Nazi Gold Train Found In Poland After 70 Years?

As has happened a few times in the history of this blog, an event which I wrote about from a historical standpoint is now unravelling as a live event.  A few months ago I wrote on the treasures of the missing treasures of bad King John and several other missing treasures including Nazi gold and this week it has been revealed that a possibly huge horde of looted Nazi treasures is about to be uncovered in Poland.

X Marks The Spot - Map from BBC

X Marks The Spot – Map from BBC

When WW2 ended, Europe was in tatters from the west to the east.  Nazi Germany had looted everything worth anything from France all the way to western Russia.  Immediately after which Soviet Russia then confiscated major treasures and works of art from across Eastern Europe, some of which the Nazis had themselves stolen and others were legitimately held treasures in Germany.   Visiting some of the magnificent palaces in Berlin and Potsdam will quickly reveal how many works of art were stolen and taken back to Russia which even now the authorities there are reluctant to talk about.

When the war finished, loyal and quite senior Nazis fled Germany under cover and in disguise often aided by sympathisers or paid for by obscene amounts of cash.  Many were arrested by British and American forces whilst others fled abroad, often to South America either to plot a future Nazi revival or in latter years to simply live out their days in peace.

One simply has to watch the chilling but incredible German film Downfall or Der Untergang  to see how things fell apart at the end and how orders by relatively secure officers simply had no meaning to those enacting them with many not even reaching the lower ranks at all as lines of communication broke down and the poor desperate German foot soldiers were left to flee for their lives or surrender, both of which carried a greater possibility of death than disobeying commands with the war all but over.

When a city was about to fall, often the treasures were looted and hastily put on trains even as Allied forces were hot on their heels as Nazi generals were unwilling or unable to admit their forces were about to be forced to retreat.   One of the biggest mysteries has always been about what happened to a Nazi train apparently filled with gold and treasures which left the western Polish city of Wroclaw (then Breslau) to Walbrzych (then Waldenburg), however it never reached its destination and simply vanished into thin air.

Local people have searched for this train for 70 years and never found it and it had long ago taken on the status of another mythical Nazi treasure hoard.  That was until the deathbed confession of an as yet unnamed person who was involved in concealing it.   My guess would be that some low ranking German soldiers or local Polish officials nominally aligned to Germany realised that on the train they would be a sitting duck and thought they’d be safe and possibly wealthier if they abandoned the mission as quickly as possible.

Maybe the Germans thought their retreat was only temporary and that they could return to claim their booty after the war this was made impossible due to the Iron Curtain and the facts that Polish borders in the west were changed to compensate for Russia claiming territories in the east.

The local area in Poland has miles and miles of abandoned quarries and railway tunnels and it seems likely that the train was hidden deep underground with the entrance way collapsed either deliberately or in the course of the war.

Książ Castle

Książ Castle – could untold treasures be hidden in the tunnels under the castle or 150 metres of booby trapped train carriages.

Witnesses described a 150 metre long train entering a tunnel under Ksiaz Castle but noting that it never re-emerged and the location of that particular tunnel was lost.

Local Polish officials yesterday confirmed that they have pinpointed the train using ground penetrating radar on a 4 km stretch of track between Wroclaw and Walbrzych but have warned treasure hunters not to go looking for it due to the possibility that is has been mined and booby-trapped though to me that sounds quite unlikely and the warnings are likely to deter people running off with any treasures.

The train is said to be armoured which is enough to demonstrate it is carrying something special.  It could be unknown Nazi documentation, works of art, jewels or gold even though the latter could still be in the form of gold fillings of the thousands of Jewish prisoners who died in the nearby camps.

Nazi Armoured Train

Nazi Armoured Train of a type thought to be similar to the one discovered. Photo from German National Archives

Apparently the train was located by a Polish and a German man who are requesting a 10% finders fee from the Polish government for whatever is inside.  It must be said that similar discoveries are predicted every few years but this is the first time a Polish Minister has confirmed it.

