Springingtiger's Blog

What a Day, WOW!

The Poppy Wave

It was Sam Luke I spotted first and I was confirmed it was him when I saw Bunny Bennett to his left, she is a pretty young girl. Where did I see them? On the Steep Hill in Lincoln down from the Bailgate. Sadly I was too gobsmacked to speak. However by the time David Bennett came, shortly behind them I had found my voice and what did I say? “Look irs the Spine!” 
My brother replied, “What?”

“The Spine!” I exclaimed too loudly. However David heard and gave me a wave. I am chuffed. That was just one high spot in a day of high spots.

Last night, having at last, made it to Lincoln I went to the Advanced Guard, a party for Asylum weekend ticket holders who had turned up early. (Guinness £3.00 a pint) A crazy transvestite comedian and a soprano mistress of Off Coloratura Innuendo. Good start.

This morning, in beautiful sunshine, I drank tea in my brother’s garden before joining him on a short cycle ride. Then it was into Lincoln for the Asylum beginning with Virgin’s Meet for first time attendees. Some chatting with creative types before visiting the Market in The Methodist Hall. I was saved from buying a ridiculously well priced cap only by my big head. However there were some amazingly creative people peddling some amazing craftsmanship.

I bumped into my brother and his wife in the castle and so together  we went to see the Poppy Wave which had been at the Tower of London. It was as we went in search of tea that we saw the members of Steam Powered Giraffe.

The best thing about being too late to get tickets to all the evening events I’d have liked is that I get to spend more time with my brother and his wife. This evening we drove to Skegness, walked along the Front then had Fish and Chips at Tony’s before going home. The wonderful thing is that I have a whole day of fun ahead of me tomorrow so I’d better get some sleep now!

Steaming to Lincoln.
August 24, 2016, 23:38
Filed under: Steampunk, Travel, Writing | Tags: ,
  1. Tonight, just a place holder blog post because I shall be up early in the morning to catch a train to Lincoln. Technically a bus and three trains, but you know what I mean. Sadly none of those trains will be drawn by a steam locomotive which renders my title somewhat incorrect. However I am going to Lincoln to attend Asylum, Europe’s largest Steampunk Festival, hence the title is not inappropriate however inaccurate.

    Traingate: At Least It Runs On Schedule!


    One of the things about the media attacks on Jeremy Corbyn over the last couple of days has been an attempt to undermine his image.

    Firstly there was a suggestion that his treatment of MPs would were he a private employer see him take to an Employment Tribunal for racial discrimination. Unfortunately a claim not backed up with convincing evidence. Worse still is the revelation that Labour MPs really don’t understand Employment Tribunals, how they work, the relevance of the ACAS code nor how difficult it is to prove discrimination. However let’s be honest Corbyn’s opponents have shown little interest in promoting employment rights, so why would we expect them to understand their mechanics?

    Now after one attacked was derailed along comes ‘Traingate’ as the press are dubbing it in an attempt to make it sound more serious than it is. Jeremy Corbyn was filmed sitting on the floor of a Virgin Train. On the film he complained about the poor conditions and overcrowding experienced by rail passengers and suggested that it was another reason to support renationalisation on the railways. Right on schedule as the leadership election ballot papers were sent out Virgin Rail hit back releasing CCTV film that allegedly showed Corbyn walking past empty seats. As far as I could see those empty seats were bearing reserved signs. More importantly other passengers on the same train corroborate Corbyn’s story. Indeed when he sat on the floor he was joining a group of passengers who had also not been able to find empty, unreserved seats.

    Much is made of the fact that Corbyn was eventually shown to a seat by staff. However the news media fail to mention this was forty five minutes into the journey. Passengers have pointed out that staff were going up and down the train ‘shuffling people’ to release seats. Another passenger interviewed mentioned that some seats were being taken up by children and luggage and so those seats would have appeared occupied.

    Why is such a fus being made of this? Obviously, as Atul Hatwal admitted on Sky News, to attack Jeremy Corbyn’s image as a man of integrity in the eyes of the people. He also suggested that the Blairites would mount a fresh challenge every year with a continuing campaign to undermine the Labour leadership. It is hardly surprising that Hatwal has been called on for the task as he was a spin doctor for Tony Blair’s New Labour government. As he said of his work as a press officer, “It’s only spin if you get found out.” Obviously by his own admission his impartiality is open to question in this matter. Any sensible observer must suspect he is still spinning on behalf of his old boss, Tony Blair.

