Sunday 30 June 2013

José Froilán González

It was the British Grand Prix today and one man who won it twice in his career died earlier this month.  He was one of the great characters of Grand Prix racing and our commiserations go to his family.

José Froilán González (October 5, 1922 – June 15, 2013) was an Argentine racing driver, particularly notable for scoring Ferrari's first win in a Formula One World Championship race at the 1951 British Grand Prix. He made his Formula One debut for Scuderia Achille Varzi in the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix. His last Grand Prix was the 1960 Argentine Grand Prix.

González competed in 26 World Championship Formula One Grands Prix over nine seasons (1950–1957 and 1960) and numerous non-Championship events.   In the 26 World Championship races, Gonzá-lez scored two victories (the 1951 British Grand Prix and the 1954 British Grand Prix), seven second place finishes, six third place fin-ishes, three pole positions, and six fastest laps. He won the 1951 Coppa Acerbo, the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Maurice Trintignant in 1954, and the non-championship Portuguese Grand Prix.

González's nicknames were El Cabezón (Fat Head, by his close colleagues) and The Pampas Bull (by his English fans) and our commiserations go to his family.

Saturday 29 June 2013

The Liverpool Pigeon

If you walk through Williamson Square in Liverpool you will get mobbed by pigeons hoping for a crumb or two from any snack you may be carrying.  There are pigeons everywhere and the danger of being 'dropped' on. One of our local songs suggests

There's every race and colour of face
There's every kind of name
But the pigeons at the Pier Head

They treat you all the same…

But they are not Liverpool Pigeons.  This is the Liverpool Pigeon:-

The Earl of Derby’s foundation collection of birds (now housed in the Liverpool World Museum) includes over 700 type specimens.  In biology a 'type specimen' is the original specimen from which a description of a new species is made. A type specimen is also called a holotype. 

The Spotted Green Pigeon, affectionately known as The Liverpool Pigeon, is the only surviving example of an extinct species -  Caloenas maculata.  Where it was collected and why it became extinct is a mystery. It probably came from one of the Pacific islands. 

Another important specimen is the first Australian Night Parrot ever collected, by the famous explorer Charles Sturt, before the end of the 1840s.  

This parrot - Pezoporus occidentalis - was thought to be extinct until an authenticated report occurred in 2006, when rangers found a dead specimen which had flown into a barbed wire fence in the Diamantina National Park in south-western Queensland. Its conservation status has been changed from the Insufficiently Known to Critically Endangered.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand

Yesterday, 28th June, was the 99th anniversary of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria’s assassination.

His assassination (along with that of his wife) in Sarajevo precipitated Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia. This caused the Central Powers (including Germany and Austria-Hungary) and the  Entente Powers (also known as the Allies- countries allied with Serbia or with Serbia's allies) to declare war on each other, starting World War I.

 The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was over 37 million. There were over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.

The total number of deaths includes about 10 million military personnel and about 7 million civilians. The Allies lost about 6 million soldiers while the Central Powers lost about 4 million. At least 2 million died from diseases and 6 million went missing, presumed dead.

About two-thirds of military deaths in World War I were in battle, unlike the conflicts that took place in the 19th century when the majority of deaths were due to disease. Improvements in medicine as well as the increased lethality of military weaponry were both factors in this development. Nevertheless disease, including the Spanish flu, still caused about one third of total military deaths for all belligerents.

And all because one man died!

Friday 28 June 2013

Friday My Town Shoot-out - Light and dark contrasts

A bit about me
Hopefully I am back blogging.   I am also back to looking at blogs and with luck will come to see how you are.

There is an air of feeling good about today.  Let’s hope it keeps up tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after… There is a saying in Sweden "man måste vara frisk för att orka vara sjuk" ~ "you have to be well to cope with being ill".  (Thanks Monica!)

Light and dark contrasts

This is my contribution to light and dark contrasts for the Friday My Town Shoot-out and a way of letting you know that Fleabag Ivy is fit and well (and now flealess or she wouldn’t be allowed on the bed!).

To see other posts on the light and dark contrasts click on the camera!

Saturday 22 June 2013

Away (with the faeries)

I have been away.  I’m still away.  But I'm a bit less away than I was….

It seems to have been a very long time. I’m at least five years older than I was last month.  Earlier in June Partner-who-loves-tea took my body to Exeter for a week.  It spent most of the time lying in bed.   Meanwehile, my mind was away with the faeries.

It seems to havr been an endless revolving of pain and exhaustion.  Partner-who-loves-tea brought me home from Exeter.  I went back to bed.  I don’t know where my mind went.  I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it was on its own and not shacked up in a sleazy hotel room somewhere with another lost mind.

