The Anonymous Widower

The Painted Hall At Greenwich

The Painted Hall at Greenwich is now fully restored.

I went on Saturday and these are some of the pictures I took.

We had an excellent guide, who explained the imagery of the painting.

Much of it is aimed against the French and today, it can almost be considered to have a Brexit theme.

So has this philosophy about Europe and mainly the French been passed down the generations from the time of William and Mary?

The older I get, the more I realise that some of my personal philosophy on how I live and treat others has a Jewish slant.

Has it all come down from my sole Jewish ancestor, who arrived in this country from the Baltic in around 1800?



August 4, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Memorials On The Liverpool Pier Head

Liverpool is proud of its maritime heritage and the Pier Head on the Mersey is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City.

When Celia and I met in Liverpool in the 1960s, it was a simpler place, where we would walk to take the ferry across the Mersey.

These pictures show the Pier Head today.

I’d never realised that the road across the Pier Head, had been named Canada Boulevard in honour of Canadians, who lost their lives in the Battle of the Atlantic or the war against German U-boats.

Shown in the pictures is the memorial to Captain Johnnie Walker, one of the leading British commanders in the battle.

The scale of the battle is shown by the fact that according to Wikipedia the Allies lost over 70,000 sailors, 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships, whereas the Germans lost 30,000 sailors and 783 submarines.

One thing that wasn’t there in the 1960s is the canal that links the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to the Stanley Dock, so narrow-boats can visit the city centre.

August 23, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

My New All-Purpose Shopping Bag

I bought this stringbag for £2.95 and when I go out, it fits neatly in my shoulder bag or pocket.

My New All-Purpose Shopping Bag

My New All-Purpose Shopping Bag

Isn’t a stringbag the most useful of bags? After all it did lend its name to that most mighty of the Royal Navy’s attack aircraft; the Fairey Swordfish, which was called the stringbag on account of its ability to carry virtually anything to its target. Wikipedia has a full explanation.

The Swordfish is almost unique amongst military aircraft for two reasons.

Several aircraft types were built to replace it in service and it out-served them all.

In some attacks, it pressed the attack home successfully, because it flew slower than the low limit of the gun-aiming computer of the ship being attacked. The Germans hadn’t believed that an attacking aircraft would be as slow as a Swordfish.

But this unusual biplane did carry out one of the most unlikely battle successes of the Royal Navy, by attacking the Italian fleet at anchor in the Battle of Taranto. The lesson was not lost on the Japanese, who inspected the port after the attack. But the Americans, who must have known what happened at Taranto, did nothing to change their thinking.

December 27, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

The Battles Of Coronel And The Falkland Islands

Thebattles of Coronel and the Falkland Islamds were fought between the Royal and German Navies in the First World War. In 1927 a silent black and white drama/documentary was made telling the story of both battles called the Battles of Coronel and the Falkland Islands.

The British Film Institute have restored the film and on Friday, I went to see it at BFI Southbank.

It is a superb restoration to which has been  added a modern score. Usually, when films of this age are restored you see the odd bit of blankness on the screen. But not with this film!

The film is also unusual in that no actors are given any credits, but the Royal Navy ships, who played the actual combatants in both navies are named.

It is a serious reconstruction of the battles, but it is not without dramatic and comic moments.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and it reminded me of when at about eleven or so, I saw the Powell and Pressburger film; The Battle of the River Plate, made about the battle in December 1939. I had seen the film in the Rex cinema in Station Road, Wood Green, which was close to my father’s print works.

It would be interesting to see that again to compare it with the earlier one. Both were made with real warships!


If you want to see the film, but can’t get to a screening it is available for download on the BFI Player.

November 2, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

A Day Out In Portsmouth

I’ve been to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard before, but as my yearly ticket can be used as many times as I like for £24.25, I thought I had better go again. I chose today, as the weather looked it might by sunny in the afternoon. I got the weather wrong, as it was sunny from when I arrived in Portsmouth Harbour station at about 12:30, courtesy of South West Trains for £23.30 in ninety minutes.

I walked to Carluccio’s in the Gunwharf Quays shopping centre by the station so I could have some lunch. But it would be much nicer if there was a direct connection between the station and the shopping centre.

Every time I visit Portsmouth there seems to be more to see, especially in the Dockyard.

May 13, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | 3 Comments

The Tripe Talked About Building Warships In The UK

I have been listening and watching the debate about BAE ‘s decision to end warship building at Portsmouth  and move this all to Glasgow.

