Station Squabble – A fist fight between two London mice!

You don’t have to go to far on my blog to find some of the tough and murky history of East London.  Whatever else you have to look out for in the East-End, even I had presumed the mice and rats that you sometimes see are harmless.

It seems though that the tough neighbourhood has made even cute little mice become hardened rodents as can be seen here in what seems to be a fist-fight between two mice on a platform of London Underground.

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Station Squabble- A fist fight between two mice on the London Underground.

Professors at Imperial College London have found that their stressful living conditions have changed these resilient rodents’ biochemistry: they move faster and eat less than their above-ground counterparts.

Living hundreds of feet underground and miles from the open tracks is bound to make even the most gentle of creatures crack under the strain.

We’ve had warnings of course but we have ignored them, like this sign at Farringdon Station in 2012 which people tried to laugh off as a result of a prank.

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Give us your cheese or the baby gets it!

The photo of the fighting mice was actually taken by Bristol based photographer Sam Rowley and is one of the great entries into the Natural History Museums Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

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Sam discovered the best way to photograph the mice inhabiting London’s Underground was to lie on the platform and wait. He only saw them fight over scraps of food dropped by passengers a few times, possibly because it is so abundant. This fight lasted a split second, before one grabbed a crumb and they went their separate ways.

You can vote for this great photo here  or have a browse at some of the other incredible images that have been shortlisted.

I’ll be off to Farringdon as part of a pub tour in a few days, I’ve taken the liberty to schedule posts until early January but if my blog stops here then you know I ran into some trouble!

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Marketing – Medieval Style

It’s easy for us to think that Marketing, Advertising and Corporate Branding are all relatively recent developments that plague our modern life.

However when I was at the excellent Knights of St John Museum in London yesterday I was reminded that in one way or the other, advertising has been with us since times immemorial.

Can you guess what the object below is?

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Knights of St. John Bread Brander

It’s actually a clever idea; a stone that was used to brand bread that was either distributed to the poor or for use in church services.

The faint outline of what might be more widely known as the Maltese Cross or the Order of the Knights of St. John can be seen.

The Knights of St. John or the Hospitaliers specialised in treating the sick, wounded and later poor in Jerusalem, Rhodes, Malta and elsewhere.   The no doubt hungry destitute would be reminded just who their kindly saviours were before every meal.

Pretty clever, you can’t get more effective advertising than on food!  You can see the flag below

 

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The Maltese Cross

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General Election Result 2019

I don’t normally talk politics on my blog, it seems a growing minority of people have become increasingly immature to talk about disagreements in a civil fashion.  I thought to make a rare exception as I did after the Brexit vote which I supported then and just as wholeheartedly do so now.

The General Election on Thursday was quite astonishing; for a Conservative government to win a fourth victory in a row and not just winning but doing so in a landslide is quite unheard of with Labour in my mind very predictable (but apparently not to to many) getting massacred.

There are a few issues I think as to what led to this but chiefly it has to be for Brexit.  How the party of the working people has come to going against the Leave beliefs of their heartlands is quite staggering.

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How the country voted in 2017

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How the country voted in 2019 (SW Cornwall’s vote hadn’t yet come in when I did the map but it turned blue.

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A stylised map going my the population of each consitutency 

There has been years of snide remarks, comments of people not knowing what they voted for but they do now and would vote differently.  Calls of a country being against Brexit a divided country when outside of Social Media, I couldn’t find any of this.  The country was largely for Leaving though Parliament most definitely wasn’t.  This election has revealed just that.

Having kept out of the election and politics; I was asked my opinion as to what the results would be 2 weeks before the election and I said it would be a a strong Conservative win.  It seemed so obvious to me and to those on the street that I spoke to.  As Labour increasingly rolled back from its promise of honouring the Referendum, it became blindingly obvious that their core voters wouldn’t appreciate being told they were too stupid or racist or whatever by a Metropolitan leadership.  Working Class does not mean stupid.

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Just look at the senior Labour team; Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Diane Abbott, Emily Thornberry, Kier Starmer.  Without exception, everyone of them from London, many of them very plush areas where people have no connection with the reality of those in ‘the real world’.