On Wednesday my mind came back – at least for a few hours.   But somewhere along the paths it has travelled it has lost the memory of which tap is the hot and which the cold; who The Beatle was whose surname began with H (I tried watching a quiz!); what you call a stopcock (I remembered at the end of trying to explain the hot water system to P-w-l-t because we have two more plumbing problems); and, of course, all the other usual things disappeared like what day of the week it is; where I have put my wallet and what on earth my password is on postcrossing…..  Fortunately I had the password written down.  I know that is supposed to defeat the idea of passwords but how else is one to cope with severe and erratic memory loss. As for forgetting what a stopcock is called that was just one of hundreds of examples of me being able to picture what I wanted to say and not coming out with the words.  A favourite trick when I was younger was to think of the French word and I could then translate that back.  Within the space of three weeks I seem to have totally lost my ability to think in French.  If that doesn’t come back I shall be really peed off!  

A friend recently asked if it was better to be confused and know it or be confused and not know it.   I think I'm beginning to err towards the latter.

If you don’t want to be bored by further details – too much information you’ll probably think - finish here and come back in a month’s time…..

My appetite has disappeared.  I've never been a big eater but what I've had the last few weeks wouldn't keep a sparrow going.  One day, while in Exeter, Daughter-who-takes-photos made a lovely lasagne that managed to tempt me to eat a little and Son-who-watches-films has resumed his usual role of dinner provider for me.  Last night, for the first time I managed enough of his chicken in mushroom sauce - one of my top ten of his recipes - to make his efforts vaguely worthwhile. 


Meanwhile my body is rejecting the concept of standing up and when I raise it into an upright position it falls over quite a lot.  Left, right, forwards, backwards - it’s happy in any position except straight up.  For three weeks any form of action was like trying to move through tar.  That has now improved – it’s like trying to move through treacle. At least I can open one eye and raise my arms above my head – well, almost above my head. 

None of this helps the concept of decorating that we started weeks ago. (Can I borrow about ten rooms somewhere to store the stuff that is blocking hallways?)  I’m about as much use as fart in McLaren’s wind tunnel.  Actually that might benefit them this season!  (Aha - sense of humour is returning.)  And talking of rear ends…  the nerves that warn me when I need the loo are on strike.  We’ve had one ‘accident’ last week and a lot of near things.  It’s just about the final humiliation and I am not a happy bunny.

My e-mail inbox is full.  I am just starting to work my way through it. Cancel that.  I have seen how many there are and given up starting (if you can do such a thing).

I have received lots of lovely postcards that I haven’t acknowledged properly. At least P-w-l-t was kind enough - and with-it enough - to register the postcrossing ones for me.  

As for trying to look at the computer screen, it doesn’t just hurt my eyes it makes my whole world go round.  I hope you appreciate what this effort of rambling today is costing me!!  But if I can’t complain to you who can I complain to???  Apart from P-w-l-t, of course.  The words 'patience' and 'saint ' come to mind.

I suppose I could wait until next week when I have to go for a medical assessment for the Dept. of Work and Pensions.  Ho, ho, ho.  As the letter constantlky threatens, if I don’t go they stop all my benefits.  Assuming I still feel like this and am unable to go because I’m too ill it makes something of a mockery of the system.  Go and you are presumably fit to work so they can stop your benefits.  Don’t go and they stop your benefits.  Now it is the phrase 'Catch 22' that comes to mind.  See, I do have some mind left after all.  I’m not sure this was in Beveridge’s original plans for a welfare state!  Oh yes, as you may have guessed I’m pretty depressed at the moment as well.  

After another very hot sunny day I managed to water the garden last night (thank Heaven for GB’s hose reel!)  It urinated down all night.  

Ivy’s contribution to all this – fleas.  Fleas with bites that a Doberman would be proud of!  (Mulling it over in bed I had some lovely ideas for illustrating this sentence but can’t find the energy to look for the photo I need…)  Fortunately that seems to have been dealt with.  No cats were harmed in the making of this e-mail...

So my apologies if it is a little while before I get around to personal communication again.  Waiting for Mens sana in corpore sano (whose motto was that?) and consoling myself that I still have some Latin.  I just need an ancient Roman to chat to.

I wonder if I’ll feel better for getting all that off my chest or just guilty for boring you again?  Almost certainly the latter - assuming anyone actually bothers to read to the end.  I wouldn’t if I were you.  Go back to half way and pretend you just moved on to another blog….

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