Sunday, 31 March 2013

Sadly, you may have missed this

Ten days ago on  Thursday Market day a new initiative was launched along with information South Lakeland District Council van, tables issuing badges and a quick rat-a-tat of strong music from Blast Furness. As far as I can tell, this has not been reported in the press despite a press photographer taking a lot of happy faces. So here goes the news is too good to miss:

The following people, all 18 members of our Town Council, have volunteered to pick up rubbish in our town. You can imagine with this number of  people picking up paper the town will be spotless.

Please, when you see them in action, give them a big "Thank you" for their public service.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Action Man

At last we have someone who leads on the action front.

Frank Field recommends landlords to brick up doorways or knock down walls to deal with the unjust Bedroom Tax. I'm blocking up doorways, and have already done it

I've been waiting for a politician who shows a practical lead we can follow if we wish. It's great that it follows a historic tradition of fighting government decrees: blocking up windows when your tax was related to the number of windows you had.

Rather than campaigning for change we can thwart an unjust government by immediately doing something: and my, it feels good.

Now will the government do something sensible and encourage some affordable small houses/flats built fast with appropriate legislation:

Ten bars of Kendal Mint Cake to every property owner for every small unit they create to help local people. Better still a barrel of Ulverston Brewery Beer rather than the 'foreign' Mint Cake.

Robinsons Brewery would be an ideal start : the prize beer would make it a bitter sweet reward. They could offer it to us on a Saturday Market Day to make up for their previous insults to local traders (supermarket indeed)

More money for the Lantern Procession

It's very gratifying that Piggy is earning more money each week he weathers the cold.

 Last week it was one pound, this week it was £1:40. I'm using this as a measure of how good my clarinet playing is.
As for me, unlike the hardened busker, I can only play if I'm fired up inside to wanting to play. The weather and my lack of experience has made the experience painful. It's a hard learning curve. Three things that have changed: my ability to make attractive sounds and secondly my ability to play fun tunes. The first requirement is being met as I've now bought a clarinet that I can play to create what I consider to be good sounds though this diminishes as my hands get colder and colder so that can't feel whether your fingertips are covering up the holes properly. The more I play the easier it becomes. Lastly I now have found a place I consider to be home.

Now I have the motivation to practise more and more and with my new clarinet it enables me to play in keys I couldn't manage before. So over to you- if you like what you hear (and only for this reason) feed up Piggy for the Lantern Procession. I have little interest in the sympathy vote and don't need the money.

 So I'm off to a good practising cession now!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Chernobyl children

Hosting Chernobyl Children in Ulverston -the national organisation - Come to a meeting for those living locally in possibly the Coro to meet with those in Silverdale that have already run the scheme over the past twelve years. To contact Sharon use :

Sunday, 24 March 2013

So what do you know about Belarus

This maybe:

Or by horrible contrast :this - I suggest you switch off the sound - it has no information

So why is this relevant:
Hosting Chernobyl Children in Ulverston
More information tomorrow

Saturday, 23 March 2013

This little piggy went to Market

Stood in an empty doorway and came back with one pound towards the Lantern Procession. The clarinet had a good time and the player had a little jig around: my these Froggies know how to play a good dancing tune!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

See you tomorrow

Playing with passion.

I'm all set to have a great time in "piggy alley" 11 am Thursday 21st. Be prepared to be amazed at the weekly improvement.

Inspiration: Jack and Rostropovich lived theirs, with passion and continue to inspire : hence this guy in piggy alley.

The latter appeared to ask musicians to play with passion rather than technique - he had both. I have the first!

Watch the first 5 minutes. The power of people with the gift of music and the willingness to let it blast out with passion.

Monday, 18 March 2013

What everyone needs

Have some of us become hooked on gadgets!

For those with more money than sense:

Lakeland Plastics is full of them.

Orange Peeler for £6 - for people who have lost their thumb.

And on the same page these amazing contraptions for £15 and £25 - you obviously need one of each.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

This little piggy will be going to market

A great day was clearly had by those who enjoyed me playing the clarinet today in the Ulverston Market.
This really looks and feels as though I have found a home for my playing: the alleyway opposite New Market Street. Though I went there today at 11.00  feeling very nervous because I aim to please: I had a great reception which encourages me greatly for the future.

Some people chose a pub, some a concert hall but for me an alleyway feels just 'right'.

The spot in this alleyway has many advantages:

1. It is under cover so suits a rainy day.
2. When the sun comes out it is in full sun for several hours in the morning when the rest of the market in the winter can be in shade.
3. It has great acoustics so I can hear clearly myself playing. This means I can monitor myself well which is very important to me.
4. I have a great vision of all the people passing and now that I have learnt to wave while playing the clarinet (a skill that needs developing) I have a way of 'smiling back' to those that show their appreciation.
5. As far as I can tell, I can minimise the number of people I annoy with my playing.

The reference to a piggy is that I am looking for a suitable piggy bank to collect funds that you may want to give to Ulverston Charities. The one I favour for this year is the Lantern Procession - I've already raised six pounds for them this year.