I should be the most Labour voting person.  I live on a ‘Council Estate’ where the most impoverished people above the class of Homeless live.  The public services I use are abysmal, namely buses and trains and there seems to be no accountability with the powers that be.  I spent the first half of my childhood in the city of Newcastle Upon Tyne which in the 1970’s and 80’s amongst other things was famous for its poverty and unemployment and deprivation; my mother grew up on a council estate and my father in a rather lonely and isolated old mining town in a region where mining was coming to an end.

I’m not alone, in my little row of 6 houses in this estate aside from myself there is a retired bus driver and supermarket worker, a small businessman from Whitechapel, a baker, policeman, a laundrette worker and another retiree from Newcastle.. From what I can tell, at least 4 houses out of the 6, possibly 5 voted Conservative with one Libdem.  Really it should be 5 or 6 houses voting Labour.

Similarly as I write this on Sunday morning, every single person I’ve spoken to face to face has warily asked who I voted for before confessing they voted Conservative too and again all these people are those who’d apparently hate Brexit and hate the Conservatives, a single mother renting a small home, a market trader, a NHS worker and an 18 year old from a British Asian family voting in their first ever election.

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Yet labour are only part of the issue.  The Libdems or the LiberalUndemocrats as many have been calling them have been awful in their own ways.  Their leader Jo Swinson admitted even if there had been a second referendum and the country voted to Leave again then she would campaign against it.  Her very arrogant attitude that went from her proposing she may well be the next Prime Minister to her party doing terrible and Jo herself laughably losing her own seat so she isn’t an MP was fantastic poetic justice.  I mentioned to others a month or so ago that she was by far the worst Liberal Leader since before the 1980’s and so it was proven and yet she had such arrogance and wouldn’t hear a word against it.

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The BBC, Guardian etc have absolutely no idea of what people are feeling or saying and when they hear something, they entirely disregard it.  As a keen fan of politics shows, I only remember once in 3 years seeing a panel with a majority of Leavers on it, usually it would be 3 or 4 Remainers with one Leaver… some times they would be entirely composed of Remainers.

Even this morning, senior Labour leadership contender and London MP has been accused by a former Labour MP from the north of calling northern voters 'stupid' with regards to their votes and views.

Even this morning, senior Labour leadership contender and London MP has been accused by a former Labour MP from the north of calling northern voters ‘stupid’ with regards to their votes and views.

My mother was born into a bad council estate in the now infamous Workington. I still visit there and if in the 80s and 90s anyone would say the Conservatives would win there (actually my uncle was a Labour councillor there for 56 years) we’d have thought there would be people living on the moon first. Even when I went there last year it was obvious this was brewing. This election could have been a huge Labour win if they had actually listened to their heartlands and not those who go for a walk on Hampstead Heath whilst their au-pair takes the children to school in a 4*4.

We were told that Remainers had to be right due to 300,000, 600,000, a million marchers following the same cause seemingly oblivious to the many millions who were staying at home, quiet but increasingly fed up as to every possible bureaucratic obstacle was put in their path that made everyone even more determined, albeit in a quiet way just as was the case before the original Brexit vote.

It was also great to see every single MP who deserted their respective parties to go against the mandate their electorate voted them in on, lose.  Every single one of them…. just a small part of the smug moral superiority that the majority of us have been subject to for almost 4 years and all entirely discarded by those who did everything possible to thwart the will of the people.

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Yet as soon as the election results came in, again it was anyone’s fault but their own.  I wasn’t even that bothered one way or the other about Brexit; in an ideal world it wouldn’t have been deemed necessary but it was.  And it’s time people started to act with a little grace and accept the result.

If you don’t respect the people and then you get these to me very obvious events like Brexit and Conservative landslides.  By ignoring actual votes then all people have left is civili unrest, terrorism and rebellion.    And not listening to people is exactly why Labour lost so badly; some people think that an unemployed coal-miner or a Tesco till worker in a run-down town has a less valid point of view than a stockbroker or someone who goes to classical concerts and sadly at the moment, these views are mostly held by Remainers and Labour/Libdem voters.

The fact is Labour’s few wins includes expensive places such as Canterbury and Putney where houses can easily go for a £1million or more whereas somewhere like Bolsover with houses barely 10% of the price booted out Dennis Skinner after 49 years as MP.  Perhaps it is now the Conservatives who the aspiring masses think might give them the best hope of the future rather than Labour who seem to have most support in the most expensive areas of the country… call me old fashioned but a real socialist would not have an au pair!

