheval pour l’autre – sont rares. Je doute que vous connaissez quelqu’un qualifié pour les deux, mais moi, j’en connais quelqu’un.

Où ça touche le domaine de la fantaisie est lorsque vous remplacez l’homme casse-cou que vous avez imaginé par une femme. Je connais de première main cette femme intrépide qui pratique ces deux boulots masculins.  Elle est ma fille!

J’aurais pu prévoir quelque chose de ce genre très tôt dans sa vie de bébé. Combien d’enfants marchent sans aide à sept mois? Combien, sans assistance, grimpent sur les meubles afin d’arriver en haut d’une armoire à dix-huit mois?
J’ai un frère qui a toujours été fasciné par des voitures et des camions et ceci à partir du moment qu’il a pu rompre avec une voiture dans la main. Aujourd’hui il est un expert en mécaniques qui pourrait, j’imagine, démanteler et rassembler un véhicule les yeux bandés.

Donc, les indices sont là si nous voulons faire attention. C’est peut-être rétrospectivement qu’elles deviennent plus apparentes.

Néanmoins,  je me demande jusqu’aujourd’hui ce que voulait dire le fait qu’une de mes filles se mettait à nue avant de se coiffer d’un chapeau…?

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Artistic License?

Of course, it is a given that an Artist in any media has the license to improve their work by the distortion of fact, alteration of the conventions of grammar or language, or rewording of pre-existing text. As a writer, I am the last person to criticize the practice having resorted to its use myself. Sometimes words and thoughts sound better rearranged…
I will let you decide for yourselves where Alison’s twenties bio veers from the strictest verity. It makes for a good read in any case. 
As for her novels, short stories etc., I can vouch for her entrancing ability to hold a reader. She weaves a fine tale. You have only to sample for yourselves.
http://www.amazon.com/annika/dp/b006ummrwg
http://www.amazon.com/gray-eyed-glory-ebook/dp/b005zismys

AnnikaThe Author In Her Twenties
by Alison Blake
http://alisonblakewriter.com

I’ve been writing all my life, and I don’t just mean school reports. I mean writing, as in great novels, sweeping romances, daring adventure stories, and sad haunting tales of the tragedy of life.
And that was just in third grade.
But I grew up and faced the realities of making a living.
I was told that it was impossible to get published, that I might as well give up and do something practical with my life.

So I became an actress.
I had a ball. I went to auditions as if they were party invitations. I went to parties as if they were auditions. I had so many little black dresses that my closet looked like Dracula’s cave.
I was living in Manhattan. Two room-mates and I lived in this tiny apartment on the third floor in East Greenwich Village which was not a fashionable address at that time.

I met writers and painters and musicians and poets. Although I haven’t a musical bone in my body, the musicians were the most fun. One of them kept saying to me, "Can’t you hear the rhythm? Can’t you feel the rhythm? I wanted to so badly, but apparently I was not only tone deaf, but also rhythmically denied.

Acting gigs were few and very far apart, they were also non-union. I was lucky the directors didn’t ask me to pay them. Actually one did. I hate to admit it but I seriously considered it.

But I finally got a decent job, a writing job.
At one of the almost nightly parties I was chatting with this very sour looking woman while looking over her shoulder at an absolutely gorgeous guy (who was completely unaware I was alive).

"So are you interested or not?" she said.
"Ah huh," I agreed. At that time in my life I made it a point to agree with almost everything.
"Monday at nine," she said. "We’ll see what you can do."
"Okay." My eyes stayed glued to Mr. Gorgeous who was leaving without once looking in my direction.
"Here’s the address." She poked a card into my hand.
"Right. Thanks."

Monday morning, I followed the card to a third floor office on Madison Ave. The sign on the door read, B&B Publishing, Corp. (the name has been changed to protect me). They published about fifteen different magazines.

Suddenly I was the associate editor of three of them: Movie World, TV World and Screen Stars. They were filled with "interviews" of stars telling us about their romantic lives, spilling their emotional guts. 99% of the stories were complete fabrications. Occasionally I got to do a real interview, but the actors were invariably so busy protecting their reputations and following studio orders, that the interviews were too boring to use, so back to fiction.

And then, someone (a real traditional publisher) published my book in hardback. I was going to be rich, I was going to be famous, I was launched!
It sold fifteen hundred copies, mostly to libraries, and was never heard from again.

So much for my twenties.

AUTHORS NOTE: Most of the above is true.

