Wednesday, 26 October 2011

History repeating itself...

The return of Miss Sensible from Poland last night meant a late night whilst she told me about the trip in great detail.

She loved Krakow (into architecture like her Mum), but was predominantly keen to discuss what she'd learnt from the guide at Auschwitz-Birkenau, recounting all kinds of facts which I'd been previously unaware of and making me realise more than ever what a terrible place it had been, the horrors of war and the danger of tolerating Dictators.

Seems ironic that the trips of the last few days have been centred around various conflicts when the news is still full of the demise of Gaddafi. Makes you realise how little we learn from history.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Ferry 'cross the Mersey

I spent many a Sunday morning of my childhood in the care of my Granddad pootling over to Seacombe and Woodside after one of his burnt offerings, aka a 'cooked breakfast', to keep me and my cousins from under my Gannie's feet.

It was great to see how much the Pier Head and surrounding areas have been 'tarted up'. Although I pop back regularly, the last time I spent much time in Liverpool was in 2008 when it was City of Culture, and I dragged the kids around the Maritime and Slavery Museum in an attempt to broaden their education. Needless to say it left such a lasting impression, Minor Mayhem can't remember a thing.
The Ferry has gone upmarket, with a running commentary about Liverpool's waterfront and many of the key landmarks on the Wirral, and of course serenading the passengers with Gerry & the Pacemakers at key points.

Apart from quenching my bout of nostalgia, we'd taken the trip to visit an attraction telling the story of World War II German submarine U-534. It's a superb set-up which enables you to not only grasp the scale of the vessel, but to see into the cross-sectioned submarine and view many of the items which were recovered from the wreck including food, records, medical equipment, 2 Enigma machines and the highly advanced T11 Torpedoes which were state of the art for their time as they had acoustic homing systems which were developed as a countermeasure to the British decoy system. The weapons were so sophisticated they were thought to be the reason for captain's refusal to surrender and the vessel subsequently being bombed.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Soujourn to Salford Quays

It's half term and the middle one is off on a school trip which left Minor Mayhem kicking his heels and in need of distraction from the X-box. Seemed an ideal point to drag him up to the grim North to learn more of his parental origins. First stop was Salford Quays which looks very different from the run down area I used to drive through on my way to work and college. After the Manchester docks were closed there was a massive amount of investment pumped into the place resulting in one of the largest urban regeneration projects in the UK.

We visited the Lowry Centre to see some of the man himself's pieces, and to peruse the works of Valette that are on exhibition at the moment. I love many of the Impressionists work and his particular brand captured the atmospheric mood of the streets, shrouded in fog & polution and yet somehow invoked a sense of romanticism. Very different from the works of Lowry for whom he was said to have been a great influence.
The trade off for hours in an art gallery with a 13yr old 'Kevin' was to spend the afternoon at the Imperial War Museum of the North, viewing everything imaginable from various conflicts from the First World War onwards, and subsequently suffer the entire journey back discussing the rules of engagement, origins of the Irish Troubles, and ethics of using certain types of weapons!!!! Talk about testing...I readily admit I'm pretty flaky on the Cold War & Vietnam, but do know a bit about Ireland as I'm of Irish descent and spent time in Belfast during the 80s. However...
Q: is Semtex the same as C4? ....required 'phone a friend'
A: Both putty (plastic) explosives but properties are different. Both 'very' effective if you want to demolish something....or so I am reliably told!!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Half a dozen applications later

Miss Sensible finally secured a job. This may seem fairly inconsequential, however having seen the on-line application process for Waitrose, and been de-briefed on the interview and assessment event, I am both horrified and impressed with the selection process for a 15 hour contract. It certainly proved that the company take their hiring seriously, and many other companies could learn a thing or two about the rigor involved and the level of professionalism. This didn't just extend to the recruitment process, as yesterday she spent 8 hours being indoctrinated in the Partnership values, trained on Health & Safety, and presented with copious amounts of material about the organisation with which to further her familiarisation, as well as receiving her pristine uniform ready for taking on the real job this coming week. All this to earn a bit of dosh to save towards a car, and hopefully have the option of a student transfer when she makes the move to Uni!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Bad outbreak of pork-pie hats,

2-Tone braces, Fred Perry shirts, Doc Martens et al, at a Specials gig in Wolverhampton last night. The audience were whipped up into a frenzy by a montage of images of key events from the 1970s to date, including politicians of the day which prompted wild cheers and booing. The Specials were superb and ran through what seemed to be most of their back catalogue such as Gangsters, Rat Race, Message to You Rudy, Ghost Town etc. proving you can’t beat a bit of Ska. Further entertainment value was gained from watching a load of middle-aged blokes 'dance' and shout out for the "rude boys" including a chap who was the spitting image of Buster Bloodvessel (Bad Manners - "Lip Up Fatty") plus about 100 other blokes who looked very similar bouncing their beer guts in very close proximity to me in the mosh pit - not the prettiest sight!