They don’t want to go back to some 19th century or even 1950’s word of coal mines and grim traditional life.  They’re not against change, in fact they want more of it and opportunities…. the sort that other areas of the country have had.   Working Class does not mean stupid, it doesn’t mean being lectured to by their supposed leaders, it doesn’t mean freebies for every good cause because if there is one thing that working people realise; it’s the value of money.

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Even in the town of Watford where I live which voted Leave, the Labour Party and Libdems competed with each other over who was most staunchly Remain party and stating that only they could stop Brexit.  Apparently oblivious to the fact that the majority of people in the town were waiting for Brexit.  Of course if one ever spoke out in the last 3 years you were roundly denounced and told you didn’t know what you were talking about yada yada yada and so very few people bothered speaking up.  It’s still the same now with only people complaining about the result without accepting the legitimacy of those who all along disagreed with them or the ideas they voted for.

Interestingly the vote almost gives the country a clean slate.   It’s always very important to have a strong and competent Opposition Party and so it is in everyones interest that the Labour Party is revamped from the ground up.   They need to pick good policies, no-one I ever spoke to had ever spoken about free broadband internet.  Everyone I have ever spoken to has complained about public transport.  Yet which one was picked up by Jeremy Corbyn.

So much energy was spent going on about a threat of Donald Trump messing up the NHS despite the fact that both governments said it wasn’t even on the agenda and even if it were, many of the facts given were incorrect.  Less time spent on such idle fallacies and more time devoted to improving the health service would have worked wonders.

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The Labour Party also has to pick someone who has a bit of charisma and is vaguely electable. The rot started with Gordon Brown, a quite clever economist but with no public skills whatsoever.  I remember when he resigned and Ed Miliband was narrowly voted over his brother.  Everyone I knew thought it was a big mistake, he was far more unelectable than his predecessor and much less adequate than his brother.

And finally to Jeremy Corbyn and his cabal of oddballs.  I think Diane Abbott is singularly the most inept politician I’ve ever witnessed and this person who would in effect be the head of police and internal security seemed only to be there because she once had an affair with her leader.    John McDonnell, the sort of person you’d bump into in the Marxist Institute in East London.  Sir Keir Starmer, a high flying lawyer who spent years berating Leavers and with a few others, gradually strong-armed a change in policy on Brexit to the one that got roundly rejected.   I certainly wouldn’t want at least the majority of them working for me; absolutely useless individuals.

My advice would be to find someone from an inner-city, or slightly deprived area preferably from the North of England, Wales or Scotland. Preferably someone who appears to have a character beyond reproach when it comes to racism and siding more with the enemies of the country than our friends.  Maybe someone who at least pretends to love their country and doesn’t see everyone as either oppressed, saviour or oppressor. It might work on Twitter or Facebook or even in Westminster and Islington but it doesn’t in the wider world.

I don’t know where to begin with the Libdems, the only party that consistently wanted to Remain which is great as I like principles and honesty but again by not accepting the will of the people they were always onto a loser.  The fact that they only one a tiny fraction of the vote compared to all those who voted Remain says it all.

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As for the Conservatives; again it offers them a change just like Labour.  A chance to widen out from their traditional voter base geographically and socio-economically.  It will mean that they will have to actually spend money and invest in parts of the country other than London, something with neither the Conservatives or indeed Labour have done in recent decades and likely one of the reasons for discontent in the first place.  However, again they were the only party who made a big issue of actually wanting to do so.

As for myself, as I always think, life goes on and not much ever changes whoever is in charge but I’m glad that finally my tiny insignificant vote several years ago might at last be listened to.

As the poet G.K Chesterton put it….

They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger or honour, who dare not carry their swords.

We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.

I think there are countless faults with Boris but he is to a degree charismatic and is one of the few who actually listened to the voice of the majority of the people and for the moment that is what most people think is most important, for good or ill.  Perhaps the most tragic element is that there was no-one who offered a better choice.

I voted for a losing side in a referendum for Proportional Representation.  My side lost, I’ve not once complained to anyone and nor have I heard anyone else even though if we had won, modern politics since then would be very different.  No-one likes a bad loser, it would be nice if people didn’t act this way for a third vote in a row.

