Thursday, 26 March 2009

Rambo by Name, Rambo by Nature

Several years ago, aged eighteen (she is now thirty six) our daughter Alison left home for teacher training. Leaving her beloved hamster Rambo in our safe hands. Only those hands were not so safe. Rambo was an amazing animal whose party trick was to swing from a trapeze and kick the door of his cage. A feat that ceased to be amusing when one night he apparently performed once too often, the cage door was sprung and he vanished into the night. A weekend of mayhem followed. We searched high and low. The fireplace was dismantled, as was the bath surround. Both were more expensive to carry out than the cost of a new hamster. ( A plan considered but ultimately discarded as an exact match that would fool a bright eighteen year old student could not be obtained.) Just as we were considering moving to a new secret (that is secret from our daughter) address Rambo was discovered on Monday morning, fast asleep in a hole in the kitchen wall where pipes passed to the house exterior.
I wrote the following short story as therapy after a traumatic weekend. I strongly suspect this incident was the beginning of my blood pressure problems!

Rambo, a Rather Superior Hamster
Once upon a time there lived a hamster. A golden hamster, the goldiest golden hamster of them all.
He was a Syrian hamster, although he didn’t know that. And his proper name was Mesocricetus auratus, which means ‘middle sized golden mouse’, and he didn’t know that either. Something else he didn’t know was that the German word for hamster is ‘hamstern’ meaning to hoard, which is what hamsters do with their food. Come to think of it, this hamster didn’t know very much, did he.
He lived in a cage with Pricilla, Pricilla Amelia Henrietta Creighton-Smythe. “Cost, thirty five pounds from the best pet shop in town,” said Pricilla’s mummy. The cage, that is, cost thirty five pounds not Pricilla; and the hamster lived in the cage on his own that is, no room in the cage for the hamster and Pricilla. All on his own, for hamsters love humans, but are not so keen on other hamsters, definitely a case of “One’s company, two’s a crowd.”
He didn’t say much, for, as Pricilla’s mummy used to say, “Silence is Golden.” But he was a happy hamster, “A quean, fwendly hamster,” Pricilla used to say proudly, “an inquistive, an inquitive, an inquistitive, a nosey little hamster.” For Pricilla was only six and had noticeable difficulties concerning pronunciation.
It was a happy life He was well looked after and fed on peanuts, sunflower seeds and maize. In return he would perform little tricks, like juggling the peanuts and hiding the maize. “Amaizing, I’m sure he’s nuts,” said Pricilla gleefully, for six year olds are well into little jokes.
Mummy was not so certain. She had been strictly brought up not to play with food and thought it might teach Pricilla bad habits.
Being big and strong, and by hamster standards, handsome, he was called Rambo. Daddy thought it was a macho name; mother thought it vulgar and common.
Everyday Rambo exercised to keep in shape. Fifty runs around his hamster wheel; fifty runs up the stairs to the second floor of his house; fifty more to the top floor. Water bottle throwing to keep his muscles strong. Nut hiding to keep the mind in shape.
But favourite was the trapeze. Wheeeee, Rambo swung through the air with the greatest of ease, an awesome hamster on a flying trapeze. Wheeeee, backwards and forwards.
One weekend evening, when Pricilla was staying overnight at her friend Tara’s house in Wisteria Grove, the house was quiet and mummy and daddy were asleep. At least I think they were asleep.
Rambo practised and practised. Wheeeee, backwards and forwards, faster and faster. Suddenly Rambo lost his grip. He flew through the air with the greatest of ease, what a pity, minus trapeze. Rambo hit the door of his cage with a bang, the door flew open and Rambo, eyes closed, was launched into space.
Rambo landed on Pricilla’s bedroom floor with a thud, his fall broken by the sheepskin carpet. “One hundred and twenty five pounds from Mr al-Fayed’s Harrods.” said Pricilla’s mummy He opened his eyes and surveyed the scene, Rambo that is, not Mr al-Fayed.
“The night is young,” thought Rambo.
A leisurely breakfast in the Creighton-Smythe household, caviar on toast washed down with champagne, Cristal of course, was interrupted by shrieks and wails. An empty cage had been discovered.
