Friday, 14 July 2017

Hollyhocks at Stelling Minnis – Gone!

See my post of 2 July. Click here

Obviously the Highways Agency considers that hollyhocks constitute a danger at the side of the highway and need to be removed. Which is what they have done. So those flowers will never seed and never brighten the lives of those using Stone Street.

We must infer from this action that chopping down flowers is a more effective safety manoeuvre than filling in the awful potholes in the actual road surface.

And it is probably cheaper.

And so satisfying.

Monday, 10 July 2017

The US Navy comes to Sandwich.

Well, not quite.

We sat eating our fish and chips on the quayside in Sandwich and ogling this very military looking launch as it rocked on its moorings on the rapidly rising tide.

Not a vessel to argue with on the River Stour. I think I would give it right of way.

It was built in Germany in 1952 and as P22, patrolled the River Rhine for the US Navy.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

A much better use for a cycle lane.

What would the concert goers do without a cycle lane in which to put their notices?

At least it is not cluttered up with bicycles.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Cycling at sunset

I spent too long indoors today, writing on computers and sorting out my tax return. 

I just had time for a ride before bedtime.

You can just distinguish my bicycle resting in the gateway. I was watching an owl which was trying to maintain its balance on a telephone line. I deduced that its talons were too large to grip the cable firmly because it kept teetering back and forth as if drunk.

And then the sun really set.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Hollyhocks at Stelling Minnis

Occasionally, in order to enjoy some exercise I decide to cycle to work. As I work at home this means that I cycle from my front door to my back door via the village of Stelling Minnis which is about eight miles away. Today the sun was shining in a blue sky and the wind was north westerly which guaranteed that it would assist me up the hill so off I went. 

I was astonished by the smells: clingy hot tarmac in Canterbury, a waft of stale beer from the open door of The Granville pub, the light odour of freshly mown grass on the verges, perfume of roses in a front garden. At Bossingham I smelled roasted Sunday lunch at one end of the street and barbecue at the other. Coming down from the Minnis somebody nearby had been burning plastic – a harsh, nostril hostile tang. Further down it was the overpowering, heavy, sweet smell of roly-poly bales of silage stacked alongside the road; then warm, cosy, farm animal smell and then a hot, oily stink from a broken-down BMW at the side of the lane.

When in Stelling Minnis I cycled out to the Stone Street junction and to my great pleasure I discovered that my efforts over the last three years had at last come to fruition. 

The hundreds of hollyhock seeds from my garden which I had scattered in a roadside concrete trough had finally germinated. I am hoping that they will continue to flourish and with the wind from the passing vehicles, start to march down the road as they self seed.

This autumn I shall repeat the process with some additional colours and we will see what happens.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Passport or identity card?

That old chestnut of the identity card was raised again recently by journalist Philip Collins in The Times of 30 June. In it he identifies three concerns which, in his view, could be alleviated by the provision of an identity card: illegal immigration, terrorism and use of public services by the unentitled. He mentions that identity cards are compulsory in over one hundred countries, citing Belgium, Germany and Israel among his examples. I am ambivalent about identity cards. His suggestion that it would be simple to make it illegal to employ a person who did not possess a valid id card sounds sensible; that NHS benefits should be unavailable to non-holders, likewise. I am not certain that his suggestion that requiring anybody hiring a white van to show an id card would assist counter-terrorist officers is grounded on rational thinking.

UK wartime identity card 1943

The tenor of his article possibly betrays the technique which will eventually be used to reintroduce the id card in Britain: that of 'parasitic vitality'. It was used to enforce the National Registration Card under the 1939 National Registration Act. It quite simply means that you make the card desirable to the public by denying them access to goods or services without it. In 1943 the cards were re-issued and tied to the ration card. You want to eat? – You need an id card. After the war they were linked to the holder's NHS number.

UK 'Identification Card' purchased on e-bay for £9.

In trying to look at the arguments for and against the introduction of an id card in a dispassionate manner I cannot but help the reflection that, for example, for the three countries mentioned above, Belgium, Germany and Israel, have they solved their illegal immigration and terrorists problems by the use of an identity card? 

Whenever a card is used it will have to be checked. Who will do the checking?
How will they be trained? Would you accept the card above?

Do we need yet another document? The journalist, Philip Collins, in assessing the system for checking the movement of people into and out of the UK observes that, 'An identity card that, where relevant, contained a holder's visa status would make this process a lot easier,'

We already have such a document. 

It is called a passport.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Passport Portraits of Yesteryear no. 27

Continuing the series of passport portraits from my collection.
Peruse and wonder.
Marjorie Crocker Fairbanks, a US citizen, at the age of 22 in 1916 took a ship to Europe. She stayed for a while at Cheyne Walk in London and then sailed for France where she worked as a volunteer ambulance driver. Her letters home she published, along with those of her friend, Esther Sayles Root, in a book entitled Over Periscope Pond.
Read it here
In 1925, now married with a son, she left her family and departed on a tour of France with a woman friend and two men. On her return to the USA she was divorced.
This is the photograph on her passport issued in Washington in 1948. In New York she obtains  multiple business visits visas for France and Belgium and arrives in Rotterdam on 30 August 1948. She is now 53 years old and her occupation is stated as 'writer'. Over the first five months of 1949 she is issued with ration coupons for a total of 2,000 litres of petrol. She visits Belgium and Germany and changes money in Paris, Montauban and Perpignan. She flies home to the USA for Christmas 1950 but is soon back, presumably on business. This passport finally expired in August 1952 at which time she was still in Paris. What an intriguing person.