    Would Virgin misrepresent the facts? I think that given Jeremy Corbyn is committed to renationalising the railways, it would suit them to prevent Corbyn coming to power. Of course there will be many like myself who wonder whether Richard Branson and his company’s attacks are motivated by the threat of renationalisation and the loss of millions of pounds of taxpayers money, or whether it originates from Branson’s good friend Tony Blair.

    There is no love lost between Blair and the right wing of New labour and Corbyn and the workers movement he represents. Many people believe Blair manipulated the Labour Party to steal the leadership from Gordon Brown after the death of John Smith, he is if nothing else an arch fixer, or as the Blairites have it ‘realistic’. When we look at those who lead the attacks on Corbyn, John Tiernan, Atul Hatwal, the Murdoch Press, Richard Branson and the PLP the thing that is most glaringly obvious is their connections with Tony Blair. Am I suggesting Tony Blair is orchestrating the campaign against Corbyn? I wouldn’t dare, bad things happen to people who speak out of turn and I’m not as brave as Dr David Kelly.

    When A Plan Comes Together (The GUESS Newsletter is coming together again)


    I went to the Film and Comic Con (Collector Mania) at the weekend and for fun, instead of one of my bought pairs of goggles, I wore on my hat the goggles I made from yoghurt drink pots for the Glasgow Ubiquitous E Steampunk Society newsletter. I am pleased to say they were very well received.

    It is my intention to have at least one step by step Steampunk build in every issue. I wasn’t sure if I would manage it however on present showing there may well be more than one next time alternatively I am set up at least until next year’s AGM. I am pleased to announce that there are at least three full builds and one wee one in the pipeline.

    I am delighted that Ambika of ‘Sundara Run’ will provide a step by step build of a fascinator. I think it’s the one she was wearing on the ‘Farewell Ela’ photo-shoot so if you want a preview just scroll through the pictures on the Glasgow Ubiquitous E Steampunk Society Facebook page until you find it. If you haven’t read the newsletter and want to know more about GUESS that’s also the place to go. You’ll find a PDF of the newsletter under the ‘Files’ tab and more besides.

    As I said there are more makes in the pipeline. Assuming it works out okay we have one on building a BFG from a brass pipe, plywood offcuts and a cardboard tube, which may or may not be in the next issue. There is also another build being put together on turning safety glasses into aviator goggles using leather scraps.

    The fascinator is up first and there may be others. I am hoping members (especially those busy getting gears from Ebay) will keep a photographic record of their work to share with the newsletter. I am not limited to just one an issue.

    I have been promised at least one article about a member’s relationship with Steampunk, but there’s plenty of room for more.

    There will be reports on Society activities including our upcoming ‘Walking Workshop’ on the third of September. If you don’t know about Walking Workshops you’ll find an explanation and report of the last one in the current newsletter. It was a very enjoyable experience for all participants.

    I have also been promised a page of Steampunk humour…whatever that may be. There’s one way to find out, but it involves waiting to read the next issue in October.

    What I am enjoying most is that members are now actually coming forward with contributions. I hope that more will. We don’t just need full articles, small pieces are very welcome. We need top tips and handy hints. Reviews of events, fairs, concerts are all welcome. Any other Sreampunk group that wants to give notice of activities is welcome…indeed you can always share Steampunk events to our Facebook page.

    The first newsletter was somewhat of a kite flying exercise. I expect number two to be more of an airship and by three, all being well, we’ll be in the Rocketeer’s airspace. So please don’t just watch this space…fill it. Hope to see you on our Facebook page soon.

    Hard Lessons
    August 21, 2016, 23:28
    Filed under: disability, Health, Parenting, personal development | Tags: , , ,


    Recently a friend posted about her continuing health difficulties. She overexerted herself while suffering from influenza, now a year later she is still unwell and it is being explained as post-viral debility. That is a road down which I too have walked.

    When I was a manager and training officer as well as being the Managers’ Association Branch Chairman I was busy. I had been busy in the Union Of Communication Workers negotiating around Operator Grades Restructuring and then I was promoted. As well as being in charge of night staff training I was travelling all around the country training people in Customer Care and I loved it. I also deputised for the Night Manager when he was away for any period. I also managed both a team of Operators and Senior Operators as well as the Exchange training Team, in one year I had to appraise thirty people. I enjoyed the responsibility of management, the satisfaction of running successful trainings, negotiating as am Association official, speaking at conference. I used to get the occasional cold and flu, but they didn’t stop me, I worked through them. Iworked through them until my body just gave up on me. During one bout of flu I became too ill to work and was forced to take a little time off. I rushed back to work as soon as I could, but was hit by bout after bout of illness. I was exhausted, tired all the time. At first I was diagnosed as being ‘post-viral’. Eventually my Doctor diagnosed me as having Chronic Fatigue and Immuno Dysfunction Syndrome. I spent months in bed , but gradually built up my levels of activity. However I was off for a year before after a phased return of several months I started working full time again. Sadly it was felt that the irregular shifts of the night staff would no longer suit me, nor the rushing around the country and so I worked for some years a a day staff team manager.