The next few hours were hectic. Everything and everywhere was examined minutely. Boots, shoes, slippers, boxes, bags and bins, all were emptied or upturned.
Every room was subject to scrutiny: the bedrooms and the bathroom, en-suite of course; the kitchen, the lounge, the study, the drawing room, the library, the utility room and the conservatory; the linen cupboard, the toy cupboard and the broom cupboard; top shelves, middle shelves and bottom shelves; the loft and the wine cellar. Nothing, neither sight nor sound of the rascal rodent. Mother reached for her antidepressants and daddy for his whisky.
A plumber was sent for, “Double time on a Sunday, call out charge extra,” said mummy. The bath surround, marble of course was duly dismantled, to no avail. The fireplace was removed, the chimney behind examined. Mother ‘popped’ her pills, daddy made short work of the whisky.
Rambo was determined to enjoy his newfound freedom. He tiptoed into the master bedroom. Yes, Mummy and daddy were asleep. At least they were now. Rambo examined the books on the bedside cabinet.
“My! What funny positions human beings get into when they are together,” thought Rambo.
He peeped into the wardrobe. “And what a busy lady mummy is,” he thought to himself as he viewed the policewoman’s uniform and the nurses’ outfit. “And fancy keeping her school uniform after all these years.”
Rambo wandered into the playroom. The room was full of familiar faces: Barbie and Ken; Tinkerbell and Buzz Lightyear; Bratz, Jessie and Woody.
He visited the bathroom, climbed onto the sink and surveyed the first aid cabinet. Such an array of medicinal wonders. Ointments, capsules, tablets, drops, oils. To keep you awake and send you to sleep. For constipation and diarrhoea. To steady you down and lift you up. Oshadhi Oils and Armani Cosmetics, and lots and lots of pills. White pills, red pills, pink pills, brown pills; and little blue pills in a box marked ‘Daddies, Keep Out.’
Rambo tiptoed through the rooms, wide-eyed, at least as wide-eyed as hamsters can be. With hamsterish stealth, he viewed the wealth. Rambo invented a game, ‘Spot the Name’: Bang and Olufsen and Jimmy Choo, plus Linley furniture, all on view.
Dawn came and with it daylight. His adventure became less exciting, more frightening. It was cold and draughty. Everyone knows, or ought to, that hamsters hate draughts most of all.
Shrieks and wails broke the silence. Large feet, very large feet, at least to a hamster were suddenly everywhere. Almost terrified out of his wits, Rambo ran behind the Miele washing machine and climbed up the pipes. He espied a hole in the wall where the pipes went through. “A small hole for mankind but a large hole to a hamster.” Heart pounding, Rambo squeezed into the dusty, dark hole. And there he stayed.
The commotion seemed to go on all around him forever, at least it seemed like forever to a hamster. Rambo wished he had never escaped. But eventually the noise subsided. Rambo thought for a moment. “What was he to do?” But in his hamster heart of hearts he knew exactly what he had to do.
He made his way quickly back to Pricilla’s room and eyed his cage. Up the table leg he nimbly climbed. He deftly opened the cage door and, before you could say, “Happy hamster” he was in. He closed the door behind him, as any bright hamster would and settled down in his safe, warm bed in his safe, warm cage.
Time began to run out for mummy and daddy. The alternatives were not encouraging. Buy a Rambo ‘double,’ too late; leave the country, again too late; suicide, too drastic.
The doorbell rang. Mummy staggered to the door. Tara’s mummy stood at the door with Pricilla. “Good morning, Mrs Creighton-Smythe, my word you do look ill.”
Mummy leant on daddy for support. He too looked decidedly the worse for wear.
“Hello mummy, hello daddy, how’s Rambo?”
Pricilla was past mummy and daddy before you could say ‘Mesocricetus auratus.’ She vanished into her room.
“Hello Rambo, have you missed me. Have you enjoyed your weekend?” Her words drifted through the open door.
Pricilla reappeared holding Rambo carefully in her hands. “Thank you, mummy and daddy for looking after Rambo,” she said.
“It was nothing,” said mummy as she slid non-too gracefully to the floor.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Mad as a March Hare weeks 1 and 2

