Lorry Drivers . . . an’ all that

An interesting thread on Twitter by someone calling himself (herself ?) Laurie Driver . . .

Laurie Driver – Low Skilled (Key)Worker

Let’s deal with this stupidity that says because we have more unemployed than vacancies in logistics all the unemployed can fill the vacancies we have.

As with any job, you need candidates living in the area of the vacancies. You then need them available for the hours required if the job. For haulage that is 24/7 with shifts up to 15hrs, possibly with unplanned nights out, weekend working & unsociable start/finish times.

You also need to understand that there is no such job as “lorry driver” rather there are hundreds of different jobs that involve the driving of a lorry, so to reduce them to just one job title is misleading. Many of these vacancies are highly specialised, such as fuel tankers,

New drivers simply wouldn’t be appropriate to fill the vacancy. Even if an experienced driver would want to take this role on, they’d need additional qualifications to do so. The licence alone isn’t sufficient.

For an unemployed person to get into the industry will require £000’s, time, skill & aptitude. Each of these criteria will rule out potential candidates.

Some hauliers can’t afford to take on newly qualified drivers because of the insurance premiums that would attract, so again, a newly qualified driver isn’t the solution for that particular vacancy.

Finally, even if a candidate finds a job that suits them & can leap all the hurdles before them, the test pass rate is only around 50%. This is a great industry to work in for the right people, but that pool of potential drivers is quite small, hence why we need such a large pool of candidates.

Laurie Driver has a somewhat cryptic bio, so I have no further details about him or her, but perhaps we are supposed to assume that he/she is telling us what his/her job is.

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True Tales of Sail and Steam

True Tales of Sail and Steam by Shalimar

I was given this book as a child or perhaps, boy, and that dust jacket is exactly how I remember it. I kept it until we downsized and got rid of many of our books – this was one of them. But nostalgia, or sense ? got the better of me and I recently bought it from abebooks and have been reading it all over again. It just makes me realise that we should never ever get rid of books. Keep them until you die and let your executors do the dirty work.

The Author was F C Hendry who wrote as “Shalimar” and it is worth your while to search the web under those names to find out more about him. He did a broadcast on the BBC in 1934 and this is what the BBC had to say . . .

“Captain Hendry, who initiates this remarkable series of talks, served as an apprentice and officer on sailing ships which doubled the Cape. After serving with the Cunard Line, he went east and commanded steamers sailing the South China seas. He also served on the North-West Frontier of India, and has been a number of years in Mesopotamia, taking part in the ill-fated advance on Baghdad and the subsequent retreat from Ctesiphon. Under the nom-deplume of ‘ ‘Shalimar ‘, Captain Hendry has published a number of tales and novels dealing with the sea”

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What are you reading . . .

I have just finished reading this. A whodunnit by an author new to me although on investigation I find that she has been writing and publishing the Guido Brunetti series since 1992. We have managed to visit Venice, twice I think, and so to read this book was interesting as it mentions so many places we have visited or seen from the vaporetto. It was published in 2017, so is not all that old and mentions the MOSE system in a rather disparaging way in passing.

Once upon a tine there was a newsletter from Venice – Buongiorno Venezia – but that, alas, ceased publication some years ago, the last entry I can find was in 2013. The authoress kept us up to date with news about Venice and the lagoon. Often is was about the deleterious effect of the giant cruise ships on the delicate foundations of the ancient buildings, but it often had a few remarks about the MOSE scheme which at that time was running into difficulties, both on the engineering front, and because of (shall we say) the misapplication of funds. Searching the web these last few days there is plenty to find and I am pleased to discover that MOSE is up and running and has already saved Venice from one Acqua Alta.

A lot of the story in the above book takes place on, in and around the lagoon and for those of us lucky enough to have travelled through the lagoon to Torcello and Burano it brings back pleasant memories and helps us to understand the story better.

It was a good read, well written, with good character descriptions, and a nicely involved plot, but not so involved as to leave the reader wonder what he or she had missed when unable to understand how the sleuth got to the answer – an invariable problem in this family when watching TV detective stories in the past.

So, in tribute to the lady author, I have just ordered via abebooks.co.uk another of the Brunetti series – this time the first one she wrote.

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Slow News Day . . .

You will not be surprised to read that there is not a lot happening here. The number of Covid infections in Scotland continues high, but is slowly decreasing. Those who have been vaccinated are being infected but they seem not to suffer as much as the unvaccinated. We continue to self isolate as we have done for the last 18 months and this now seems to be our new way of life. We do go out occasionally in one or the other of our two cars, just to keep them going, to charge the batteries, and (a sign of the times) to help prevent the brakes sticking on. Both cars went in for their MOT inspections and we were surprised to find that not only did they get their testing done but got serviced as well – then of course woke us up to the fact that neither had been serviced for over a year, possibly longer. So the bill came to a lot more than we had been expecting. Such is Covid.

