Is it me?

Not sure what is going on, but I have concluded that this is just a particular thing with me and I don’t why, what’s more I don’t want to change. Well it’s a bit late in life for that, late 60’s sounds fine, well not really but it will have to do. So, what is it? Well its my whole outlook, attitude if you like, to life but not future life more of my past life and not just mine, and to things that are going on around me that have been going on around me for all the time I’ve been here. That’s the trouble, I’ve never noticed before, well I have been too interested in other things, namely those guys kicking a bag of wind about on Boothferry Park for a start. Now there’s an understatement, I lived at Boothferry Park, I would have lived inside of it if they had let me, but I think I bordered on that edge called being a nuisance. Watched them train, watched them train at both Boothferry Park and the Cricket Circle on Anlaby Road, collected autographs, many times over and actually got to know a couple of players personally. One, the captain, Jock Davidson was a gentleman of the highest degree the way he put up with me pestering him to bring me back some football programmes from the many places Hull City played in, this is the UK by the way so football = soccer in other places.

When I was young, yes well, a few years ago, I couldn’t go to away matches due to 2 big drawbacks, I was too young and I had no money, well let’s say tuppence wouldn’t have got you far, only to Billy Bly’s sweet shop on the way home, liquorice sticks were a penny. Two sticks and I would be blathered in the black stuff from the liquorice all over my face, mam would not be pleased. But Jock, R.I.P. was a guy who I seemed to take to, I had a stiff neck looking up to him, well I had to look up to most people being a short arse. But football, yes football, whereas at one time I couldn’t get enough, these days I couldn’t care less, the World Cup is coming up, Russia they say, really how nice for you. Will I watch it, well if I watch any football with the same enthusiasm as I watch tele in general the answer will be, not much if at all. And what has brought me to this state of affairs? Age I would say and to put it simply and bluntly if you like, the sad reflection that I don’t have much time left to take it all in.

Take what in you say, well life in general, the seasons, architecture, the old kind, what is left of it in Hull and East Yorkshire. Churches are amazing and no I’m not going to go all religious, but to think that these colossus’s were built hundreds of years ago with no mechanical means to aid constructions, you tend to take on board the hard, no very hard, labour that must have been put things into these places. But there is another, not so nice side to this, these building, and some of them are beyond beautiful, must have taken a lot of money to be built in the first place. Blimey the peasants of the day could hardly feed themselves and here are the Church building monuments for prayer. Unfair? Maybe, but it has crossed my mind when coming across the more celebrity status buildings such as Cathedrals. The ultimate Catholic one I should think will be The Vatican, now it isn’t just awesome, there isn’t a word to describe the jaw dropping as I looked around at the paintings alone, then the architecture. I don’t know of a word to describe the place, beautiful? Oh it’s certainly that but no that is not enough, nowhere near enough and that goes for many of the more prestigious Churches, but I still admire them. But that is just one type of building there are some more modest buildings that have been around longer than me, but I just haven’t noticed, now I do. I notice fields, I notice clouds, and I notice sunrises and sunsets, now they are something else. The universe, we are suspended in mid-air, well there is no air at all, but its like we are held by an elastic band as earth travels around the sun each year. Then it also spins itself, hence your night and day, on a clear night you see diamonds twinkling in the sky, not real diamonds but the light you see could have come from something that has taken that light 300 years of more to reach you. And maybe this fact alone is what I am getting at all along.

The everyday things that happen and have been happening day in day out, not the headline grabbing stuff, the stuff that is just there like the tide. The water of the River Humber covers a vast area of mud, then due to some magic of the Moon the water recedes to uncover that mud, yes the water flows backwards and forwards like on its own, but it doesn’t. The Moon’s gravity does it, the same as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, it always has done but it still produces some awesome sights at various times. Like those stars whose light gets to us after an age, the sun bobs up and down over our sky with, thankfully, relentless regularity. And its these things that hold my attention, tele just doesn’t do it for me these days but listening to music does, well whilst I can as my hearing, never that good to begin with is now even less good. And that is something else, most lucky people, and they don’t know how lucky they are, get up in a morning have a fart and a yawn and off they go again for another day.

