Stansfield – What’s in a name?

My last blog post was about DNA testing, and the origins of my own family, Stansfield. It seems to have been a popular subject because I doubled my readership from two to four. However, I suspect at least one of them was someone who stumbled across my site by accident while searching for Arachnids of the Lower Amazon Basin, but I’m not complaining, I’ll take who I can, when I can (get your minds out of the gutter, I’m talking about readership!) Anyway, I digress.

Some of you may remember a singer by the name of Lisa Stansfield. She had a string of hits starting in the eighties and is still producing good music. Well, it was thanks to her I managed to avoid a rather long wait in Greece.

Athens at Dawn
By User:Leonard G. – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2205944

I was working for a local airline and as I was not a citizen of Greece, I had to register as an ‘alien’ to pay my taxes (there are some who say I should register as an alien just to be on this planet, but I ignore them.) I was taken to the Alien’s Bureau by the Greek company representative, Petros, who was there to ensure things went smoothly. I handed in the duly completed forms, along with my passport and a declaration of what I had eaten for breakfast (only kidding about the last one, but those of you who have ever had to deal with the Greek authorities will know they take the meaning of bureaucracy to whole new level.)

The normal waiting time, after handing in the paperwork, was around two hours. After being seated for only five minutes, my name was called, much to the dismay of Petros who was convinced there was a problem and we would have to return another day with a missing piece of paper. One minute later I was out of the office with all my documents in hand, everything completed and I was now a fully-fledged alien.

It seems that when asked if Lisa was a relative, my reply of ‘yes, she is my

Lisa Stansfield
By Lisa Stansfield By Daniel Åhs Karlsson.jpg: Daniel Åhs Karlsson;derivative work: Berita – This file was derived fromLisa Stansfield By Daniel Åhs Karlsson.jpg:, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33964082

cousin,’ was the perfect response. If you are reading this Lisa, (I wish,) sorry for using your name in vain, but I’m sure that somewhere in the dim and distant past, we once shared a relative.

On another note, I am related to Gracie Fields, (Gracie Stansfield,) for those old enough to know who she is. For those who don’t, you could try Google, or one of the multitude of other search engines.

So, there we have the proof; it’s not what you know, it’s who people believe you know.

 

DNA – Digging for New Ancestors

The internet is full of adverts for DNA testing. At first I thought this was as a result of yet more government cutbacks and we were now being told to solve even the most serious crimes ourselves. It seems this is not the case, but a new craze doing the rounds, to find your ‘roots.’

DNA double helix
By brian0918™ – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=404735

Clearly, I don’t mean the roots that are a different colour to the rest of your hair, but your ancestors, forefathers, call them what you will. They are the people without whom you would not be reading this, because you wouldn’t exist.

These DNA kits are guaranteed to give you results. Whether they are the right results is the subject of much debate. Now, clearly these kits are not to CSI standard. To start with, you don’t get to arrive in a Chevy Suburban, nor do you get a fancy jacket to wear while taking the sample. And from all accounts, their accuracy can be a bit hit and miss; even the providers will admit to their being some latitude in the results. So, if yours come back stating you are fifty-five percent orang-utan, twenty-percent blue whale, and twenty-five percent Wensleydale Cheese, don’t be surprised. Apparently, the secret is to shop around and not use the first one you come across.

Have I used one of these kits to determine my ancestry? No, you see, I don’t need to. My family name is traceable back to its origin, so it is said.

One Wyon de Maryons, follower of William de Warrene Earl of Surrey, who came to England with William the Conqueror and fought at the battle of Hastings in 1066, was given the village of Stansfield, in what is now West Yorkshire, as recognition for his support for the King. He took the title Lord Stansfield and it is from there the family name originates. My own birthplace is not too far from the village, but on the proper side of the border; I am a Lancastrian!

I am sure there will be some of you who doubt my story, despite the extensive documentation, so I therefore offer you this evidence of my heritage, taken shortly after the battle…

…it’s on Facebook, it must be true.

Viking Family

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Adult advisory – for the easily offended

*Adult content* – well…almost.

