Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Beware, Geriatrics on The Loose.

    Too short a break, yet long enough to acquire fond memories. A monotonous but necessary two hour trek up the A1, a short run away from the fume filled horror of 21st century motorway style motoring and we are in the delights of The Dales.
    A visit 'on speck' As they say around here; always an element of risk involved. For the first time in many years a stay in a 'B and B', somewhat of a 'pot luck' experience. Our apprehension soon evaporated as we met a delightful young Czechoslovakian couple 'in charge ' of our arrival at Eastfield Lodge, Leyburn, suggested by the local information centre then meeting with our hosts, Vic and Thurza Campbell, again delightfully friendly, accommodating and helpful. You know how you 'tune in'' to some people, I immediately felt at ease with this couple. Plus their efforts to keep 'customers' happy were immediately apparent. Paulette, my wife is a coeliac. (Gluten is a no-no.) Gluten free sausages appeared on the breakfast menu; PLUS gluten free black pudding! Gluten free biscuits also appeared in the bedroom; a delightful, caring touch much appreciated. And the frequent cakes plus sweet jars full of goodies always freely on offer was a delightful touch. By the way, this is NOT a paid advertisement for Eastfield Lodge. It is probably not the cheapest  "B and B in Leyburn but I bet you it's the best!
    Three days, three trips out. three memories to take home. 
    Leyburn, small market town and home of The Wensleydale Railway. We parked in a yard outside the station as an engine and carriages slowed to a halt.  Somewhat taken aback, we enquired as to procedures for travelling on the train. '"Hop on,' said the man. Bemused I explained that we only enquiring  and of any case we hadn't locked the car.  'Go and do it' said the  man 'We'll wait for you.' So we duly did so and 'hopped' on his train! Now when did your British Rail train WAIT for you as you commuted up to London!
   Our train journey was, well, different. We travelled down the line to Leeming Bar, and up the line to Redmire; or was it up to Leeming Bar, and down to Redmire! (Passing through Leyburn, again, where we stopped for a dinner break!) The service is run by volunteers; middle aged men playing at trains. Evidently a diesel train does one mile to a gallon of fuel. In the sidings at one point were several VERY decrepit engines, plus numerous equally decrepit carriages in need of restoration. I don't know the strength of the volunteer workforce but it's not enough unless they all live to one hundred! Good luck chaps, keep smiling!
    Hawes is another charming little market town. My walking days are over, certainly for the present. so I sat in the car and 'people watched' whilst Paulette explored. It has dawned on me over the past year or two as to how many old codgers, aged persons, senior citizens, call them what you will there are; certainly in Britain. The children are back at school (who said hurray) the sun is shining so 'the not so young rule'. (They say the sun shines on the righteous, they also say The devil looks after his own!
    I watched a small coach unload its cargo of genial geriatrics. (some were  not so genial; I wonder if the elderly moan any more than other age groups?) Some with walking frames at the ready. Not exactly sartorial elegance; anoraks and mackintoshes at the ready; a boiling hot day and we haven't seen a drop of rain in over six days.
    The bus in fact stopped within fifteen yards of a public house. A faint whiff of formaldehyde filled the air as the passengers alighted. One couple walked the thirty or so paces to the pub, went inside, coming out two minutes later with their drinks. They then proceeded to sit on a bench until the bus returned approximately one hour later. Ah, the lure of Hawes; no matter, whatever turns you on. And not wishing to be unkind, perhaps, like me, their walking days are over! (Do tour buses have toilets nowadays? If not I hope the couples 'plumbing systems' are better than mine!)
    Reeth, a village rather than a town. Picturesque, quaint, calming, certainly on a sunny day. Though I don't think the cafe we visited was 'with it' compared to its Derby competition; certainly not in the gluten-free department. Nothing, though the man behind the counter did offer my wife some 'soap' which she declined, Paulette muttering 'What do I want soap for' as she came out of the shop. Only the poor man had offered 'soup' not 'soap', obvious when you think about it. I put this down to my wife's advancing age; my own grasp of reality is far superior I mused. Until reminded of my own 'fau pas' the previous evening. I had had great difficulty in driving at dusk, bemoaning the fact as to how fast the nights were 'drawing in'. I drove slower and slower, finding the oncoming darkness amidst the trees. ominously dangerous. That is, until my wife pointed out that driving in failing light wearing dark, dark sunglasses is not a wise thing to do!
    We enjoyed our trip to The Dales. Good company, good food, a change of scenery, what more could you want. 
       