I very much doubt as to whether these normal everyday people take the slightest interest in other people who just cannot do that. The person who gets up and farts but can’t hear it, smell it perhaps, yes perhaps, but the same people who can’t hear a thing, that is there normal day. And yet again ‘normal’ people may rub the sleep out of their eye and just carry on, blind people can’t do that, the first they have to do is get their bearings before they can do a thing. And its that also that gets to me now, the unfairness of things in life, which you won’t know about unless you cross that barrier, due to whatever reason, accident, illness, that means instead of being a ‘normal’ person, you are disabled in some way. I don’t just mean wearing glasses, they are common, but did you know that one certain insurance company has hearing aids down as an extra cover item? Even National Health ones, I was staggered, I asked the guy on the phone if the same condition applied to wearers of spectacles, he just replied that he didn’t make the rules he just has to implement them, fair comment. There are those that run for miles and those that can’t walk at all, or with great difficulty, there are those who are professors and other high calibre intelligent people and those that can’t even write properly or add up. But the main thing about this new/old me is that I am more and more and more interested about my immediate past, and those connected to it. School years mainly and here we have a friend and foe in the form of Facebook, like the internet, its so entangled in life in general for so many people that if it suddenly was no more there would be mass hysteria. The internet is superb and invasive, it is driving change whether we want it or not and often into areas that are not pretty to see. The High St, it has always been the focal point for masses of people to do their shopping, you would meet someone and spend twice as much time gabbing as you did shopping.

You would meet up ‘in town’ listen to some records in a shop booth and maybe even buy one, record that is not a booth, not likely though, a cup of coffee, yes that exotic alternative to tea, in a café, and if it was really cool it would have music on. The main social whirl was centred on the High St, now look. First it was that import from America, the Shopping Maaaaaaaaaaall, and now it’s the internet, the High Street is in retreat and so are the usual social functions of the day. Dance Halls have gone but massive festivals are here, pubs are closing but booze is available nearly everywhere, and to nearly everyone it seems. And if you wish you can get your music and booze without moving a muscle, well perhaps a finger or two. And it’s the vanishing of all that I knew that I’m eager to get back again, not physically no, it would be nice yes but what I like is people memories of such things that I remember, as it is all vanishing for them as well.

But here is another conundrum, a lot of people from my past are, how do I say it, passed away is a subtle way, not so nice is dead. And that is another feature of life at my stage, if you do happen to meet people from a bygone age its guaranteed that the death of a former acquaintance will be mentioned. So what’s all this rambling amount to? I don’t watch much tele, but I spend more time at the library or, in my case, the Hull History Centre, I Google, or Bing if you like, and most of it is history related. I have lived in the Hull area all my nearly 70 years or so and I’m still reading about historical stuff that I never knew. And it gets worse, my City, County, and Country I am ignorant about a lot of it and that is at the root of what I am rambling about. It’s what I’m saying that is it just me that this, awakening if you like, about local stuff, everyday things that are now wonderous to me, and possibly mundane to most other people, or do others around the same age feel the same. I listen, whilst I can, to music I first became acquainted with 60 years ago, and I still love it, but I am interested in the lyrics and the song writers. It is with this in mind that I went to see a show at our local theatre, The Hull New Theatre, the show was called Beautiful. It was a story based on the life, and song writing of one Carole King and her then husband Gerry Goffin. I used to dance with the girls on a Saturday morning at the local dance hall at about 13/14 years old singing along to a female girl group called The Shirelles singing Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. Later I found out that Carole King wrote it, well she wrote it along with Gerry Goffin. But what I didn’t realise, until that show, was that she was just 17 and was bearing the first of her children with Gerry. Here were 2 kids, yes basically still kids although Gerry was 21 then, and they wrote a No1 hit, but not only that they continued writing many memorable songs that I also sang along to but just never knew they were the composers. Up On The Roof, Crying In The Rain, Pleasant Valley Sunday, all came from the pen of Carole King and her collaborators.

