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

Self-Driving Car Test: Steve Mahan

Monday, 28 July 2014

That's Life plus a Modern Miracle.

    Since my last post the world news has been dominated by conflict.With it has come inevitable destruction, horror, fear, terror Mankind has a great capacity to inflict pain and suffering. I am not clever enough to understand the reasons why. But I weep for those involved. All too often it is the innocent who suffer most.
A plane is shot down on the Russian border with Ukraine. Many die, none connected with the those responsible for the carnage caused. It is probable that the plane downed was not an intended target. No matter, missiles kill; boundaries, territory, possessions, how unimportant compared to the lives of innocents.
War continues to rage between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Who is in the right, in a way, again no matter. Those suffering most are so often women and children. No amount of protestations by either side can justify the sheer terror and desolation brought about by bullets and bombs; often in the name of religion.    
    Meanwhile life for others goes on. None of us chose to be born. Our little lives are lived out and then we die. So, as Mr Pepys did all those years ago, I put 'pen to paper', though not literally and record what has happened in Grumpys little life since my last blog post. ( have never been sure why I blog. They are a source of reflection as time passes. Plus at the back of my mind I like the idea that someone will keep these blogs; what did someone say, 'Chance is a fine thing'!)
   We are wandering through life at the moment minus a kitchen. Of mind bending importance to no-one but ourselves, Paulette and I. When it annoys us as it frequently does I think of the many people in  the world who have no roof over their heads, never mind the luxury of a kitchen.

    Our children and the well being of their families are important to us both. Daughter Sarah's dog ate the sofa very recently. Well not the complete sofa, but large enough chunks of it. A night in the vets, again, worry for all and hands in pocket time. This dog is literally mad, sadly and is incapable of learning from experience. Two days later it ate a soft toy on a key ring. Stolen from a work top, I might add; dogs, like many humans, never learn.   
    The love of daughter Alison's life is PCV 830Y, a battered but much loved Volkswagen  motorhome, circa 1982. Not the most reliable vehicle on the road but it tries. At least it tries our patience! Recently, very recently it occupied space, once again in a local garage. A probable cause of at least part of the problem was located. A nest of field mice had been living in the air filter; I kid you not! The nest was intact, the occupants had eaten some of the paper air filter but no sign of the mice themselves. They could in theory have been sucked through the carburettor but unlikely. How long had they been there no one knows. (Alison has had trouble with mice inside the motorhome for some time.) This may or may not have been the problem prior to this garage visit; the van is old and not new to garage visits. Only this time they couldn't fix it. Three days and much trying later it was low loaded back to its home here in Sunnyhill, Derby; at the moment a very sunny Sunnyhill.
    Now daughter Alison is a very popular young lady not least on account of her 'sunny' nature. ( goes with the territory methinks). Plus she knows an extraordinary number of people. (That is not to say daughter Sarah was ever without admirers. I can remember one such admirer fixing her car at the crack of dawn on the road in front of my house but that's another story. I was still in bed by the way!)
    Alison received several offers of help. James spent time at Alison's but the problem was beyond his comprehension and he is an expert. PCV 830Y was low loaded, again, to the garage premises of an 'old gentleman' the other side of town. (I wonder how old the gentleman is. I am seventy five next birthday, is he older than me I wonder. ) After many hours of examination with the aid of other 'experts' defeat was acknowledged. (Alison was due to go on a pre-booked short holiday this weekend but she was told 'no chance', somewhat inevitable I thought. Devastated by it all, not unconnected with the price of a reconditioned engine, she went out and bought a tent.

       Paulette's mother Francoise, referred to as Nana by Alison, Sarah and great grandchildren died in 2011 (see blog dated    ). Much loved by all her family, her presence is still felt at times by many, particularly so where Alison and her family are concerned. They 'talk' to her on occasion, very relevant, for Alison admits that the dilemma concerning PCV 830Y was the subject of 'discussion' with Francoise.  Now Francoise was everything to us in life, but never a mechanic!

    The old gentleman with the garage phoned to request the removal of PCV 830Y. Only to ring very soon afterwards. He was in a state of great excitement, ecstatic even. He had been disconsolate in the extreme that the problem had defeated him. Having had one last go prior to the vehicles removal he had turned over the engine and been amazed to hear the engine fire. A new battery was procured (this it was suggested was part, but only part of the problem), Alison was united with her pride and joy.         Gingerly driven home, loaded with the paraphernalia associated with the joys of camping with three children, new tent and a dog Alison left Saturday morning for a weeks 'camping' at or near Market Bosworth. (A place very important to the history of this country.)
    As I speak PCV 830Y is still running, albeit a somewhat stuttering, unconvincing 'running'. The grandchildren are enjoying it, plus Ted has had one near miss in the lake. I await their return with interest and not a little bated breath.

(We have had problems with Blogger for some time. I would expect to lose readers over time but hopefully not nearly all! We (my wife and I) have had to change email address etc. We are not sure we've done everything right. Would one or two kind souls 'visit' and to see that we have no further problems. One or two comments would also reassure us that we've done everything right as Blogger has requested/demanded.  Thanks!)