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I have my first book signing!

So the big news on the happiness front this week is that I have been offered my very first book-signing.  I didn’t have to beg or grovel or anything like I expected I might have to do or lets face it, be prepared to do.

It’s not in London’s Oxford Street or New York’s Time Square but it is in the High Street of the nearest big town to where I live, Watford.

I didn’t go in there even with the intent to ask for a book signing.  The place is called Reason Coffee Shop and Bookstore and it is a Social Enterprise shop which means it operates not particularly to make money but to offer valuable support to local people with the owner taking a particular interest in local authors and entrepreneurs which covers me twice.

Reason Coffee and Book Store

Reason Coffee and Book Store

What I liked about Reasons as soon as I stepped inside was how friendly it is.  It feels rather like my living room with bookshelves along the walls, comfy seating and tables as well as fruit, cakes and a fine selection of drinks including Soya Milk which for me with my recently Gluten and Dairy free diet is a wonderful bonus.

The staff there are lovely and friendly and it is all this that made me speak up about having a book signing.  The owner immediately said yes and this week he sent me an email offering me an almost all-day slot closer to Christmas.  He’d even contact the local press too.

The question which faces every first time book-signing author is pretty similar to the first time you published or have published one of your books.  Namely, will anyone attend, will anyone buy anything or will I spend 6 hours memorising the books on the shelves opposite my admittedly comfy seating whilst sipping gallons of soya hot chocolate?   \

Just how many books do I bring?  Do I bring too many and hardly sell any and have to take them all home and take ages to recoup my money?  Or should I bring just a handful of each and risk turning away new fans and customers?   I know what Alan Sugar would say on The Apprentice… the prospect of running out of goods to trade would no doubt very quickly get me Fired.

youre-fired-alan-sugar-600x300

I guess I’ll bring quite a large pile of my 101 Most Horrible Tortures in History and a just a slightly smaller pile of my Lest We Forget History books with a smattering of my travelogue and the promise too.

You’re all invited of course or will be when I have a precise date worked out in November or December.

My tours are going extremely well and it has been a hugely busy summer.  I’ve got so many books in the works that I’m not sure what to do next but I’m working with the very talented Jo Robinson to create a very special and long awaited Star Trek book, a vigilante novel called V,  a book of poetry, a successor to 101 Horrible Tortures and a small history biographical work on a family ancestor and early air-pioneer at RAF Hendon for which I’ve been offered access to their historical archives.

If I might finish this post with some words of wisdom I very much came to realise this summer again from Sir Alan….

Alan-Sugar

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Building walls instead of knocking them down!

When I was leaving school we were all used to the idea that divisions between people were coming down. In the autumn of 1989 when I was 15 and readying for my end of school exams the Berlin Wall came down and within a matter of weeks the nations of eastern Europe finally became free. I very much remember the revolution in Romania completing the cycle on Christmas Day and as I sat writing my homework (I was a very diligent child) little did I know that the actions of that day would allow me to meet my dearest future wife.

All this was proof that the world was moving in the right direction, Iran and Iraq made peace, Nelson Mandela came to power in South Africa and there was even whisperings of peace in Northern Ireland and Israel-Palestine.

Sadly in the last few years more walls have been built than torn down. Walls have always been used to keep out enemies and undesired people. From The Great Wall (or several smaller walls) of China to Hadrians Wall in northern England, across the globe walls have been used to separate people. The reasons they are being built today are very similar to why they were built thousands of years ago. The reasons are just as valid or invalid as they ever were and they remain an easy option compared to tackling the real problem lurking in the background.

Maps of major divisive walls.

Maps of major divisive walls, courtesy of the Daily Mail newspaper.

We in the U.K. are far from faultless in this respect with a number of walls and high fences installed in Belfast and other cities in Northern Ireland.  At least in this respect, they were at least put up to keep the peace and with the general support of people on both sides of the religious and physical divides.  Northern Ireland has had peace for 20 years but despite a clamour for the walls to come down, they still remain with many residents of both faiths fearful of there neighbours.  The walls don’t stop anyone reaching any part of the city, they just mean local youths can’t easily cause trouble.  Sadly until the children of both sides actually meet and learn together, its hard to see these walls coming down.