Sometimes, you will catch sight of something and it will stop you in your tracks. A couple of days ago, this happened to me. The something in question was a TV clip my wife was watching on the internet and I must say it left us both a little – well – confused.

The program from which the clip originated, is a daytime TV chat show from the UK, and often features subjects such as cooking, medical issues and any items of general interest to the viewer.

Now, we didn’t see the full interview, but I have read a transcript and it makes me a little uncomfortable. On the studio couch sat a man and a doll. We are not talking about a child’s toy here, but a full-size replica of a human female and Ithink you can already guess where we are going here. The doll is a sex toy.

Surprised emoticon

As was pointed out by one of the presenters, most toys of this type are capable of being hidden away in a drawer, or at the back of the wardrobe. And this is where it gets weird. Samantha, as she is known, is not just your average inflatable, highly surprised looking, adult toy, she is a fully functioning robot.  Can you imagine the shock of finding a female body hanging among the shirts?

She has a repertoire of jokes, can discuss animals with the children and is capable of discourse on philosophy or science (not to mention intercourse on the kitchen table – sorry, couldn’t resist.)  She is programmed to be part of the family. Yes, you did read that right, the designer believes she is part of the family.

Apparently, his children, aged five and three, already ask where she is and his wife is totally comfortable with her being around. They even had fun in the car on the way to the studio – okay, we are not going anywhere with that one.

Duracell Bunny
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48645665

Personally, I think it is like having your mistress out in

the open, but the designer believes times are a-changing and this type of thing will become more acceptable.

If he is correct and these robots become a part of our daily life, even a simple form will have to change with the addition of ‘with robot’ to marital status, and

programmable.’ to any gender questions.

Of course, it isn’t up to me to judge, so all I can say is, if in the future, a neighbour asks if you have seen her rabbit, it might be worthwhile clarifying things before answering.

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Furry friend lovers

Today, I am feeling a little bit tender, not physically, but emotionally. The cause? The loss of a dear friend, feline, not human.

Now, there will be those who say, ‘get over it, it’s only a cat,’ and maybe they are right, but I don’t think so.

As humans, we are all born with the ability to love and hate. What we choose to do is up to us. For many of us, we choose to love unconditionally, whether that love is for a fellow human or another species sharing this planet with us.

When it comes to animals, we all have our favourites; for some it’s cats, and for others, dogs, quite a few like scaly things or creepy crawlies. It doesn’t really matter, it shows we have compassion, an empathy for another living creature. I worry when a person has no time for animals at all. That is a person who I will shy away from. They lack something very basic in their make-up.

The cat in question came from a rescue centre in Scotland. I first saw her at a place near Glasgow, then, because she had not been adopted from there, she was moved to another, closer to where I lived. I felt this was fate.

Within minutes of her coming home, she attacked me. Not the sort aggression you get from a frightened animal, but an all-out hatred. Over the next two years, she continued to hate me with a passion. I suspect she had been mistreated by a man and she didn’t trust any male of the species homo sapiens.

It took a lot of time and patience to win her over, but win her over I did. She would come to me at night, loving, purring and rubbing her head against mine. She showed me that animals can love as equally as any human, and she had come to realise the love I had given her was unconditional.

My love will always be for animals and humanity alike and I will never understand man’s cruelty, be that with a fellow human or another inhabitant of planet Earth. Perhaps the ones who care not for their fellow man chose the path of hatred for all things living and perhaps that is why I don’t trust them one bit.

Nisha   20??-2017

Nisha

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‘Oh my god, that’s the haggis exploding!’

In case you are thinking this is some kind of Scottish Armageddon, I would like to put your mind at rest and assure you that whilst it was something of a minor cataclysm, it was extremely localised.

As one of my two readers is aware, I have returned briefly to the UK to top up my rust levels, visit family and do some work on the house (not necessarily in that order)

Rust levels? Yes, when people from the UK appear to be tanned don’t be fooled. It isn’t a sun tan you see, but rust, on account of all the rain we get.

