Advent Trivia Day 11:

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West Bromwich is the largest town in the United Kingdom without its own Royal Mail postcode.

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Monday 13th February

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So a month passes and we find ourselves at the Ides of the second month.  Fortunately those of you that suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia are a little more secure but hey I can’t help you if you suffer from triskaidekaphobia, just rest assured that next month’s will be 15th March.

So what happened on Monday 13th February?

Awoke to a milder morning than the past week or so.  The remains of the snowmen on the front lawn were noticeably less than that from the day before and at the rate of melting will probably not last the next.  Being a Monday (especially a Monday after I had worked the weekend) I was off.  My eldest has just begun to sleep through the night without nappies and so as a reward I told her I was going to take her on an adventure.

My eldest loves to watch films but had never been to the cinema to watch one (I have an extensive collection of films) and with half-term comes plenty of kids-oriented films at the local multiplex, plus early showings.  One film in particular caught my eye: The Muppets.  A favourite of mine from when I was the same age as my oldest and hopefully with something with enough familiarity to prevent her from being bored.  She thoroughly enjoyed it (but not the popcorn) although probably not as much as her Dad!

We met up with Mum and sister for a Nando’s meal afterwards before heading home for afternoon naps and snacks and games before evening meal and off to bed.  Monday’s are mum’s weigh-in day at the local Slimming World and after a week of illness she was still proud to have lost half a stone, taking her past her target weight and three stone mark.  She is very proud, as I am of her!

So what was happening in the world:

  • People are still in shock at the news that broke the day before that Whitney Houston was found dead in her hotel bath, seemingly after taking prescription drugs and alcohol although the world will need to wait until after a post-mortem and toxicology reports to know for certain.  She is not the first pop star to die of an overdose (and surely will not be the last) nor is she the first to be found dead in a bath (Jim Morrison of the Doors, of which I believe there was a famous typo in a well known UK Paper that read: ‘Pop Star found Dad in bath‘ sounds so much less final).
  • There is a feeling of unease that Abu Qatada (an alleged extremist Muslim preacher  wanted in Jordan for involvement in terror attacks from 1998 a crime he was convicted of in his absence) is freed on bail from Long Lartin gaol after being held for 6.5 years without charge.  His bail conditions are among the toughest ever.  He is only allowed to leave his home for 2 hours a day, he is banned from talking to nearly everyone, cannot use the internet or telephone, cannot lead prayers, give lectures or preach and must wear an electronic tag.  To prevent these conditions from being broke a team of 60 officers will be required.  Whatever, you think about the situation it seems a nonsense to be where we are with it.
  • The European financial situation still is poised on a knife edge with Greece voting in more austerity packages to received its latest bailout package from the rest of the European Union.  Greece people took to the streets with severe rioting in Athens.  This is not going to be a simple solution and it is not going away quickly.  Can the Eurozone allow a country to fail and then pick up the pieces or are they going to keep bailing them out until the whole of the system breaks under its own debt mountain?  This is something that will continue for the whole of the year, if not the rest of the decade.
  • Hot on the heals of Fabio Capello’s departure England are not the only team looking for a football manager.  Wolverhampton Wanderers have dismissed Mick McCarthy after his team were beaten 5-1 at home by their fierce rivals West Bromwich Albion.  This equalled the biggest defeat at Molineux for the Baggies (a record going back 119 years) and marked a year anniversary since Roy Hodgson took charge of the Throstles.  This was particularly delightful for me as I am a West Brom supporter.  Boing!Boing!
  • The last slice of news I will mention was the fact that, arguably the biggest Scottish football team of all time and current Champions, Glasgow Rangers look like there are on the verge of going into administration.  It is a sad indictment on the state of football in general and Scottish football in particular.  To understand the gravity of this one must understand that Rangers are probably the most successful Scottish team of all time (they have won the league 54 times (more top-flight national championships than any other club in the world), they have won the Scottish League cup 27 times – more than any other Scottish club – and the Scottish cup 33 times) and along with their fierce Old-Firm rivals Glasgow Celtic dominate Scottish football.  The pressures of maintaining that record and attempting to do well in the lucrative European competitions have pushed this Scottish behemoth into the brink.  Should they enter administration then they will be docked 10 points while will take them further from the title and thus any chance of European football next season.  The future doesn’t look good for Glasgow Rangers.

Here are this months Ides photos:

Project Two: Bygone Postcards

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This is another of those projects that have been sitting at the back of my mind and hopefully by putting it into words and publishing it on the web for all to see, it will give me the encouragement to actually do something about it.

I own a number of photographic historical postcards with various scenes from places that I know, namely around West Bromwich and Staines.  They are mainly from the early part of the 20th century and although I am far from being classed as a deltiologist (even an amateur deltiologist) I find the historical significance of the photographs incredibly intriguing.  It is fascinating to see how much places have (or indeed have not) changed in nigh on a century.

Some of the postcards that I own are virgin postcards (they were never used) but there are a number that have messages and that is quite fascinating too.  It is a glimpse on a moment in someone’s life.  In 1894 British publishers were given permission by the Royal Mail to create and distribute picture postcards and at that time there were up to 12 deliveries a day in some cities in the UK.  Thus the postcard, with its reduced postage rate (of 1/2 d),  could be used as e-mail or text messages are used today with multiple exchanges between correspondents in a single day.

This project is simply to try to recreate the same photo as depicted on the cards I have.  Literally find the landmark, guess as to where the photo was taken from and snap.  I will scan the original postcard and upload my 21st Century version and try to make notes on how the environ has changed in the intervening years.

This may be a little slow moving as it will depend upon when I get the free time to go and take the photos but hopefully I should have some here for your comments early in the spring (2012).