Still collecting (see blogs dated 6th February and 6th March) ) and already March fulfills it promise as 'Mad March'.
For instance, a the story of the cannibal on the bus in Canada. Do you remember Jasper Carrott doing a sketch concerning 'The nutter on the bus'. (Now that's non PC nowadays for a start.) How the oddities than travel on buses invariably sat next to him. I know the feeling. But the chap on the Canadian bus was ultra special. Not only did he cut off his fellow passengers head, he also sat and ate some of the 'bits'. I presume the rest of the passengers huddled at the back of the bus. Not funny but I couldn't help noticing that a judge solemnly recorded that the passenger was to be judged insane. Really, you don't say, thats almost normal on some of the school buses round here. I know, I know you shouldn't laugh at such things but if you didn't laugh you'd cry.
Moving swiftly on food figured several times in the month. Did you know that Sainsbury's in Bedford has started displaying wedges of Parmesan cheese in security boxes. Evidently thefts have increased dramatically though the Cheddar is unaffected. Signs of the times I reckon. No wonder a sign on the back of a bakers van in London reads 'No scones or cream buns left in this van overnight.' China is trying to combat drivers falling asleep at the wheel by serving free chilli peppers at service stations whilst the Indian Army no longer has snake on the menu of its survival courses. (the snake population is seriously threatened.) Instead those on the commando courses have to make do with extra chocolate, dried fruit and nuts. Not really the same is it. But the food story of the month was the young lady, aged ten in Aldershot who has been fed by tube all her life, by choice for no medical reason. But recently, offered yogurt she accepted, followed by soup and ice cream. Mother was delighted, but wait until breakfast takes thirty minutes (twenty five minutes deciding what to have). See if everyone's so happy then!
What else caught the eye. The recent discovery in Luxor of the Ancient Egyptian tomb of Amenhotep, Seal bearer of Pharaoh Tuthmosis 111 by Belgian archaeologists made me smile. Purely because it was originally found in 1880 then lost under the sand. Excuse me, but how do you lose anything as big as a tomb. They're certainly having nothing of mine for safekeeping.
A desk owned by Lord Lucan recently sold at auction for £13,200, twice the estimated amount. It was bought by an unknown telephone bidder. I'll bet it was! Though it certainly wasn't the Chinese gentleman who bought two bronze imperial sculptures (again by telephone) for £14,000,000 each in Christies Paris auction, only to announce a week later he could not and would not be paying for them. How many of us would love to bid for an item costing a million or two when our bank account is profoundly empty.
I read thieves have been breaking INTO Ford open prison in Arundel, West Sussex and stealing tools and cleaning equipment. Now that's what I call an open prison! And I loved the story of the rare whitebeam tree in a layby in Lynton, Devon. For many years it sported a 'No Parking' sign nailed to its trunk. Now at long last its been officially named as a new species by the National Museum of Wales. And the new name? 'Sorbus No Parking.' You couldn't make it up; well done chaps.
Finally something for all you out there who suspect politicians are not the brightest of individuals. Evidently Britain's fire service has been called out almost every day for the past five years helping the NHS and others to lift obese people. Sad really but I thought the verbose Tory health spokesman's comments were a classic. He demanded that the government do something about it. 'It's putting the emergency services under strain' he declared with great authority. Well done Mr Mike Penning for that Freudian interpretation of what is definitely a 'big' problem. Hemel Hemstead, you've got a right one there!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Lets Lighten the Gloom