I got a letter out of the blue inviting me to have a pneumococcal vaccination an invitation which I took up gratefully. This vaccination protects you from pneumococcal infections, of which there are many more than I was aware of, plus meningitis infections too. My OH has not had a letter, so we don’t know if she is not eligible or whether they (whoever “they” are) are just working down a list of people arranged in order of priority. It reminded me of Spike Milligan’s request for lettering on his headstone to read, “I told you I was ill”. Perhaps I am considered to be more ill than my wife.

Since then letters have arrived, also from some central NHS Scotland source offering us flu vaccinations on 3 Oct which turns out to be a Sunday. Both these and the pneumococcal vaccination make use of Kirkcudbright Hospital which is part and parcel of the Kirkcudbright Health Centre complex. I thought the hospital was closed but my pneumococcal visit showed that although empty it was still well cared for and ready to be used. Our previous vaccinations against Covid were done in the Pipe Band Hall, so evidently the hospital building was not available at that time for some reason.

Later news from NHS Scotland vis Facebook indicates that when we go for our Flu vaccinations we may also get offered the Covid booster, or 3rd vaccination.

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Putting up the aerial . . .

November 1923

10 Years before I was born, but as a child, this was still very much as it was. To receive broadcasts from the BBC (or anywhere else) you put up about 30 feet of copper wire s high as you could get it. Practically speaking this usually meant one end would be attached at about the height of the gutter on the house, and the other end to a tree, if there was one, or to a pole you had to erect yourself. There was a clever porcelain insulator at each end. The aerial wire would be looped securely through a hole in this insulator and through another hole would go the piece of wire or rope to be used to attach the aerial to its support. The two wires must not touch and the design of the insulator ensured that they remained separated.

From the aerial a wire descended to the living room where the brave householder had drilled a hole through the window frame. No electric drills then. Many turns on a hand drill required. Once into the house the wire would be conducted discreetly round the skirting to the wireless set and with a little red jack plug on its end, inserted into the socket at the back of the set.

But, there was another socket marked “Earth”. Outside, in the garden a copper spike about 18 inches long would be driven into the ground, a bit away from the wall where the soil would usually be damp – for good conduction. From a terminal at the top of the spike another wire would run through another hole in the window from, also round the skirting and via a black jack plug to the earth socket. Thus equipped, and with a three pin plug to connect to the mains, you were ready to switch on and wait for the set to warm up. Those of you who remember “Much Binding in the Marsh” will remember Kenneth Horne and Richard Murdoch switching on the radio and after a pause saying, “These sets take a long time to warm up”. This is how things were at the point where I effectively left home about 1952. By the time we set up home in Hull in 1959 we were able to buy a radio set that had its own internal aerial, and being in Hull it also had a “Trawler Band” so that fishermen’s families could listen to what was going on at sea.

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The Outbreak of War . . .

The Observer

Second world war

Neville Chamberlain’s declaration of war

At 11am on 3 September 1939, Neville Chamberlain announced in a radio broadcast that the country was at war

Declaration of war: Chamberlain’s radio broadcast, 3 September 1939, 11am

“I am speaking to you from the cabinet room at 10 Downing Street. This morning the British ambassador in Berlin handed the German government a final note stating that unless we heard from them by 11 o’clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.

You can imagine what a bitter blow it is to me that all my long struggle to win peace has failed. Yet I cannot believe that there is anything more, or anything different, that I could have done and that would have been more successful. Up to the very last it would have been quite possible to have arranged a peaceful and honourable settlement between Germany and Poland. But Hitler would not have it. He had evidently made up his mind to attack Poland whatever happened, and although he now says he put forward reasonable proposals which were rejected by the Poles, that is not a true statement. The proposals were never shown to the Poles, nor to us, and though they were announced in the German broadcast on Thursday night, Hitler did not wait to hear comments on them, but ordered his troops to cross the Polish frontier the next morning.

His action shows convincingly that there is no chance of expecting that this man will ever give up his practice of using force to gain his will. He can only be stopped by force.

We have a clear conscience. We have done all that any country could do to establish peace. But the situation in which no word given by Germany’s ruler could be trusted, and no people or country could feel itself safe, had become intolerable. And now that we have resolved to finish it, I know that you will all play your part with calmness and courage.”


The first paragraph of Mr. Chamberlain’s speech I can remember almost word for word. I was only 5 years old* at the time but I knew what was going on, I knew about the Munich Crisis and I fully understood what was being said and the implications of it all. Being a Sunday my father was at home, and both my parents referred back to the First World War which has ended just over 20 years before. “I just hope to God there’s not another Somme”, was one of her sayings, whereas my father said many times in those years that we should have rearmed earlier and better. Both of them said repeatedly that Churchill had been right all along, and I think many other people felt the same way, so that when Churchill became Prime Minister in the next year (10 May 1940) there was a palpable sense of relief all round. I don’t think we necessarily thought we would win the war (Hitler seemed absolutely unstoppable), but if we didn’t it wouldn’t be for want of trying.

