Monday, 30 October 2017

We are the World Blogfest ... # 8 - Bolivia's Peoples with Disabilities Discriminated Against ...

Would you expect to be treated like these people, who are  human beings …

… be humbled by them, those who just wish to have a small monthly pension income paid to them …

be seriously put to tears … at humanity’s treatment …

Man's humanity?
The video is 30 minutes … but boy will you be horrified and realise that we are so so lucky … I am still totally shocked by this State’s treatment of its people …. please watch – they deserve to be known about and to be heard

Rory Peck

I was watching Channel 4 tv News when these particular finalists were given airtime with a shortened introductory video to their work as documentary film makers as the entry for the Impact Award for Current Affairs.

I needed to find out more … Dan Fallshaw and Violeta Ayala are married film-makers, producing a number of investigative documentary films … highlighting a number of plights.

Dan Fallshaw

The Rory Peck (charitable) Trust was set up in 1995 to administer an award named after Rory Peck (1956 – 1993), a Northern-Irish freelance war cameraman – who was killed by crossfire in Moscow, at the time of the Russian Constitutional Crisis of 1993.

Violete Ayala

The Trust offers discretionary grants to the families of freelance news-gatherers killed whilst on assignment, and crisis support to freelancers who are unable to continue their work due to severe injury, disablement or imprisonment.

The 'activists' on their way to the capital

This short documentary had been produced by the film-makers, Fallshaw and Ayala, highlighting the plight of people with disabilities in Bolivia.


They followed a group of activists across the Andes into the country’s capital, La Paz, to lobby for improved rights and benefits …

see the video for the full tale and impact of the story – it will appal you … c/o The Guardian ... it is 30 minutes - but very well worth watching ... 

Thank you for taking the time to view the video ... it is heart-warming as well as seeing the horrifying treatment ... 

Finalist entry Sony Impact Award - the documentary film makers ... the video clip is 7 minutes - the fuller version deserves your time:

We Are The World - In Darkness, Be Light 
all peoples need to be treated fairly

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Unfinished Pier … a romantic longing … at the De La Warr Pavilion ...

A design ready to be created … to be added to a futuristic new building in 1935 … yet …. the wait goes on – a dream that was never fulfilled … too expensive to be fulfilled, while Europe was in disarray … the draft remains to this day on paper …

Photocopy of the brochure advertising this exhibition

… but an artist, Roy Voss, has reinterpreted ‘the pier’ as a new exhibition … to look at it is perhaps not immediately very inspiring … but if one is an artist, or an architect, or a carpenter … I am certain it  resonates …

My iphone pic of the exhibition -
NB the white line: mentioned below

… when I went there was no information obviously available – a table with books … not much good to me … no articles that I could see – yes a wall board with some explanation … and a video situated outside the gallery was available to watch.  I was struggling …

… perseverance pays off … a two page article was found, a brochure of future and present events, which highlighted the pier, was available outside (near the video) … as I was leaving.

Front of this art deco building

This has been addressed – and I’m sure information will be available to all visitors.  The exhibit was fairly precarious … so a white line had been drawn round it to give a barrier over which one should not cross: again not very obvious … until each visitor is called back from stepping over the mark … then the reason is given –makes sense …

Columnar tulip trunks 
… yet another anomaly – the videos posted by the de la Warr Pavilion show people walking amongst the structure … ah! well – artistic licence I guess.

I hope it holds up … as it is being exhibited in Blackpool and then over on the east coast in Berwick-upon-Tweed … longish journeys: (325 miles and 185 miles respectively).

The sculpture is made from the North American tulip tree, also known as canary whitewood … it is:

-        38 metres (125 feet) long x 3 metres (10 feet) tall

-        There’s a roof type cover at the beginning of the pier – this measures 3m x 4m (10 feet x 13 feet). 

This part is push-jointed – which allows the piece to be constructed without screws or nails.

-        2,344 pieces of wood make up the structure

-        5 moulds were used to shape the curved pieces

-        The wood has been painted with casein paint … this is derived from milk casein (milk protein) – a fast-drying, water soluble medium used by artists.

Casein paint has been used since ancient Egyptian times as a form of distemper, and is still used today.  (Distemper is an early form of whitewash).