Lest my rather gloomy last two blogs set too much of a pattern, Grumpy Old Ken or no Grumpy Old Ken I thought I'd better lighten the mood.
Glancing through the Times this month I noticed the laptop that can be programmed to show a message on screen, continuous and irremovable after it has been stolen. But much more fun, it can also be programmed to shout out messages chosen by you. Now there's an opportunity. Fancy your voice shouting out messages, in public the first time the thief switches on. Its almost worth letting it be stolen.
We live in a very technological world but it does not always provide answers. The RSPCA is having problems taming abandoned dogs. They are appealing for people to read to them. A spokesperson for a Nottingham shelter said, 'Some people might feel uncomfortable reading big novels to dogs, so they might prefer a story book.'
There is evidence that horse's milk was an important part of Botai life between 3700 and 3100 BC. (Now part of Kazakhstan) Evidently it is still drunk there, fermented into a mildly alcoholic drink known as koumiss. It may seem strange to us in the west but a variety of animal milk is drunk throughout the world. Sheep, yak, goat, buffalo, all figure in different parts of the world. Camel milk is evidently salty but good for you. (Heather Mills in 2007 suggested we all drink rat's milk as cattle emit too much carbon.)
Three different stories. Now I have always been amazed at the wit and invention of fellow bloggers so I suggest a little competition.
One, what would your message be on the stolen laptop.
Two, reading materials wanted, what would you read to abandoned dogs.
Three, If the Milk Marketing Board decide to encourage us to drink more horse's milk, what do you suggest their slogan should be.

(Normally we rush through blogs and discard quickly. I will let this small comp run alongside my next blog so anyone interested has a week to do any or all. I am also on a learning curve so to speak thus any response will be interesting. My apologies to those experts out there who set this sort of thing regularly and therefore know exactly what they are doing. You will be pleased to know there is no chance of me joining you on a regular basis.)

Saturday, 14 March 2009

TNU 137

Some people believe in superstitions. In the village where I was brought up, many countryfolk were seriously superstitious. Take salt for instance. To spill it was bad luck. So if you did spill it, you threw some over your left shoulder where the Devil was waiting. Put it on the step of a new house and no evil could enter. (And did you know that salty soup is a sign the cook is in love.) No mayblossom was allowed in the house; knives and forks were not to be crossed when set out on the table; no job was to be started on a Friday. Don't open umbrellas in the house; don't place a hat on a bed; don't place your shoes on the table and of any case don't place shoes upside down. Don't, don't, don't! Notice how it always leans towards fostering goodness and defeating evil.
Not surprising in view of the dictionary definition.
Superstition - any belief, practice or rite unreasonably upheld by belief in magic, chance or dogma.
An unfounded belief that some action or circumstance completely unrelated to a course of events can influence its outcome.
It is interesting that whilst the most cynical of individuals will profess a disbelief in superstitions, they are often the ones who touch wood for luck, cross their fingers, also for luck (behind their backs, out of sight of course) and will invarably avoid walking under ladders. We all know its a load of old rubbish of course, but we still hedge our bets. We may be clever, but matey, we ain't that clever.
Let me tell you where this blog came from, so to speak. My last blog concerned my unfortunate accident all those years ago. Even prior to the accident my bike always was a strange old machine, a real bucking broncho at speeds over fifty. Yet I loved my 'Franny' Barnett. Though after the accident I was not quite as in love with motorbikes as I had previously been. Besides the fact that my beloved steed, number TNU 137 was somewhat mangled.
Jinx - evil eye, hex, spell.
I didn't need much persuading to give it to a family friend, a Mr Vince, who was a top class engineer. Over a period of time he rebuilt TNU 137 so that it was in fact in better condition than when I purchased it second hand for the princely sum of fifty two pounds. (I knew nothing of its previous history except that the headlight had been dented at some stage, presumably a non too serious event compared to my 'happening'.)
Jinx - dictionary definition. Something or someone believed to bring bad luck or misfortune.
Only Mr Vince never rode TNU 137. He took ill unexpectedly shortly after completing the restoration and sadly died not long afterwards. The bike languished, forlorn and unloved in Mr Vince's garage for many a while.
Jinx - in popular superstition and folklore 'an object that brings bad luck.'
My cousin Dennis, whose influence was instrumental in me buying the bike in the first place, negotiated with Mr Vince's widow and bought the machine, no doubt at a bargain price. Some bargain. Dennis was an experienced motorcyclist, unlike myself and was happiest tinkering with motorcycles for hours on end. One cold winter evening he tinkered just once too often and it almost signalled his end. TNU 137 was always an awkward customer where starting was concerned. (many two stroke motorcycles of that era were so.) It often necessitated several and occasionally numerous kick starts, a nuisance, somewhat tiring and creating exhaust fumes of considerable magnitude. No matter, no danger. Unless you were in a garage with the door closed. The garage complete with a paraffin heater, lit to warm cold December evenings spent in an otherwise unheated garage. Inevitably an explosion occurred , the heater igniting the fumes. In a closed garage the heat and flames were spectacular. Dennis was lucky to survive and had to endure months of repairs to his hands and face. TNU 137 survived almost intact.
Jinx - a spell or period of bad luck.
The bike was in fact repaired, again and Dennis did in fact use it, though whether his heart was truly with that machine I never did know. I doubt he needed much persuasion to sell it, particularly as Wraggy, a family friend showed interest in buying. All that was needed was a test drive and the deal would be done. So Wraggy vanished up the road out of sight on TNU 137, face beaming at the possibility of owning such an astute purchase. And we waited and we waited and we waited. We wondered why such a short test drive should be taking so long. That is, until a crestfallen Wraggy reappeared pushing his would be purchase. Evidently he had barely left the street when he was accosted by two observant policemen in a squad car, Wraggy's driving style no doubt would have attracted the attention of even the dimmest of traffic policemen. Wraggy had of course no licence and was also therefore not insured to ride any motorcycle, never mind TNU 137. No one was amused by this debacle, least of all Wraggy. But he need not have worried. Or perhaps he did just that. Poor old Wraggy, not so old Wraggy dropped dead one afternoon before his case ever went to court.
Jinxed - to bring bad luck or misfortune. (Perhaps from Jynx, genus name of the Wryneck, a bird used in magic.)
I know the bike was afterwards used by the son of Dennis, David, who is my godson. Not on the public highway as David was still a schoolboy. And I know it was in a head on collision on a local allotment with an elderly lady in a car who had lost her way. I kid you not, though to finish up driving a car on an allotment is seriously strange. Especially where TNU 137 lurked. Fortunately the only human injuries was the boy's pride.
I often wondered what happened to TNU 137. it may be still out there. But in the unlikely event that you are offered a small, green, vintage, battered motorcycle, do yourself a favour. Check the number plate. And if it happens to be TNU 137 do yourself a favour and run away; fast!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


