31 December 2010

Three highlights of the year

Before I forget I would like to highlight three most pleasurable real life encounters with bloggers and other online folk.

I did not get access to the internet at home until we got a digital set top box from out cable tv suppliers. The box provided very limited internet access and it was via this almost ten years ago that I came across Suzy, an artist who lives on the Wirral. We have kept in touch since, she and her partner have visited us twice but it was not until November that I made a reciprocal visit. A most enjoyable time was had despite freezing weather and a streaming cold. I hadn't ben to Liverpool let alone the Wirral in decades

Back in 2004 I encountered an American-Argentine fellow with definite anarchist. We both used to go to a left leaning Yahoo chat room which could be quite enjoyable despite the trolls and the room owner who was a Stalinist prick (the owner and I didn't get on, believe it or not!). Anyway I kept in touch with Floyd over the years so it was an utter pleasure to meet him and his beautiful wife Mariela when they came to London in April.

In July Bob from Brockley arranged a blogger meet. It was good to meet Bob. and quite a few other bloggers including Francis Sedgemore, Kellie Strom, Carl from Raincoat Optimism and Michael Ezra... not that I can match their political analysis

Ach this will be my last post of the year. Onward to 201!

Another year over (almost)

Well give it 8 hours or so and we will see the back of 2010. It's been a curious year for ,me much of it dominated by knee pain and the swallowing of heroic doses of Tramadol - at least up until the end of August when a second operation sorted out the residual damage. Now ll I get are twinges from the arthiritis.

Once the knee pain was out of the way I discovered the
joys of methotrexate, It seems to be clearing up my psoriasis (slowly) but it is no fun to take. Even at the low doses used to treat skin problems I feel crap for a day after I take my weekly dose. Hi ho.

It was ultimately health issues that made me decide to take voluntary redundancy- that and the prospect of massive job cuts across the civil service over the next few years. I revived a reasonably good settlement so I do not need to work for a while but not enough to set me up in a life of ease until my pension comes, dagnabbit! So I need to find some new employment but not until the new tax year. Whatever I do I intend to try and make at least some of my income from photography

But I repeat myself. I won't make any new year resolutions as such. If things go a I intend the 2011 will include a lot more photography oh and and some other stuff too. I have it in mind to improve my French, reacquaint myself with basic and a bit more than basic level statistics, improve my Excel, Word and Powerpoint skills, write a CV for the first time since the days when Olivetti typewriters roamed the earth and also lose some of the weight I've gained during my forties. Heaven knows I might even have a shave for the first time since September! I suppose I had also better keep abreast of things in the accountancy world too

As for the Poor Mouth keeping it going has been a chore at times. I hope to sum up the energy to deal with some of the things that have always particularly interested me. That means more photos posts but also getting back to the backwaters of history I love so much. Expect more on Ireland in WWII (including a major slag off of the IRA), some of the obscure far right parties of the time, minor British collaborators and at long last the end of the Red Cushing saga!

Come April The Poor Mouth will be five years old. Around the same time, or maybe a little earlier it should get its millionth visitor. I suppose it goes to show that there are connoisseurs of (ahem) culture out there!

Anyway, enough of this here's wishing both of my readers a very happy and prosperous new year, despite all attempts by the Toalies to thwart this objective!

My favourite photo of 2010

Water droplets on a Californian Poppy. If I say so myself this is possibly one of the best photos I've ever taken

30 December 2010

Departed this life – part IV

The last few months of the year do not seem to be rich pickings for notable or obscure deaths of interest to this warped mind still here goes.

Eileen Nearne, whose body was discovered on 2 September, had been an SOE operative during WWII. Codenamed Rose, she was flown in to France on 1944 to work as a wireless operator for the Wizard network, one of several SOE operations in the country.

In July 1944 her transmitter was detected and she was arrested. After torture by the Gestapo she was sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp where she refused to do prison work. She was then transferred to a forced labour camp in Silesia. On 13 April 1945 she escaped with two French girls from a work gang. After arrest and release by the SS they were reportedly reportedly hidden by a priest in Leipzig until the arrival of United States troops.

Nearne was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government but just a measly MBE by our own government.

She died alone from a heart attack in her seaside flat. Her body is thought to have remained undiscovered for some time until found on 2 September 2010. She was 89 years old. Her wartime activities were not generally known about. It was only when her flat was being searched by council workers to try to establish her next-of-kin that medals and other papers related to her war career were found.

Her funeral was paid for by the Royal British Legion

On 12 September French film director Claude Chabrol died at the age of 80

28 October saw the death of James MacArthur, the original Hawaii 5-0 Danno. The phrase “Book him Danno, Murder One” is a treasured childhood televisual memory. Accept no substitutes! Even if the remake features Grace Park!

29 October saw the death of Geoffrey Crawley, former editor in chief of the British Journal of Photography, at the age of 83. In the 1980s he finally laid to rest the Cottingley Fairies hoax.

Sycophant Adrian Paunescu died on 5 November. Paunescu was infamous for being Nicolae Ceausescu’s court poet. That job ended in 1989 when his master mysteriously died of lead poisoning… I featured one of his atrocious works at the time of his death.

On 21 November Prince Chunk died at the age of 10 of heart complications Chunk was at one time 44lbs, just two lb short of the absolute record for the fattest cat. Robyn at one time weighed nearly 17lbs and we thought he was a big fellow… then again he was never a fasto, just a large cat!

