Archive for February, 2011

Eric… The Breaker of Hearts

February 11, 2011

Torture — justified as a punishment?

February 9, 2011

down in the dungeon

Looking back through English history, it seems that torture was not just used to extract vital information needed to save lives but as a means of retribution incorporating  ‘entertainment’ for the delectation of the crowds. Of course, this has been so throughout the history of most ‘civilizations’ , England was not alone in inflicting pain and humiliation as a means of discouraging treachery, villainy, illegal acts, or mere misdeeds. One might add it still goes on in certain countries, but that I can only leave to the consciences of those concerned (and, in some cases, Amnesty International?)

Below is a black-humour, poetry-form limerick. I wonder when an effigy of Guy Fawkes is put on the bonfire and fireworks light up the sky, do we ever think beyond the thwarting of a plot to blow up Parliament (evidently, it would not have met its purpose anyway) to the regular use of torture to extract confessions and as a means of execution?

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November…

There once was a traitor called Fawkes

Who was good at pulling out corks

But the barrel he used

Had a whopping great fuse

And his team was made up of gorks


Thus caught in the act of high treason

Fawkes had to give a good reason

Playing football wouldn’t do

His team were too few

And it wasn’t the cheese-rolling season


The traitor now dragged to the tower

Was tortured hour after hour

No defence could enact

He’d been caught in the act

Gadzooks, his future looked sour


So Fawkes was sent for a  racking

And stretched until bones were cracking

A fire underneath

Was too hot to give ease

Guy screamed though courage not lacking


Hang, draw and quarter soon read

To the scaffold the traitor was led

But with noose round his neck

Fawkes jumped from the deck

And he hung on the rope stony dead


Spectators were not very pleased

Zooks, they wanted a gory striptease

Connivers of the plot

Had to die on the spot

Including that handsome Bob Keyes


Bob was hanged and stripped of his tackle

Blood spurting on those that did cackle

His entrails then spilled

On a fire to be grilled

But that’s not the end of his battle


Savoury smoke filled the grey sky

With Bob’s screams begging to die

Then off came his head

Nothing more to be dread

Quartering’s done in the wink of an eye


When fireworks light up the dark night

Remember that grizzly sight

Think of justice misused

When torture is used

And ponder… is this really right?

Of Pot Plants and Whist Drives

February 5, 2011

The window plants today

The window plants over three months ago

My first pot plant was acquired towards the end of the Second World War. I must have been twelve or thirteen. It was a memorable occasion. My dad had help organise a Whist Drive at a village hall, somewhere out in the country. My mum and I went there on the bus. It was a dark night with no moon. The bus driver dropped us off close to the hall. At least, that is what we thought. When the bus drove off  we were left in utter blackness. We knew the hall was supposed to be the other side of the road but we also knew the country lane likely had a ditch each side. We stood while our eyes adjusted to the dark. Then a car came along and the lights showed us we were in peril, but also where we should be heading.We started to walk – blind leading the blind. Then all at once, someone opened the hall door and light streamed out. We quickly made our way while we could see. (Younger people please note — this is what the wartime blackout was like. We were allowed fine pencil beam torches but we did not have one with us. Even so, country lanes are still as dark unless there are groups of houses nearby with a street lamp. With my sight I can’t see in the dark and I have had problems even round here). Once inside the Whist Drive was about to start. But they needed an extra member. I did know how to play, card playing was one of our pastimes when we were kids — toys not being what they are today. Not sure that the other three people at the table were pleased but, of course, players change tables as each game is played. I guess most of the seasoned players there knew each other, I was just a kid from nowhere. However, Gladys is not so dumb and I gained second prize. (I don’t think the other players were pleased. They take the game very seriously and here this kid beats most of them!) I chose a lovely Azalea plant. It was kept in my mother’s front room. It did not take long to kill it off.

My skills have improved since then. I can keep plants alive for a remarkable time. An indoor azalea bought about eight months ago, was not happy so I put the pot outside among outdoor azaleas and then brought it in again late autumn. The last flower has now dropped. In a month or so I will plant it outside. I bought a cyclamen at the end of October and it is still as beautiful as the day I brought it home. We took a photograph on the last day of October and another one this morning. The only difference in the photographs is the view beyond the window — late autumn then, late winter now. I talk to my plants but I rather think the secret is in watering correctly. Or do we get an inner communication that speaks of their needs? Silly nonsense? I’m sure Ivy loves our little chats. And my African violets keep their flowers for months, some of them brighten our bathroom. I guess we get interesting views of each other!

Violet is a real sweetie. She has a number of relatives in the house. Some prefer to live in the bathroom

Faithful Ivy loves living in our hall