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Monday, 30 December 2019

TOWARDS ANNO DOMINI TWENTY-TWENTY,a poem for 2020 by Tom Leonard



The Goddess Fortuna rolls her now heavily loaded die

And fires rage in the hinterland

While fascist India freezes.

While the icecaps melt,

And they still play Test cricket on their sticky Aussie wickets!!

The run amok neo-libs nevertheless taunt  and tease the Iconic Child.

And the high priests and wasteful jet set princelings? 

They play hanky spanky with Winnie the Pooh.

And the politicians turn totally belligerent and insane

As Capitalism rents itself asunder;

The Eugenics of Galton is upon us

As the fat cats simply know they are superior

And wanna burn chavs

And grind the 'deficient' for mincemeat

For food banks.  

Impeach and incarcerate all the tricky dickies,

Lest Twenty-Twenty becomes the Year of Planetary Doom

Or we'll be sending our beloved children to a hot and freezing tomb!!

Saturday, 21 December 2019




Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social normsgambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves as it was seen as a time of liberty for both slaves and freedmen alike.[1] A common custom was the election of a "King of the Saturnalia", who would give orders to people, which were to be followed and preside over the merrymaking. The gifts exchanged were usually gag gifts or small figurines made of wax or pottery known as sigillaria. The poet Catullus called it "the best of days".[2]

Role reversal[edit]

Saturnalia was characterized by role reversals and behavioral license.[5] Slaves were treated to a banquet of the kind usually enjoyed by their masters.[5] Ancient sources differ on the circumstances: some suggest that master and slave dined together,[42] while others indicate that the slaves feasted first, or that the masters actually served the food. The practice might have varied over time.[7]
Saturnalian license also permitted slaves to disrespect their masters without the threat of a punishment. It was a time for free speech: the Augustan poet Horace calls it "December liberty".[43] In two satires set during the Saturnalia, Horace has a slave offer sharp criticism to his master.[44] Everyone knew, however, that the leveling of the social hierarchy was temporary and had limits; no social norms were ultimately threatened, because the holiday would end.[45


People decorated their homes with wreaths and other greenery, and shed their traditional togas in favor of colorful clothes known as synthesis. Even slaves did not have to work during Saturnalia, but were allowed to participate in the festivities; in some cases, they sat at the head of the table while their masters served them.Instead of working, Romans spent Saturnalia gambling, singing, playing music, feasting, socializing and giving each other gifts. Wax taper candles called cerei were common gifts during Saturnalia, to signify light returning after the solstice

                                                                      History today

Saturnalia saw the inversion of social roles. The wealthy were expected to pay the month’s rent for those who couldn’t afford it, masters and slaves to swap clothes. Family households threw dice to determine who would become the temporary Saturnalian monarch. The poet Lucian of Samosata (AD 120-180) has the god Cronos (Saturn) say in his poem, Saturnalia:
‘During my week the serious is barred: no business allowed. Drinking and being drunk, noise and games of dice, appointing of kings and feasting of slaves, singing naked, clapping … an occasional ducking of corked faces in icy water – such are the functions over which I preside.’


The influence of the Saturnalia upon the celebrations of Christmas and the New Year has been direct. The fact that Christmas was celebrated on the birthday of the unconquered sun (dies solis invicti nati) gave the season a solar background, connected with the kalends of January (January 1, the Roman New Year) when houses were decorated with greenery and lights, and presents were given to children and the poor. Concerning the gift candles, the Romans had a story that an old prophecy bade the earliest inhabitants of Latium send heads to Hades and phota to Saturn. The ancient Latins interpreted this to mean human sacrifices, but, according to legend, Hercules advised using lights (phos means “light” or “man” according to accent) and not human heads.


The Temple of Saturn in Rome

Thursday, 19 December 2019




                                                    ASMARA IS A JEWEL (GUARDIAN)

                                         THE RED SEA PORTS OF MASSAWA AND ADULIS




Buya in Eritrea, one of the oldest hominids representing a possible link between Homo erectus and an archaic Homo sapiens was found by Italian scientists. Dated to over 1 million years old, it is the oldest skeletal find of its kind and provides a link between hominids and the earliest anatomically modern humans.[30] It is believed that the section of the Danakil Depression in Eritrea was also a major player in terms of human evolution, and may contain other traces of evolution from Homo erectus hominids to anatomically modern humans.[31] During the last interglacial period, the Red Sea coast of Eritrea was occupied by early anatomically modern humans.[32] It is believed that the area was on the route out of Africa that some scholars suggest was used by early humans to colonize the rest of the Old World.[32] In 1999, the Eritrean Research Project Team composed of Eritrean, Canadian, American, Dutch and French scientists discovered a Paleolithic site with stone and obsidian tools dated to over 125,000 years old near the Bay of Zula south of Massawa, along the Red Sea littoral. The tools are believed to have been used by early humans to harvest marine resources such as clams and oysters.[33]
At According to linguists, the first Afroasiatic-speaking populations arrived in the region during the ensuing Neolithic era from the family's proposed urheimat ("original homeland") in the Nile Valley.[34][35] Other scholars propose that the Afroasiatic family developed in situ in the Horn, with its speakers subsequently dispersing from there.[36]

                                               ERITREA  TRAVEL

Eritrea wows visitors with its scenery, from the quintessentially Abyssinian landscapes – escarpments, plateaus and soaring peaks – to the deserted and desertified beaches of the Red Sea coast. Culturally, Eritrea is a melting pot. It might be a tiny country by Africa's standards, but it hosts a kaleidoscopic range of ethnic groups. It also features a superb array of archaeological sites that tell volumes of history. The cherry on top is Asmara, Eritrea’s delightful capital and a whimsical art deco city.
Despite the tough political and economic situation, and the odd travel restrictions, this country remains one of the most inspiring destinations in Africa, particularly for travellers that want something a little different.

