Random facts and a little fiction

  • In 1964, 57 years ago today, I reported to Uniacke Barracks in Harrogate, Yorkshire, to begin a three year apprenticeship as an Electronic Engineer, thus beginning my Army career which lasted for 28 years and 151 days
  • After 22 years in the army I morphed into a military accountant
  • On Monday I watered a sparrow – she was asleep in a bush – I apologised
  • I have created a very small wildlife pond – it has been immediately colonised by mosquito larvae
  • My wife and I are somehow suffering from multiple mosquito bites

I’m happy and I’m shallow

but sometimes I am deep

I’ll often write best sellers whilst I am fast asleep

Song Lyric Sunday – 27 December 2020 – Heart of the Country

Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday gives us the chance to share familiar, and sometimes not so familiar, songs. Jim has given us Odor /Scent /Smell /Taste this week to be included in the title or lyrics.

If you fancy sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

This week I’m pondering on the final concert, and the final public performance, of The Beatles, Paul and Linda McCartney’s move to the Mull of Kintyre, and the beauty of that part of the world. I was fortunate to live in the Outer Hebrides for two years, based in Ballivanich, on the Isle of Benbecula. Wild, sparsely populated, enduring some tremendously strong winds and wild weather but beautiful, captivating, and instilling a sort of desert fever in those who are lucky enough to experience it.

The Beatles’ final paid concert of their career took place on 29 August 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. The band played to an audience of 25,000, leaving 7,000 tickets unsold. They had become disillusioned with live performances, singing the same songs time and again, unable to hear themselves playing. They had upset many fans with John’s statement that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus.

The Beatles’ rooftop concert on 30 January 1969 marked the end of an era for many fans. The group did record one more album, Abbey Road — on which work started the following month — but by September 1969 the Beatles had unofficially disbanded.

To save some money from the taxman and as a bolt hole from Beatlemania, Paul had, encouraged by then girlfriend Jane Asher, bought High Park Farm in Campbeltown, near Argyll’s Mull of Kintyre in 1968. But it was only when newly married to American Linda Eastman in 1969 that he decided to make it a home.

He said: “Going up to Scotland was real freedom. It was an escape – our means of finding a new direction in life and having time to think about what we really wanted to do.”

The farm, which was rustic to say the least, would become home to Linda’s daughter Heather and the couple’s first child Mary. Stella, now a top fashion designer, arrived in 1971.

But it was also the place where Paul’s next music project was born.

The new expanded editions of Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway include never-before-seen pictures of the McCartneys’ life in Campbeltown, which in time would inspire his love letter to the area – Mull of Kintyre – a 1977 Christmas No1. 

They released the album ‘Ram’ together in 1971 and formed the band Wings in the same year. The couple were also nominated for an Oscar for their song ‘Live And Let Die’, the theme tune for the 1973 Bond film of the same name.

“When she came to Britain and we got to together the greatest thing about it was we both wanted to be free. We did what we wanted and she took pictures of it all.”

Linda McCartney died after a battle with breast cancer on April 17, 1998. She was 56 years old. 

The song I’m offering is Heart of the Country from the album Ram released in 1971.

The video shows some great examples of the free and easy life in their dream home. A great place to raise their children, grow their own food, ride in deserted areas (UK horseriders may note they use American style saddles and tack), and generally enjoy life.

The song aint bad either!

If you want to see more then there is some lovely pics, and music, at the bottom of the lyrics.

I look high, I look low

I’m lookin’ everywhere I go

Lookin’ for a home

In the heart of the country

I’m gonna move, I’m gonna go

I’m gonna tell everyone I know

Lookin’ for a home

In the heart of the country

Heart of the country

Where the holy people grow

Heart of the country

Smell the grass in the meadow

Whoa, whoa, whoa

Want a horse, I want a sheep

I wanna get me a good night’s sleep

Living in a home

In the heart of the country

I’m gonna move, I’m gonna go

I’m gonna tell everyone I know

Livin’ in a home

In the heart of the country

Heart of the country

Where the holy people grow

Heart of the country

Smell the grass in the meadow

Whoa, whoa, whoa

Want a horse, I got a sheep

I’m gonna get me a good night’s sleep

Livin’ in a home

In the heart of the country

I’m gonna move, I’m gonna go

I’m gonna tell everyone I know

In the heart of the country

Heart of the country

Where the holy people grow

Heart of the country

Smell the grass in the meadow

Whoa, whoa, whoa

Lundi limerick #81

We’ve come to the X one again

this week I’m relying on Lane

He hails from Exton

his Ma was a sexton

who drove his dear Dad quite insane

 

There are several Extons in the UK. I’m choosing the village in Rutland which has a population of about 700. I’ve actually been there.