Scottish Breakfast
Scottish Breakfast By Jeremy Keith – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3253929

Anyway, I digress. One of the essential ingredients of a visit to my homeland is that British tradition, known as a fry-up (or a fry, if you are from Ulster.) There are many variations on this wonderful British institution, bacon and eggs being the central core of all of them. Get beyond that and basically anything that can be fried, can be added, with the exception of baked beans which must never be fried! (Mexicans, please note.)

As I live north of the border (Scotland, for those of you who are geographically challenged, or unaware that England is not the entire nation but only one quarter of it,) there are two items that no self-respecting Scottish breakfast would be missing – black pudding (also favoured in England and Ireland) and haggis.

Should you be unfamiliar with haggis, it is a large sausage made from things you don’t wish to know about, onion and oatmeal (wild haggis is an entirely different beast.) It is exceedingly tasty. The breakfast variety comes sliced, ready to fry and you just pop it in the pan with the other ingredients to cook up instant arteriosclerotic vascular disease and heart attack.

So, there I was on our first day back in Scotland, cooking a hearty breakfast with said ingredients, along with Portobello mushrooms. Given the size of the pan and some of the ingredients, especially the mushrooms, it was necessary to cook in batches, keeping things warm in the oven whilst the rest were cooked. Unfortunately, one of the haggis slices got damaged in the process, leaving behind quite a few pieces of oatmeal.

Into this pan, I added some oil and heated it before adding eggs, the final

Wild Haggis
Wild Haggis with its favourite food – tatties. By Emoscopes – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1420068

ingredient. As I started to flick some hot oil over the yoke there was a small popping sound and I was suddenly hit in the face by something hot, this was followed by a barrage of noises and a scene worthy of being included in the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan, as pieces of oatmeal exploded, spreading their fiery destruction far and wide across the kitchen.

It was at this moment I uttered the words to which my wife replied, ‘that’s not something you hear every day.’ – ‘My god, that’s the haggis exploding.’

In case you are worried that this could be utilised in some way by the Scottish Liberation Army as an IED, I don’t believe exploding haggis will be on their list of ordnances anytime in the near future, although it will undoubtedly be on the breakfast menu.

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When the (micro)chips are down

As both of my readers know by now, rather than write my novels, I spend my time trawling the news sites to find things of interest (well I do have a PhD in procrastination, ask my wife.)

Anyway, I digress. I was looking at that well known news site (you know the next bit so well – the one run by the Broken Biscuit Company,) when I came across this fascinating but scary story.

Microchips. The future of the human race? Honda Asimo
The future of the human race?
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=140450

A Wisconsin company is to become the first in the US to insert microchips into its employees. Yes, you did read that right, people are being microchipped just like your dog or cat. The company in question is offering to implant the tiny chip into workers’ hands for free – and they suggest everyone will soon be doing it. The rice grain-sized chip will allow them to open doors, log on to computers and purchase food, all without any effort on their part. A spokesman for the company was very upbeat about the whole thing, focusing on the benefits of having the device, and so far, 50 of the 85 employees agree with him and have signed up to the deal.

Of course, I can see the advantages, but do we really need them and have we looked far enough ahead to see the problems on the horizon? The idea of mobile phones was sold on the basis they would simplify communications; make it easier to stay in contact with friends, relatives and, unfortunately, even your employer. And yes, that has happened – but the downside is that now, we only seem to be capable of communicating with people who are not in our presence. Next time you are in a coffee shop, take a look at around, I can guarantee most will be on their mobiles, texting, watching videos, playing games, anything except communicating with their present company,

Then there are computers. Sold as a device to make our lives a lot easier, freeing up our time to do all manner of things – except our time is spent tending to our new masters, trying to get them to do what we want, not what they want. Whether you like it or not, we have become their slaves. Not to mention the thousands of people who are now unemployed, replaced by a computer.

First edition of Orwell's 1984
First edition of Orwell’s 1984

For those of you, like me, who are thinking of Orwell’s 1984 scenario, a spokesman for the company believes this is the way forward, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. When the inevitable question about tracking arose, he assured the reporter the device had no GPS technology and was the same as the microchips in your credit cards.

