Local Historian and Writer
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Welcome to Mike's Blog
This is like jumping into deep, icy water. I've no idea what it will feel like, but am full of anticipation of a shock.
I'm a bit of a writer and I do like to have my say. I think that when one reaches retirement age, but still aware that one doesn't know everything, one has the right to have one's say. We've lived life, endured life, survived life and not yet met death. So we could be said to know what we are talking about (well, in some cases, anyway).
I do have a website (www.freespiritwriters.me.uk) and I have definitely had my say on there. But on Bridlington.net I will confine myself to Bridlington matters, how they affect me and mine and how things should be done in a perfect world - which it ain't.
Following the visit to my door and my Bridlington.net response, the Witnesses are back! Yes! They couldn't leave it alone could they? I received the following letter:
“Dear Mike. Although you have been guilty of **** in your younger and more foolish days Jehovah has not rejected you! Read this book, act on it and be saved! A friend.” Enclosed was “What Does The Bible Really Teach?” Needless to say I wasted no time in reading it.
The letter came correctly addressed, used my correct name, told the truth about my past and claimed they were 'A friend.'
However, I don't know who my 'friend' is. Pity, because I could then have a debate with him/her about whether it is wiser to be a Witness or a Catholic.
I have written a reply via the Free Press, so I expect to receive another avalanche of criticism in a week's time, telling me I ought to be ashamed of myself for being critical of those with faith.
What possible business is it of the Witnesses that I was 'guilty' of a religious transgression in my past. As the Bible says: 'Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.'
There's a great scene in 'The Life of Brian' where a character says this and the people shrink away because they all know that they have something to hide.
I have to agree that in my younger days I was extremely foolish. Unfortunately it also lasted through middle age until I was a pensioner! I was a believer. Yes, I was. I knew that the Almighty had a big black book with all my transgressions written down in his best handwriting and that he was going to throw the book at me when I ventured to the pearly gates.
Happily, very happily, I have now discarded my indoctrination, realise that honesty, research, reason and evidence are infinitely more powerful than the mumbo-jumbo of faith.
To top it all, my 'friend' didn't check on the weight/size of the packet and I had to go to Royal Mail and fork out £1.19 in fees to retrieve it. I've suggested my 'friend' might like to put that amount in a charity box somewhere. I don't mind where as long as it's not in a church collection plate. But I bet that's where it will go, if anywhere. My 'friend' will undoubtedly think he/she's got one on me there.
I wish my 'friend' all the best and hope that the wool over his/her eyes fades away. I suggest they log on to "Why won't God heal amputees?" or read Dawkins' "The God Delusion," or Harris's "The End of Faith," or Hitchens' "God is not Great."
I suggest they put away that big thick totally useless publication they so love. If they don't put it away, may I suggest they read ALL of it, not just the nice bits. Read the paragraphs about slavery, child stoning, mass slaughter, incest and hell.
I could go on, but I've a life to live. This one. The only one.
I love this quote: "Good people will do good things, bad people will do bad things, but to get good people to do bad things, you need religion."
This is Duckie. She has adopted the 'lawn' outside our window for her daytime siestas. We decided there should be a drinking bowl for her and her mate, Drake. However, she decided to sit in her water bowl. Doesn't she fit in there nicely? Just right for Sunday's dinner do you think? Especially as she is already in the roasting tin! But we are quite entertained by watching Duckie and Drake just outside our window. He is very attentive to her, and follows her about as she dabbles for the food we throw for them. And, no, I won't be having her for dinner on Sunday, or any other day!
I should have uploaded this yesterday, the 25th. On that date in 1898, Christopher (Kit) Brown (above) died in a lifeboat incident. He was washed away and drowned while attempting to save lives of the crew of a lifeboat which had just launched into tempestuous seas.
On this date nineteen years ago, local people re-enacted this event in the Bridlington Town Play Come Hell Or High Water. I cannot thank Remould Theatre, Rupert Creed, Richard Hayhow and the team for encouraging me to take part. I took on the role of Kit Brown and had a most wonderful experience. I shall remember it for ever. I discovered a whole new life afterwards.
The play was staged at Leisure World, now in the hands of the wrecking crew. Hopefully something will emerge from this decaying pile to be of benefit to the town for years to come.
Three Brothers is now on dry land, protected from the wrath of the sea. Although I am no longer involved with the Bridlington Coble Preservation Society I hope the coble will soon be sailing. The Society provided £20,000 for the refurbishment, helped by £5,000 from the Lords Feoffees. John Clarkson and Joe Gelsthorpe did a magnificent job of work on the coble.
Watch Ade at Sea on 3rd April to see him aboard the coble.
This morning, I visited three banks: Halifax, Barclay's and NatWest. All of them had a queue for the tellers. On arrival at the Halifax I was asked by someone if she could help. I said 'No,' as I a cheque and two bags of coppers to add to my meagre account.
In two positions there was no teller, three/four were dealing with customers. However, two staff were asking if they could help those in the queue. My feeling is that the person at the head of the queue should get served first.