The other song that is just about equal to Carole’s song was written but a 22-year-old John Lennon, In My Life, and is my favourite Beatles song, the perception of both songs is just mind boggling to me. The lyrics of both songs mean much more to me now than ever they did, and especially at the time when they were recorded. But this is only one element in my thirst for knowledge that I have failed to take in for most of my life, but in defense I have to say that, although my overall time is running out I do have a bit more time to myself to pursue such things. Growing up, working, getting married, paying the bills, bringing up kids, left me precious little time for myself, it’s not an excuse, it’s a fact. So, I hope to be able to do something about it, and that folks is the end of this ramble, if it makes sense then fine, if not, then it must be like my old school reports, Can Do Better Must Try Harder. Mmmmmmm.

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A thanks.

I thank everyone who has bothered to look at what I have written, it is an honour to know that what I have to say is what some people like to read. I will try and get around to as many of your own blogs a possible as I know the importance of visitors to your blog, thank you all once again.

Hull – City Of Culture 2017 (2)

Running on from the previous page there is much more and there is some reference to one of the major industries of Hull, and the many tradigies from that industry of deep sea fishing. Many men were lost but now it is another historical subject and there are those who will never forget the sacrifices of these brave men just for people to have their fish and chips.

But things are taking shape and there are alsorts of things in the pipeline for many shows, and displays throughout the year but here is just the start still only a couple of weeks into the year.

Hull – City Of Culture 2017

Hull – City Of Culture 2017

Hull – City Of Culture 2017

Am I proud? You bet, there are art displays in the Ferens Art Gallery and works by Leonard Da Vinci and others in the University Of Hull buildings and most of this stuff is available to see free. I also have to mention that over £20 million of refurbishments in the city centre has taken place and although as of this moment in time is not complete it’s nearly there. After years of neglect by those with the power to do improvements, maybe, just maybe, Hull maybe cool or whatever the term is these days, and all the laughing remarks of the past may be able to be put behind us. It’s a big maybe, but we have a chance and the more people who visit and actually take a look instead of just taking for granted what has been written in the past maybe in for quite a surprise. Hull City Of Culture? Laugh no more.

Hull – City Of Culture 2017

You may have heard of a city in the North of England in the UK, or, more than likely, you will have not, that is called Hull, or to be precise, and probably upper class about it, Kingston Upon Hull. No really that is its true name, confimed upon it by a King of long ago but very rarely used by its inhabitants as Hull seem’s sufficient. Or ‘Ull’ as it sounds from the locals as for some obscure reason we don’t pronounce the ‘H’ very well, but it is usually some perverse reason, amongst others, that Hull has had a bad press for many a year. This range from some toff from London visiting for about a week and declaring it the worst place to live, or crap town of the year something banal like that, and it has been going on for years. But 20 17 is here and 3 years ago, against multiple odds, Hull was chosen as the UK City Of Culture, (laugh, laugh, snigger, snigger, from those cretins of the press who have done their worst to pull anything to do with Hull down the gutter level.)

Well the story goes that Hull was the second most bombed city, after London, during WW 2, and Hull City Council did their best to carry on the destruction after the war, some beautiful buildings disappeared needlessly. But what is done is done so no good harping on about it now we have to work with what we have, and believe it or not we still have some culture left. Much of it is in the hands of the local authorities but wherever it is it now being put on show for the world to see during 2017. Hull have a year to change the preception of the city as a whole and it has got off to a great start with firework displays, light shows, and now a giant wind turbine blade on show in the city centre as a ‘work of art’. Now this is subjective, art always is, but this is no doubt a talking point amongst the many thousands who are turning up feeling proud that the city is, at last, coming out of the shadow of more famous, and more comprehensively financed by central government, better known cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, and of course London.

