On This Day – 2nd February 1709

Alexander Selkirk

On the 2nd of February 1709, Alexander Selkirk (born Selcraig) was rescued from Juan Fernandez Island, now known as Robinson Crusoe Island.

Alexander was born in Lower Largo in 1676. He was the seventh son of the local shoemaker John Selcraig and Euphan Mackie. As a youngster he was so unruly that he was summoned before the Kirk Session for his “undecent carriage” . He took off to sea before the case was concluded.

Alexander enlisted in a privateering expedition led by Captains Dampier and Pickering whose intention was to profit from plundering the Spanish galleons and the rich Spanish colonies. Privateering expeditions were given approval by the government but were, in fact, little more than legalised piracy which was very profitable if the expeditions were successful. Alexander was a first class navigator and was appointed sailing master on the ninety ton vessel “Cinque Ports” which had sixteen guns and a crew of sixty three. Continue reading “On This Day – 2nd February 1709”

20 years ago today

F.W.De Klerk and Nelson Mandela celebrate the end of apartheid

20 years, not that long ago. Frederik Willem De Klerk announced the unbanning of the ANC, PAC, S.A.Communist Party and a host of other political and labour groups, also that Nelson Mandela would be released from his incarceration.

Today’s youth don’t know any different. I was with a 30 year old yesterday he has no recollections of life under the National Party.

In one way it’s mission accomplished for our children, not being the pariah of the Continue reading “20 years ago today”


Marmalade time of year…..

I shall post my marmalade recipe, since it’s that time of year again –

Here it is.

The Marmalade Recipe.

3lbs Seville oranges, 6 pints water, juice of 2 lemons, 6 lbs sugar.

Half the oranges and squeeze, pull out pulp and pith.

Put all this juice, pith pips and pulp into a muslin bag suspended over the pan. Juice will run out, all other bits retained by bag.

Slice skins into fine pieces and add to pan with the water.

Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 2 hours, until peel is soft.

Lift out the bag containing the pips etc. and squeeze as much as possible back into the pan. Then discard the bag contents.

Add the lemon juice, and sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and then boil rapidly until setting point has been reached. (Test by putting a small amount onto a saucer and pulling a spoon through it. It should wrinkle if it has reached setting point)

Warm jars in the oven to 110c along with the jam funnel, if you have one, so all super clean!

Remove the marmalade pan from the heat and skim to get rid off any scum.

Cool for 5-8 minutes then stir to make sure peel is distributed evenly, then fill pots to top,

Seal and when cool label.

This year I added some mulling spices to the bag, but probably not enough as there are barely discernible!

Davos – A Grand Delusion

Well the cream of capitalism has had its week of wonders at the dreamlike fantasia of the Davos resort in Switzerland. One might even be forgiven for thinking that the whiteness of the snow was designed to cleanse the dirty image of a grubby economic system that has gone out of control.

 The Davos conference is now billed as a veritable ‘who’s who’ of senior business managers, captain’s of industry, bankers and government representatives and their various hanger’s on; all puffed up with their egotistical self-importance and their ‘save the world’ arrogance.

 Yet in tangible terms what does all this high-roller back-slapping actually mean for the man on the street?

  Continue reading “Davos – A Grand Delusion”

FIFA 2010 – 2 million tickets sold

There are approximately 3million tickets on offer for this years Football World Cup to be held in South Africa during June and July.

Having already sold two thirds of them must surely be a feather in the cap for the organisers. I of course have applied for 14 of them

Continue reading “FIFA 2010 – 2 million tickets sold”

On this Day – 31st January 1606

Guy Fawkes Signature on His Confession

On the 31st of January 1606, Guy Fawkes was taken from the Tower of London to the Garden of St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster, where he was hung, drawn and quartered.

Guy Fawxe was born on the 13th of April 1570 and baptised on the 16th of April that years at Saint Michael-le-Belfrey, York. He was the only son of Edward Fawkes and Edith Blake. Edward was proctor of the ecclesiastical courts and advocate of the consistory court of the Archbishop of York.  Guy’s paternal grandmother was the daughter of a merchant, one time mayor of York. When she died in 1575 she left Guy her ‘best whistle and an angel of Gold’.

Guy went to St  Peter’s School in York, where possibly  John and Christopher Wright, both conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot, were also educated.  At St Peter’s, Guy was taught by John Pulleyn, who was a suspected Catholic. How much influence he may have had on Guy cannot be determined at this stage, but it is clear that Guy’s parents were staunch Protestants and brought their son up in that faith.

Edward Fawkes died intestate in 1579 and his property went to Guy.  Continue reading “On this Day – 31st January 1606”

The rain in Spain

The weather has been awful in Gibraltar for most of this past week with a very rough sea  which forced those ships anchored off-shore to move farther out. The odd thing is that there was almost no wind here, so obviously somewhere else in the Med was getting a good blow. There was also some torrential rain, which the ladies at the bus stop assured me “non es normalo”. When the sunshine returned a couple of days ago we could see that there was snow on some of the Spanish hills much closer than the Sierra Nevada.

Yesterday’s visit to Europa Point was disappointing, apart from the bus ride which gave us a look over the western edge and the harbour to Algeciras, and the view over to North Africa.

Too many tatty breezeblock buildings labelled MOD property.  No attempt to make the area attractive for tourists of whom there was a steady stream in sight-seeing minibuses.

Slavoj Zizek – A Philosopher of Our Time

Slavoj Zizek

Until recently I haven’t found many that impress me among contemporary political and social theorists, but Slavjo Zizek is cut from an entirely different cloth.

At first glance the man is hard to listen to, he has a slight lisp, an East European accent and an over active mind that his ability to relate can’t keep up with. Physically he is a bear of a man, looks like an unkempt slob and could easily be dismissed as a total crank.

Here is a man who believes in the purity of film as a medium for social aspiration. An uncluttered dreamsacape in which anything is possible, given the right articulation. He believes it is the purest form of aspiration.

Zizek is also a man who against the flow predicted the economic crash based upon the greed of capitalism and the intensive farming of shareholders. He is a man with many confounding and conflicting ideals but he is right.

Continue reading “Slavoj Zizek – A Philosopher of Our Time”

On This Day 29th January 1820

George III at the End of his Life

On the 29th of January 1820 George III, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, died at Windsor.  He was born in  1738 and was the son of Frederick, Prince of Wales and Augusta of Saxe-Gotha.  He became heir to the throne when his father died in 1751, and succeeded  his grandfather, George II, in 1760. He married Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1761, by whom he had 15  (troublesome!) children.

George was the first Hanoverian monarch to use English as his first language. He was also the first British monarch to study science systematically: chemistry, physics, astronomy, and mathematics.

George was determined to recover the prerogative lost to the ministerial council by the first two Georges, but bouts of madness and the way he handled the American Revolution eroded his support and the power of the Crown was granted again to the Prime Minister. Continue reading “On This Day 29th January 1820”