Adulis Archaeological Site

Archaeological Site in Eritrea

Adulis was once the primary port of the Aksumite empire and a few impressive architectural remnants of this heritage remain. Most notable is the foundation of a large 5th-century Byzantine basilica. Archaeological work at Adulis (begun in 1840!) is ongoing, but moves slowly for a month or two each summer

Leaflet | Map data © OpenStreetMapcontributors, CC-BY-SA, Imagery © Mapbox

Local Saho tribal legends say that the name 'Adulis' originates from the words for 'white water', a testament to the settlement's proximity to the Red Sea and the Aksumite-era prosperity as a major port and trade link between the Roman empire and India. Aside from the basilica, most of the ruins are still quite buried and a healthy dose of imagination is necessary to make the most of a visit. All of the artefacts that have been recovered from the site are currently housed at museums in Asmara and Ethiopia, though look for a large pottery dump southeast of a large warren of excavated walls the original function of which are still unknown. Access to the site is free, but the suggested tip for the mandatory local guide is around nfa400.
It's around 50km from the mainland side of the causeway in Massawa to the village of Faro, which is the last spot to stock up on water or food. From Faro follow the highway until it descends to the river, then turn left into the desert on an extremely rough and poorly marked desert road.
A few kilometres south of the Adulis site is Zula village, full of traditional Tigre ethnic group houses and a 150-year-old well built by the Ottomans. It's worth stopping by on your way to or from the ruins.

Thursday, 5 December 2019




                                 LOVE STRIKES AWAY THE CHAINS OF FEAR

                                                          FAMOUS POEMS

          Touched by An Angel by Maya Angelou
We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

                                            POETRY FOUNDATION

An acclaimed American poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer, Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou had a broad career as a singer, dancer, actress, composer, and Hollywood’s first female black director, but became most famous as a writer, editor, essayist, playwright, and poet. As a civil rights activist, Angelou worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. She was also an educator and served as the Reynolds professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. By 1975, wrote Carol E. Neubauer in Southern Women Writers: The New Generation, Angelou was recognized “as a spokesperson for… all people who are committed to raising the moral standards of living in the United States.” She served on two presidential committees, for Gerald Ford in 1975 and for Jimmy Carter in 1977. In 2000, Angelou was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton. In 2010, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S., by President Barack Obama. Angelou was awarded over 50 honorary degrees before her death.

Monday, 2 December 2019



Alan Joy and his partner Colin opened the Regent Bar on Montrose Terrace, Abbeyhill, Edinburgh in 2003 as an alternative to the more earthy and slightly dodgy LGBT bars on the Top of Leith Walk, and the more pretentious New Town Bar on Dublin Street. The place on Montrose Terrace was closed before Alan and Colin started up, though it had been open as the Regent Buffet during the 1950s. Alan and Colin were previously the proprietors of  the Blue Moon Cafe on Broughton Street, in Edinburgh's Pink Triangle, and later the proprietors of the Nom de Plume restaurant, further down Broughton Street and above the LGBT centre in the basement,


The bar closed on 23rd March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but re-opened on 4th August 2020 at 4pm. It is very safe and convivial there, averaging about 12 customers at any one time. It's good  to see the usual bar staff again.


                                                           REGENT CINEMA (Cinema Treasures)


     QUOTE:Converted from Youngers;St. Anne’s Brewery buildings, the Regent Cinema opened on 1st August 1927. It was a project of independent operator Graham Youll and the conversion was carried out by architect T. Bowhill Gibson. In March 1928 it was taken over by General Theatre Corporation (GTC), who were taken over by Gaumont British Theatres in May 1928. Late in 1929 it was fitted with a British Acoustic sound system. The Regent Cinema had a 30 feet deep stage, a Compton 2Manual/6Rank theatre organ was installed and there was a tea-room for patrons.
Later operated by the Rank Organisation it was closed on 2nd May 1970 with “Carry On Again Doctor” and Oliver Reed in “The Trap”. It was used as an occasional Fringe theatre and also a live rock concert venue for a while, but this proved to be not very successful and the building was standing derelict in 1984. It was subsequently demolished.
Contributed by Ken Roe

                                           More about     REGENT CINEMA

"The Regent Cinema at Abbeymount opened in August 1927.  The Architect was T. Bowhill Gibson, and the original seating was for 1,700.
The cinema was sold to GTC (Gaumont) in March 1928.
It closed in May 1970 and has now been demolished.  There is a garage on the site of the old cinema."
Gordon Barr
                During 19th Century cinema was instead

                                       PALACE BREWERY  (ARCHIVES HUB)

        Nearby was

                                STEWART'S BALLROOM

Stewart's Ballroom was situated at Abbeymount Edinburgh, and was originally owned by councillor John F Stewart, who apparently lived in the large house you can see just beyond the Astoria entrance in the black and white picture below.  Later it would become the Astoria and play host to many punk and new wave acts.  The final guise of the Astoria was "The Good Time Emporium" pub/restaurant