Dry News from Southern Iraq

Letter from a mate of mine based out in Iraq:

“Sent: Fri, 19 May 2006 08:16:44 +0000

Hello all,

Its strange to think that 2 years ago I was sitting in the same dump as I am
now, using the same computer to write to you all – I never thought I’d be
doing this again so soon! I’ve been here 40+ days now, and it does not
really feel like I have ever left. The camp we live in is much the same –
although now has loads of sand bags everywhere trying to protect ourselves
from the crap that the locals decide to ‘send in our direction’ if we piss
them off. ie. do our job! The other night we had 50+ mortars which was an
experience and a half. There’s not much you can do; you put on your body
armour and helmet etc and then lie down on the floor and hope the next shell
does not rip apart your room. We were very lucky – quite a few people were
out and about, so we only had 3 casualties – all of which will be fine,
although we did have 3 portacabins ripped apart and so now everybody is
double bunked so to speak.

The work we are doing is exactly the same too – I’ve now met up with quite a
few of the locals I knew before. Thats fine, as they give you lots of sweet
coffee etc and want to chat about the rest of the world and catch up as if
you were an old friend etc… The rest of them to be honest are the lazy,
good for ‘othing scum bags that are wasting millions of pounds of our money.
Nothing seems to have improved. All the projects that were started are
really poorly built, as everybody in the world seems to have taken a cut –
and yet they still complain. V.V V annoying.

How is life back in the UK? What I would give for a pint in a beer garden!
There must be something happening – people off traveling etc so let me know
so I can pass the time/day dream. On the plus side I hope to have an awesome
tan by the time I come back. (Nov) Yesterday it reached 65 degrees in our
tanks – nice, and so far we have had 3 catch fire from over heating. Its so
much fun, and even gives the fire crews something to do.

Not much else happening. Keep in touch, take care”

Get Your St.George Facts Here

  • In the UK we’re lacking in Bank holidays and a national day as such. Like most Englanders though I don’t actually know a great deal about our patron saint. As we’re so busy at work I took it upon myself to find out. On your behalf.
  • Born in Cappadociam, Turkey (or Georgia) in about 280 AD and grew up in Palestine. Said to have served with distinction in the Roman army, holding the rank of Tribune (Colonel).
  • It is certain that he had become widely venerated as a personal intercessor as well as a symbol of military virtues, some time before he was officially proclaimed ‘protector’.
  • St George is the patron saint of the following; England, Netherlands, Catalonia, Lebanon, Canada, Germany, Greece, Sicily, Portugal, Slovenia, Lithuania, Russia, equestrians, farmers, sheep and in the tradition of saving the best for last – leprosy, herpes and syphilis.
  • It is probable, according to the early accounts, that his family was of Dacian origin, because of his tall stature and fair hair.
  • Patron Saint of England since at least the reign of Edward III in the 14th century and universally recognised as a saint for some 1,600 years.
  • It looks like date of 23 April has previously been a holiday in England in honour of St George since 1222. In 1415, when English soldiers under Henry V won the battle of Agincourt, the Archbishop of Canterbury ordered St George’s Day to be one of the country?s greatest feasts and celebrated like Christmas Day with only vital work undertaken.
  • The holiday lost its general popularity after the Protestant reformation in the late 18th century.
  • He is believed to have enlisted in the Cavalry of the Roman Army at the age of 17 during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian and quickly established a reputation amongst his peers for his physical strength and good looks, virtuous behaviour and valorous military bearing.
  • He was apparently tortured over a period for publicly declaring himself a Christian and protesting against the persecution of Christians. He was beheaded at Lydda (Lod) in what is now Israel on 23rd April 303AD.

  • The evidence about his early cult strongly suggests that his martyrdom took place in extraordinary circumstances, perhaps connected with the destruction of a local pagan temple.
  • Probably he first became popular in England when his reputation for virtue and chivalrous conduct became the spiritual inspiration of the Crusaders, who told of his heroic acts in the cause of Christianity.
  • The Cross of St George is the red Greek cross of a martyr on a white or silver background symbolising heaven.
  • During the Crusades the pennant or flag of St George became prominent as a means of recognition for English Knights. The Cross was also worn on shields and breastplates and on badges over the shoulders.
  • The Cross of St George was first used as a symbol of England in 1277 by the army of Edward I. Richard II later made it the flag of the English army.
  • St George’s Day is the first day of camping(!)(?)
  • The legend of St. George and the Dragon has it that the citizens of Silene in Libya were being terrorised by a dragon. To keep it at bay, the townsfolk offered it sacrifices, first of sheep and then of children and young people. When the turn came for the king’s daughter, Princess Cleodolinda, to be sacrificed, St George rode up on his white charger, dismounted and fought the monster on foot until it eventually succumbed. He then dragged the dying monster into the city with the Princess’s girdle and slew the dragon in front of the people. St. George was greeted as their deliverer and the king offered him a bag of gold as a reward. This he refused and asked that it be given to the poor.
  • His feast date, April 23, is the Day of Aragon (Spain) and is also holiday in Catalonia (Spain) where it is traditional to give a rose and a book to the loved one. This, together with the anniversary of the deaths, in 1616, of Cervantes and Shakespeare, has led UNESCO to declare April 23 as World Book and Copyright Day.
  • In the 13th century, there was a Guild of St George to which the Honourable Company of Pikemen were related. They later evolved into the Honourable Artillery Company.