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Police have to get their truncheons out and make arrests as protests at the election result turn violent outside Downing Street and around the pre-eminent memorial in London.

Hopefully as the Prime Minister said, everyone get over themselves and calm down and reconcile their differences and work for a better future rather than spend 3 years bombarding me with hate messages so I have to report them to the police.  You don’t have to like the result but you do have to respect it and people who voted for it and if you listen to them, you might just learn something or at the very least gain an appreciation of the wider world and help formulate better ideas for the future of everyone.

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London Travel Gift For Christmas

Many bloggers use December as a time to hawk their books and whilst I’m not above that…. (did I mention I have a huge range on Amazon, iBooks and elsewhere lol) I thought I would do something slightly different.

Instead of buying another belonging this Christmas that will soon be discarded, treat someone to an experience that money can’t buy and won’t ever be forgotten

We’re 5 star rated on all the big travel sites or you can find us at www.yeoldeenglandtours.co.uk

Have a look, send us an email to yeoldeenglandtours@gmail.com  and we’ll get you a nice gift certificate before Christmas for the tour of your choice.

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We have everyone from students to lone backpackers to ex-Presidents and media stars and people of all professions and interests.

We were even chosen by the BBCs Comic Relief  to do a very special Sherlock Tour for the prize-winners and actual actors too!

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A slap in the face for Knights!

Now most people reading this are likely familiar with the more modern kind of knighting where a sword is ceremoniously tapped on an individual’s shoulders, preferably by a comely maiden.

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I dub thee Sir Stephen, for services to Blogging.

It wasn’t always so genteel or romantic.  Yes you might have your weaponry, land and perhaps a squire, maybe even some serfs to keep your farms ticking over.  Perhaps that was all deserved considering how difficult and dangerous it was to become a Knight.

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English Knight wearing the flag of St. George

 

Originally a squire (basically an apprentice to a Knight) couldn’t become a real Knight until they had tasted combat.  This wasn’t the most reliable or safe way to garner a promotion as one the one hand a young Squire had every chance of not surviving his first combat but at the other end of the scale, what if you were fortunate to live in peaceful times with a law-abiding population and neighbours?  One might be stuck as a Squire into Middle-Age, if not the Middle-Ages!

Due to this the tradition was started that a Knight only had to do something sufficiently brave, gallant and chivalrous in the finest traditions of a British Knight.  Then your Knight, Lord or Monarch could grant the Squire a Knighthood.  This was done by way of giving an unguarded, unexpected backhanded punch to the jaw of the Squire.

The thought behind this is that this would be the last time a Knight would ever accept a challenge without answering it.   The code of honour going back to King Arthur meant that a Knight was duty bound to accept any challenge issued.  It was also no doubt a good test of self-control and discipline.

How hard the Squire was slapped was entirely up to the mood of person granting them a Knighthood.  It be a gentle tap or a armoured punch to the face that would send you to hospital.

As time went by the ceremony was further civilised by introducing the current knighting ceremony where the prospective Knight kneels before the Queen or an appointed authority such as Prince Charles or William and then dubbed a Knight by use of a sword as many of us imagine it always was due to overly romantic and usually wrong historical films.

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Queen Elizabeth II grants Mo Farrah a Knighthood after the 2012 Olympic Games

Of course knighting someone such as Sir Mo Farrah or Sir Patrick Stewart does have a carry-over of the old ceremonies in that they are being knighted for some worthy event rather than armed combat though of course that can still happen too in the New Year Honours.

If you would like to read a similar themed post then check out this one on this Saluting or a particularly cute salute at Windsor Castle and also the ins and outs of holding a Duel!

 

 

 

 

 

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Tips to budget for Christmas

It’s that time of year where much of the planet decides to get further into debt for an entirely commercial and shallow event based upon a religious holy day that many of them don’t actually observe.  For some reason in a society obsessed with spending money and consumerism and people generally obsessing with saving the planet, that they pick this time to simultaneously waste more money and damage the environment even more.

This month we will collectively spend just under £446,000 every minute of every day on presents alone. This isn’t even including decorations, Christmas food (which at least in Britain is just traditional ever day food but consumed in copious quantities), the parties, drinks and other paraphernalia.

Americans are even worse and part with $2,372,227 or roughly £1,857,000 every minute this month. Even taking into account the population difference, they’re still the biggest average spenders though the UK puts everyone else firmly in the shade.