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

As Cliff Would Say

    Am going up north, or as Cliff would say 'I'm going on a summer holiday.' For a day or two only, courtesy of 'cat'. Er indoors! Will it be there when we get back, or will she have moved on 'to pastures new! Arrangements have been made! Still limping on in the world, literally, but life goes on, with or without us all. Looking forward to peace and solitude, without plasterers, electricians and kitchen fitters! As if anyone cares! Never mind, eh!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

As William Nearly Once Said, 'Much Ado About Nothing in Particular''.

    Made a visit to Home Bargains. Always favourite when life's a bit fraught; guaranteed to lift your spirits!
    Saw an old gentleman being 'instructed' by his daughter concerning pushing the trolley. I commiserated with him, 'we' geriatrics are used to the instructions of the young! (I talk to all and sundry when I'm out and about. Folk can always tell you to 'bugger off' but seldom do so. Thus you meet many interesting people. (People are far more interesting than inanimate objects!)
It turns out 'Edward' is Polish and a surprisingly sprightly eighty seven years of age. Edward settled in this country in 1947 and had apparently served with the Polish Air Force in the latter part of the war. (and was injured on occasion) He would be very young to do do but I have no reason to doubt his words. After the war he was a tailor by trade for many years. His mind was lively, and he was small in stature like myself. We have also in common,  including evidently the necessity of taking around twenty tablets per day to keep us alive! Edward, old friend, I salute you. Two old codgers together; ignored by the scurrying young passing by Rather useless we are now, but to hell with it, we've both done our bit for the world!
    Fifteen minutes out of my life, an unimportant fifteen minutes but interesting nevertheless. 'Look, listen and learn.' Even in such an innocuous place as Home Bargains. The couple who passed by, for instance. The young man whose conversation revealed that 'He needs to be careful, otherwise he will be 'done' for receiving and be sent down again'. How intriguing is it listening to other people's conversations!' But how frustrating when you only get half the story.
    Neither is Home Bargains in the best part of town, Not long ago, in the car park a young foreign gentleman' was trying to sell me a rather modern mobile phone for twenty pounds. I haven't got a mobile but manage quite well without one, thank you very much. Plus I bet you someone in the pub round the corner is wondering where he mislaid his phone!
    Interesting, the Home Bargain set up. A discount chain, founded by Tom Morris from Liverpool approximately forty years ago. It now consist of over four hundred shops, employing over 10,000 people, turning over a billion pounds a year.
    I think back to my Woolworth days. I worked for them from 1957 to 1959. At that time they had close to  one thousand shops but it had taken them many years to get to that size. Then in later years, bang and Woolworth's were no more. Wouldn't have happened if I'd stayed with them. (Only kidding!)
    I have many, many memories of those years. Crazy, mad years. An innocent abroad; a seventeen year old boy amidst many older, wiser, experienced women. I wince at the memories yet wryly smile. Memory of ' He 'ad me over the kitchen table before he 'ad his tea' springs to mind.' Lewd, rude, often crude yet 'ladies' whose presence was far more valuable to my education than my often boring years as a Grammar School schoolboy.
    Ruminating, (what a lovely word) I have realised, often that my mind, and presumably the minds of others have stored within, millions and millions of memories covering life from our early days.      I'm not a technical type; but I can just about appreciate that a computer stores information on what's called a hard drive and my mind is similar to the hard drive of a computer. The following information is NOT from my memory bank. Consequently I only HALF understand it all!
 Its all measured in bits (bytes?) Evidently there are around a 1000 terabytes (?). Around 1,000,000 gigabytes storage capacity. Someone else, far cleverer than me reckons the brain is capable of holding over a trillion gigabytes of memory. BUT whatever, its not an endless figure. Thats why, presumably unimportant stuff gets lost/deleted sometimes. All a long, long way from a visit to Home Bargains!
    MOST, not all of my brain is still working. Whilst that is the case, I will continue to trawl for long lost memories. It amuses me, I hope for you likewise. And a happy Christmas to you all! Its only just around the corner. At least to QVC that is the case. They have periodic offerings of Christmas goods and have done so since JUNE! They also have a compete day of Christmas advertising on the 25th of each month. Life is often mad but always interesting.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Punch and Judy Show at London Covent Garden May Fayre

