The Respect We Owe Our Old People

The Respect We Owe Our Old People

You know, this week I was looking at the news web sites and discovered something which made my blood boil.

It was this; reports that 90 year old acting legend Mickey Rooney has been granted a temporary(?) restraining order against his step-son Christopher Alber, who’s mother is Rooney’s wife of 33 years, Jan (nee Chamberlin). 54 year old Alber has allegedly been “withholding food and medicine and interfering with his finances” and even, I quote;

“Mr. Alber is verbally abusive. He yells and screams at Mickey. Mickey is effectively a prisoner in his own home.”

A similar report from the New York Daily News added that,

“He threatens, intimidates, bullies and harasses Mickey. Mickey is extremely fearful that Chris will become physically threatening against Mickey and may even attempt to kidnap Mickey from his home.”

It’s also alleged that Aber confiscated Rooney’s passport and other identification cards. It’s difficult to surmise the whys and wherefores of this… but it makes my blood boil nonetheless.

Read on…

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The Quotes of the Week VII

Sunday 13th

“If it does, John and I will be doing cartwheels. And that’s not easy at our age.”

Professor Daniel Whitmire of the University of Louisiana on research which may prove the existence of another ninth planet in our solar system; Tyche, thought to be four times the size of Jupiter

Read on…


The Loneliness Which is Barely Different

The Loneliness Which is Barely Different

It’s not often that you will find a song which will take your breath away. I discovered this one last year, and many listens later it hasn’t lost the tender beauty or the power it held over me the first time I heard it.

Unbelievingly, I first discovered Xǐ huan [喜欢] ‘Like’ as a free download. It’s by Zhāng Xuán [张悬], most commonly known as Deserts Xuan or Chang, a Taiwanese singer who is thought to be one of the leading voices of contemporary alternative Chinese music. It’s from her second album, released in 2007 and entitled, Qīn ài de…wǒ huán bù zhī dào [親愛的…我還不知道], ‘Dear…I Don’t Know Yet’.

A long-time independent musician and composer, Chang began writing songs barely into her teens. She was performing her own music on stage by the age of 16 and at 19, she had written over 100 pieces of music. She chose the stage name ‘Deserts’ because it was “mysterious and suggests something hanging in limbo”; like her personality.

Read on…


The Page-boy and the Silver Goblet

The Page-boy and the Silver Goblet

Since I visited Edinburgh yesterday, it’s only fitting that today’s story is from Scotland.

There was once a young lad who worked as a page-boy at a grand castle which stood on a cliff overlooking the sea. He was a pleasant boy and a hard worker, so all who knew him were fond of him; from the Earl he served every day to the fat old butler for whom he ran errands.

As I said, the castle itself stood on a cliff by the sea; its walls were impenetrable and there was no way to enter the castle from that direction, save a little door cut into the thick walls and a well-hidden stairway among the rocks. The people who lived in the castle used this passage whenever they wanted to bathe on the pleasant sea shore.

On the inland side of the castle were many beautiful gardens and pleasure grounds, which lay on land which gently sloped upwards to meet an expanse of heather-covered moorland, framed by distant hills. It was here that the page-boy loved to roam after his day’s work was done. He ran about the moor chasing bumble-bees and catching butterflies; and when nesting time came, he would search for the hidden bird’s nests to peep at the tiny speckled eggs.

Read on…


The Edinburgh Photoblog

What did you see in Edinburgh? Scotch mist.

Me and Edinburgh Castle

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The List of Things I Want (But Need Like a Chocolate Teapot) I

The List of Things I Want (But Need Like a Chocolate Teapot)

Is it just me, or are we far too easily charmed by silly gimmicks, toys and novelty products?

The other day I discovered a shop in Newcastle city centre which sells (vastly overpriced) items, of which the greatest value to the world could be described as ‘cute factor’; like the Matryoshka Stacked Measuring Spoons or the Mobile Pocket IQ Test, or perhaps the Spinning Petals Flower Fan Which In Fact Doesn’t Cool You Down At All.

Nevertheless, the very fact I stayed inside the shop long enough to gawk at these things persuaded me to dedicate the first of a series of posts to the bizarre novelties which companies come up with to part us with our cash.

Read on…


The Tale of the Slavic Cinderella

The Tale of the Slavic Cinderella

I’ve written quite a lot about the folklore of China and Japan in the last few weeks, so I thought it was time to write about the folklore of other countries. The one I’m about to tell is a well-known version of the classic Cinderella tale from Russia. I first encountered the tale of the Slavic Cinderella, also known as The Twelve Months, late last year and was surprised by the similarities it bears not only to Cinderella but also to Neil Gaiman’s short story October In The Chair, which features the Twelve Months sat around a campfire sharing their stories. I wonder if this may have been one of them…

There was once a widow who had two daughters. The younger of these, Helen, was her own daughter; the elder, named Marouckla, was her husband’s daughter from a previous marriage. The widow loved Helen dearly and lavished as many gifts, clothes and other expensive indulgences as she could afford upon Helen; but she did not love Marouckla at all, and gave Marouckla only what dignity begrudged her to. Helen lived a carefree life full of parties and other amusements, but Marouckla was forced to remain at home and work hard for the widow and her half-sister.

Read on…