Monthly Archives: November 2012
The good folks at Google are marking St Andrew’s Day today with one of their celebrated Doodles.
Although most commonly associated with Scotland, Saint Andrew is also the patron saint of Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople [wherever that might be!?]
There are some very strange customs that are associated with this day, including:
If an unwed girl prays honestly to St Andrew the night before (29th November), she will be granted a good and caring husband
- At exactly midnight, unwed girls should throw a shoe at the exit of the house. If the tip of the shoe is pointing towards the exit then she will marry a noble and caring person and will leave her house within one year
- Unwed girls should also peel an apple in one piece and then throw the peel backwards. The letter which the peel has formed will be the first letter of the name of her future husband
- It was traditional to eat a single sheep’s head on St Andrew’s Day
- In Romania the women don’t just pray for husbands, they put 41 grains of wheat under their pillow. If they dream someone will steal the grains, it apparently means they’ll get married the following year.
The Scottish flag, the Saltire, has the white diagonal ‘cross of St. Andrew’ on a blue background and is widely flown in Scotland. It would be natural to suppose therefore that Scots would celebrate St Andrew’s Day on November 30th in a big way. THEY DON’T. TV and radio mention the fact that it IS St. Andrew’s Day but that is about as far as it goes for most Scots.
However, in 2006, the Scottish Parliament passed the St. Andrew’s Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act 2007, which designated the Day as an official bank holiday. If November 30 falls on a weekend, the next Monday is a bank holiday instead. Although that day is a bank holiday under that act, banks are not required to close (and don’t) and other employers are not required to give their employees the day off as a holiday. So it is more of a “voluntary public holiday” rather than a proper bank holiday. So far, few companies have negotiated the day as a staff holiday, though staff in Scottish government departments and a few local government authorities happily get an extra day off.
As every Scot knows, the time to celebrate Scottishness is Burns Night, January 25th. The poet Rabbie Burns holds a place of affection in the minds of Scots all over the world and perhaps this is why St Andrew’s Day passes with relatively little to mark it.
If this story is true then it’s a sad day for anyone with any national pride – and I’m not just talking about Scotland!
A firefighter is claiming that Grampian Fire & Rescue Service (GFRS) chiefs have removed the Saltire from the front grille of two new appliances after just 2 complaints (one internal and the other from a member of the public) which branded the use of the national flag as “offensive”. It is understood the complaints centred around the Saltire’s link to the SNP and fears the flag could be viewed as a sign of support for Scottish independence, but Grampian Fire and Rescue said the move was simply to bring the two appliances into line with the rest of the fleet.
The new engines, which cost just over £200,000 each, were given the Saltire logo in advance of Scotland’s eight fire brigades being merged into one unitary authority next spring and when they were unveiled in August, Grampian’s fleet manager Raymond Cheyne said: “The badging for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is needed because of the new single Scottish service coming into being next April. We wanted to celebrate the new Scottish Service coming into place so chose to use the Saltire. We’ve used high-visibility striping to make it part of the functional design of the appliance.” However, when contacted by the press over the removal of the Saltires, Mr Cheyne stated: “I don’t want to comment.”
And there was me thinking that the Saltire is the national flag for ALL Scots and as such should not cause offence to anyone living in Scotland. And, surely 2 complaints are not a reflection of true public opinion – that can hardly be called “public outrage”! What is the world coming to?
Another superb photo opportunity from Her Maj!
Proving that she does indeed have a sense of humour – during a recent visit to Nottingham with the Duchess of Cambridge, she attended a children’s event in which the 5-10 year olds were asked to present something to celebrate the Jubilee. Out of more than 1,000 children attending, six were chosen to give their own speech to the queen, expressing their devotion and admiration for Her Majesty’s long reign. The last child to say his piece was 8-year-old Devon Parker who stood at the microphone a few feet in front of the queen and the royal photographer was able to catch her reaction and response.
Devon Parker: “Your Majesty, I think you are the nicest old lady in all of England, but I wish you weren’t so old because, if you were younger, you would live a lot longer. Thank you very much.”
The Queen’s reaction and reportedly her response: “Now what can I say to that?!?”
This has got to be my “Picture of the Day”!
It’s a dilemma facing everyone who knows they’re going to meet royalty but I don’t know what he was thinking when this sniper serving with the Household Cavalry Regiment opted for his work outfit … leaving the Queen looking more than a little perplexed!
Looking like more like Chewbacca from Star Wars than a regular soldier, the crack marksman wore a ‘ghillie suit’, a type of camouflage clothing designed to resemble heavy foliage, leaves and twigs to remain concealed from the enemy. The suit even moves in gusts of wind!
If that wasn’t bad enough though, she doesn’t seem to have noticed that the chap behind her seems to be carrying rather a lot of excess weight in his nether regions!!!
Is this the happiest baby you’ve every seen? Despite seemingly being desperately tired, little Leo refuses to fall asleep but remains happy and content, smiling and gurgling at his Mum – after three – one, two, three, ahhhhhhh!!!
And so we bid farewell to Larry Hagman who has died today at the age of 81. To most of us he will always be JR Ewing, the lovable rogue he spent 13 years portraying in the TV drama Dallas. As the most scheming oil tycoon in town, JR in his Stetson became one of the most distinctive faces on television screens across the world. It quickly became one of the network’s top-rated programmes – with its 356 episodes being seen by an estimated 300 million people in 57 countries – and was revived this year.
His forthright biography, Hello Darlin’, detailed his youthful drug-taking exploits and revealed the extent of his 50-year battle with alcoholism. Even on the hardworking set of Dallas, he consumed five bottles of champagne a day for years and was finally diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver in 1992. Three years later he had a liver transplant and kept a photo of the organ donor above his mirror. “I say a prayer for him every morning,” he said. Despite this, Hagman continued to drink secretly until a further life-saving operation in 2003 forced him to stop.
I can still remember the furore around the “Who Shot JR?” mystery in 1980. It was one of the most talked about stories of that year with Hagman even being offered £100,000 during a British vacation to reveal the identity of the shooter, but he admitted that neither he nor anyone in the cast knew the answer. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was apparently among the millions worldwide intrigued by the mystery, and a session of the Turkish parliament was suspended to allow legislators a chance to get home in time to view the Dallas episode with the answer.
I like to think he is now sitting in his Southfork Ranch in the sky, still wearing his Stetson, and still smiling that slightly sinister smile as he reflects on a full and fascinating life story that was just as dramatic in real life as that which was seen on the screen!
In the People’s Republic of China, during most of the Communist era, private ownership of property was abolished, making it easy for residents to be moved on – but now the laws have been tightened up and it is illegal to demolish property by force without an agreement.
This has led to an elderly couple refusing to move as a road is built round their apartment. Luo Baogen and his wife insist on living in the half-demolished building in the city of Wenling, in Zhejiang province, China because they believe that the relocation compensation offered by the government is not enough. Now the only building left standing, the five storey block is a strange sight as cars drive around it while the couple remain living inside. To ensure the couple’s safety, adjacent rooms in the building have been left intact but all their neighbours have moved out, according to local media.
The road paved through the Xiazhangyang village leads to the Wenling railway station and is yet to be officially opened. What’s the betting that there will soon be a service station and McDonald’s occupying the ground floor?