So what is this work of art that is causing wonder, awe, and mirth in equal doses, its a blade from one of those giant wind farms that are springing up both on land and sea. But the thing is this particular blade is made in Hull by Siemens the giant international German firm that has imvested over £300 million in the area to make these colosal structures. To get an idea of what I mean here is a picture of mine:

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A wind turbine blade made by Siemens in Hull on display for the City Of Culture 2017 celebrations.

A different angle to give an idea of the mass of the subject.

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People are taking pictures in the way people do at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, they stand back and raise their hands to give the impression of holding this thing up instead of a leaning tower.

There are various historical documents on display in the History Museum

Messing about again.

I am in the process of trying to merge 2 of my blogs into 1 so bear with me as I’m not sure how this will turn out. But I was checking over what I have written on my blogs and realised that there is some overlapping and so I am reducing the number of blogs I have, it may well end in disaster but lets see. The blog I am going to delete when I can get all this sorted out is Off on a tangent into obscurity which was supposed to be a collection of totally irrelevant musings and to be honest I’m doing that on this blog hence the tidy up, well that’s the theory.

Oh and thanks to the many people who have taken the trouble to look in on my last entry but as my wife will confirm I do have a tendency to look upwards at buildings to look at the chimney stacks as I know the construction of such things, especially those with multiple chimney pots, disguise an intricate construction unseen until buildings are demolished and the flues leading up to those chimney stacks can be seen winding there ways from the fireplace, wherever it may be in the building, to a central point, the chimney stack.

I missed a trick when many old buildings in Hull were being demolished as there laid bare was the brickwork that enabled all that smoke and the fumes to make its way out into open skies. And the reason, unfortunately that many of the older buildings built of stone were badly stained by the soot coming out of the chimneys and it only took a little rain to make that soot into a messy mess. Over time of course all that smoke and soot caused many problems not least with peoples health, we have learned from the past but all of our energy waste still has to go somewhere and these days hardly any of us see where to.

Lets talk about something realy interesting and amazing to all people ………………….. BRICKS.

It could have been something starting with a S and ending with an X but hey you can look anywhere for that type of thing so I chose bricks, well more or less the formation of bricks they way are laid. Being a former builder my interest is a little more involved but one sadness I have today with modern structures is the lack of any interesting brickwork used in construction. These days decorative brickwork may cost too much or maybe today’s bricklayers are just not trained in the arts and crafts of many of the styles of brickwork, I would hazard a guess that cost has a lot to do with it more than the craftsmen themselves.

But what do I mean by all this? Well looking round my local city centre, Hull (England or Kingston Upon Hull its full name) I often look at the many old buildings still standing despite the ravages of WW2 ( I know it was years ago but things don’t move very fast in these parts due to lack of funding and investment but that’s another story) and some vandalism (indiscriminate demolition) by the local council and the brickwork craftsmanship is wonderful (well I think so). So without further ado I will show some pictures of what I actually mean oh and they are my own pictures not purloined from anywhere else.

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This is one of my favourite buildings in Hull for decorative brickwork the craftsmanship is superb. You have everything, arches, circles, a bay and a turret on the top of the building which is circular. Thousands of people pass this building by every day of the week and never notice the splendour of the architecture but I’m sure that is the same the world over, but whenever I am near to this building I always spend a few minutes admiring it. Another example of the fine arts of brickwork craftsmanship is in a building that is tucked away down a narrow side street not far from the building in the other picture and has some equally wonderful brickwork so more pictures to follow.

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Another building I stand and stare at (yes I know I do get some odd stares in my direction but I’m not so decorative), and again the arches are just magnificent. Now before I get carried away by posting too many pictures there is the odd modern-day building constructed using bricks in a decorative way, not a lot, but still an effort has been made but come nowhere near the magnificence of these older structures. Cue more pictures.