Captain Beefheart is the last person of note (for me anyway) to die this year. Like his foodstuff namesake his music was very much an acquired taste

Departed this life 2010 – Part III

Novelist and national treasure Beryl Bainbridge on 2 July

Harvey Pekar of American Splendor fame on 12 July

On 24 July, former snooker world champion Alex (Hurricane) Higgins left this world with a breeze rather than a storm. A supremely talented player, he was one of those who pressed the self destruct button.

9 August saw the death of Roy Pinney, the oldest surviving correspondent to cover the Overlord invasions. Pinney was no Lunchtime O’Booze, he was also a renowned herpetologist and ardent speleologist.

12 August saw the death of Laurence Gardner who can, at best, be described as a pseudo-historian. He was another one of those who wrote crap about the bloodline of the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant etc…Yawn

Anton Geesink, Dutch judoka, died 27 August. One of my father’s favourite sportsmen (dad in a black belt but only reached first Dan as opposed to Geesink’s 10th Dan), Geesink was the first judoka to take on the Japanese masters on their own terms, winning gold medal in the open class when Judo first became an Olympic sport in 1964. He was also twice world champion. The above video shows him defeating Akio Kaminaga to take gold in Tokyo.

Political heavyweight and Liberal/Lib Dem MP Cyril Smith died on 3 September

Jefferson Thomas, one of the Little Rock Nine, died on 5 September. It is horrifying to think that a US president had to deploy paratroopers to permit young these people to attend school.

29 December 2010

Yet more favourite photos of 2010

Film makers protest Panahi jailing

A crowd of around 50 filmmakers and actors gathered on Monday in front of the Iranian embassy to protest against prison sentences handed out to directors Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof.

Defying reezing temperature, the protestors watched one of Panahi's films on a huge screen erected opposite the Iranian embassy.

Where was this protest – Sadly it was not London but Sarajevo

Director Jasmila Zbanic, who won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Festival' Grbavica said ""It is terrible that in the 21st century there are fascist systems that do not allow freedom of speech, of expression, of art. I came to provide my support to my colleague Panahi who I have met in Berlin. I really feel bad because of what happened to him,"

Panahi's movie "White balloon" opened the first Sarajevo film festival in 1995,

The Bosnian film community put their counterparts elsewhere in the world to shame.

28 December 2010

Even more favourite photos of 2010

If I say so myself I am very pleased with some of the photos I took this year. I know it is un_English to blw one's own trumpet but perhaps a kazoo in in order!

Departed this life in 2010 Part II

3 April saw the demise of South African white separatist Eugène Terre'Blanche , beaten to death by workmen during a wage dispute. No tears for his passing whatsoever.

Two members of the Filthy Thirteen

8 April saw the death of Belfast man Jack Agnew, a member of the Filthy Thirteen, a sub unit of the 101 Airborne Division tasked with the destruction of a bridge during Overlord. Most of the unit were killed but they became the inspiration for the film the Dirty Dozen (although none of the Thirteen was a felon). Agnew survived Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge.

Singer and rights activist Lena Horne died aged 92 on 9 May. The video shows her talent more than words could ever do.

0n 15 May John Shepherd-Barron. For those unaware of his achievements he was the man who gave the world the cashpoint (ATM). The first opened in Enfield, North London, in 1967. The first person to use it was woefully unfunny comedian Reg Varney.

31 May saw the passing of sculptor Louise Bourgeois at the age of 98.

On 18 June eminent German physician Hans Joachim Sewering died aged 94. He was accused of complicity in murder of 900 mentally and physically handicapped children in 1942. He was never charged with any offence and died a peaceful death. If he did commit this atrocity then I hope there is such a thing a Hell as he will surely be there.

Jean-Léonard Rugambage was a Rwandan journalist. On June 24 he was shot dead in front of his home in Kigali A critic of President Paul Kagame, his murder was almost certainly the responsibility of the Rwandan government. Sadly his name will appear on the journalist memorial in Bayeux, a tribute to the high cost of free speech in far too many parts of this world.

Alfred Eisenstadt’s photograph VJ Day in Times Square is rightly considered to be an iconic image. The nurse was identified as Edith Shain. Edith died on 21 June at the age of 91.

Some more favourite photos of 2010

A few favourite photos from 2010

27 December 2010

Departed this life 2010 Part I

New Year’s day saw the death from breast cancer of singer Lhasa de Sela at the tragically young age of 37.

9 January saw the murder of Togolese football coach Amélété Abalo in Cabinda, just before the start of the African Cup of Nations. The attack led to the withdrawal of the Togolese team from the tournament. They were repaid by the Confederation of African Football with a five year ban fro further tournaments. An act which hammered the final nail in the coffin of my interest in the game. Mercifully the ban was overturned later in the year; my interest in football, however, remains dead

On 17 January Erich Segal died of a heart attack aged 72. Most famous fro inflicting the book and film Love Story on the world, I am nit sure how he managed to survive into his 70s.

27 January saw the death of J D Salinger. I noted his death at the time. This is simply an excure to post the above photo again!

Exactly a month later Abdulkhakim Ismailov died in a village in Dagestan. He was ne of the soldiers seen in Khaldei’s iconic (if staged) photograph raising a flag over the Reichstag. Ismailov’s participation was not acknowledged until he was identified by one of the other participants. He was then awarded the decoration, Hero of Russia.

On 30 March Martin Sandberger died at the age of 98. An SS Colonel Sandberger was responsible for the murder and deportation of jews in Estonia and Italy. He was sentenced to death for his crimes in 1948, although this was commuted to life imprisonment in 1951. He was released in 1958. Unfortunately it seems his life was long but not miserable, mores the pity… Burn in hell, scum.