    After a while I was so much better I began getting busy again, taking on all sorts of extra activities. What I had not realised was that the illness was dormant rather than gone. It was not long before I found my body rebelling again. I fell prey to every passing virus and the muscle pain and exhaustion returned. However I gradually learned to recognise when my CFIDS was getting ready to hit me again, and I learned to reign back my activity and rest. Didn’t always manage it and I paid, but I discovered that there was a particular physical sensation heaviness which when accompanied by a distinctive sore throat generally meant an attack was coming. Sometimes I still do too much especially when after weeks of rain I get a couple of good days to get on with the work in my garden. Several times I have paid heavily for excessive enthusiasm. This year I have been struggling with discomfort for much of the summer, but I haven’t hit the point of shut down because I have finally been self disciplined about pacing my activity. I have used a timer to measure my physical labour and made sure I rested. When I have been tired I have forced myself to accept that some tasks had to be postponed. What I have learned is that it is always possible to substitute a lighter physical activity for a heavy one. Sometimes I have to spend a day resting, some days I have been unable to stay on my feet for any period of time. However when I take the rest I need instead of just forcing myself to continue, the sooner I am able to get up and get on with living.

    One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that my duty is to myself first and if I cannot function I cannot effectively serve others either. The frustration of my CFIDS when it was at its height aggravated my periodic depressions. Now I have learned that my happiness matters and restores my health and energy. I have found that being ill does not mean I have to be miserable. I have long used the Marx Brothers as a counter for an incipient depression, now I try to always do something pleasurable when unwell because it seems to promote recovery. I read, I watch DVDs, if I am up to it I go to the cinema or even use my over Sixties bus pass to take a day out (sadly I’ve only managed it once so far this year). It is important to have fun and it promotes recovery. Feeling good makes me feel better. Feeling good about myself makes me feel better and feeling good about myself means accepting what is so and being good to myself instead of wallowing in regrets or resenting what I can’t do. And sometimes I reflect on how lucky I am to be able to do all that I can when so many people are compelled by circumstance to do so much less. My illness was a blow, it was inconvenient, I believed for a while it was ruining my life, but what I now know is that it was teaching me the lessons about living sensible and looking after myself that I was too stupid or too busy to learn for myself.

    As those who know me know, every day I practice gratitude as I journal. I cannot honestly yet say I am grateful for my CFIDS, but I am grateful for the lessons I have learned from it, and I am glad I have learned to be kind to myself. People say, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” I think it’s probably better for everyone if you do unto yourself what you would have others do unto you. After all why should others treat you well if you aren’t aren’t willing to?

    My Cat And I
    August 20, 2016, 23:45
    Filed under: asperger's syndrome, food, Health | Tags: , ,

    Wee Man

    My cat and I sit in silence, side by side on the armchair. Me on the seat with my feet up. He upon the arm until, as is his wont he subtly shifts onto my lap. Sometimes he shifts so stealthily that I am unaware. Should I express surprise at finding him having moved he immediately considers it a declaration of intent to pet him and positions himself accordingly. Sometimes he moves back onto the arm, the better to meet me eye to eye and to head-butt me should I stop paying him attention. My cat has a hard head.

    I had not wanted a cat. More precisely I had not wanted another pet. I like animals, I hate losing them. However it was a choice between us and the SSPCA or whoever re homes cats and I preferred him not to have to rely on the kindness of strangers and so the Wee Man became my cat. Perhaps I should say our cat, but he has firmly attached himself to me, perhaps because I am a softer touch than my wife. She is good to him, but noy prepared to spend as long in conversation with him. That’s what happens when you have a cat, you think they are talking to you and many of those conversations end with me desperately pleading, “What is it, what are you saying, I don’t understand?”.

    The only time he is completely clear is when he stands at the back door and quite clearly says, “Out”. That doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to go out, but just that he wants the door open so that he can watch the world and decide whether to go or not. That’s not so bad in summer, but less comfortable in January. Some days he will spend mostly outside, coming in occasionally for a quick snack before once more demanding egress. Sometimes he only comes in for the amusement of demanding to be let out again immediately, or perhaps he’s just checking up on me to make sure I’m not doing anything of which he would not approve like eating fish when he’s not looking.