In the south of the parish towards Rutland Water is Barnsdale Gardens which were created by Geoff Hamilton of the BBC television series Gardeners’ World.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exton,_Rutland

Rapid rhyme #18

My cousin Kevin worked at Kew

he kept the kale well clipped

He couldn’t cut too closely though

in case his clippers slipped

He used a cutlass on the grass

as sharp as sharp could be

A fact that he regretted much

as he sliced through his knee

Regardless, Kevin hopped around

but fell and banged his head

He rolled across the grass and then

he rolled into the bed

Alas poor Kevin is no more

succumbed to cuts too many

And if you want another verse

Well tough, there are not any!

Song Lyric Sunday 02/06/2019 – George Harrison, a great musician, and a gardener

img_1345-3Thank you to Jim Adams, who tirelessly hosts Song Lyric Sunday and gives us the chance to share lots of favourite, and some not so familiar, songs.

The theme for this week, Avenue /Boulevard /Drive /Lane /Road /Street, is all about thoroughfares, means of getting somewhere, or where we live, or work, and there are myriad songs to choose from.

If you fancy sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

The song I’ve chosen, this week, is “Any Road” by George Harrison. It is the opening track to his posthumous album Brainwashed, written in 1988 during the making of a video for his 1987 album Cloud Nine. The song was released on 12 May 2003 as a single in the United Kingdom and peaked at #37 in the UK charts.

George successfully battled throat cancer in 1997; in 2001 he underwent surgery to remove a cancerous growth from one of his lungs, and radiotherapy for lung cancer which had metastasised to his brain. Once he realised it was an irreversible situation, he worked further on the album’s songs – in conjunction with his son, Dhani, and his old collaborator Jeff Lynne – until he was unable to do more. Harrison’s final work on the album was carried out at a recording studio in Switzerland shortly before his trip to the United States for cancer treatment. On 29 November 2001, Harrison died, leaving “Brainwashed” not quite finished, but with a guide to completing it in the hands of his son and Lynne.

I always loved George Harrison and felt he was not given the attention and kudos due to him. He was a fine musician, singer, lyricist, and a genuinely spiritual man.

He loved to commune with nature in his garden and once put the whole property up as collateral in order to fund the Monty Python comedy team’s movie Life of Brian after their original backers, EMI, pulled out at the last minute.  As a huge fan of the Pythons, he simply wanted to get to see the film − something that his friend Eric Idle has often described as “the most expensive cinema ticket in movie history”.

Here is George Harrison with Any Road. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Lyrics:

Give me that plenty of that guitar

 

For I’ve been traveling on a boat and a plane

In a car on a bike with a bus and a train

Traveling there, traveling here

Everywhere in every gear

 

But, oh Lord, we pay the price

With the spin of the wheel with the roll of the dice

Ah yeah, you pay your fare

And if you don’t know where you’re going

Any road will take you there

 

And I’ve been traveling through the dirt and the grime

From the past to the future through the space and the time

Traveling deep beneath the waves

In watery grottoes and mountainous caves

 

But, oh Lord, we’ve got to fight

With the thoughts in the head with the dark and the light

No use to stop and stare

And if you don’t know where you’re going

Any road will take you there

 

You may not know where you came from

May not know who you are

May not have even wondered

How you got this far

 

I’ve been traveling on a wing and a prayer

By the skin of my teeth, by the breadth of a hair

Traveling where the four winds blow

With the sun on my face, in the ice and the snow

But, ooh wee, it’s a game

 

Sometimes you’re cool, sometimes you’re lame

Ah yeah, it’s somewhere

If you don’t know where you’re going

Any road will take you there

 

But, oh Lord, we pay the price

With the spin of the wheel with the roll of the dice

Ah yeah, you pay your fare

If you don’t know where you’re going

Any road will take you there

 

I keep traveling around the bend

There was no beginning, there is no end

It wasn’t born and never dies

There are no edges, there is no sides

 

Oh yeah, you just don’t win

It’s so far out, the way out is in

Bow to God and call him Sir

But if you don’t know where you’re going

Any road will take you there

 

And if you don’t know where you’re going

Any road will take you there

 

If you don’t know where you’re going

Any road will take you there

Writer George Harrison Producer George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Dhani Harrison

Other songs you may like:

The Long and Winding Road – Beatles

Dead End Street – Ray Davis and Amy McDonald

Drive My Car – The Beatles

Penny Lane – The Beatles

There is a very interesting account of the making of “Brainwashed” here: 

At the time of recording George knew that he was dying. His stoicism and common sense attitude is amazing!