We also have a series of new fences being built around Calais in northern France, this time to keep mainly economic migrants out of the country.   Similar and much bigger barriers have been put in places in much of the world.

Whilst Spain keeps demanding the return of very wealthy Gibraltar, they protest rather less about their small fenced off territories in Morocco, Africa which are a focal point for African refugees seeking a better life in Europe.

In Eastern Europe, Hungary is busy building a long fence to keep out economic migrants from Serbia.  It is interesting given what I wrote last week about whether poorer countries are any more open to letting migrants enter their nations than richer nations like the U.K. or U.S.A that in the case of Hungary, they certainly don’t seem to be.

Greece also has a 7 mile fence along its border with Turkey to keep out migrants whilst even India which many people would believe not to be a rich nation, has a fence to keep the much more impoverished migrants from Bangladesh out.

Lastly but not least is the increasingly fortified border between the USA and Mexico with Presidential hopeful Donald Trump wanting to build a 1,900 mile wall to keep Mexicans out and all paid for by the Mexican government!

These walls are largely all being established for economic reasons but also to preserve the culture and identity of the nations behind them as well as protecting the quality of life too.   Whilst having impenetrable barriers will deter many from trying, the only way to truly resolve the problem though is to improve life for those leaving their homes behind.

Not all barriers are to keep migrants out.  Some are for security, or at least that is what we are told.  Turkey is busy building a barrier along its border with Syria, to keep ISIS terrorists out whilst happy to bombard the Kurds who are the only people fighting the terrorists.

Morocco has built a large barrier to keep rebels out after in invaded the nation of Western Sahara decades ago.

Some barriers, perhaps a little like those in Northern Ireland today are actual objects of comfort and security.  Take the extensive barriers that run throughout Cyprus from the Turkish invasion of Greek run Cyprus.  The minority Turkish community voted in favour of creating a united Cyprus by a margin of 65%-35%  only 24% of the Greek majority supported the plan with security being one of the major issues.

All of these security barriers are just plastering over the real problem and unresolved issues and if they stay unresolved for long enough then it is quite possible for a quiet festering unhappiness to erupt into a major uprising.

Perhaps the most prominent security barrier is that of the one Israel has constructed in the West Bank.  Understandably wanting to keep Palestinian terrorists out of its land is one thing but the Apartheid Wall as the Palestinian call it,  was largely constructed deep in Palestinian territory and impoverished countless communities whilst all the while not dealing with the key issues.   The International Court has ruled that the entirety of the wall should be on Israeli soil but as it is 13.5% of Palestinian land has been effectively annexed behind the wall.

Shutting people out is the easy part, helping them so they don’t need or want to leave their home-lands is the hard part.   What’s clear that it isn’t just a problem between the very rich nations and the very poor but rather between any nation which is noticeably richer or more desirable than its neighbours.  If another penniless migrants enter a rich country than eventually the rich nation will also be dragged down so surely helping the poor nations are a better and only permanent solution for all.

Israeli Security Barrier

The route of the Israeli security barrier. Map by Wickey-nl on Wikipedia.

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How Shakespeare has influenced Pop Culture

How can I be British, a writer, yet have never really written about Shakespeare in over 3 years of blogging. Would you believe that when I was at Secondary School (High School), it was politically incorrect for us to learn Shakespeare as part of the generally, we can’t be proud of any of the good things from our country because of some of the bad. Surely though if the rest of the world learnt Shakespeare then we should have done too.

So I never ever studied Shakespeare just like I never ever studied British history and yet somehow I became a writer and a historian! Still, somehow I love Shakespeare and I don’t find it hard to follow at all, at least on stage. I admit sometimes when reading it, I can only do so for short periods.