    He likes his fish. Every Wednesday is ‘Fish Day’. Not Friday, he’s not a Christian cat. Like most cats he’s a sceptic. I know he’s a sceptic, I’ve seen the expression on his face when I tell him it’s too late, too dark to go out. However as I said he does love ‘Fish Day’. I am more concerned by his ‘cat cocaine’ habit. Yes he loves Dreamies and can be very demanding when he wants them. On the plus side if it’s late and I wand him to come it I just stand at the door and open the bag and he appears from nowhere at high speed. I used to think the advertisements were ridiculous, now I realise they are only just an exaggeration.

    Some cats are delicate and precise in their movements. Wee man can be a bit of a bruiser. I have tried leaving my bedroom door open a little bit so that he can go in and out without battering it wide open. Total waste of effort, whichever direction he’s going he still shoulders it open! When I’m getting dressed I now turn my back to the bed. I mentioned he likes to head butt. Too often it’s my butt that gets butted, however I have learned that is preferable to being butted when facing the bed and that’s more than enough information.

    However much I might not have wanted another cat, a house without a cat feels somehow empty as if the cat gives the house a presence that even its owners don’t. I won’t say a cat is not demanding, but I will agree they are less demanding than a dog. However when a cad makes demands he expects you to fill fulfil them immediately and there will be no peace until you do. You may be able to say no to a dog, you can say no to a cat, but it will utterly ignore you.

    Cats are company…when they want to be. When they don’t want, you’ll just have to wait until they’re ready. The wait is worth it. I sit on my chair or upon my bed, my cat beside me and the stress of the day just melts away to the rhythm of his purrs.

    Raging Twilight and Full Nelson At The Ferry

    At last I am getting around to posting this piece. It’s been sitting on my PC for nearly a week, but other posts have just got in the way. I thought it had better get posted before it got cobwebs.


    Raging Twilight

    There was once in the Social Work Department a man, Jack Law, who had spent several years of his youth in the 70s gigging around the folk clubs with a band called Greenmantle (Were they good? Well their CD ‘Two Hats’ is). No one can work in Social Work for ever, so what did Jack do when he got a pension? Set up another band.

    We went to see his band Raging Twilight at The Ferry where they supported Full Nelson. I loved the music. Its more driving, more obviously blues based than Greenmantle. In fact for guys my age they rock up a storm. Obviously they’re younger than the Rolling Stones (probably, but everyone is!), but they rock up a storm. Most of the songs they played were written by Jack Law, I think they only did one cover. The only problem with playing original music to an audience who have come to listen to another band is that because they are unfamiliar with the music they don’t get into it as easily. However their music was a very good fit with the Willie Nelson music to follow, drawing as it does on southern USA Country and Blues roots. They have a CD coming out soon I gather…I am giving Santa due notice now! http://www.jacklawsongs.com/

    The main band was the Willie Nelson tribute act Full Nelson and they were good. It is only as I sit listening to Willie Nelson CDs while writing that I get just how good. And it wasn’t just Gary Luntley who sang as Willie, the drummer, Ian James (?) voiced the Waylon Jennings part of several duets with his deep, powerful voice evoking the outlaw himself. If you see a superstar in a stadium, you will be hard put to see or hear them properly, but the Full Nelson bring the experience of raw, outlaw country music to the intimacy of the small stage.

    The whole concert lasted around three and a half hours with over two coming from Full Nelson. They played a wide selection of Willie Nelson songs both old and new. It was a good set, if I had a complaint it would be the omission of Seven Spanish Angels. However Willie’s catalogue is so big that there’s a lot more missed out than anyone could include. What was good was that the selection showcased most periods of Willie’s career and included several less well known songs. What it also showed was how detailed was Garry and the band’s familiarity with the subject. There is a generation of country singers Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard whose music is informed by the sort of experience of hardship few modern singers will thankfully ever know. It was uncanny to hear an English country band somehow capturing that same old generation feeling in their performance. But don’t let the term ‘old generation’ fool you Full Nelson can rock with the best of them. They are also a nice bunch of folk.



    The Ferry is a great venue for Americana, Country Music. It has a great atmosphere, intimate and industrial. The food was excellent and reasonably priced, My wife and I are vegetarian and there was a good vegetarian dish on every course of the menu. We had Salad Caprese followed by a red pepper and spinach lasagne our friends started with BBQ Ribs then one had medallions of pork the other chicken, we all enjoyed the food and the drinks prices are competitive. The staff are efficient and friendly. I will certainly come again when there is an event that appeals. They have gigs for most musical tastes, many of them tribute bands. Sadly Full Nelson won’t be back until next April, but it’s aomething to look forward to.




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