-        The sculpture took around 18 months to construct …

A close up of the sculpture structure

It’s a fascinating piece of art to see in situ – near where the pier was intended to be constructed in the 1930s …which can be clearly seen in the ‘About history’ of the De La Warr Pavilion … it’s fascinating to watch – not long … 6 minutes …

… the video describes the construction of the building … the steel frame was very innovative ‘hitting the headlines’ in the Welding Industry magazine …

The auditorium - with the 'cup' acoustic

… as too the suspended ceiling … made out of plaster impregnated gauze … giving an amazing acoustic system.  The suspended ceiling is a remarkable piece of engineering – an excellent example of a modernist public building in this country – as shown in the video.

A poster graphic of the
de la Warr Pavilion 1930s

The Duke and Duchess of York visited for the Grand Opening on 12 December 1935 … within a year they would be King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother to be) …

The flag 'Wave' on the front of the building

It is another fascinating exhibition … where one (meaning me!) had to uncover relevant pointers to bring the exhibit to light – not being an artist … this can be challenging … but worthwhile in order to construct a post.

I don’t know how many of you remember a previous article I wrote about the “A Secret Service … Art, Compulsion, Concealment” – an exhibition on Pietro Antonio Narducci held at this Art Deco style contemporary arts centre – where I’d remembered the exhibition for seven and a half years … and wanted to chase it down – I did … I found my answer.

View from the Pavilion looking to where
the pier would have been

It’s interesting what one learns via blogging – I delve into subjects far more deeply than I used to … just to finish this post off … Herbrand Sackville, 9th Earl De La Warr, a committed socialist, after whom the building is named …

Another poster for the
de la Warr Pavilion

… ensured that the site would have an entertainment hall to seat at least 1,500 people; a 200-seat restaurant; a reading room; and a lounge … it was to be a public building for this socially minded Earl – and would be built in the Modernist style.

Looking through the sculpture towards
the English Channel

Now it has been given a Grade 1 Listed Building status and restored appropriately … it is a magnificent space for a contemporary arts centre … with plenty of exhibitions, activities and events being staged. 

This where the romantic longing for a pier still exists … but now satisfied for a few months – before the exhibition goes north … the dream will live on …

de la Warr Pavilion - history ... see here: a building tour

Ray Voss' exhibition 'The Way Things Are' 

Pietro Antonio Narducci and his "Sacra Mantra" - my post ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Bran Tub # 15: Why is there a ping pong ball in my Guinness?

When my South African friend was over I’d bought what I thought were some tins of Carling beer … as she occasionally enjoys beer – well probably used to enjoy a can … this time it was mostly glasses of rosé Pinot Grigio or some bubbly …

A glass of Pinot Grigio
 Now having cans of beer left in the fridge I thought I should drink them … and not wanting any wine, decided that I’d crack open a tinnie (Australian slang) … this was fine – the Guinness tasted as I thought it should and the evening wandered along …

… a while later as I was trying to empty the can into my glass … it frothily kept blocking up … eventually I thought I should investigate  – perhaps I’d been drinking something mighty odd – my mind had wandered off to poisoning etc …though common sense was in place – so that was a pure waffley thought … perhaps?!

Frothy protrusion
(with some licence!)

Well on tipping up the can there was a white protrusion, covered in froth … the froth was not unexpected in Guinness, the white protrusion was … after a brief thought my deductive powers said ‘a ping pong ball in my Guinness’??

Coloured ping pong balls
So now … the only thing to do – it was night time! … open another tinnie … don’t we rinse and repeat … same result … then my mind turned to toilets – not what you think … but ball cocks … not that either: not what you be thinking … I needed to check this ‘thing’ …

The can, the objet d'art ... and the
spilt Guinness!

Tin opener came next … and what came out - but near enough a ping-pong ball … I was very bemused … it doesn’t take much to amuse me myself!

But could this be some sort of plumbing device put into the Guinness cans … so when the morrow came round … the truth was out via a google or two …

The rocket style widget
They are floating widgets, purposefully added to a tin of beer … and come in two sizes … the 'round ball cock’ type one, and the ‘rocket widget’ found in taller containers …

The Tale of Nitro and the Widget
courtesy of Bespoken Public Relations organisation
 The Guinness drink, to be authentic, has to have a thick, creamy head on the beer, which is less fizzy than regular lager beers.  To ensure this they add a shot of liquid nitrogen to help pressurise the can.

An appropriately named widget!

 Nitrogen gas doesn’t easily dissolve in water, so when I cracked open the beer … I got that frothy head, as most of the gas is released into the air, while the foamy bubbles in the head of beer remain … or remain clothing the ping-pong ball widget in white froth.

A tub of bran
Well that’s it for the story of the widget, the strange froth and the ping-pong ball … all found in the can of Guinness – one is always learning!!