Twittering Tale #98 – 21 August 2018

It’s time again for Kat Myrman’s wonderful challenge to tax our creative souls.

Just take her photo prompt and write a story, inspired by it, in 280 characters or fewer.

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Here is this week’s prompt and my contribution. Check out all the fabulous entries here.

The Rose grower’s curse.

I’ve got it again, I’m fed up!

What’s the matter now?

That horrible disease that spoiled all my roses last year is back again!

I thought you sprayed them, and cut back the worst affected.

I did, but just look. It’s on every rose and has even spread to the pavement.
Bloody black spot!

(279 characters)

A conversation not to be forgotten!

Today I was working in the front garden. I was digging out Grape Hyacinths and Bluebells that are always threatening to overtake every other plant.

A lady stopped to pass the time of day.  She lives fairly close by and I see her often, and wave. Occasionally we have a brief chat.

Today, she greeted me with, “Oh, I didn’t realise that you lived there, so close to me!” She told me that she was Secretary of the local Allotment Society, and how busy that kept her. She also informed me that she had a pacemaker fitted, and how it had given her a new lease of life.

The conversation progressed along traditional lines and then she set off to continue her journey home.

I did not let on that we had had an identical conversation last time she passed by when I was gardening at the front, almost at the same spot.

As she left I said, “I’m Peter by the way!”

She reminded me of her name.

For the life of me, I cannot remember what it is!!

My life#9 – The Army – (A précis of 28 years)

“The Army” series, came about through my Niece, Penny, requesting some information on my Army days. She was doing some sort of project that required a “behind the scenes” view of military life, so I started to jot things down.

I got a little carried away!

I am offering these jottings exactly as originally presented, the only changes being the introduction of badges, where appropriate, and occasional comments, shown in blue.

For more like this click on the Tag “My Life”.

 

And so Penny, in no particular order, some points that I consider may be pertinent to your project and my apologies for anything you consider in too bad taste.

The Army have always had a call out procedure for rapid deployment. In Germany, during The Cold War, we always had to have our kit packed and ready to go at a moments notice. There were regular tests of this and no thought was given to what effect this had on families (quite naturally as the Russians would not have given notice!). We were called out and did not know where we were going or for how long. Rumours were rife amongst the families and they soon got to know of any injury or death that occurred. (No mobile phones, no iPads, Laptops, WiFi then)

Exercises, training, and detachments away from home are always difficult. It is fairly easy for most soldiers as they change into squaddie mode, get on with the job, and do not do a great deal of thinking, if any, about what they’ve left behind. For the families it is quite different. They are abandoned, in a foreign country, with strange money, strange language etc even though the “powers that be” set up Wives Clubs and the like.

I remember, vividly, taking Claire to the airport at the start of her second term at boarding school. I had to push her, crying, into the departure lounge and watch her disappear in tears. My natural inclination was to hug her and take her back home. It still hurts!

Many more boarding school memories. All of them painful. However, Claire’s education would have been so disjointed had she not decided to attend Ockbrook.

Boarding Schools tend to be very class based establishments and it was only the fact that I was in the highest paid trade group that enabled us to afford to send Claire. She would have experienced quite a large amount of “us and them” as youngsters can be worse than adults in that respect! The majority of non commissioned service families had to accept education at Service schools and a move of school every time their father was posted.

There were a lot of mistaken beliefs that Army families had all sorts of freebies and benefits. In fact, there was quite a bit of hardship, especially amongst the lower ranks. At one stage, in Germany, all Corporals and below were on benefits because they were so poorly paid. If you imagine a young wife, in a foreign country, often with young children, no family nearby, no mobile phones, not even a home phone, no computers, no English language television (Claire used to watch Sesame Street in German!), no credit cards, husband away on exercise, you may begin to understand how difficult it could be.