How many of you can say with certainty what you were doing on a given day ten years ago? Twenty years? Thirty or forty years, or even fifty?
On Tuesday the 10th March, 1959 the Tibetan people rose up against the Chinese invasion of their country in what was to become known as the Lhasa Uprising. On this same day I had an altercation with a builder's lorry whilst hurrying to work on my 197cc Francis Barnett motorbike. The lorry won comfortably.
The young lady on the back of my bike was mercifully thrown clear. Myself and the bike finished up underneath the lorry. After the impact, as the steam settled I vividly remember looking up at the lorry underside, too close to the hot exhaust for comfort. Actually comfort is completely the wrong word. I was pinned under the bike and I distinctly remember holding my breath in the mistaken belief that if I breathed it would be my last. I had passed so far under the lorry (from sideways on) that the wheels passed over the edge of my helmet. Was it luck, providence that I survived, you tell me. A posse of men were summoned, they lifted the lorry (who needs Superman, the British public are wonderful when they need to be) and I was pulled clear.
My passenger received a serious laceration but fortunately nothing more. There seemed no lack of volunteers to examine her legs. I had a badly broken leg and ankle and less serious, as far as I knew, head injuries. (Who knows for certain whether they were accountable for some of my 'actions' over the past fifty years.) I remember some fool of a woman's audible comment 'Ooh, look at his face.' Consequently I refused to remove my arm from covering my face until I arrived at a hospital. Silly woman! The main feeling I remember is of acute embarrassment at the whole affair. I would have left the scene had I been remotely able. All in all not a day easily forgotten. The ride to hospital was uncomfortable in the extreme, a trip in the back of the lorry would have been less bumpy. But my surgery and treatment in three hospitals, brilliant. Hurray for the NHS.
Prior to this accident I fell off the bike or had near misses on several occasions. I was also in the habit of taking with me to work on occasion a young lad from Borrowash who, slightly younger than myself was also besotted with motorcycles. Being underage to own a motorbike, he could not wait to own a bike of his own, which he duly purchased on achieving the statuatory age for owning a motorcycle, that age being sixteen. Within weeks he was dead, killed instantly on colliding with a stationary lorry less than three miles from where I met my Waterloo. My interlectual capacity was even less then that it is now, but I could not help but wonder, why him and not me. Six months later, patched up, I returned to work. Not the job I had been employed in previously. March 10th, 1959 was one of the life defining days of my life.
As I sit at my computer all these years on my rebuilt appendage twinges in sympathy. I still have the helmet plus the marks made by the lorry tyres. Alas, I no longer have my youth. Stupid, wanton, foolish youth. so enjoyable, so unpredictable. But at least I'm still here, just! Have you swanned smoothly through the ages. Or have you had a life defining moment in your life that decided for you the path your life would take. Think about it and, whatever your beliefs, say a silent prayer.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Good Old February