William Shakespeare was a one man writing machine and probably after The Holy Bible and The Quran. Looking at the list below his sales dwarf everyone with even The Bible “only” selling 2-5 billion copies in the last 200 years or so. Yes Shakespeare has been around a long time but when you consider how in his day a new release only had 5 million potential readers and most of them couldn’t read or afford to purchase his folios whilst J.K. Rowling with all the help of the internet, movie franchises and an English speaking population of billions has really only sold a fraction of what Shakespeare did.

Most successful writers

Most successful writers

Out of his 37 plays he wrote 10 Tragedies, 10 Histories and 17 Comedies not to mention his 154 Sonnets. In total that is 884,647 words and 118,406 lines. Incredibly approximately 1 in 100 words we speak today was invented by Shakespeare or around 1,700 with the total number of English words in 2nd Edition Oxford English Dictionary: 171,476. It is in this spirit that as Edmund Blackadder might say “I would like to extend to Shakespeare my Contrafibularities”.

Shakespeare words

Just a handful of the many commonplace words today we gained from Shakespeare.

That’s not to mention the many common phrases we use today from Shakespeare with the list below from phrases.org.uk

How many of the following have you used? I’ve use all but 7 of the below but as Shakespeare mentions in this list, I am exceedingly well-read… but not in Shakespeare himself. I guess I’m just pretentious!!

A countenance more in sorrow than in anger
A Daniel come to judgement
A dish fit for the gods
A fool’s paradise
A foregone conclusion
A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse
A ministering angel shall my sister be
A plague on both your houses
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet
A sea change
A sorry sight
Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio
All corners of the world
All of a sudden
All one to me
All that glitters is not gold / All that glisters is not gold
All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players
All’s well that ends well
An ill-favoured thing sir, but mine own
And shining morning face, creeping like a snail unwillingly to school
And thereby hangs a tale
As cold as any stone
As dead as a doornail
As good luck would have it
As merry as the day is long
As pure as the driven snow
At one fell swoop
Bag and baggage
Be all and end all
Beast with two backs
Beware the ides of March
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks
Brevity is the soul of wit
But screw your courage to the sticking-place
But, for my own part, it was Greek to me
Come the three corners of the world in arms
Come what come may
Comparisons are odorous
Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war
Dash to pieces
Discretion is the better part of valour
Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn, and cauldron bubble
Eaten out of house and home
Et tu, Brute
Even at the turning of the tide
Exceedingly well read
Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog
Fair play
Fancy free
Fie, foh, and fum, I smell the blood of a British man
Fight fire with fire
For ever and a day
Frailty, thy name is woman
Foul play
Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears
Good men and true
Good riddance
Green eyed monster
Hark, hark! the lark at heaven’s gate sings
He will give the Devil his due
Heart’s content
High time
His beard was as white as snow
Hoist by your own petard
Hot-blooded
Household words
How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child
I bear a charmed life
I have not slept one wink
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips
I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
If music be the food of love, play on
In a pickle
In my mind’s eye, Horatio
In stitches
In the twinkling of an eye
Is this a dagger which I see before me?
It beggar’d all description
It is meat and drink to me
Lay it on with a trowel
Lie low
Like the Dickens
Lily-livered
Love is blind
Make your hair stand on end
Men’s evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water
Milk of human kindness
Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows
More fool you
More honoured in the breach than in the observance
Much Ado about Nothing
My salad days
Neither a borrower nor a lender be
Night owl
No more cakes and ale?
Now is the winter of our discontent
O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo
Off with his head
Oh, that way madness lies
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more
Out of the jaws of death
Pound of flesh
Primrose path
Rhyme nor reason
Salad days
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything
Screw your courage to the sticking place
Sea change
Send him packing
Set your teeth on edge
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Short shrift
Shuffle off this mortal coil
Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark
Star crossed lovers
Stiffen the sinews
Stony hearted
Such stuff as dreams are made on
The be all and end all
The course of true love never did run smooth
The crack of doom
The Devil incarnate
The game is afoot
The game is up
The quality of mercy is not strained
The Queen’s English
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
The smallest worm will turn, being trodden on
There’s method in my madness
Thereby hangs a tale
This is the short and the long of it
This is very midsummer madness
This precious stone set in the silver sea, this sceptered isle
Though this be madness, yet there is method in it
Thus far into the bowels of the land
To be or not to be, that is the question
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub
Too much of a good thing
Truth will out
Under the greenwood tree
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown
Up in arms
Vanish into thin air
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers
We have seen better days
Wear your heart on your sleeve
What a piece of work is man
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet
When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions
Where the bee sucks, there suck I
While you live, tell truth and shame the Devil!
Who wooed in haste, and means to wed at leisure
Wild goose chase
Woe is me

