Sunday, 28 August 2005

Shakespeare at Brancepeth

So much has been going on for the last couple of weeks. I have been with Gladys to two Shakespeare productions which are held outdoors at Brancepeth Castle in County Durham. Last week we went to see 'Much Ado About Nothing' and the week before 'Hamlet'. Both were staged by the theatre company Heartbreak Productions and were excellent.

Brancepeth Castle is a superb venue for such a production with a grassed courtyard within the castle walls.

These are pictures from when we went to last year's production Macbeth.

You can see from the blankets that summer nights in County Durham can be quite cold!

Monday, 15 August 2005

Vague and Noble

Today I went to the Jobcentre for an interview for New Deal for jobseekers -New Deal 50 plus. I already have a job to go to but they said if I am actively seeking work in the meantime, I might be eligible for the scheme. I have been interviewed for this before and it seems to give them an opportunity to push you a bit harder for work, in return for some Tax Credits, if you start on a very low wage, and a bit of discretionary help with the costs of starting a job.

They told me that all I would be entitled to was a discretionary amount to help to buy a suit, but I had already had this. That was £100 and has now been cut to £50 - buy a suit? And shirt? And shoes? Other than that there was no reason for me to be on it.

I have seen lots of glossy publicity extolling the virtues of this and other Government schemes, but when you look into them a bit more, they offer very little help - mainly hype. When you are already in a mess, it makes you feel even worse!

Bumped into T who said he too gets really "pissed off with this crap". He's having it with his Council Housing Agency. Lots of mission statements, 'Blue Sky Thinking' and the 'Sharing of the Vision' going on, but no-one will take responsibility for "fixing the f**king floor!". They all use "vague and noble language" that means very little.

I like that phrase as it seems to encapsulate it perfectly.

Monday, 8 August 2005


Gladys is having some work done in the house which involves knocking some walls down. This is the resulting pile of rubble (note the green mould in the corner showing a roof repair is needed next door)

After the builders had cleared it all away and cut back the brickwork a bit more, I went out there to inspect their work and ruminate.

My eyes were drawn to the concrete base of one of the demolished walls and I saw this image.

I fancifully imagined that this looked like the rear hind quarters of...perhaps a fossilized elf! Maybe diving below the surface of the concrete.

Strange thought, I realize, but I mentioned and showed it to Gladys who saw what I meant, but retorted that she thought it was possible to see 'anything in anything' if you look hard enough.

It put me in mind of a Peanuts cartoon I saw once, where Lucy, Linus and Charlie Brown are lying on their backs on a hillock, looking up at some fluffy white clouds. Lucy says "If you use your imagination, you can see lots of things in the cloud formations...what do you see, Linus?" Linus scans the clouds and replies "Those clouds up there look to me like a map of the British Honduras on the Caribbean. That cloud up there looks like a profile of Thomas Eakins, the famous painter and sculptor". He continues, "And that group of clouds over there gives me the impression of the stoning of Stephen...I can see the apostle Paul standing there one one side." .

Lucy turns to Charlie Brown and asks him the same question: "What do YOU see in the clouds, Charlie Brown?". He pauses and then confesses, "Well I was going to say I saw a ducky and a horsie, but I changed my mind."

Tuesday, 2 August 2005

One blog created 'every second'

BBC NEWS Technology One blog created 'every second'

Reading this made me think about why I am doing this. I dunno - we'll just have to see how it goes. I think the trick is to just get things down as they come and not ponder over it all. I started one other blog previously about my experiences claiming Unemployment Benefit and the never ending battle against bureaucracy and dejection. It was pretty crap really so I deleted it. Gladys said that I was being too reserved and self-censoring: I was much funnier when I went into a full rant.

Anyway, I've got a job now, so it seems irrelevant. It's gone and I don't particularly like the way I was feeling then.