Perhaps this shouldn’t sit in a Bran Tub … but there’s where it has been filed!

A true tale of weirdness.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Write - Edit - Publish Bloghop: Dark Places ...

Walls of violence continue to assault me … the force of iron manacles holding me in place … the thick, murky, smothering smoke lingers …

 … am I alive, or now gone … I no longer can see … images of dark-sky gray emblazoned still in my mind … my mind – OR my soul …

Michaelangelo -
Damned Soul    c 1525

… that n-o-o-i-i-s- e … the howl, ... the scream of terror … is that me … that s-m-e-l-l … burnt skin or tallow candles – both now mixed … a-g-o-n-y … excruciating agony – when will it end …

Josefina de Vasconcellos'
sculpture: The Young Martyr
(in the Cartmel Priory - Lake District)

Is that the steaming hay from the braziers, OR is that the smoke from the pyre … my senses have gone … my soul – the darkness … but I am remembered centuries on – behind bars … forever entombed in sculpture … an early martyr to the barbaric cruelty of man.

Dark night take my soul 

toward the forever darkness

... for I will be at peace.

To participate or visit other entries please go here to the 
Write Edit Publish Monthly blog-hop 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Bucket List - part 8 of 9: The River Thames its history and health ...

The River Thames rises near Cirencester, Gloucestershire and flows roughly eastwards for 215 miles (346 km) out to the North Sea.  It is our longest English river and the second longest, after the Severn, in the UK.
Course of River Thames across England

It drains the whole of Greater London and is tidal up to Teddington Lock … 68 miles from the sea … the rise and fall of the tidal section is 7 metres (24 feet).

It now has 45 navigation locks with accompanying weirs; there are over 80 islands; its waters vary from fresh to almost salt water as it reaches the North Sea.

River Thames flowing into Rhine

Surprisingly the River Thames can be identified as a discrete drainage line – as early as 58 million years ago.  Until about half a million years ago, the Thames flowed on its existing course through Oxfordshire, before turning to the north-east, reaching the North Sea near Ipswich, East Anglia … and was a tributary of the Rhine.

In those early days its course changed, the last ice age came and altered the landscape dramatically – creating the English Channel from the melt waters, leaving Britain as an island.  The river became more as we know it today … flowing ‘happily’ through our capital  - providing, over time, London with a great deal of history.

Our major rivers
It was a place of pilgrimage and devotion, a sacred river but also now a frontier between warring factions – those from the south could not cross, nor could those from the north – never the twain shall meet?  Well we know they did …

Heathrow – interestingly – has connections with Caesar following his expeditions to Britain in 55 and 54 BC.  There is a ‘shrine’ at Caesar’s Camp to the north of Heathrow airport – they are doing a more thorough investigation now.

It is likely the Romans chose Londonium as the Thames, wider before it was tamed and contained, could be bridged, yet was still tidal … we are now at Cornhill, near Bank tube station. 

River Thames, with St Paul's in background ..
by Canaletto (1746)

There were two other ‘hills’ that of Tower Hill, site of the Tower of London, and of Ludgate Hill, crowned by St Paul’s Cathedral.  The highest point of Cornhill is 58 feet (17.7 m) above sea level.

As our knowledge and abilities increased the river and its tributaries was used for trade and transport – more movement up and down the river occurred … so when the Romans ‘bridged’ London at Cornhill in about 43 AD – London was in place to be the capital.

Old St Paul's with its spire before the
Great Fire of London 

Trade was very important to London and great use was made of the Thames’ tributaries into the city – bringing in coal, wood, silver, cloth, food stuffs for animals and peoples … while watermen acted like taxis.

However by the Middle Ages the trade routes around the world were expanding … we had tea, silk, spices coming in from the east; sugar from the Caribbean, timber from Norway and iron ore from Sweden.

London Bridge (1616)
by Claes van Visscher

The river became clogged up – but ships were getting larger and went from sail to steam … new docks were demanded.  As we’ve all seen in our lifetimes – so much change has gone on.

It’s interesting to remember the Little Ice Age which occurred from about 1540 – 1750 when occasionally the Thames froze over – some times for three months.

The frozen Thames (1677)
Frost Fairs were held and Henry VIII is said to have travelled to Greenwich by sleigh along the river, even Elizabeth I took walks on the ice in the winter of 1564.

The last frost fair was held in 1814 lasting just four days … but during that time they managed to lead an elephant across the river below Blackfriars Bridge.