South African Skydiving

Got back Friday morning from the best holiday I’ve had in years. What a beautiful country. Cape Town I think is in my top 5 cities. (London, Sydney, Udaipur maybe, ?). And if you’re going to stay there, stay here. Really nice bunch of people running it, clean etc. and a good vibe. Best hostel I’ve stayed in anywhere maybe even, they’ve got the cheap dorm for when it was just me on my own and then a bit more of an upmarket side for when the mrs joins you.

Spent the first week doing my AFF (advanced freefall) skydiving course. Been meaning to do it for years and am so glad I did, one of the best things I’ve ever done. But now I need to go on and get my license so I can do more funky stuff up there.

Room 101

I’ve never claimed to be the most tolerant of people. The following things persistently get my goat.

Last update: 07.03.2009.

  1. Small talk. Say something worthwhile or enjoy the silence
  2. ‘Child on Board’ signs in cars
  3. “Haitch” instead of “aitch”
  4. “Almonds” without the silent ‘l’
  5. Those who are offended by swear words. They are only words
  6. “Expresso” instead of “espresso”
  7. Whistling. Wolf whistles are ok as there’s a purpose to them; but aimless, tuneless whistling is unfathomable
  8. Those who feed pigeons, therefore keeping the varmint populous. Ken was right there too.
  9. Those who use an acronym regularly without taking the time to find out what they stand for. Top tip: Acronym Finder
  10. Those who ask the time whilst they’re sittng in front of their computer – It’s right there in front of you!
  11. People who ask bone questions. Top tip: Google
  12. People who use cutlery knives as if they’re some kind of writing implement. This group of people always think they have impeccable table manners
  13. People who drive slowly. Especially those who hang behind me when I’m cycling because they can’t work out the dimensions of their car
  14. Push-chairs in non-push chair areas. They get in the way, they’re lazy and carrying the baby is better for you both
  15. Dummies/ pacifiers
  16. Sandwiches cut at right angles
  17. Sultanas/ currants in savoury food
  18. Western beggars. Stop kidding yourself. Get a job. And a haircut.
  19. Waiters who persistently try and take the chutneys away at Indian restaurants. I need them for the duration of my meal
  20. And waiters who take plates away while other people are still eating
  21. People who talk during movies, home or cinema
  22. The Mail and The Express newspapers and their readership
  23. Bitten or badly cut nails
  24. George W. Bush, Trump, obviously
  25. Obese people
  26. Obese pets
  27. People who don’t cross out the completed words’ clues when doing crosswords
  28. People who put burnt matchsticks back in the box…
  29. …or sweet wrappers back in the packet
  30. People who aren’t forthcoming in getting their round in. You know who you are
  31. The speed of the average pedestrian
  32. People who are obsessed with writing lists. Clever hey
  33. Mariah Carey
  34. Men who tuck their ties in
  35. Short sleeved office shirts
  36. Women doing their make-up or brushing their hair in public, surely it kind of defeats the purpose
  37. People who put their feet on your bar-stool
  38. Grubby mitts on my monitor
  39. Eating with your mouth open
  40. People in suits AND trainers. It looks ridiculous
  41. Pen-clickers
  42. Pen/pencil-biters
  43. Eamon Holmes
  44. Vanessa Feltz
  45. Angela Rippon
  46. Andie MacDowell
  47. Electric hand-driers
  48. Big Brother
  49. The outrageous wastage inherent to the civil service
  50. Heat, Closer, Hello, OK and Now magazines
  51. Doggy-doo-doos left anywhere that the public might go
  52. ‘Ms’. Get off the fence
  53. Women who try to conceal their year of birth.
  54. Short-sleeved work shirts
  55. The modern version of R’n’B
  56. Fake ‘smarties’ on gingerbreadmen
  57. Comic Sans
  58. People who pull the hand-brake on without depressing the button
  59. Middle England(ers)
  60. Richard Hammond

James Killian Spratt

Hi, James Spratt!!

This is James Spratt!! I’m a sculptor, living in western North Carolina, USA; I’ve just been online about 4 months, ain’t it great! I’m a cousin of John Spratt, SC senator, an acquaintance of Charles Spratt, canuck artist (and I do like his style), and proprietor of www.sprattart.com, my newish and still-a-buildin’ website. Say, what’s your middle name?
Funny story: three pals of mine and I are on a Harley rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. I sign us up for a table in a restaurant and step out to wait. The girl yells “Spratt, party of TWO!” so I turn round to correct her, to meet James Spratt, from Oregon, and his new bride, on their honeymoon. Lots of “Gee, whizzing and laughs all around. Small world, huh. Wanna bet there’re 2.4 million James Spratts in the world? Only the census bureau knows for sure, har-de-har-har!! Nicetameetcha, gimme an email.

Yours, James (snicker!) Spratt

jspratt at cytechusa dot com