Category: People

Dame Vera Lynn on her 100th Birthday

Dame Vera Lynn

Giant projection slide of Vera Lynn on the iconic white cliffs of Dover.

Dame Vera Lynn on her 100th Birthday

Dame Vera Lynn on her 100th  Birthday.

During World War 2 (WWll) Vera Lynn was known as the ‘forces sweetheart’ and was massively popular.

Born in London 20th March 1917, she became an actress singer and songwriter. During the war years, her songs  “We’ll Meet Again“, “The White Cliffs of Dover“, “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” and “There’ll Always Be an England“. became iconic and a tonic for troops and forces fighting in the war. The white cliffs of Dover were the last part of Britain troops saw as they departed on ships across the Channel to fight. Also the cliff were a  welcoming sight on their return home.

My late father was a WW2 soldier in the British army(known as Desert Rats) fighting in Egypt.

Vera Lynn undertook concert tours in Burma, Egypt and India for the troops. She remained popular after the war, appearing in movies and on radio & TV.  At the age of 92, Vera became the oldest artist ever to top UK music charts with a melody of her famous songs. She outsold outselling both the Arctic Monkeys and the Beatles.

My favourite rock group Pink Floyd even had a track about her in their superb album ‘The Wall’.

Vera

Whenever my wife hears anything about Vera Lynn she would burst into song of We’ll meet again

Saint David’s Day

Saint David’s Day

 

March 1st  is Saint David’s Day.

Did you remember to celebrate it yesterday?

The first day of March was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David as traditionally it is believed that he might have died on that day in 569, 588 or even 589; the date is uncertain.

Stainglass picture of St David of Wales

Stainglass depicting St David of Wales

St David (Dewi Sant) was a Celtic monk, abbot and bishop, who lived in the sixth century.  He spread the word of Christianity across Wales.

St David's own flag flown over Churches and some public buildings on St David's Day

St David’s own flag flown over Churches and some public buildings on St David’s Day

A  famous story about Saint David tells how he was preaching to a huge crowd and the ground is said to have risen up, so that he was standing on a hill and everyone had a better chance of hearing and seeing him.

 He was born towards the end of the 5th century. He was of the royal house of Ceredigion, and founded a Celtic monastic community at Glyn Rhosyn (The Vale of Roses) on the western headland of Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro) where St David’s Cathedral  stands today. David was famous for being a teacher.  His monastery at Glyn Rhosin became an important Christian shrine and important centre in Wales. Before  his death, Saint David is said to have uttered these words: “Brothers be ye constant. The yoke which with single mind ye have taken, bear ye to the end; and whatsoever ye have seen with me and heard, keep and fulfil.”

Welsh ex-pats around the  world celebrate St David’s Day. The  daffodil  & the leek are the national emblem of Wales and badges of which are worn with pride.

Daffodil flower and emblem of Wales

Daffodil flower and emblem of Wales

Why a leek as an emblem?  One theory is that St David advised the Welsh, on the eve of battle with the Saxons, to wear leeks in their caps to distinguish friend from the enemy. Shakespeare mentions in Henry V, that the Welsh archers (fearsome for the power and accuracy of their legendary long bows,)  wore leeks at the battle  with the French at Agincourt in 1415.

The Leek vegetbale an other emblem of Wales

The Leek vegetable an other emblem of Wales

The traditional meal on St David’s Day is cawl. This is a soup that is made of leek and other locally grown produce.

Another symbol of Wales is  the iconic Welsh Dragon  in Welsh- Y Ddraig Goch (“the red dragon”)

Welsh National-Flag

The Welsh National Flag

It  appears on the national flag of Wales. The flag is also called Y Ddraig Goch.

The Historia Brittonum(History of Britons written around 828)  records the first  use of the dragon to  symbolise Wales.

The Dragon was popularly supposed to have been the battle standard of the legendary King Arthur  other ancient Celtic leaders. archaeological  literature, and documentary history suggests that  it evolved from an earlier Romano-British national symbol.  During the reigns of the  Tudor Monarchs, the red dragon was used as a symbol of support  in the English Crown’s coat of arms (one of two supporters, along with the traditional English lion).  The red dragon is often seen as symbolising all things Welsh, and flags are flown  by many public and private institutions in Wales and some in London too.