Forgive me for being a little cynical here. It may well be the case the microchips are simply an identity device, such as in your credit card, but how long before some government, or business, sees the enormous potential of tracking the whereabouts of every citizen and works clandestinely to put that tracking technology in place. It doesn’t need to have the GPS technology in the chip; that handy little mobile phone I mentioned earlier, can be tracked from its signal strength at the cell towers.

This may be a conspiracy theorist standpoint, but do you trust your politicians to tell the truth, be open and honest and have your best interests at heart? Sorry, it may well be advantageous to pay with the wave of a hand and have the light come on when I enter a room; I don’t need to be turned into R2-D2 in the meantime. The more someone tells me something will never happen, the more I believe that will be the most likely outcome. That’s not cynicism, nor conspiracy theory, it’s experience.

The only chips I want inside my body come wrapped in paper and are liberally covered in salt and vinegar (sorry, my American cousins, those things in a foil bag are called crisps; you’ll get the hang of it one day.)

Have a good one.

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When a dog’s life isn’t a dog’s life

Dog with no name

As a Jedi, no – seriously, I am – anyway, as I was saying, as a Jedi, I believe things happen to us for a reason. We aren’t always sure what the reason is, and it may never become obvious to us, but it is part of your destiny, young Luke. On Sunday, one such thing happened and whilst it is a tiny thing, figuratively and literally, it is going to have an enormous effect on our lives.

Bahrain has a massive problem with stray dogs. Initially, these would have been dogs abandoned by their owners when they left the island, (just how someone can do that to any animal is beyond me, but that’s another story,) but now they are breeding amongst themselves and it is not unusual to see and hear large packs of dogs roaming around in the late evening and during the night. How they survive in this heat, with virtually no water, I am not sure, but survive they do and we see mothers with pups on a regular basis.

Dog with no name
© 2017 Glen R Stansfield. All Rights Reserved.

So, when our cleaner told us she had just found a puppy at the entrance to the compound, with no mother in sight, we were not prepared for the tiny, dehydrated, tick infested, bundle that was lying on our back doorstep. Her respiration rate and lethargy told me this dog did not have long for this world.

We cooled her by wetting her and she responded by trying to lick the water on the ground, so we gave her small amounts of water to drink and brought her into the house in a cardboard box. Mindful of the tick infestation and our two resident cats, the box was placed inside a plastic carrier bag to contain the myriad of ticks that were now dropping off her.

My wife spent the day looking for signs of the mother, as we weren’t sure if this little bundle was even weaned. Sadly, she was nowhere to be found and the poor little thing spent the night with us, hardly moving.

The following day she had regained some of her strength and found the cat food, not a good diet for dogs, but in the interim it was preferable to no food at all. Clearly, she had been weaned and was perfectly capable of wolfing down food as well as lapping the water, although still somewhat unsteady on her feet.

One trip to the vet later, the dog with no name has been estimated to be  just five-weeks old, de-ticked and de-wormed, supplied with suitable food and my wallet depleted.

A long discussion ensued as to what we were going to do with her in the long term (the cats never moved their position on this; one now lives upstairs and the other lives in fear of this overgrown mouse.) This resulted in us buying the inevitable chewy rubber toys, (which she ignores in preference for the tassels on the rug,) two feeding bowls and a litter tray (how she knows to do it on paper already, is beyond us)

I knew after day one, this little bundle of mischief was destined to be with us and was going to stay.

I am just looking forward to the day when I can teach her to drive like this owner has. What a dog’s life, eh?

Dog Driver
© 2017 Glen R Stansfield. All Rights Reserved.

The way to curry favour – or in this case, soup.

When I first started this writing malarkey, my intention was to write a novel, just the one, and that would be it. The malarkey however, was not prepared to let me do that, so not only have I now written two novels, have two more in progress, with a further two in the planning stages, I also make a monthly contribution to Bahrain Confidential, a local glossy magazine and write a weekly cookery feature for another Bahrain based publication, Weekender .

Titled, Around the World in Eighty Dishes (thank you, Jules Verne,) I cook a dish from a different country each week, photographing the ingredients and finished product, as well as writing a brief history of the food or the country, and supplying the recipe.

Selection of Dishes

Shortly, we will be arriving in the Caribbean, and as I like to be a couple of weeks ahead with the articles, this week I cooked a traditional recipe from Jamaica.

