The ‘Scrambled egg’, of Royal Navy chiefs, (those that sport gold braid for those of you not in the know) is currently made up of admirals, vice-admirals and rear-admirals, in total,  forty-one top banded naval chiefs. 

P1030154 2010 July 27th An Elegant Ship

With constant cuts ‘efficiency savings’ the number of naval fighting ships stands at …..FORTYYou would, and rightly so, consider there is one admiral spare .

 Kayaks On The Thames


Well, I’ve got news for you. In the last week, I have received several letters which clearly show my elevated status, I am now addressed as Admiral M.  So, here I am chummy,  we can join forces!



It’s tea time and it is late October, I am looking through the pitted glass; it’s pitted with the salt spray that has gusted around on stormy wet winds, winds gusting at about 70 miles per hour today.  Memories of a fine pleasant Edinburgh in August this year, seem unreal on this rip roaring weather day;  it feels like it was a really long time ago.  The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The International Festival, (main stream theatre) and  the Edinburgh International Book Festival, all ‘colluded’ to start simultaneously this year. I thought it was fantastic. Virtually the whole of the city centre and many nearby suburbs buzzed with Festival. 

My shoulder and neck ached from carrying my camera,  so, there were some days as a festival-goer I gave ‘me’ a rest.  A couple of times I saw the most fascinating person, or, action, and I had nothing with which to physically record the moment. You never know what wonders there will be at Festival.  It sometimes works in your favour focussing your eyes 100% and chatting with people, like, when I climbed on a bus one afternoon and sitting facing me was the most stunningly made-up young man, who was on his way to perform in a cabaret act. Exquisite feathers of shiny and many coloured hues, for eyelashes, fluttered at me.  He had fine very pale pink lips and a white face.  All of this theatrical beauty was crowned with dressed fiery curly auburn hair. “You look wonderful“,  I found myself blurting out.  I know he was surprised, it showed. He was also pleased and he thanked me. I sat next to a woman in the seat in front of him and  there began a  friendly three-way conversation. The man rifled around in his capacious handbag, also part of the theatrical wardrobe, to find me a card for his fringe venue. Well, you can’t remember every little thing can you. No card I’m afraid, but, I did learn that the eyes transformation took about an hour and a more careful application (!!!) required about two and a half hours.

I wonder what this glorious ‘lady-in-waiting ‘ is loitering for.  Maracas perhaps?


 The Royal Mile, is about a mile to walk; the top end has the iconic Edinburgh Castle and at the lower end you arrive at Holyrood Palace, where the Queen stays when in Edinburgh.   The top end was closed off to through-traffic during Festival.  With the good weather most days, snapshot fringe performances took place.


There was all this activity  at the top end, near the castle.  Manipulating a puppet while playing a violin – what a brilliant act!

The cyclist in the picture above is a mime artist and is not moving.

Here below, onlookers filming and taking photos of the puppeteer and her fiddler



A puppet act with a difference




A quarter of the way down…. this group had a regular longer performance at an indoor venue. Here on The Mile they were providing a taster of their act.  They worked their audience well and a good crowd gathered.



And more….  the boards, like the one in this picture to the left of the stage, gives the  schedules of free Fringe acts throughout the day at the various similar stage venues here.  This is just a wee snapshot of one day at The Festival when I was wandering around exploring what was happening on The Royal Mile. There was a lot more to find in many different places.



Unexpectedly, as I watched the spectacle of the Wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton, I found myself thinking back to the first major state occasion I ever saw. It was courtesy of a friend that we saw the 1953 coronation of The Queen, relayed through a small TV screen, in black and white. Then I was a young child. As an adult, I remembered my curiosity felt much the same as I peered then and now into a surreal world.

In these theatricals there must be uncountable project managers with departmental stage managing-directors to report to. Can there be an executive CEO to pull things together? These things are so big and diverse, I think that the State occasions in the UK, would be more than Cameron Mackintosh, (Phantom Of The Opera) could handle.

As I watched today’s events, I was fascinated by the structuring of them, the type of policing control I saw, limited by what the BBC media cameras focussed upon.

The ‘Wing’s’ buses used for the extended Royal Family were a curiosity. Anyone from the grandparent generation and their offspring, populated those, (except that is, The Queen, Prince Philip and their family line). One commentator said that the mini-buses would give a connection to the people. London Taxi drivers will probably have some thoughts about the chosen mode of transport. One or two red London Buses,(low level entry platforms) would have been perfectly acceptable and easier for the less agile guests. I think seeing London Buses in use, would have been a delight.


It is less known that the Vikings enjoyed cultural interests and a Christian faith. St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney, is testament to it. From what we are told of our ancient history, the Vikings were warrior seafarers, indeed their striking double- ended long-ships together with the warriors’ cone shaped helmets, are often seen as emblems of Viking aggression.

Fittingly, today, Sunday 11th October 2009, a memorial service took place in St Magnus Cathedral, the early construction of which, is Viking. The service was in memory to the crew of the HMS Royal Oak, who, like the Viking’s before them, were at sea, but as warriors to defend the UK. in World War 2.

There were over 1000 men on board HMS Royal Oak on the 14th October 1939, when the ship was hit twice by torpedoes fired from a German U-boat in Scapa Flow, Orkney. The carnage amounted to 833 crew dead. About 400 crew were saved, many burned and badly injured. The ship is now one of a number wrecks below the clear waters of the North Atlantic and is a maritime grave.

Earlier this year I visited St Magnus Cathedral and spent quiet contemplation time at the memorial plaque, erected with respect and in honour of the crew, in particular, those who lost their lives on the 14th October 1939. So many young valuable lives extinguished in one fell swoop. Trying to comprehend the horrors of warfare, any kind, was, and still is, hard. These men and boys suffered, drowned, like many did, in World War 2.

HMS Royal Oak

Subsequently, what are known as the Churchill Barriers, were built to keep out enemy boats of any kind. The block ships, (wrecks) that were used as blockades, were proved to be inadequate by the U47 getting past them and sinking the Roal Oak. The Churchill Barriers, which have proper roads built upon them, have linked some of the smaller Orkney Islands to the main island. It took a war to do it. Prior to their war time construction, the main island was reached mainly by small boats, weather permitting.

War, so horrible an event, often produces innovation that can be used peacefully. In this case the conjoining of the small islands to the Orkney mainland is one of those peaceful and innovative outcomes that has occurred, as a result of the sinking of HMS Royal Oak and the heavy loss of life that day.


Tapping into royal phone calls merits custodial sentences at a time when we are told our prisons and police cells are full, and Home Office guidance is interpreted by the judiciary to mean that alternative non-custodial penalties should take priority over common sense and the the sentencing guidelines. The royal tapping is explained by an Old Bailey Judge, as against inegrity and the public interest and has been sentenced accordingly.

On the other hand, for Sexual Offences against children, pornographic activities, offences which have defined sentencing requirements under the Sexual Offences legislation, those custodial penalties, suddenly become off-limits, according to judges sitting in provincial courts. Are not these types offences also against integrity and the public interest and more besides? There is something completely off kilter here.