The rising number of English speakers means that there should now be 30 Shakespeare equivalent writers this very day. Once I exclude myself, I find it hard to find another 29!

Shakespeare has created many of our most lasting cultural stereotypes which we continue to use to this day with

A Romeo is a persistent romancer and philanderer
A Hamlet over thinks and is indecisive
A lady Macbeth is a cut throat and ambitious female politician

Some of which have enduring legacies:
Supernatural characters started to become common in Elizabethan England

Arial, from The Tempest is a Fun-loving, mischievous being with extraordinary abilities

Hamlet’s father’s ghost as a call for revenge
Banquo, murdered by Macbeth, returns to haunt him

Puck–fairy from A Midsummer Night’s Dream– is a mischievous fairy of the woods

“Double, double, toil and trouble”
As seen in countless supernatural thrillers

Shakespeare often wrote about violent times or stories with high emotions and high-stakes and as such in all the beautiful language it is easy to overlook just how many people get killed in his books.

64 violent deaths in Shakespeare:
33 stabbed
7 poisoned
5 beheaded
2 broken hearts
2 hangings
2 baked into a pie
1 drowned
1 smothered by a pillow
1 lack of sleep
1 drops dead
1 snake bite
1 torn apart by mob
1 Eating hot coals
1 “disappearing”
1 thrown into a fire
1 indigestion
1 buried to neck and starved
1 cut into pieces
1 throws himself away
1 eaten by bear

Centuries later and his works still directly influence modern film-making and from a personal point of view, some of the best Star Trek!

Twelfth Night-1
King Lear -6
Romeo and Juliet – 6
Midsummer Night’s Dream – 5
Othello – 1
Macbeth – 4
Hamlet – 7
Taming of the Shrew – 3
The Tempest -3
Henry V – 2
Henry IV – 1
Richard III – 1
The Comedy of Errors – 1

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.

Shakespeare in Pop Culture
Source: SuperScholar.org

What is your favourite Shakespeare word or phrase?

For those interested in a private and incredibly friendly, laid back tour to all things Shakespeare in Stratford Upon Avon, do check out my tour at http://yeoldeenglandtours.co.uk/our-tours-2/stratford-upon-avon/

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True Love Ever Does Run Deep

In the 1980’s there were two artists by the name of Marina and Ulay.  As many artists (and writers!!) are, they were poor and lived out of the back of a truck.  They lived their lives and relationship through their art and this culminated with their much thought our separation.   They came up with the wonderfully artistic and romantic idea of each starting a walk from differing ends of The Great Wall of China and when after 90 days they finally met at Er Lang Shn they gave each other one last embrace before simply walking on and beginning their new separate lives.

30 years later and Marina is holding a live art performance in which she spends minute in silence with complete strangers, staring at each other. However there was going to be one special man in particular who provoked a special reaction.   At 1:30, step forward Ulay.

This was the first time that the two lovers had set their eyes upon each other for half a life-time and though no words are spoken, none are needed.

Whether it is the first love of your life, the person you marry or someone special you loved but is no longer alive, most of us know something of this special feeling.  I know I do for the special person in my life.