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To Bed or Not to Bed?

IKEAWhat good is a three-legged chair?
How about a double bed with only a single slatted bed base?

That is what IKEA did for me. A first-time buy in their shop saw me left with a delivery of a bed that is of no use.

Phones calls did not alter the fact, only leaving me with two alternatives : order the missing part on line and wait ten days for delivery or return to the shop (a 45 minute drive) and buy the missing piece that the vendor failed to include when toting up the various items. A matter of putting 2 instead of 1.
Really!
My on-line foray into this particular shop had forewarned me but I didn’t heed the poor ratings given by other buyers.
Here I sit trying to organise my thoughts, of which one is, never buy from IKEA again.
But wait! I have to if I want to sleep in the IKEA bed…

Held over a Scandinavian barrel or is that bed?

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Quirky!

Flandra

One of Barnaby’s Mysteries

Perhaps I shouldn’t be telling you this, but if it gets people to my blog, why not?

Barnaby Wilde is the pen name of Tim Fisher!

Tim was born in 1947 in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, but grew up and was educated in the West  Country. He graduated with a Physics degree in 1969 and worked in manufacturing and Quality Control  for a multinational photographic company for 30 years before taking an early retirement to pursue other  interests. He has two grown up children and currently lives happily in Devon.

There. I’ve given you his real name, age (if you care to work it out) and where he lives. Everything a stalker would thrive on.

What you also have to know is that he is one of the quirkiest and most enjoyable writers I have come across since I began writing. For me, no one has matched his verse or his use of puns. I do believe he must be a jolly fellow and a decent chap along with it. But read on. Here is what he thinks of himself…

Just who does Barnaby Wilde think he is?
Barnaby Wilde, of course, doesn’t exist. Even his name is a joke. (If you haven’t got the joke yet, think Steppenwolf and, if you still haven’t got it, you’ll have to Google).

The truth is that Barnaby Wilde is a liar. He makes things up. He confabulates. He tells stories for personal gain. You can’t believe a thing he says.
The question really is, why does he do it? The obvious answer, one might suppose, is that he’d like to be rich and famous, but even he doesn’t believe that’s going to happen. So, why?

Perhaps he just wants to be loved? Actually, that might not be too far from the truth. Certainly he’s delighted when someone tells him that they’ve enjoyed reading something he’s written. In fact, he gets far more pleasure from a piece of positive feedback, such as a book review, than he does from any commission he might make from selling it. In that case, you might ask why he doesn’t give all his books away for free. Well, he has this strange belief that the only praise you can truly trust comes from the stranger who’s laid out his own money. If someone takes the trouble to leave a positive review for something they’ve paid for, then it’s probably genuine praise.

Maybe he’s insecure? He needs to feel needed? Perhaps … though he has plenty of people around him who appear to find him useful. He certainly doesn’t admit to feeling insecure.

Could it be that he just has an urge to be creative? Now, that surely has a ring of truth to it. He’s certainly tried his hand at a few creative endeavours such as wood turning, pottery and painting in the past. Writing, though, has been there at some level or another ever since he was a kid. One of his earliest memories is of his father one-finger typing a story that Barnaby had written at his Primary School and turning it into a miniature book. (No idea what ever happened to it, sadly).

On the other hand, could it just be conceit? Maybe he just wants other people to see how clever he is? He swears it isn’t, but it’s an unconvincing denial.

Barnaby’s own explanation is that he simply wants to entertain, amuse, and maybe, occasionally, mystify people. He loves the sound of words. He loves puns and rhymes. He says his head is full of stories and he thinks other folk might find them diverting.

But, as I said at the beginning, you can’t believe a word he says. He makes things up.

You can find out more about Barnaby Wilde and his books at http://www.barnaby-wilde.co.uk or follow him on twitter @barnaby_wilde


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Just to finish off my squealing on him, Barnaby Wilde has published seven volumes of Quirky Verse, and five volumes of Short Stories, as well as a series of Detective Stories featuring the motorcycle-riding Mercedes Drew and her Detective boyfriend, Inspector Flowers. There are also a series of Humorous Novels (The Tom Fletcher series) featuring talking cats and parallel universes. All these books are currently available as e-books and several are now available as paperbacks. 
He has also contributed to several publications by the writer’s consortium ‘Top Writer’s Block’, which publishes books on behalf of the charity ‘Sea Shepherd.’

You can find a separate page on this blog devoted to TWB.
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