Archive for September, 2013

Confusing And Misrepresented Empires

September 29, 2013 3 comments

An elderly relative of mine recently made a nostalgic journey through Esh Winning and Ushaw Moor. Being in deep thought she did not take in much of the journey but did look out of the car window when between St. Lukes church and the village crossroads. The absence of her old school to the left and then the cinema to the right startled her. ‘’Is this Ushaw Moor?’’ It was not a rhetorical question, she was baffled for a few seconds.

‘’The people are different now’’ she said. She went on to say that there was no community. No togetherness. 

I realise that the days when most people seldom left their villages are long gone and that is good and natural. There is a big world out there and it is healthy to want to experience it and develop without being stuck in old familiar ways, so let us stop fretting about the end of Ushaw Moor’s cinemas and the demise of a school. Let us also stop fretting about lost community; many a person has gained friends from participating in hobbies, voluntary work and long life learning and those friends do not have to live within a mile of us do they?

What is it like to live in Ushaw Moor today? Apart from the occasional visit my only direct experience of the village was during the 1950s. Back then if family support was constructive and encouraging, the future held promising opportunities for the young person. That was especially true if parents were aware of the value of education and encouraged their children to succeed. Exposed to inspirational teaching and armed with parental support, diligence and ambition, there was a chance to escape the life threatening pit of despair – the colliery.  Education and a warm and loving family were so important.

On the subject of education, and coming to the here and now, the education minister Michael Gove can help more of Durham’s pupils to make a mark for themselves but he does not help as much as he should. His negative comments about manyschools in County Durham do not help them or his image. It is a pity because I am fairly sure that he is a sincere man that has lost his way. His ideal history lesson is of concern: his view of the British Empire is one of glory and he wants it taught that way, but his view is wrong. You can dress it up as much as you like but in reality the British Empire involved much exploitation and butchery. Students  deserve better and I believe he is having second thoughts. I hope so because it will enable more people to understand the past, and maybe help them to make better sense of the present.


Categories: Memories

It looks Like Spam And Tastes Like Spam So It Must Be….

September 27, 2013 1 comment

Now and then I receive a request to approve or reject a comment about one of my pieces. Is it spam or suitable for the trash can? Or is it a jolly interesting comment that will fuel the enthusiasm of our readership? Well this morning I got a comment on my article ‘This one is from Daft for Soccer Gleghorn’ article and it looked dodgy to me! Have a look for yourself:

Thank you. I have been searching for information about this topic for ages and yours is the greatest so far. [comment – surely there are no other such pieces] But what concerning the conclusion? [comment – is this a foreign person, or company  because there is a poor grasp of English]. Are you sure of your source? [comment – yes and on this occasion there is no need to doubt it!]

The author is ‘Marcnair’ so I will grovel to him/her if the comment turns out to be genuine. Boy will I grovel.

I understand that spam was introduced just before WW2 and became very popular during those dark days. Do you recall spam sandwiches? I do and I thought they were tasty and very filling. Not sophisticated mind.



Categories: Memories

A Poem For Ron Nightingale

September 10, 2013 Leave a comment

What Then?

HIS chosen comrades thought at school
He must grow a famous man;
He thought the same and lived by rule,
All his twenties crammed with toil;
‘What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost. ‘What then?’

Everything he wrote was read,
After certain years he won
Sufficient money for his need,
Friends that have been friends indeed;
‘What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost. ‘ What then?’

All his happier dreams came true —
A small old house, wife, daughter, son,
Grounds where plum and cabbage grew,
poets and Wits about him drew;
‘What then.?’ sang Plato’s ghost. ‘What then?’

The work is done,’ grown old he thought,
‘According to my boyish plan;
Let the fools rage, I swerved in naught,
Something to perfection brought’;
But louder sang that ghost, ‘What then?’ 

William Butler Yeats
Categories: Memories

What then?

September 9, 2013 2 comments

Should I write something? What if I’m not in the mood or my spirits are low? What then? Oh well I will try to cheer up and give it a go.

A quick look at a handful of Ushaw Moor families in 1911 did not turn out to be doctor’s orders: It just made me feel worse. Edward Winstanley’s family in Ladysmith Terrace had experienced the death of five children by the time of the census. James Clark’s family in nearby Bannerman Terrace had lost three and his near neighbours, the Clark’s, had also lost three. And on it goes. Well actually quite a few Ushaw Moor households had not experienced the death of children by the time of the census and it is a relief to establish that.

Now I must go up five gears and announce, courtesy of Sam Harris, that in 2011 it was calculated that nine million young children under the age of five die every year on our blue dot in the universe.

So what is God or god doing about it, or going to do about it?  Either he/she/it/ cannot do anything about it, or will not. It’s a disappointment. Blimey, what if God is dead or does not exist? 

What then? 





Categories: Memories