But why talk about it when I could only write so ineffectually compared to the beautiful and loving reactions in the video below.  I’ve loved this video since the moment I first saw it nearly 5 years ago.  It is the most intense, beautiful and real piece of art I have ever seen, even more so when you consider that Ulay once cheated on Marina which caused their separation and on his return here had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.   It shows the happiness of love,  the hurt of wrong decisions made and sadness of the time that has passed.

I think you can see that true love ever does run deep.

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Let Me Help – Doing more than feeling sorry for those in need.

I’ve written before about being A Good Samaritan.  I spend a lot of time thinking about those in need.  Whether it is homeless persons or those fallen on hard times in other ways such as ex-service people.    Even my first book was called Let Me Help before it I re-wrote it and got it published as The Timeless Trilogy.

It’s not that I always agree with everyone being in such a predicament.  Take the thousands of refugees in Calais, each trying to start a new life in Britain by illegally entering the country despite being perfectly safe in France, Spain, Italy or even most of the African and Asian countries that they either passed through or are naturally closer to than Britain.  I don’t blame them of course, they have a right to make the best of themselves but equally we too should have the right to decide who lives here.

Would people in war-torn Syria welcome thousands of even poorer people from Somalia, Yemen or Ethiopia?  Probably not in my experience.  There are certainly richer and culturally more similar nations nearer in the shape of Dubai, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia just for starters.

That doesn’t mean I don’t feel sorry for them though but the long term answer has to be to resolve the problems that make people want to leave their homes in the first place.

I often wonder what it is that makes someone homeless.  What pushes them over the edge?   Especially so when legally speaking, everyone in the U.K. is entitled to some sort of accommodation by the local council.

A few weeks ago we had come out of a nice meal in Central London.  It was our first ever nice meal in a really nice venue ever compared to the usual budget places we treat ourselves to.  True we once ate in a plush Lebanese restaurant over looking Green Park but that was paid for by work and our great window seats ended up giving us a fantastic view of the bi-annual Naked Bicycle Ride and its safe to say that for diners and staff alike, it was the defining moment of our time there.

Anyway after we came out of our recent meal and were walking back towards Covent Garden we came across a homeless man.  He was quite well dressed, maybe he was doing it to earn money or maybe he was only recently out on the streets and still able to maintain his appearance.

We walked past him even though he caught our attention and at the encouragement of my wife, I gave him £5 or maybe even £10.  He was ever so grateful but in the modern way life is, it didn’t really occur to either of us to stop and do anything more than give money.   Yes it was nice to remember those in need after we had treated ourselves but almost immediately I felt I should have done more and a little disgusted with myself that I almost but not quite dropped the money into his hand in a quick “You’re dirty, don’t touch me sort of way”.

I wasn’t very impressed with myself.  I should have asked if I could help him with something or at least find out his name and what was happening but alas we were already far down the street and too busy taking comfort that we had at least given him money.

Last Saturday I went to Whitechapel to give another Jack The Ripper Walk.  Whilst waiting for my tourist from Los Angeles to arrive, I spent 15 minutes sat outside Aldgate East tube station.  Barely 6 feet away from me was an obvious beggar, a man of central Asian appearance wearing a little tupi skull cap.   He was obviously Muslim and obviously destitute.  Several dozen people walked past in those 15 minutes and he would implore them to spare him some change only for them to totally ignore him whether white, black, brown or even of Central Asian appearance themselves.

I couldn’t take it any longer and decided to help.  Just at that moment though my tourist arrived and my good intentions were reduced to quickly giving the man some change.  I did at least make sure to treat him as a human and gave him the money and touch his hand and say to him how I am sorry it isn’t much but I hope it helps.

I don’t know if he understood a word I said but his eyes lit up and he uttered me an enthusiastic blessing.  I think I had made his day though I had only given him enough money for a Starbucks.  My tourist said it was a wonderful thing to do and it was very kind of me which started us off on the road to a good tour.