Is it me or is the Whole World Going Mad?

    Do you ever see the news on television, or read the papers and conclude that the whole world's going mad; or is it just me. And you're not supposed to say 'mad' any more, it's not politically correct. Can we say barmy instead, you tell me. It all reminds me of my old favourite,  Arthur English. 'Stop the world' he used to say, 'Open the cage.' Well something like that! I know exactly what he meant.
    Here in dear old Derby they had a Punch and Judy show in a big shopping complex. Great, Punch and Judy has been going for three hundred and fifty years. And a good time was had by all. Except that a lady representing  some society or other complained bitterly about the violence; particularly the domestic violence. Granted Punch was evil personified. He threw the baby around and abused his wife. But surely Punch and Judy shows don't glorify domestic violence; and he was after all arrested by the policeman.
    An audience, including children KNOW Punch is Evil. I would doubt children would be influenced negatively by this type of theatre. I'm not going to labour the point, but there were many letters in the local paper, The Derby Telegraph; very few supported the opinion that Punch and Judy shows should be banned. What do you think?
    Derby has been hit by the recession, times have been hard for many and financial cuts seem never ending. The local council is aware of how bad things are, so they tell us. They have decided to find out what the good people of Derby REALLY need. (Are there elections coming up I wonder.) So in their wisdom they have brought in consultants to find out what we REALLY need or want. And the cost, good people of Derby? £400,000! £400,000 that could have been spent on OAP clubs or homes;  on the young, on our decrepit roads or cutting the long grass at the side of our roads. We don't need highly paid consultants to search out what we REALLY need. Less spending on banal surveys for starters would help.
    Yet our problems are tiny when compared globally. The whole world seems to be at war. Syria, Iran, the Ukraine see violence daily; war brings horrors that are almost beyond belief. Starvation, the loss of home, mass killing, all are present, often in the name of religion. Yet I doubt that we think of the world beyond our little existences for long. Most of us are selfish by nature, mores the pity. So we live almost in a bubble, not necessarily all of our making. And its the little things in OUR lives that mainly catch the eye. Little things that reinforce the idea that the world's going mad. For instance I watch QVC on occasion. What a sad person I have become! On QVC they have make things out of cards. Mindbendingly dull but whatever turns you on and all that. And do you know they were making this week? Christmas cards, for goodness sake! and they've been doing them since June!
    All these 'happenings' in the world were starting to get me down and I didn't know what to do about them. Then I went with Paulette to shop at Lidyl, parked up and realised the answer was staring me in the face. The Lidl where we shop is situated in Normanton, reputedly the roughest part of Derby but we love it. I sit in the car whist Paulette shops, not through idleness, honest, but my mobility is not good. 
    I  tend to 'people watch', always entertaining, often educational. Ten paces from my car stood a young man, around thirty years of age; unexceptional, someone who you would not normally give a second glance. He appeared deep in thought; certainly in a world of his own, oblivious of others. He proceeded to extract a 'spliff' from his pocket, studied it, put it in his mouth and lit it. For the next five minutes he smoked contentedly if somewhat vacantly; he was oblivious to passers by, of my gaze, of the world beyond the pavement on which he stood. He produced a second 'spliff' from his pocket, lighting it with the tiny but still lit end of his first, very thin 'spliff'. Finally finishing his second 'smoke' he smiled to himself and he was gone, perhaps never to be seen again.
    Whist finishing off this post my juke box played loudly in the background. The unforgettable Harry Lauder i think accompanied my efforts. And the words of his immortal song rang out loud and clear; 'Keep Right On to the end of the Road'. Now there's a thought!