………………..

1 March 2014

To celebrate St David’s Day Google has this special doodle to commemorate the occasion.

st-davids-day-2014-5651391519391744.2-hp

 

 

A New Era in American Politics

A New Era in American Politics

 

Here in London, we stayed up to 4am watching the excellent BBC US Presidential election results coverage. We saw  the incoming results from what has been such a diverse and as many found, a divisive U.S. campaign, which has now ushered in a new era for American politics and governance.

Normally those from other nations may not bother to stay up to the wee small hours  to watch such. However the the two candidates involved and the known baggage they brought with them to the campaign, did make this election race a fascinating spectacle for many around the globe.

clinton-2016-e1443548623177

Hilary Clinton the favourite, an experienced  party apparatchik,  who seems to have been around since her husband Bill was President over 15 years ago was the Democrats candidate. Her role as the powerful Secretary of State under President Obama, was regarded by many as a stepping stone to the White House but in the end this counted as nought.

mr-trump-yellow-tie

 

Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman who had  never held any political office and had  failed   badly in a Presidential bid in 2004, was the rank outsider.

He imposed his formidable personality on the election race, sweeping aside fellow Republican candidates and in effect bulldozing his way to be the only rival to Mrs Clinton and the Democratic Party.

The televised debates between Clinton & Trump were at times acrimonious with enough mud slung to make a decent sized football field!

They made compulsive viewing, more so than any other previous presidential  debates.

History was being made.

Mrs Clinton had policies planned that  she put to the people.  Mr Trump was rather vague on the same. He however  made some big bold  promises to fix the big issues, not heard of before by the people.

Mr Trump’s antics and comments during the campaign will become the stuff of  legend.

Any other candidate who acted his way, would have been bundled away, never to be seen again!

It was understandable that Mrs Clinton and the Democrats, initially thought that with the at times bellicose Mr Trump as her rival, election to the Presidency would be straightforward.

It became clear that Mr Trump in his rousing election speeches and promises during the debates, tapped into the visceral anti establishment mood felt by the majority of  US citizens.

These disaffected citizens turned out en masse to vote for someone whom they see as a ‘new broom’ to sweep away over 15 years of  distrust in the political system, the  stagnation of the economy, jobs and the continued involvement in foreign conflicts.

Mr Trump had no political baggage and to use a cowboy analogy ‘shoots from the hip’.

In computer parlance ‘WYSIWYG’ (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get). This was so refreshing to many voters, fed up with dissembling anodyne politicians.

His various peccadilloes and outrageous statements did not matter to his voters.

As  with the quote attributed to  Oliver Cromwell nearly 400 years ago,  we get Trump ‘warts and all’, nothing is hidden.

Noting the similar feeling between many British and US people,  Mr Trump mentioned the momentous UK exit vote from the EU and said he would do a ‘Brexit’ 1000 times over if elected. He did!

The Blind Beggar Pub

The Blind Beggar Pub

 

he Blind Beggar Pub Whitechapel London E1

The Blind Beggar Pub Whitechapel London E1

The Blind Beggar Pub is a famous East End Pub in Whitechapel, East London. Sadly many pubs are closing in London and England because of taxes and the fact that most people now prefer tp buy cheaper

Sadly many pubs are closing in London and England because of taxes and the fact that most people now prefer to buy cheaper alcoholic drinks in supermarkets and cut-price shops to drink at home. These closed pubs end up being demolished or converted by property developers into apartments and flats. Such is the building boom in London that  houses & former commercial property are now being turned into apartments to make a quick profit on sale or rental. We have lost three local pubs each over 100 years old to such in the last few years.

These closed pubs end up being demolished or converted by property developers into apartments and flats. Such is the building boom in London that  houses & former commercial property are now being turned into apartments to make a quick profit on sale or rental. We have lost three local pubs, each over 100 years old, to such in the last few years.