As we neared the end of the tour of Jack The Ripper land, I was reminded of how in some-ways so little had changed in the last 125 years for there on the pavement sat a downtrodden looking but still young white lady begging for change.  Judging by her skin she was obviously an alcoholic or drug abuser and her Irish voice was either ignored or even treated with disdain as in the few minutes we were in earshot, one older and wealthier looking woman swore under her breath at her.

I finished the tour and went back to see if I could find her.   I had less money now than when I saw the first beggar and there were no bank machines in sight.   I open up my wallet and gave her everything I had which still wasn’t much.

She was very grateful and this time gave me a blessing I could very much understand.  I stopped to talk to her for 5 minutes.  I had lots of things on my mind but at least I had a home to go to.   I also felt guilty that I was making money from ladies who were probably very similar to her all those years ago and had even less support or people who cared than today.  It felt very hypocritical of me to speak of those poor women and not try and help a contemporary just a few hundred feet from where several were murdered.

She didn’t want to tell me her life-story though i gave her the option.  Instead we did what all British people do and talk about the weather and gave her my best wishes for sorting herself out in the future and gave her the details of a shelter/hospital clinic just 10 minutes walk away and in fact ran by the descendants of a similar institution housed in a building just a minute walk away.  As much as the money, I think she enjoyed a bit of company and the opportunity to feel like an ordinary human for a few minutes at least.

I made my way back to the tube station and happily the Central Asian man had gone.  Maybe my few pounds had been just enough to change his life or at least to go and get a drink or meal… maybe he might meet someone else there who can help him more than I was able to.

It makes such a difference to help people.  Just recently I had a problem and I sat in my car outside Southwark tube station at 8.30am and I spent half an hour bawling my eyes out about something or other.  I felt like the poor Central Asian man, everyone either didn’t notice me or ignored me.  A few stared at me and one woman came ever so close to stopping but obviously couldn’t do the one thing I really needed at the time, ask me if I was okay.   This wasn’t a #FindMike situation but there wasn’t any thing like a #FindMike offer of assistance either and that was nearly as bad as what had upset me.

As I’ve got older I’ve got a bit more cynical due to work or maybe a being a bit more busy or even a bit more snooty and it isn’t something I’m proud of so I’m going to make sure in the future that even if people wouldn’t help me, I’m going to make more of an effort to help them.  I hope you will too.