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At the other end of the scale, Luxembourg has a more low-key approach to Christmas consumerism, parting with only two thirds of the UK average personal spend.  Different surveys indicate that last year the average British person spent between £470 and £570 on presents alone.

Incredibly a third of people don’t have any idea of how much they have spent just minutes after leaving a shop especially if they pay by a card and with Britain always having been far more into online shopping than anywhere else it is easy to see how spending gets out of control.

Various polls show families with children under the age of 18 will spend anything from £1,000 to more than £2,700 in total at Christmas, with gifts making up the vast majority of the spend. Those without dependent children spend less than half that amount.

Women top the spending for presents, food and drink whereas men will part with more cash on going out and “little extras”. From the first Christmas advert, to the last-minute junk email, you’ll be under pressure to spend a fortune this Christmas.

Many may well start by carefully planning what we’re going to spend but by the time we’ve made it through the festive hype and the ‘irresistible bargains’, 57 per cent of us will go overboard – racking up an average overspend of £152.70.

 

Seven tips to avoid getting into debt this Christmas

1 Use a budget

Half of us start well by drawing up a budget – splitting the sum they can afford between the expenses. This is the best way to keep costs under control. There’s a whole industry devoted it to making you overspend.

Before you do,  leave at least 24 hours before making a purchase, to be sure this is something you really need. If you decide to go ahead, work out where you’re going to squeeze the extra cash from in your budget before you buy.

Ignore money off or sale offers such as Black Friday unless you actually are going to buy the item shortly in any case.  Nothing is is more valuable than your money.  Save 30% on some junk you don’t really want or need then you’ve just wasted 70% on stuff that you could have spent on something useful or heaven forbid… saved.

2 Ditch the extras

Some things we do because they are traditions, but they’re expensive and nobody really values them. Do you really need festive liqueurs or fancy crackers? Don’t just assume everyone else wants to stick with old traditions, ask them.   If you don’t follow an old tradition such as going to Christmas Carols which are free and last an hour or two then why spend a small fortune on crackers that go bang in 1 second?

3 Try not to go posh at Christmas

Sales of premium ranges soar at Christmas, as we treat ourselves to posh ham and top-of-the-range cheese. There’s no reason why you can’t eat the same things you enjoy all year round, but if you’re determined to treat yourself, it’s worth trying the cheaper premium ranges of the budget supermarkets.   All this fancy food is actually available all year round, if you want something fancy then why not treat yourself in May as there is already so much good stuff happening at Christmas anyway.

4 Slash your gift list

If you’re struggling to stretch your budget, cut the number of presents you buy. Talk to groups of friends or family and agree not to buy for one another this year. You can just buy for the children, or run a secret Santa, so you buy for one person in each group.

5 Consider shopping for second hand gifts

Younger children aren’t going to care whether it comes in the original packaging, so you can pick up second-hand toys for a fraction of the price. Adults, meanwhile, may well love a vintage gift. Even hard-to-please teenagers may agree to technology that’s a year old if it means they get their favourite brand.

I did accompany a friend on her Christmas shopping last year for her parents, siblings, nephews and nieces and by just visiting Charity and second hand shops she bought 6 or 7 bags of stuff for about £60.

6 Use technology

Before you buy anything, go online to see if another retailer has a better deal, or there’s a discount voucher you can add to the mix. If you have time, leave the item in the digital shopping bag for a couple of days, and the retailer may send you a special offer.

If you are planning to buy from Amazon, look the item up on a website such as CamelCamelCamel, which tracks prices of Amazon items and will show you whether you’re getting a good deal. You can also sign up for alerts when the price drops.

7 Stretch Christmas Out

If all else fails, agree to see  people in the New Year instead so you can buy their gifts in the sales (another thing I absolutely despise!!).  Christmas lasts 12 days and well into January or if you’re very old fashioned like myself, to February… no need to get your presses all at once!  Instead of panicking for weeks before Christmas and packing your tree up before the end of December, why not enjoy it and let it continue well into the New Year.

 

 

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I loved the girl

I loved the girl with the utmost love of which my soul is capable, and she is taken from me – yet in the agony of my spirit in surrendering such a treasure I feel a thousand times richer than if I had never possessed it.

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