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As I say brickwork can still be more than just straight lines of bricks that we all pass by many times during out lives but I have only scratched the surface of the structures involved, anyone interested in the marvellous subject of brick chimney stacks? (and yes all this is said with tongue in cheek as we say, joking in other words). 🙂

The 2nd course (layer) of bricks.

Not so long back I went around the city of Hull, my home city, and took pictures of buildings still standing from a bygone era, and a couple more up to date buildings. You see Hull was the most heavily bombed city in Britain during WW2 outside of London, but because it was important as a port its name was never mentioned. So the likes of Coventry, Birmingham and others cities get a mention, and they did get severely damaged, but Hull is left out, even today.

So it was no surprised then that uncle Adolf destroyed many of the fine buildings built during some very prosperous times for Hull when traders and entrepreneurs were making their fortunes, but some survived. Only that the council knocked down a lot more for the re-development after the war so we are no left with very few. But those that are left have some magnificent brickwork in them, which the pictures below show.

Its of a building in the heart of Hull, thousands of people walk by it everyday and do not even blink, on a brickwork level I think its a masterpiece, and ironically, right opposite is a college that teaches brickwork, I don’t even know if they have looked at this building. There is nearly everything, different types of arches, bulls-eye, semi-circular, segmental, Gothic, Flat arch,  and even ones on the corner which is actually a bend along with a turret on the top of the building, the craftsmanship is awesome. There is even a bay near the top of the building.

The building, by the way, is The Old Customs House, Market Place, Lowgate, Hull, check it out on Google Maps. There are many grander buildings in Hull but I’m concentrating on the brickwork aspect of this building, some of the more grander types are stone and very grand indeed, but to me, this is a gem, well done the brickies, and architects, whoever you were. Click on a picture by the way for a larger view.

Brickwork …… yes you read that right.

Not a subject that anyone, well anyone I know, ever mentions, and why would they? Bricks are just …… well ……. there and not something you think about but although I’m not about to alter that perception I do think that brickwork in general is worth a mention. I want this to read by anyone so I won’t go into detail about bonds and the rest, that is not what this blog is about, it’s trying to get people to look at the many different styles of brickwork throughout the country, indeed the world and the innovative way in bricks have been used for all matters of construction.

This is just an ordinary door with a brick arch over the top and the amount of work to get all this together is awesome. A template would have been used for the arch to be constructed on and then all the cutting of the bricks around the arch itself is near on perfect. The bricks themselves are wedge shape and all the brick joints are equal giving a very tidy appearance.

The same arch but looking underneath to see how the bricklayer was a real craftsman to get everything to look so tidy. You may also notice that there are some different coloured bricks, that is because the walls inside are of a glazed brick and totally different to the ones on the outside.

All in all a very decorative way in which to bridge a door opening, lintels, wood and stone, have been used since the beginning of building and in later years concrete became plentiful and when metal rods were bedded inside gave incredible strength over wider areas and so brick arches became a luxury.

Churches were always big users of  arches in both brick and stone and some are just truly magnificent. How some of that stonework got put into place many centuries ago, without the help of mechanical means, one can only guess at. But there are plenty of arches of brick within Church buildings and when I was out and about on my bike, (cycle), I came across this small Church but only had my mobile (cell) phone with me so took these pictures, sorry if they are not all that good.

As you can see these arches to a point and are known as Gothic arches, there are semi-circular and segmental, as well a many more. But a closer look at these arches display, yet again, both the craft of bricklaying and the effects on what would otherwise be just a blank brick building. Not to mention that the arches match the shape of the windows and doors themselves, all very symmetric.

This is just a small example of the effective use of different coloured bricks in an imaginative way and if you notice the picture of the smallest of the windows you will see alongside the window is another use of brickwork first used centuries ago, the buttress. Used to strengthen walls and sloped at the top to finish off another decorative effect. I hope to expand on more decorative uses of bricks and brickwork in future blogs without any technical jargon.