I should have asked why two people were on the floor of the bank and not at a teller position. No doubt they have their reasons.
At my next call, Barclays, the situation was worse as the queue was even longer. People were being asked if they needed help. The majority of them couldn't be helped because they needed to be at a teller's position. So, again, on the bank floor there were two staff asking if they could help, with people queueing and vacant positions where the tellers are.
Even a sarcastic one-man rendering of: "Why are we waiting?" was lost in the resentful silence of Barclay's customers. I encouraged those in the queue to protest when the teller said to them: "Sorry for your wait." No, you aren't. You work for an organisation that seems not to give a stuff about its customers. It wants to run the bank the way they want to run the bank. And that's not for the benefit of its customers.
By the time I got to NatWest, I was furious. And sure enough, one teller blind drawn down so there's a queue. But there was help on hand. But the two prowlers were of no help whatsoever to the person at the head of the queue but those who came in later were attended to. That's not the way a queue works. It's the person at the head of the queue who should be attended to first.
It seems that today, large businesses run their affairs for their benefit, not their customers.
I remember a sequence from Yes, Minister, in which a hospital was to be closed. There were protests, naturally. But what made me smile was the fact that the hospital didn't close because the authorities had to consider how many jobs would be lost, and how many ancillary jobs would also be lost.
The hospital was kept open, but no wards were manned, no operations carried out, no patients seen to. They saved the money for that, of course, but didn't lose any jobs. Winners all round! (sarcasm!).
I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting in the library today when Andrew Aldis and Keith Kaye spoke about Bridlington Spa. Keith related the story of the management of the Spa with Andrew as the latest man to bring skill and experience to the management team.
Andrew's presentation included clips from last year's Showtime, a truly brilliant show. This year's show will have a difficult time beating it I can assure you.
Questions brought out thoughtful and revealing answers.
Andrew explained why there couldn't be a theatre organ in the Spa, and there was discussion about lack of close bus stops to the theatre.
I was allowed to promote Darewski Day, which I'm hoping is going to be 7th June each year. On 7th June ninety years ago, Herman started his stint at the Spa Royal Hall, bringing dancing to the town, much to the chagrin of local hoteliers. They were very upset, because their guests were staying out until way after midnight.
Herman certainly put Bridlington on the map. I'm nearing the end of completion of a small book about Herman's musical successes, of which there were many. I won't tell you more now, so come along to the Spa on Saturday, 7th June, and help me establish Bridlington's Darewski Day.
Last Saturday, I was minding my own business at the computer when the doorbell rang.
At the door were two elderly gentleman and a small boy.
One of the men said: "Can I ask if you know Jesus?" and made to hand me a copy of Watchtower.
Normally I am amused at this, and am instantly ready for a discussion, a somewhat heated discussion I might add.
When I told him I had no need of God, he started to reply. But I was angry now, really, really angry.
What right did these old men have to drag a young boy around the estate with them on a Saturday afternoon when the lad would probably have been better off fishing, or train spotting, or even putting money in the one-armed bandits in the amusements in town. Not that I encourage one-armed bandits. But they would have provided a few minutes pleasure, I suppose. But being dragged from door to door while their elders were taking the word to the ill-educated, well, that was awful.
By the time I closed the door, I was in a fury, that religion makes it right to fill a child's mind with unsubstantiated clap-trap. I know, I know, you're offended. Well, tough!
Bring me some evidence, real hard-core evidence of what you believe in, and I'll certainly listen to you. Don't dare mention the Bible, either. One book! You're basing your whole life on the words of one book, by a bunch of amateur know-nothing writers from 2,000-odd years ago? Surely not.
When I deliberately asked the men if they actually believed that Jonah lived in a whale for three days, they said yes. That's sad! Really, really sad. Those men are living in a world with stuff that two hundred years ago would have been magic: computers, spaceships, heart transplants, all of which were invented by men. Not one churchman had anything to do with these improvements to life. Not one, not even the man at the supposed top of the putrid heap: the pope.
I was brought up a Catholic, a member of the Holy Catholic Church of Rome. I had it drummed into me that this - the Catholic faith - was the one, the only one, guaranteed to get me to heaven. I could go into any Catholic church in the world and follow the mass. The mass was conducted in Latin of course, so it was international. Its first pope was St Peter. The St Peter on which, Jesus said: "I shall build my church." So, to me, a young unknowing lad, being Catholic was being at top of the tree.
Oh, how far have I fallen since then. Or rather the church has fallen since then. It was decided to change Latin to the language of the country of the churchgoer, and it was decided that, after all, the planet would not disintegrate if I had a sausage on a Friday.
So far have I travelled from that upbringing, that I now have a real problem with all religions. Perhaps a big problem with those two elderly men and that young boy. I told the boy not to take any notice of what he was told, but to ask questions to find out for himself.