* 5 years, 8 months and 25 days to be exact !
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The State of Play . . .

We have just had Mrs. Sturgeon on the TV giving her 12.15 pm Covid briefing. She only does these now (I think) when there is some change in the situation. She is very good IMO – sometimes teeters on the edge of verbosity but as she proceeds you realise she is only bashing home what she thinks is important. 

In summary . . . 

there has been and still is a sharp rise in the number of infections to equal or surpass previous “highs” 

the increases have arisen since the relaxation of official rules on 9th August  last

many of the new patients are young people 

young people have responded very well to the opening of vaccination to their age groups, but inevitably as yet, there are many more young people who have not yet been done, and most of those vaccinated have only had one dose. 

infections in vaccinated people are in general less severe than in the unvaccinated 

overall the number of people vaccinated in Scotland must be accounted a remarkable success story, and because of this there are at the moment no plans to reintroduce higher levels of restriction such as those we have just left behind. But this does not alter the fact that the situation demands continual attention, and it is quite possible that restrictions will have to come back. 

She ended by yet again admonishing people to sick with the hygiene rules and to wear face masks indoors or in crowded places. 

This last point is, I think, the weak link. Driving through KBT there can be plenty of people about thronging the pavement and looking in shop windows. They do not keep any social distancing, nor do they wear masks, and I don’t see people putting masks on when they go in, or being seen to be wearing them as they emerge from shops.


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Denouement . . .

Dominic sat in the dock, an absolute picture of misery. Never inspiring to look at except in well posed and prepared portraits, he was now just a crumpled mass of misery, disappointment and baffled lack of comprehension. How had it come to this ? Boris had been so nice to him, had appointed him to the Cabinet, had put his arm round his shoulders and confided that he could not possibly manage to keep the others under some sort of control without Dominic’s presence and assistance. Now Boris had disappeared, and he, Dominic, was at the Old Bailey, all too visible and the subject of innumerable articles and television pieces which once would have been so wonderful. He put his head in his hands and wept like the child that he was. 

The Judge cleared his throat. He had no need to do so for bronchial reasons, he just wanted to give Raab a warning that life at the old Bailey had not stopped. 

“Mr. Raab !” he began. Raab’s Counsel, already plying tissues, tried to get the man to sit up and at least try to look like an ex minister, but it was of no use, the man was broken and in pieces remained. 

“Mr. Raab, I am going to pronounce sentence. Do you understand ?” 

No response from Raab. “Mr. Matthews, I propose to pronounce sentence. Do you have any objection. The whole Court has heard me and knows my intention.” 

“No, My Lord, we have no objection here. I think for the prisoner’s sake it would be the best course of action as he will get assistance all the sooner.” 

“Mr. Raab. The Court finds you guilty as charged. You will be taken to a place of confinement at Her Majesty’s pleasure. You will be given an adequate supply of World Atlases and a country to study each day. Each following day you will be tested to determine the amount of knowledge you have been able to acquire and a new subject will be set for testing the following day. Do you understand ?” 

Raab, inert, but still weeping copiously. 

“Mr. Matthews, you will I trust explain the sentence to your client fully when he is somewhat recovered ?” 

“Yes, My Lord, we will do our best. I think it will be difficult.” 

“Indeed, Mr Matthews, a difficult and disagreeable task, but we do not always get to choose our tasks in this legal profession, do we ? I wish you and your team patience, persistence and success. The prisoner will remain in detention until he is able to show some appreciation of the World’s geography. You understand that ? 

“Yes, My Lord, we understand.” 

“Good. Take him down.” 

Two burly security guards pick up Raab bodily, but not unkindly, and he is placed in a wheeled chair and trundled out of court. Outside, despite the police cordon, a crowd boos and throws detritus. Unintelligible cries are heard from them, among which little of sense can be distinguished, apart from the occasional shouts containing the word, “Dover”.




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“Do not go gentle into that good night . . . “

I wonder if this is right, or good advice. Since we know that it is inevitable, is it not better to prepare for it as best we can ?

“Forasmuch as all mortal men be subject to many sudden perils, dis-
eases, and sicknesses, and ever uncertain what time they shalt
depart out of this life; therefore, to the intent they may be always in
a readiness to die, whensoever it shall please Almighty God to call
them, . . . ” as the Book of Common Prayer has it . . .

Do not go gentle into that good night
Dylan Thomas – 1914-1953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

From The Poems of Dylan Thomas, published by New Directions. Copyright © 1952, 1953 Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1937, 1945, 1955, 1962, 1966, 1967 the Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1938, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1971 New Directions Publishing Corp. Used with permission.
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Letting go . . .

This cheers me up. I hadn’t realised that I was simply letting go of the past. It is actually an achievement, not a failing.

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