If an alternative source of music is available, I shall always defer to them and find a different spot in the town to play. It's good to have a wide variety of music on offer.

I plan to play at the market once a week between 11am and 1 pm on one of the market days and will extend this when I believe I have suitable music to offer and see that this is welcomed.

Now that I have found a home in which to feel relaxed under most weather conditioned, I believe my music will develop by leaps and bounds - anyone which to join me - you will be made most welcome. I can assure you of aninstant fan club - the under fives of the town - my what beaming smiles you'll get!

Amazing - new (important to me) skill

It has up till now been a great source of frustration : not being able to communicate with people whilst playing the clarinet.

Now I find that I can.

Up till now, I had resigned myself to the concept that I was trapped whilst playing my clarinet : my mouth and both hands were otherwise occupied. Singers accompanying themselves on a guitar must feel the same.

You try to signal by raising the eyebrows, smiling with your eyes. What else can you do? Waggle your ears - takes enormous skill and practise, I imagine? Stamp your foot, lift a leg and wave it around - not a commonly accepted form of greeting.

Yet this morning oh the Market, I cracked it. Without realising  it, I was waving; wow. It must have been that I was getting such a lot of positive feedback from my playing , particularly from excited young children. Yes, amazingly I found myself waving. The fingers of my right hand had broken away to wave vigorously : they found they weren't- for a few moments - needed. Only the thumb of that hand to hold the clarinet up.

So in the future I hope to develop this highly valued trick. True it puts about eight notes out of reach but with skill I can adjust the notes I choose to play leaving me free to . . .  wave  . . . and play. Watch out in future - if you don't get a wave it could be that :

1. I hate your guts and choose to ignore you.
2. Haven't spotted you.
3. Can't manage a wave - needing more practice at demanding trick.

Correspondence regarding the cobbles

With the Town Council:

Sent: 11 March 2013 11:06
To: Ulverston Town Council
Subject: Work on the cobbles

Given the previous contractor's record, I cannot be absolutely sure that the work won't be complete before May 5th  but to me it is very doubtful and secondarily I can see no need to take this risk : start earlier.

What could help them would be:

1. Using two teams at different locations and working at week ends
2. Continuing to space out the setts at the level last used where  only 50% of the surface was granite setts and the rest concrete.

Main points

1. The council's choice of dates.

As it is important to the shop keepers to be finished before the date of May 5th - the bank holiday ( or even slightly earlier for Flag Fortnight) ,  I don't understand why they can't start on at least 1st April . This is born out by the statement in the press that the CCC Highways state the work will take 5 weeks not the three provided by the 15thApril start.

What needs to be in place is a severe penalty clause whereby the shopkeepers are compensated if the work runs past May 5th

2. The quality of work and sett spacing.

As Concrete has been used from the beginning of the work down Market Street the spacing is probably aesthetic. I believe that Ultracrete is being used. This is the material recommended to me by Mr Rhodes of the Preston Borough Highways Dept. It has got to be true that the granite of the setts will outlast the concrete which will disintegrate in time with repeated water and freezing conditions. This will then lead to the setts becoming loose, first one , then a wide area.

A much longer lasting surface would be achieved (I believe) if the setts are first laid and jammed hard against each other - a technique used in europe using arcs of stone setts. Once the setts are laid , then and only then is cement used to make the surface waterproof by filling in the cracks that remain. This way if the cement filling deteriorates then the setts remain jammed in place and all that is needed is fresh filling in one place. I have heard that in Rome where they have over 2,000 years of experience they use this jamming in technique to lay the setts for a whole square in a matter of a couple of days.


We have to live with what we have got and live with the consequences. The main thing now is to get a reasonable job done before May 5th and in practice before Flag Fortnight starts. Work therefore needs to start as soon after Easter allowing plenty of time for the project to run overtime.

I can back up most of my statements with evidence if this is helpful.

The videos on the cobbles are grouped at

Hope you find the above helpful

Response from Town Council :

Thanks Geoff, I will forward this to Tony Beatty who is the engineer in charge of the project at the county council

Friday, 8 March 2013

A thought or two for all age groups

Thanks Jack for your thought provoking contributions.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Work on the cobbles down Market Street

These two videos look at the recent work that was done last October and what remains to be done to get this disruptive work finished.
The dates given to me by Jayne Kendall for the recommencement and completion of work are April 15th and at the latest May 5th, the date of the Bank Holiday

My conclusions are that only allowing three weeks for the remaining work is unwise and unnecessary.
A completion date before the start of the Flag Festival at the beginning of May is extremely important to the town. Work should therefore start well before the stated April 15th and finish before the stated May 5th. One that allows plenty of time for the contractors to overrun their estimates of only three weeks. Starting on April 1st should surely be the very latest. The latest Highways press release states that the work will take five weeks :starting on April 1st only just allows for this.

The coverage of the surface with Granite setts works out at:
Old setts in the Market Square - 80 to 90%
Work done early last year by Amey - 60% setts 40% concrete
Work done in October last year by Colas - 50% setts 50% concrete
The way the original setts were jammed together is preferable in that of spacing with concrete, no matter how good will always be outlasted by the superior granite of the setts