Numerous history and convivial social meeting places are now disappearing from the London landscape and culture.

The Blind Beggar was built in 1894 on the site of an Inn dating from 1654.

Notable events in its history include where William Booth preached his first open air  sermon then forming a Mission that led to the founding of The Salvation Army.

The first modern Brown Ale ( my first beer when a teenager) was brewed and sold in the pub which was then part of Manns brewery.

The pub’s name is linked to a popular legend concerning a local connection with a knight, who was the son of the famous Simon de Montfort , an Earl, who rebelled against King Henry III in the 13th century.

His son Henry de Montfort,  lived in a grand manor house in the area. One story  of the legend  is that de Montfort was wounded and blinded at the Battle of Evesham and was left wandering and with no memory.  He became  a beggar. He was found by a nobleman’s daughter, who married him. Their child, Besse, could not find a husband as her father had no status, as he was the blind beggar of Bethnal Green. At that time, a woman needed a sizeable dowry to be able to marry a suitable husband.  Marriage was a way of bringing wealth and prestige to a union of families.high-classNoblemen,

Noblemen, merchants, and  knights courted her but when they found out that there was no dowry they all left, except for a lone Knight, who was not concerned about a dowry and loved Besse as she was; as herself.

This union was blessed when Besse’s father revealed that far from being the poor beggar, he was a rich nobleman and so rewarded the Knight.  As Shakespeare would have said: “All’s well that ends well” 🙂

Now, what captured my imagination to the Blind Beggar many years ago, is my interest in major historical crime cases of London.

In March 1966, a murder took place in the Blind Beggar, which later became part of London crime legend.

Ronnie Kray, the twin brother of Reggie, the notorious, infamous and any other ..’ous’!  Kray Twins  walked into the pub and calmly took out a pistol and shot and killed another criminal, George Cornell, in front of a few witnesses.

The Kray Twins

The Kray Twins (Reggie & Ronnie (front)

Ronnie Kray had a long-standing score to settle with Cornell, who was apparently as ruthless as the Krays, but who was nowhere in their league.

Such was Krays power & influence in the 1960s London’s criminal underworld, many involved  kept quiet about the Twins activities for years before they were arrested and sentenced to 25-30 years in prison.

There have been many books about the Krays & by the Krays too, which are interesting to read, if one is interested in major crimes.

Two movies have been made about the Krays too.

They are truly legends in the criminal history of London.

It appears from current on-line reviews  that the Blind Beggar today is a shadow of its former standing as a popular east end pub.

I hope the pub remains as a pub for many years to come as London cannot keep affording to lose such culturally important pubs.

Egyptians mock ‘ugly’ new Nefertiti Statue

Nefertiti and the unpopular modern creation

Nefertiti and the unpopular modern creation

Marilyn_Manson

Its me Mansfertiti

Egyptians Mock ‘ugly’ new Nefertiti Statue

With the showing of a new rendition of the classical  Egyptian beauty,  Queen Nefertiti, loosely or we should say very loosely based on the iconic bust,  has resulted in Egyptians mocking this latest recreation.

Queen Nefertiti ruled Egypt alongside her husband the heretical King Akhenaten  in the 14th century BC.  Her legendary beauty reflected in the bust – her name in fact translates as “a beautiful woman has arrived.”

When authorities had this version commissioned for the Egyptian people, their reaction was as abrasive as a desert sandstorm

Nefertiti remains a proud symbol of their country’s impressive history and beauty. So when the authorities wanted to commission a statue at the entrance of the city of Samalut, they thought of the ancient queen.

Unfortunately, the replica bears  little resemblance to the legendary beauty, many  despaired for the state of Egyptian art.

“This is an insult to Nefertiti and to every Egyptian,” tweeted one Egyptian woman. Another wrote: “It should be named ‘ugly tasteless artless statue’… not Nefertiti.”

Many Egyptians feeling offended by the failed attempt to replicate the iconic bust directed their anger at the sculptors: “If you don’t know how to make statues don’t go and do something so unfair to the beautiful Nefertiti,” tweeted one man.

Some even compared the  bust to the 1930s move classic  Frankenstein’s monster!