As is usual with these dishes, the quantities I cook far exceeds what the two of us can reasonably eat in one go; sometimes we have the same dish over two days and sometimes we freeze a portion. On this occasion, I decided to combine the leftovers to make a soup.

As is often the case, something that is effectively thrown together, as this

Curried Goat Soup
Curried Goat Soup

soup was, far exceeds your expectations, so much so, I decided to turn it into a recipe so you can give it a go yourself.

It is time consuming, with each stage taking several hours, and that is probably what made this dish taste so good, the final ingredient – lashings of time.

The full recipe can be found here.

Sixty – going on twenty-five

When I was twenty-one years old (some four or five years ago…if you believe that, would you like to buy a used car? One careful lady owner, never raced or rallied,) it seemed to be that anyone reaching sixty years of age could be considered to have had a good innings. Let’s face it, once you reach that age you’re past your prime, physically and mentally, ready to be put out to pasture Old Man in a Bath Chairand see out your last couple of years in a bath chair, covered with a blanket, living in a world of your own, right?

On the twenty-fourth of June, I had what they call a significant birthday. As far as I’m concerned, all birthdays are significant because it means I’m still alive, but this was one of the biggies, apparently. I have reached the age I once considered to be the turning point, and you know what? It is.

I am not ready for the bath chair just yet, although my joints ache enough for me to consider one; it’s too hot here to be covered with a tissue, let alone a blanket, and my wife would tell you I already live in a little world of my own, but mentally I don’t think I have ever gone past the age of twenty-five. Combine that with another thirty-five years’ experience of living on this planet and you have a pretty awesome combination; experience and youth.

No longer how I imagine sixty years of ageI will continue with my writing, which like me, can only improve with age, I will continue to have an opinion, tempered with experience meaning I won’t necessarily voice it (who am I kidding?) and I feel ready to take on the world.

Does that mean I’m not ready for retirement in a few years’ time? You bet, I’m ready, but retirement for me will mean having the time to do all those things I don’t have time to do now, because someone expects me to turn up every day to work for them (okay, I need the money too.) I have a list as long as your arm of things to be done and they are just the ones my wife has waiting for me, but I’m not ready to be put out to pasture, not by a long chalk.

Sixty is no longer the new forty, it’s the new twenty-five; I say so.

 

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What a Hullaba..loo

As both my readers know by now, I am constantly trawling the news sites for snippets which are worthy of inclusion in this esteemed literary masterpiece (okay, it’s a tatty old blog, but my first version sounds far better.)

Once again, the famous news site, run by the Broken Biscuit Company, has come to my aid in finding something on which to comment.

Man on a toiletNow, we Brits have always found both embarrassment and humour in the most basic of bodily functions, number ones and twos, tinkles and poos, call it what you will, but there is a love-hate relationship with the process that every human, and indeed living creature on this planet must go through, the excretion of waste.

We all know a least one person who delights in the passing of gas at the most inappropriate times, and another who never seems to visit a toilet, ever, but it would appear embarrassment far outweighs entertainment for many people, regarding all matters toilet.

Renowned for being something of a reserved nation, I thought the Brits would be at the top of the league in this department, but according to the article I read, the Swedes are up there too. What we sometimes refer to as schoolboy humour isn’t at all humorous to schoolboys after all.

One town has come up with an idea to drown out the nefarious sounds of the

Brass Band
This may be a common sight in toilets in the future..
By NawlinWiki at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3960443

loo by installing music in the school toilets. It seems that both primary and senior high school students are loath to use the loo for fear of being overheard.

According to Centre Party Councillor Cecilia Cato, in the town of Tingsryd, some children are so concerned that they refuse to use the toilet all day. She suggested the musical solution to the local council.

“I don’t think it’s just about number two on the toilet, but many also don’t do number one,” Ms. Cato said.

I just wonder about the choice of music. Would that be left to the individual concerned, depending on their circumstances? On occasion, I have been in public toilets when the person concerned would probably require Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, complete with cannons and for some, maybe Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee would find favour. Then of course there is Handel’s Water Music….perhaps I should leave it right there.

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