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100 things I love about you

We’re all so used to being busy and not fully appreciating the many wonderful things in this world that admittedly often get overshadowed by the terrible. Time is always moving onwards and our time on this Earth is infinite but how many times in a life time do we stop to watch the sunrise, admire a full moon or stand in the middle of a forest in a pouring rain listening to the downpour on the canopy above.
How many times do we actually take the time to tell those that we love that we love them and why we love them.  I’d like to think I do that a lot.  In fact sometimes I’m told that I say almost too many nice things or even that I don’t have to keep complimenting people.
These are the 100 things I love most about my wife.  I wrote the list a few days ago and isn’t about the big and obvious things but just some of the little things that made me the happiest man on the planet.  Before I met my wife I just existed but didn’t really live, like a barren rocky waste-land in the desert just waiting patiently for 100 years for the rains to come and bring out all the flowers in a blaze of glory and joie de vivre.
1. Your beautiful face
2. That pretty smile
3. Your bright eyes that sparkle like diamonds.
4. That special face you make when you see I’m looking at you lovingly.
5. The way your wrinkle your nose when you’re being silly.
6. How your nose is soft and velvety.
7. How you look beautifully naturally without any make-up.
8. How you have a sophisticated and not at all common way of dressing.
9. Your voice, it’s beautiful.
10. The way we can have a complete conversation of made up words that no-one else understands.
11. Amma and Opasa :-)
12. Your have the nicest and longest hair
13. Better legs than Beyonce :-)
14. Sometimes when a car stops outside on the street and I look through the curtains and a young lady gets out and I think to myself “She is a really pretty girl”… and it’s you :-)
15. Pinching of cheeks, only you do that as a sign of love.
16. Muppet!
17. How you cut my sandwiches into triangles.
18. How you take care for me better than anyone I’ve ever met.
19. How you genuinely do things just to be nice to me.
20. Jumping into bed!
21. You make the best sunday roasts ever
22. How you make all the meals from scratch and they all taste wonderful.
23. How you get all excited about cakes and sweeties and how you love baking.
24. Emergency cuddles when walking along the street.
25. How we still hold hands everywhere, all the time.
26. Living on me.
27. Having nani’s on the sofa
28. How you do that special laugh when you get surprised.
29. How you keep asking me to do my impressions or new jokes.
30. How happy you are when I come home from work.
31. How happy you are to see me when you come home from work.
32. That you’re not commercially orientated.
33. Summer BBQs, they’re the best.
34. How we can have fun doing the most mundane things together.
35. Cinema days at home with the home made food buffet :-)
36. You have such a nice sense of style.
37. You’re the most cuddly person I’ve ever met.
38. Picnics in the summer and hot drinks by the canal in winter.
39. Flutteri
40. That you like history and culture
41. You’re clever.
42. You’re kind and generous and help people.
43. You always put me first.
44. How excited when you get when a food delivery comes.
45. How happy and sociable you get when people come round.
46. How you always supported me when I worked for the worst companies imaginable.
47. How you always support me and encourage me to live my dreams.
48. For believing in me in my writing.
49. Telling me to work for myself even if I might never make any money from it.
50. Working long hours in London so that I don’t have to.
51. How easily you (and I) are both entertained.
52. Looking at houses in the country that we could buy but don’t as we’re too sensible.
53. How our dream holiday cottage abroad moves depending on our holidays.
54. How we could happily live anywhere in the country with no other requirements.
55. How you say so long as we have each other, that’s all that matters.
56. How you look after me when I’m sick.
57. How you always try to cheer me up when I’m sad.
58. How you looked after me when Mama died.
59. How you made Mama happy when you married me as she knew how special you are.
60. How you love comedies.
62. Even if they’re bad!
64. How you’re a softie that gets upset in sad films.
65. English tea-parties!
66. How you never give up.
67. How you make me wish I was more like you.
68. How you make me realise I am better than what I think.
69. How you love me.
70. How you can spend hours happily browsing the internet for clothes to buy and not buy any.
71. How you give money to charity and needy people on the street.
72. How if we go to a buffet, no matter how much you’ve eaten, you always find room for dessert.
73. And second helpings of dessert.
74. How you love the countryside and mountains.
75. How nice it is to feel your skin.
76. The smell that you have, I recognise it anywhere and I love it.
77. Daffy!
78. How you think I’m funny.
79. How you get excited about the little things.
80. How we spend most of our lives laughing.
81. Others must spend all their weekends doing things and meeting others but we just enjoy each others company.
82. How you sometimes treat me with expensive but wacky holiday purchases.
83. How you love all the gifts I buy you… even if you might not really.
84. How after all these years we’re still like newly weds.
85. You put up with my peculiarities.
86. How you say you’re proud of me.
87. I love how much I love you.
88. No matter how bad things in life can be, you can make me feel special.
89. How sometimes you come home from work stressed out and 5 minutes with me and you’re happy again.
90. How you do your fashion parades.
91. How you listen to my opinion about things and think I’m clever.
92. Even on what clothes you’re wearing to work each day.
93. How you come back from the kitchen having made a cup of tea but also bring me back cheese or chocolate as a little surprise.
94. How you made me appreciate life again.
95. How I’ve never been so happy since I’ve been with you.
96. What a beautiful colour you are.  Olive :-)
97. How you love watching all the old TV shows that I grew up with.
98. Simple food treats like cheese on toast turn into major events in our house!
99. How we both care for the environment, the planet, people and animals like few others do.
100. How we’d give our lives for each other.
101. That you’re so wonderful I could easily write another 100 things I love about you.
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