Thank goodness the power of the people prevailed as the statue was removed and probably will not see the light of day any time soon!

 

Bruce Lee, The Philosopher

Bruce-Lee-Meditating1

When I think of Bruce Lee, I would always see him as the unbeatable martial art expert who was so light in his feet that you can almost see him flying against walls and ceiling while his boyish good looks enchants you.

I did not know that Bruce Lee was actually born in America.  I thought he was from Hong Kong or Beijing and because of his extra-ordinary screen presence, he was able to go beyond boundaries and conquer the world.   Well wherever he was born, he did conquer the world the way  Marilyn Monroe did. His posters are still popularly pasted on the walls of his fans, both young and not too young.  He is truly a 20th century icon, the real McCoy.

Apparently, Bruce Lee was born on 27 November 1940  in Chinatown in San Francisco.  I did not know that Bruce Lee was born in the 1940s.  He was such a Peter Pan; he has that boyish appeal.  I supposed he did die very young in July 20, 1973.  He was only 32.

Did you know?

Bruce Lee was quite the philosopher.  He did study philosophy and psychology concurrently while a Drama student at the University of Washington.

Bruce Lee, The Philosopher

Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime.  In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.

Defeat is not defeat unless accepted as a reality-in your mind.

For it is easy to criticise and break down the spirit of others, but to know yourself takes a lifetime.
– Bruce Lee

If you don’t want to slip up tomorrow, speak the truth today.
– Bruce Lee

If there is a God, he is within.  You don’t ask God to give you things, you depend on God for your inner theme.
– Bruce Lee

If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.
– B Lee

Love is like friendship caught on fire: In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.
– Bruce Lee

Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.
– B Lee

The more we value things, the less we value ourselves.
– B. Lee

The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.
– Bruce Lee

Julia Child, Doyen of French Cooking

The only time to eat diet food is when you are waiting for the steak to cook.
– Julia Child

julia-child-e1314155786746 I have heard of Julia Child before but did not really pay much attention to her many accomplishments.

Afterall, the UK have their own cooking doyen in Fanny Cradock.  A woman, so funny and rather formidable in the kitchen but in a good, fun and informative way.  Her banter with her long suffering husband, Johnny, is classic and delightfully dry humoured. Very English!

Peter, my hubby, is a real novice in the kitchen but learned how to stuff and cook turkey from Fanny. He also learned to make the best ever gravy from Fanny through YouTube. LOL

Julia Child, Doyen of French Cooking

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I got to watch a film by my two favourite actresses, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. It was called Julie and Julia, a film based on the book by Julie Powell, the Julie in Julie and Julia.

Vignettes of their life stories were sort of superimposed as they cook the same recipe.

There was only one actress that could breathe life to the larger than life Julia Child and thank goodness, they chose right in Meryl Streep. Meryl was very sympathetic to the character; she gave Julia a well deserved warmth, humour, fun, joie de vivre, intelligence and sexiness, oh yes, Julia was a sexual woman!  Julia came out extremely charming, so much so that I googled and googled so I can know more things about her. I now know how to crack eggs the proper way, a la Julia, I know now how to cook mushroom that won’t stew in its juice, I know how to make French omelette. If push, I could probably manage a delicious Beef Bourguignon from scratch a la Julia Child.

Peter has Fanny, I have Julia. It got me thinking that our coming retirement promises to be one of gastronomic fest!

Watch this space. 🙂

March – Women’s History Month

I can’t be a rose in any man’s lapel.
– Margaret Trudeau

woman sil

March – Women’s History Month

We at GlobalGranary.Org would like to pay homage to all women.  And as such, we will be featuring a woman for each day of the week.

If you have any suggestion, please let us know and we will feature your choice if it meets our criteria.  Your choice doesn’t have to be a ‘celebrity’.  It could be anybody.  But we would of course need that the candidate merits some iconic status.

Women, though still downtrodden in some societies are fast becoming more of a force to be reckoned with.  Standing shoulder to shoulder with the male kind.