When we first married the means of getting personal possessions around the world was called MFO (Military Freight Organisation). Everything had to fit into standard size boxes, 1m x 05 x 0.5. We started off with 5 boxes. The quarter (house or flat) at that stage came with everything you needed to live. Furniture, bedding, crockery, cutlery, kitchen ware, brushes, mops etc. You had one room with a square of carpet, and a few mats. In later years you were given 2 carpets and, later still, they started to fit carpets. If you were a Warrant Officer, or Officer, you had a bookcase! We had to store away anything that we did not wish to use and, very much later we could stipulate that we have an unfurnished quarter that came with carpets and cooker.

After a year and a half we moved with 10 boxes. Next time 22. White goods had to be crated and normally ended up being damaged. The process of packing up was extra stressful. One room of the flat or house gradually filled with boxes and you had fewer and fewer things to live your life. Meanwhile the house had to be prepared for “march out” where it was inspected and had to be handed over in perfect condition. Any deviation from perfect had to be paid for – decoration needed, stains on carpets, bedding, damages of any kind. (Imagine trying to restore your cooker/hob to pristine condition. Not only did we try, we succeeded.)

Meanwhile, back with the mother and child (ren). The family had to move. If there was no quarter available in the new post then there were 2 options. Either, the soldier moved to his new post and family stayed in old quarter until one was available, or, family went to mother’s until new quarter available. More stressful separation!

Moving a family by plane, boat or car, with sufficient clothes and supplies to last until you have set up home again is no mean feat. Babies and small children do not find travel exciting and stress ensues. Feeds, nappies, wipes, prams, pushchairs, clothes, drinks, all have to be catered for. A customs official wanting to look in every case, bag, and box whilst your baby turns purple, being desperately in need of a nappy change, and having endured a bumpy landing, is not the way to start a new posting! (We know from bitter experience. First in to customs, last out……with a 6 week old baby.)

Army humour is unique and tends to stem from the unspoken thought that you may not be around long and that you have to make the most of what you have now. The classic story that lots of individuals claim to have witnessed, or said, following an explosion.

“Help me, I’ve lost my leg!”

“No you haven’t mate, it’s over there………”

A regular question from one to another when an exercise or tour of duty away from home is coming to an end.

“What’s the second thing you’re going to do when you get home?”

The answer, of course, is “Take my boots off”

The transition back from squaddie to husband and father is not always a smooth one. The smelly, dirty individual, arriving at the front door is intent on getting clean, getting fed and getting to bed. The child (ren) want to tell Daddy all about what they’ve done, how they’ve grown, stories to be told. The wife wants to tell her husband all about what has happened while he’s been away, she needs a few odd jobs sorted and does not appreciate all the dirty washing and dirty stains on carpets, seats etc.

While away, even for a short time, each partner moves into a solitary lifestyle and copes as best they can. Back together, they must re learn, each time, how to live as a family again. Apart, the wife may be a very effective head of family, taking independent decisions, sorting out problems, coping with crises. Together she takes on the role of allowing the husband to take those decisions, sort those problems and handle the crises. This can often create very real resentment that their own life has been yet again disturbed. This is not a mould for everyone because everyone handles their own situation in their own particular way.

We always made a home as soon as possible after arriving in a house. We put up pictures, we used our own possessions right from the start. We even carried a huge carpet around a few homes. We made a garden whenever we could, nearly always from scratch. We spent a deal of money over the years on these and on curtains, nets, cushions, furniture that fitted one house but not the next, anything to make our nest more homely.

 

I think it is probably time to call a halt now. I’m sure that there is lots more I could say. I consider myself extremely fortunate that, not only did I have an interesting, fulfilling, and at times, exciting career, I had, and have, a supportive wife and daughter to help me along.

 

General thoughts:

 

  • Army life is often an unreal existence. Soldiers are trained to react instantly without questioning and consequences are left for later
  • Mental health problems, alcohol problems, violent behaviour, are all more prevalent amongst service personnel, particularly army
  • A lot of young (and older) men and women see, and experience, things in army life that they would prefer not to
  • Winston Churchill suffered from “black dog” bouts of depression. Could it be as a result of all the horrors he witnessed as a soldier in India, the Sudan and South Africa and as a correspondent in warfare?
  • Is modern reporting a help or hindrance to modern soldiering? We have a Rambo type hero worship and exposure of extremely vulnerable young people. Perhaps we do need more exposure so that more people can see the futility of fighting!
  • As a nation we hide death away and we have tended to pretend that disability and mutilation do not really exist. We are now (I originally wrote “being confronted with”) being reminded daily that limbless and disfigured individuals are part of life, as are mental health problems, abuse problems and the like, and that death is very much a part of life. (Though we are still not very good at it!)