I steadily collect material for 'Is the Whole World Going Mad or is it Me'. (See blog dated 13th February.) You might think it is difficult to find items. Don't you believe it. Take February for instance, what caught the eye, bringing moments of merriment and occasionally horror to these gloomy, doom laden times.
You can always rely on the older generation to make the news. I thought the pensioner who hit a teenager with rolled up papers after the miscreant damaged flowerbeds deserved a medal rather than a conviction for battery. (Newton Abbot Magistrates Court.) She, the pensioner was on her way from a church meeting. She was definitely in good company. Take seventy one year old Geoffrey Dornan for instance. Mr Dornan was fined heavily for being a danger to pedestrians in Southport town centre. How, he was roller skating of course. Don't all pensioners roller skate! The magistrates said he was a danger to pedestrians, Mr Dornan said he always gives way to pedestrians hence his appeal against a very heavy fine. (£300 plus £1792 costs.)
Some of us might be old but there's life in us yet. There certainly is in seventy two year old milkman Robert Holding. To do the job at all says much for his stamina. Plus Mr Holding is also very community minded. As well as supplying milk he supplied a little extra for his elderly regulars in the form of cannabis, conveniently split into small packs and stored in an egg crate on the back of his milk float. Evidently his prices were very reasonable, as no doubt his oldest customer, aged ninety two would testify.
We oldies might have had our day but at times I actually feel sorry for the young. Evidently a GCSE science paper awarded Grade C's to pupils correctly scoring 20%. (ten right from fifty five.) Surely that does no-one, the young included any favours. The boards defence was breathtaking gobbledygook in the extreme. With pompous fools at the top the young have no chance. Not that academia has cornered the market where stupidity is concerned. Swiss doctors reported a new condition 'idiopathic palmar eccrine hidradenitis'. (Idiopathic means arising from an unknown cause.) Condition solved almost by chance. Evidently the condition cleared up when the twelve year old patient desisted from vigorously using Playstation joysticks for a few days. I would like to think the whole thing was a joke, alas I doubt it.
February, just another unexceptional month. A month in which the only surviving Mumbai gunman is to be charged with, amongst other things, being on a railway platform without a ticket. Oh for the law and lawyers fees. A month in which Npower says Westminster Council mustn't call its electric car refueling stations 'juice points' as Npower consider they have the copyright of the word juice. ('Npower juice'.) I ask you! The Dalai Lama joined Twitterati, Downing Street flew the Union Jack upside down and a barman in the Jolly Farmers, in Ormestry, Norfolk put the pubs taking in an oven, not realising it was lit.
Finally a ray of hope in a dark, snowy month. (Did you notice even the penguins in London Zoo, Humboldts excepted, refused to go out in the snow.)
A team at the University of Essex have identified a variant of a gene known as a serotonin transporter. People who inherit this varient gene tend to avoid negative thinking.
Are you one of those who 'always looks on the bright side of life'. If so, lucky you, but spare a thought for those who are not so lucky. You can't buy serotonin transporters, you can only inherit them!