Just a few days ago, I heard that Iranian women are more emancipated.  They are educated and hold prestigious jobs and are now more choosy of their partners.

The Philippines, where I came from, is a really a matriarchal society.  Women are very strong.  They look after the family and hold jobs as well.  And they would not have second thoughts of getting a job abroad to become OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) if it meant a better life and offer good education for her children.

Maggie Kuhn

Maggie Kuhn

Our first Female icon is the Grey Pantheress, herself, Maggie Kuhn.

Maggie Kuhn when forced to retire at the age of 65 from her job with the Presbyterian Church, Maggie did not take the decision lying down.  Instead with her indomitable strength of character she found the Grey Panther with other retirees and work on civil rights, ageism, poverty and opposing the war against Vietnam.

Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.

– Maggie Kuhn

Pope Francis urges Philippine Government Leaders To End Corruption

All institutions are prone to corruption and to the vices of their members.
– Morris West (Australian Novelist 1916-1999)

Here is an interesting BBC news item, we hope the Philippine leadership take note and act upon speedily as would any upcoming Presidential hopeful in 2016!

Despite President Aquino making his own comments about the Catholic Church in the Philippines, more importantly, the  Pork Barrel PPAF, Napoles etc scandals still persist despite promises from Filipino leaders to deal with!

We hope His Holiness’s words will be heeded !

Pope Francis urges Philippine Government Leaders To End Corruption

 Pope Francis urges Philippine Government Leaders To End Corruption

Pope Francis waves to the faithful from his Popemobile as his motorcade leaves the Presidential Palace for the Manila Cathedral Friday, 16 January 2015 in Manila, Philippines.Pope Francis travelled to Manila’s Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in his ‘Popemobile’ on Friday

Pope Francis has urged Philippine leaders to end “scandalous social inequalities” and corruption during a welcome ceremony in Manila.

On the first full day of his five-day visit, he called for politicians to show commitment to the “common good”.

But President Benigno Aquino responded that many Catholic clergy had been silent about the abuses conducted under former President Gloria Arroyo.

And he said some clergymen were now too quick to criticise him.

“In contrast to their previous silence, some members of the clergy now seem to think that the way to be true to the faith means finding something to criticise,” he said.

“Even to the extent that one prelate admonished me to do something about my hair, as if it were a mortal sin.”

The pontiff arrived in the majority Catholic country on Thursday and is due to travel to the typhoon-hit city of Tacloban on Saturday.

The centre-piece of his visit is an open-air Mass in Manila on Sunday, which is expected to attract millions.

The Pope is on a six-day tour of Asia. Earlier in the week he visited Sri Lanka.

‘Voice of the poor’

Well-wishers line the streets to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis in Manila on 15 January 2015 The Pope received a rapturous reception as he arrived in Manila

Speaking at a welcome ceremony in the presidential palace, Pope Francis called for leaders “to reject every form of corruption, which diverts resources from the poor”.

He said it was a Christian duty to “break the bonds of injustice and oppression which give rise to glaring, and indeed scandalous, social inequalities”.

The Philippines, like many countries in Asia, has corruption issues.

Corruption activist group Transparency International put the Philippines at 85 in its latest Corruption Perceptions Index, level with India, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Under Mr Aquino, the Philippines’ record has slowly improved.

Mr Aquino suggested the Church had not done enough to fight corruption under Mrs Arroyo, who is facing charges of plundering state funds and election fixing.

“There was a true test of faith when many members of the Church, once advocates for the poor, the marginalised, and the helpless, suddenly became silent in the face of the previous administration’s abuses, which we are still trying to rectify to this very day,” Mr Aquino said.

Filipino Catholic devotees gather outside the Manila Cathedral as they wait to celebrate a mass with Pope Francis in Manila, Philippines, 16 January 2015Many people began waiting outside the cathedral in Manila for the Mass in the early hours of Friday
Pope Francis, left, and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III stand together during the welcoming ceremony Friday, 16 January 2015 at the Presidential Palace grounds in Manila, PhilippinesPresident Benigno Aquino (R) hosted a welcome ceremony for the Pope at the presidential palace on Friday.