Much of the argument has been based on emotional facts like Portsmouth has been building warships since the Mary Rose and political considerations of  keeping Scotland happy. Little has got anything to do with having a Royal Navy that is fit for purpose.

This article on the BBC, gives a pretty good assessment of the political story. This section is the heart of the article.

So was this a sweetener to Scotland, to stave off a Yes vote? The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was asked repeatedly in the Commons to say whether the Scottish poll had influenced his choice.

He made, broadly, three replies to the variety of ways in which he was posed that question. Firstly, he stressed that the decision to locate warship building solely in Glasgow was taken by BAE, with endorsement from the Ministry of Defence. It was, thereby, primarily an industrial rather than a political choice.

Secondly, he stressed the importance of cost. His entire statement was predicated upon the drive to contain rising costs in the aircraft carrier contract. The identification of a sole location was also, he suggested, driven by cost efficiency.

But, thirdly, he made a point with regard to the forthcoming orders for Type 26 ships. Mr Hammond’s core point in respect of the carriers was that a blunder had been made (by the predecessor government) in placing the contracts for these vessels before design was completed.

He would not repeat that error, he said, with the Type 26 contract. It would not be placed before design was “mature”. That would be at the end of 2014. He noted, twice, that would be after the Scottish referendum in September of that year.

So BAE, had to make a decision, before they know what orders are coming. They are a supposedly commercial organisation, so they will do what they see is best for the company. Given that costs are higher in Portsmouth than Glasgow for most things, I suspect that there was only two solutions; persuade the Government to buy lots of warships that we don’t need or close Portsmouth.

In the arguments I heard, no-one seemed to bring up the Falkland Islands. When Argentina invaded, as regards warships we were ill-prepared and had to scramble hard to get a task force together. But the rest as they say is history!

The one thing we can say with certainty, is that if we need to use the Navy in anger again, we’ll have the wrong ships, and they’ll be in the wrong place.

It was always thus!

I would suspect that the Navy goes through some of the most bizarre scenarios, and works out how they will handle them and that there will be a lot of improvisation in there.

Look at the operational history of HMS Ocean and you’ll find a lot of it, is in response to events. If you read the Wikipedia entry for HMS Ocean, you’ll find this gem.

While Swan Hunter viewed the ships as entirely military, “VSEL thought the design was basically a merchant ship with military hardware bolted on.” VSEL’s decision to sub-contract the build phase took advantage of lower overheads at a civilian yard as well as efficiency drives by its parent, Kværner. The cut-price build to commercial standards means that Ocean has a projected operational life of just 20 years, significantly less than that of other warships.

VSEL and Swan Hunter were completing for the work. But there was some serious innovation in the construction of this, in my view,  successful warship. It’s certainly got us out of trouble a few times.

Innovation has been lacking over the years in the design of warships, which partly explains, why we and probably every other Navy has the wrong ships for a serious crisis.

One thing that should be thrown in, is if warship building is so important and BAE are so good at it, why aren’t we exporting ships to other friendly nations?

So are we subsidising warship building and BAE to an unsustainable high level?

November 7, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , , | Leave a comment

HMS Victory

I hadn’t been over HMS Victory for many years.

it is a bit stunted at the moment, as the masts have been taken away for some work, but they now give you free run right into the depths of the ship.

July 18, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

HMS Warrior

HMS Warrior was the first ship I visited.

HMS Warrior was Britain’s first iron-hulled, armoured warship, when she was built in 1960 and she still floats in Portsmouth Harbour.

This site is her official web site.

July 18, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

Around Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

These pictures are a few general ones of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Note the cheese and ham toastie. It was a surprise in the Georgian Tea Rooms. They also had jacket potatoes.

July 18, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

You Can’t Miss Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

I went to Portsmouth yesterday to look at the Historic Dockyard and in particular to see the Mary Rose.

I took the train from Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour station and when you walk out of the station, you can’t exactly miss the dockyard.

You Can't Miss Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

You Can’t Miss Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

The ship is HMS Warrior.

I do have a couple of issues with South West Trains though.

I travelled First Glass and on trains like Virgin, East Coast and Greater Anglia, you get complimentary drinks. But not on South West Trains.

The Class 444 trains, seem to have an absence of litter bins in First Class.  Perhaps First Class passengers throw everything on the floor.

The station also seems to have a lack of any sort of map.  Not that I needed one, as I could see my destination from the station entrance.

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , , | Leave a comment