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Blast From the Past number 2 (see blog dated 23 Jan 2009)

Reasons for Choice

This was the fourth blog I ever did. Written more in hope than anticipation. I think it also shows how limited my technical skills were. I vaguely knew what I was trying to do and I also had no real idea as to the scale of the blogging world. I had no idea as to the talent out there nor how to contact others who had similar aspirations as myself. Ten months later on a scale of one to a hundred I reckon I now understand around twenty per cent of what to do and how to do it. Of which the majority of my new found skills have probably come from fellow bloggers. (Is a female blogger still a fellow blogger in this politically correct age?) I didn't even know how to puncuate/paragraph a blog. (And I still don't know how it works!) It was also yet again a blog that elicited no response whatsoever.

Anyone Out There Wednesday 23rd April 2008

I'm just coming to terms with the fact that I'm now a real live blogger. Only I have to confess that not for the first time in life I don't really know what I'm doing. Not surprising really for someone who still calls the radio a wireless and who thought a mobile phone was supplied with a couple of hundred miles of cable. And who incidentally still doesn't own one never mind knows how to work the things. Now I reckon this aversion to modern technology is definitely genetic. My old granny lived to nearly a hundred but was never au fait with the twentieth century. The family clubbed together and bought her a television which she loved. Only she didn't think much of switches so she watched whatever it was tuned in to. Visitors were for changing channels, but as there was only a choice of two, channels that is not visitors she didn't seem to mind. Though the testcards of days long gone confused her somewhat. 'Normal Service will be Resumed as soon as Possible' appearing periodically on the screen would be received with blank incomprehesion. Plus a visit to next door and the question, "My television says its not working at present, is yours the same?" Endearing eccentricity, though not dangerous which unfortunately was not the case of some of grannies' disregard of twentieth century technology.

Her old fireplace range was a delight to behold on a cold winter's day, her cottage homely and inviting; the fire blazing, the oven awesomely hot. The smell of bread and cakes bewitching, the smell of burning tupperware less so. For granny was inclined to place in the oven any cookware that lay to hand. Believe you me, the smell of melting tupperware is disgustingly unique, its removal from oven surfaces would test the capabilities of any space age cleaners that were yet to be invented." This modern stuffs rubbish," declared granny defiantly. The alarm bells began to ring, figuratively speaking. But grannies' next trick suggested imminent alarm bells of a non figurative nature. Plastic buckets are fine for transporting general household rubbish, not sogood for hot coals. One day granny trooped obliviously through the parlour to the yard outside, oblivious of hot coals littering the lino and peg rugs in her wake; the by now empty bottomless bucket lighter by half. Which signalled the end of one black leaded range, mores the pity, but not for many more years one indefatigable old lady who never really willingly left her Victorian youth. Now I'm sure granny would be proud of me.

Fast forward over fifty years and you have an individual just as out of touch with the 21st century. Light switches, yes, I can just about cope with. Car heaters, no, if the wife is not with me I travel frozen in winter, with the windows open in summer. Washing machines, totally incomprehesible, though some would say there's method in the madness there. I'm not allowed a bank card because the card vanishes after three attempts at getting the number right or I lose the silly things anyway causing panic by everyone except me. I reckon I'm laid back. my wife calls it irresponsible. And there must be other people who have put their library books on top of the car and driven off. Modern living, too modern at times for me. The mechanic at the garage tried to explain that the engine in my car is a rail engine. The only rail engine I knew had a chimney on top and numbers on the side which we avidly collected. Which all adds up to an individual somewhat unsuited to the idea of blogging'with talk of tags and posts and html's. And in a way this is where you came in.

Do you remember in the olden days you went to the pictures, now poshly called the cinema. You saw a main film, plus a second film, plus a newsreel and some adverts. Do you remember entering the cinema half way through the main picture. And you watched the rest of the film, plus the second film, then the newsreel and the adverts. Then the main film again until you got to the bit where you came in. Groundhog Day and all that. So off you went, had some chips and five woodbines and still had change out of five bob. Or so I'm told! If you believe that you believe anything.

And the point of all this you might well ask. That is exactly the point. Is there anyone out there. Week two of my blogging career, life, experience, call it what you will. I look expectantly, hopefully for signs of life on planet blog. A friend encourages by posting the first ever comment. Thanks friend. I'm now told I need some sort of counting device to tell me whose visited planet GrumpyOldKen. The talk is of analytics and I glaze over once again. But maybe we are getting there, time will tell. At least there are worse things I could be doing; honestly?