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Thursday, 7 August 2014

Driving or Driven have You ever been in charge

  The world news recently included the possibility, nay probability that some cars in the future would be driverless. The technology is already here. Vehicles have been tested for thousands of miles. No steering wheel, all done by sensors via satellites. The details are almost unimportant, like it or not, change waits for no man.
     This brings possibilities that are beyond our comprehension. (Try the idea out on friends or acquaintances and step back to avoid the vitriolic comments.) Many of us, especially males consider ourselves wonderful behind a wheel. The idea of 'competing' with a driverless car on the motorway, 'driven' by a blind man is not easily accepted! Fancy driving through my hometown Derby in a car with no steering wheel, avoiding inebriated jaywalkers, the idea is fascinating. Who gets the blame when you run over someone, you or the car;  or the satellite in charge? And does this technology mean you can sleep on long journeys and arrive at your destination refreshed?
    I can understand driverless trains, but they run on rails. Plus I find aeroplanes amazing; even more so when the pilot takes his hand off whatever keeps it flying in a straight line. Surely you wouldn't drive into a dark tunnel with your eyes shut. so why do you fly in a plane that has the pilot on his break in another 'room' ( I am a geriatric who has never flown in an aeroplane; no kidding! And I wouldn't transport a dog in some of the conditions you are expected to endure on some flights I have witnessed.) Regarding the driverless road vehicles the idea is to have some of the cars on our roads by 2015. Watch this space; on second thoughts, watch that car coming down the road with the owner sitting in the back reading his newspaper.
    All of this technological talk set me thinking. In life in general; are you the driver, or are you driven! I know of many who are adamant that they are 'in charge', their 'destiny' is in their hands. Now self assurance is commendable, but I reckon, and have always thought so that we are 'driven' not 'drivers' in life.; let me tell you why.
    Throughout our short lives we make decisions. We don't have a say on where we are born. We do, to a certain degree have a choice where we live out our lives. Our qualifications and wealth, or lack of either, will, to a degree, determine where we live out our lives. We have some choices as humans, but only up to a point; my position in life is fairly well decided for me give and take a little leeway. I can't be the next King of England for instance. I'm not even king of my own castle, so to speak; my wife and two daughters see to that! I reckon the only thing I'm in charge of is the television remote, but don't tell anyone. I have limited control of my health; of any case even the richest amongst us seldom  live beyond a hundred years of age. Death is the great leveller, whoever may we be. (Concerning our religious friends, a belief in an 'Afterlife' and all that is not relevant to this blog post.)
    Its a funny old life to be sure. Our ancestors hoped, guessed their might be 'something else' to life. That's why man has always worshipped statues, idols, craven images; be they intellectual modern men living in concrete jungles  or mere natives in some real green jungle in a far off land. Modern man thinks he's so clever at times. But driverless cars, I bet few of you saw that coming. On second thoughts, it doesn't really matter. Car accidents are caused by drivers, NOT the car! When a driverless car approaches, NO problem, NO FOOL OF A DRIVER TO CONTEND WITH! Driverless cars, bring them on!


I trust you will find these Youtube films both entertaining and educational.   

Mercedes's autonomous driving on highway