I asked the men if they believed I had a giraffe in my shed. I think they could not work out whether the answer "Yes" would illuminate their stupidity, and whether a "No" would make them start to think about truth. Their non-answer was illumination enough. They couldn't respond as either answer went against their religion.
Jehovah's Witnesses might be harmless fun, but other religions take things much too far. Judaism actually mutilate boys' genitals for their faith. They still do that. Islam tells its followers to carve the genitals of girls, too. Hundreds of girls in England make a journey to have this process carried out. Both acts are deplorable. Really really deplorable, disgusting, mindless, stupid, how many more adjectives do you want?
If the Witnesses call on you, please help them on their way, with a firm word. Or several if you can conjure some up which you think will make one iota of difference to their hide-bound ideology.
If you are a Witness, please have a quiet thought, and ask yourself, are you wasting your time.
I know a former vicar, now retired, and I guess he's now asking himself whether he's wasted his life. He has.
I wasted a lot of mine, I know. If only I was told as a young man that I had the right to question religion, I would have done so long ago. But I didn't. My parents didn't encourage me to ask, they accepted the faith for what it was and they conducted their lives around it. What a shame for them, too.
Please do what you can to eliminate faith from our daily lives. Prayer has never been answered - just ask yourself "Why won't God heal amputees?" then go to the website of that name. Visit "The Atheistic Experience" on YouTube for some down-to-earth observations. If you are even half a believer, you'll be shocked. I was - at first. Then I realised there was a lot of sense being said.
So I researched more. I read Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and others.
Now I am an atheist and a humanist. We get what we get by our own endeavours. There is no-one in the sky to help us out. God wasn't around much in Somerset recently was he?
Must stop now. It's becoming a rant.
Come on out of the shadows and into the light of reality.
I had a visit to York the other day. The river was swollen but it was obvious that the waters had receded somewhat. There was mud everywhere in this little park and the opportunity to fall all one's length in an inch of sloppy mud was there. Luckily I avoided doing that!
I wandered all through the city centre and was vastly entertained by a group of six East European guys giving it all they were worth on musical instruments. They were brilliant! Hardly stopped to catch a breath, just kept blasting away.
On the bus there I read half a novel, and finished it off when coming back.
It was a lovely spring day - heck, there were even folk wandering about without coats on!
I would normally have gone to the railway museum, but the Streaks (Gresley's A4s) were not there.
I'm arranging to have my books published for print on demand in the hope that folk overseas will buy them. I'll let you know how I get on.
Say what you mean, and mean what you say!
I'm quite sure that I will get more than 'four chips' if I order this. I know they mean 'four portions of chips' so why don't they say so? All round, it is better to be accurate.
I've heard that my Bridlington Historic Timeline has been uploaded on to Facebook. The fact that someone has done that without my permission is the very reason why I won't use Facebook. Anyone can put anything up and claim credit for it. Had the person asked me, I might have been persuaded that it was well worth doing. After all, it advertises me then as a writer and as a person interested in Brid history. Which I am. But I don't want others having credit for work that is not theirs.
Well, January disappeared quickly, didn't it? Life has slowed down a bit because of Diane's stroke.
But I have to confess. I've been conducting a bit of an affair. I've met a young lady, a professional. No, not one of those professionals! She's a singer, actress, comedienne and she's rather glamorous. I've spent a lot of time with her this last week and it's been most enjoyable.
Like all elderly men, I found it easy to be smitten.
Oh, I'd better explain. The lady in question died seventy years ago! Yes, seventy years ago.
She was Madge Temple, and I have been pursuing her across the internet for a couple of weeks. I already had a good collection of her photographs and some personal items of hers too.
The photographs were sold as postcards - by the tens of thousands, I guess - between 1906 and 1916, when she was at the height of her fame. And high it was, too. She appeared in theatres all over England - perhaps I should say the United Kingdom even - and was a real star in Australia and New Zealand.
After a week of work on the computer I now have a 48-page illustrated booklet telling Madge's story.
Why did I first become interested, you may well ask. She was the wife of the one and only Herman Darewski, famous musician, writer of thousands of popular songs before the Second World War, and one-time Director of Music at Bridlington Spa.
I wrote a piece about Herman which was published in Down Your Way in March last year. They paid me too.
Now that I've finished my Madge book, I think the next thing I'll do is create a book for Herman.
Here is the front cover:
Okay! Okay! I look a bit of a dipstick, but it was Boxing Day lunch, with crackers and paper hats. But I thought this was better.
I hope you had a good Christmas break. Diane's sister came up from Godalming in Surrey for the holiday. She's found out through Twitter and Facebook that the river Wey had broken its banks and the water reached the end of her street.
Fancy spending a lovely holiday in sunny Brid then going back to find your house had been inundated with four feet of water! Doesn't bear thinking about.
Brid businesses suffered during the tidal surge recently, but luckily no domestic properties suffered.
My computer is now fully back to normal, so I might start on another book. I had one complete in the old computer, but lost it. I didn't save it properly. Mike Smith at MCS Computers on Bridge Street is to be thanked for getting meback to normal.
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