As the river passed through ever increasing urbanised areas it became more polluted and by the Victorian era was in a sorry state.  It had until the early 1800s been a thriving salmon river.

Michael Faraday giving his card to
Father Thames - caricature commenting
on a letter of Faraday's on the
state of the River in 1855
The heatwave of 1857 sent the putrid stench of the Thames wafting into the House of Parliament – they tried to keep ‘the stench’ out … to no avail – they closed down … but a plan in 1865 for new sewers would be agreed.

The system worked in central London, but seriously fouled the water system downstream until a sewage treatment system was introduced in the late 1800s.

Bazalgette’s sewers (I just love that name!) were pretty mammoth … so large that they’re still effective today – just – London is a-growing and we’re not terribly responsible with our waste etc.

World War II’s bombing damaged the sewers and treatment plants, which together with the increasing use of detergents after the war, added to the river’s pollution.  A clean-up operation was begun in 1960.

Satirical cartoon by William Heath
showing a woman observing monsters
in a drop of London water in 1828

The natural flow of the river will break down sewage … but the bacteria use up oxygen in the process – leaving little for other life forms … so by 1957 the Natural History Museum declared the Thames biologically dead – that clean-up operation had not come too soon.

The river began to breathe again … and we became more environmentally aware of the damage caused by pesticides, fertilisers etc … there are stricter industry regulations … however occasionally another spin-off occurs – silver was a pollutant - but with people switching to digital photography this has helped nearly eliminate that polluting substance.

Oxygenating Barge

Now there are ‘bubblers’ in the Thames … these are oxygenation craft to be deployed during or after periods of heavy rain, when sudden storm water surges decreased the dissolved oxygen levels in the river.  These are still needed and provide reactive systems to ensure the continued improvement of the river Thames.


Simply by cleaning the river – the fish came back (naturally) and there are now 125 species of fish in the Thames, up from almost none in the 1950s.  The fish in turn feed marine mammals, including seals, birds and so the cycle of life goes on …

Sea Lamprey - ugly aren't they?!

We now get seals and porpoises in the Thames and on occasions a whale – which is not good news – they rarely survive, unless they can be turned around to head out to sea once again.

Short-snouted Seahorse

There are other exciting species that have returned – salmon have been seen, eels, the really ugly! lampreys and out in the reeds of the Kent marshes delightful sea-horses – all are very sensitive to pollution … another plus in the life of the Thames.

Yet, as we know plastic is now a serious threat to wildlife as a whole … it affects smaller creatures that are prey for the larger ones.

Trap on Thames to catch some of the
rubbish as it floats down stream

A Cleaner Thames campaign was launched in September 2015 to combat plastic waste … it’s a difficult battle, because there are so many sources.

There are other things … as more river taxi boats/cruisers use the river to transport people which disturb the river bed … also making the river noisy and crowded – while it is fast flowing (because of the high walls to contain the river) that makes another challenge for the wildlife …
London City Airport in a dock
alongside the Thames

But we go on looking after the Thames as best we can from its early origins as the Tamesas (from tamessa) recorded in Latin flowing out further north into the Wash, Lincolnshire/Norfolk.

Father Thames - a Coade stone sculpture
by John Bacon in the grounds of
Ham House, Richmond

Father Thames has called time on me and this post! … wild life is in a better position, the banks of the Thames flourish with birds, insects, plants … giving everyone who lives or visits the river and its environs a feast for the senses – 40% of London is green space … so let’s get out feel the wind in our hair and enjoy the great outdoors.

There will be one more of these Bucket List posts … as I have booked (later in October) to climb 60 feet into the scaffolding to check out the art work in the Painted Hall  (part 5) - as they make their restoration work – should be fascinating … my goddaughter’s mother is coming to join me… a good meet up ...

Once this series got going ... it became more about Greenwich than anything else - so perhaps I should end tidying up that side of harbourage (if that's a word) ... but I'll leave it to you to look at this brilliant site on the History of the Port of London - whose link is below: so I shall now retire.  

An adapted quote at the beginning of their site: "A plot of firm soil by the river's bank made a landing place, which became a port and city of the world - that is London."

Here are some links:

11th century delicacy - Lampreys - one of my very early posts in 2009

A Judge, Gardens and the Great Stink - another of my early posts 

St Alfege Church, Greenwich - Henry VIII was baptised here ...but there's a lot more history?!

Plume of Feathers pub in Greenwich Park

History of the Port of London pre 1908 ... 

The Londonist - gives us more details on Father Thames ... and the song 'Old Father Thames...' which you may find interesting ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories