Tuesday, 27 January 2009

And Now it's Lefties of the World Unite!

Barack Obama is intelligent, handsome and powerful; he is also, like six American Presidents before him, left handed. (Garfield, Hoover, Ford, Reagan, George H W Bush and Clinton.) Neither could you have escaped; John McCain is also left handed.) Join the club, for I am, just like Barack, handsome and intelligent, though less powerful; (Ask my wife!) I am also left handed.
Cack handed, buckfisted, spuddy handed, keck fisted; scrammy handed, corrie pawed, keggy handed or just plain squiffy, you get called them all. And its seldom complimentary. Left handers in medieval times were considered by some to be evil. The word sinister in English derives from the Latin for left. You would never say of a clumsy person, 'he's got two right feet.' It's always 'two left feet, the silly chap!' A put down is always 'a left handed compliment.' Likewise a promise you have no intention of keeping is always 'a left-handed oath.' The Bible doesn't help either. Evidently 'At the right hand there are pleasures for evermore.' And which side do the goats go before they are cursed and sent into everlasting fire. No prizes for guessing.
The causes of left handedness vary according to what you read. Some preach an ultrasound theory whilst others point to exposure to a 'higher rates of testosterone' connection. There is even present day research suggesting it is a deficiency problem with the gene LRRTMI involved.
As a schoolteacher I always listed the left handers in any class I taught down the side of my register. For many left handers fell behind due to difficulties in writing rather than for intellectual reasons. In any class of thirty I would average three left handers. In a class of supposedly low ability usually a higher percentage. There is no doubt in my mind some under achievement was due to left handed problems. (I don't wish to sound arrogant but this is based on many years of teaching and observation. We left handers know a little about the problems from experience, not theoretical study.) Work benches for instance were always geared for right handers with all vices in one position only. To be told by the right handed craft teacher it didn't matter was galling in the extreme. I could have punched him, south paw variety of course. Writing desks with a board were always placed to the right of the seat and were not interchangeable. (When I left school I was for a while 'a barbers boy'. All electrical plugs were to the right of the chair. Which meant trailing electrical cables to the left hand round the back of the customer, clumsy in the extreme. It is not true we used to find pieces of customers ears in the sweeping up but I admit it was not a job for me and I left, though perfectly amicably. Customers probably breathed a collective sigh of relief.}
The Department of Education admitted in 1996 it does not collect information on the proportion of left handers or the impact of it on children in school. That's over a million schoolchildren for goodness sake! I wonder if it knows how many children there are from one parent families; or disabled children; or how many black, yellow, brown or green children for that matter there are in the system. I'll bet they do. As recently as December 2008 a report by Bristol University suggested left handed children do less well than their right handed counterparts in National Curriculum Tests. I don't expect governments to do wonders, they never do but I expect them at least to be aware of the problem. It's not just about the awkwardness of using scissors, of finding knitting difficult, of changing the strings on a guitar. Its more than that and its more an awareness problem than a theoretical problem.
In 1902 the official left handed figure in Great Britain was put at 2%. Not surprising really when they tied your left hand behind your back in school to stop you using it! They say King George VI's stutter was caused by forcing him to write right handed. In 1954 the official figure for left handers in the USA was put at 5-8%. In Britain in 1974 10.4% was quoted. Now 15% is suggested. Make no mistake, we are coming to get you! We are taking the world over by stealth. (Note the American Presidents since the war.)
We keggies are artistic: Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso. We lead, you follow: Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, Queen Victoria. We are more attractive, Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, and certainly funnier: Charlie Chaplin and W C Fields. We are often more gifted and quicker thinking. There again, as a minority group we have no choice. But I admit we are not perfect. It is possible both Adolf Hitler and Jack the Ripper were left handed but in neither case is the proof conclusive. What is evidently researched is that the average lifespan of a left hander in the western world is sixty six whilst a right hander can expect to live to seventy five. (Some think it is to do with innate clumsiness.) So being right handed has its compensations after all!
In 1998 Burger King introduced a 'Left-Handed Whopper' especially designed for 32,000,000 Americans. (It was an advertising hoax, dear friends.) Evidently many asked for this new offering in Burger King restaurants. The mind boggles.

Finally, five things you may not know about left handers. Which fact is not true.
1 Some say Eve was made from Adam's left rib.
2 On a carousel the brass ring is always on the riders right side.
3 There are in fact more adult left handed bloggers than right handers.
4 On a standard keyboard, there are 1,447 English words that are typed solely with the left hand. Only 187 are typed with the right hand alone.
5 Of the five people who designed the Macintosh computer, four were left handed.
One final thought. According to Chinese tradition, the yin (right side) lives in harmony with the yang (left side); neither side dominates. Very wise, our Chinese friends.
(My wife has just noticed the blog and says, 'Well, the bit about me being left handed is correct!)

Friday, 23 January 2009

On Blasts from the Past.

I have been blogging a mere nine months. An interesting, enjoyable past time and I have never stopped learning, in part due to many bloggers I hope I can call friends. There are some clever people out there, in the main unsung who often deserve a wider audience. And it occurs to me, a novice indeed that blogging is an imperfect media. I can immediately almost smell the distaste that some regulars, die hard bloggers who have been churning them, out, often daily from time immemorial will experience at the suggestion that a newcomer might have anything to contribute to their noble elevated pastime. Tough, I never was one to succumb to browbeating.
I recently went to a fellow bloggers entry of many moons ago, in fact the first blog the lady in question ever wrote. It was excellent in the extreme and set me thinking. This blog, once written was, after the shortest period of time, cast into eternal darkness, doomed to lie unloved, in future unread. Yet it deserved a wider audience. One weakness of blogging is suggested by virtue of its very nature. It is an immediate media, living only in the presence. Thus blogs are destined to have the shortest of lives, read by the tiniest of audiences, irrespective of the time spent in the cultivation of many a little gem. True, many a blog is born at breakneck speed, posted and thought of no more; the next blog, and the next and the next becomes the focus. But even the most prolific of bloggers occasionally write blogs that merit a second glance, that create warmer than average glows of satisfaction, if only in their creators eyes. In which case why should they be buried forever. There are surely no rules concerning blogging other than civility and good manners, unwritten but adhered to by the majority. New bloggers come along all the time. Few trawl back in any depth, it is time consuming in an ever busy world. Everyone deserves a second chance in life; blogs are no exception. With these reflections in mind I have decided to repeat one blog a month, on the first of the month. A 'Blast from the Past' so to speak.
A blog that is a personal favourite or one that I think deserves a second glance, so to speak. Sounds arrogant in cold print but it's not meant to be. New readers will hopefully read them. Regular readers will find something better to do. But if they gain a couple of new readers (it would be dozens no doubt if I were a whizz kid of the blogging world) I shall be delighted. Some if not all of these blogs will have vanished without trace, unloved and in the main unread. (Plus it appears to me there is room here for guest blogs, though this novice blogger is capable of advancing only one step at a time.) And there you are. No doubt not an original idea, but there again, 'What's New Pussycat'. If it amuses me and makes me re-read blogs its achieved something. As it says on the package, this old blogger 'looks back as well as forward'.
Friday evening. A very late thought, after a somewhat disappointing result at a football match. I need cheering up!
This blog was published, several days prior to the first of the month, earlier today. I have been pleasantly surprised at the positive response. May I make a suggestion. Anyone who wishes to join me in a 'Blast from the Past' is very welcome. Shall we, as an experiment, all do it on the same day, ie the First of February. No rules, no compulsion, the only proviso being, you state why you picked your particular blog. Any takers?

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Wrinklies of the World Unite

Ken Clarke the Nottinghamshire MP returned to the Shadow Cabinet this week. He is a Tory (boo) and sixty eight years of age (hooray). Which set me thinking more than usual concerning getting old. Now I'm one of those people who read the obituaries daily. if you don't see your name there you're ok, at least for the time being. And I've began to realise how many of us old 'uns are about. (The average age of motorhomers is sixty three; I wonder what is the average age of bloggers.)
Few of us retire gracefully. World leaders are a case in point. They seldom let go of the reins, at least not willingly. Old Fidel (82) limps on, courtesy of his brother. Kim Jong il, (68) of North Korea also limps on, possibly by virtue of cardboard cutouts, and dear old Gadaffi will be seventy in three years time. And as for Mugabe (85 next month) he's going to outlast us all, given the chance.
Though bits fall off or shrivel up daily it may be that you are only as old as you feel. The entertainment world is interesting where ageism is concerned. Des O'Connor (77) fathered a child a year or two back yet is a youngster compared to Charlie Chaplin when he had his last child. And look at the number of show business personalities who swap old for new. Rod Stewart (64), and Bruce Forsyth (80) are cases in points whilst Ronnie Woods, a mere sixty one year old, of Rolling Stones fame seemed literally out of his mind in the company of a new young twenty year old female 'friend' when pictured recently. Plus its cost John Cleese (seventy this year) a lot of money to continually 'trade in' but it doesn't seem to stop him. Do old men 'adopt' a younger women for the intellectual stimulus they offer, I wonder. Answers on the back of a stamp, please. (I was in a pub last year. An old, deaf chappie regaled everyone within ear-shot, unintentionally, with a tale as to how his viagra, obtained on prescription from the doctor, only 'half worked'. We were quite aggrieved when he left us with the story incomplete.)
We all get old but are often surprised that our heroes also age. What have James Fox, David Frost, Trevor McDonald, Melvyn Bragg and Clive James in common? They will all be seventy this year.
Some stars fade from constant view and we seldom notice even after years of exposure. Bernard Cribbens (80), (Richard Briers (75), George Cole (83) Lionel Jeffries (82), Jimmy Savile (82), Molly Sugden (86) and Alan Whicker (83) are cases in point. Others seem to have been there from time immemorial and seemingly go on for ever. Examples include Ken Dodd (81), Jean Alexander (82), Liz Smith (83), Peter Sallis (88 next month, now noticeably non too mobile in Last of the Summer Wine), William Roach (76), Annette Crosby (75 next month), Rolf Harris (78), Dennis Norden (87 next month) and Barry Humphries (75 next month)
Some people are old and look it. Joan Rivers (75) might be funny but I don't think I'd like to see her first thing in the morning. But some carry their age well. My wife thinks Sean Connery (78) is marvellous but she's never seen him without his hairpiece. (Ok, ok, so I'm jealous.) Leslie Philips (84) is still a sex symbol to some, for goodness sake. And who would have thought Michael Caine anywhere near seventy five. Come to think of it Sophie Loren (74) and Joan Collins (75) always look well, though I suspect you would have to see them as they got out of bed (please!).
We are reluctant to leave our youth. Thus Bamber Gascoine (74) is, in our eyes, forever comparing University Challenge. We still view Wendy Craig (74) and Susan Hampshire (71) as if in the bloom of youth and Cliff and the Shadows are forever young. (Elvis would be seventy three had he lived, perish the thought.)
Incidentally Vince Cable is the same age as Cliff (68). I personally think Mr Cable is far superior to the young inexperienced twerp who replaced him as leader of the Liberal Democrats. Whose name incidentally I can seldom remember.
I also think Alan Bennett (74) is wonderful, David Bellamy (75) fascinating, Terry Wogan (70) funny and Michael Parkinson (73) is no doubt talented.
This blog initially was not intended as praise for wrinklies, far from it. But the more I think about it the more I think they still have much to offer. The young should respect their elders for there is much they can learn. I listen to the elderly and I respect them. But remember, the trick is not to knock about with them too much, for occasionally they do go on a bit!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

RIP Shaun

I had difficulty on Tuesday finding a subject on which to blog. Today, for the first time ever I am repeating a blog, for which I make no apology.The inquest of Shaun Dykes, aged seventeen took place on Wednesday and Thursday. The inevitable verdict was suicide and nothing will bring Shaun back. But hopefully some good may yet come out of this obscene tragedy. The police have called for the law to be changed so that they can enforce cordons even if there has been no crime committed at the time. The public revulsion in Derby also gives hope for the future. A group of his friends have talked of a lasting memorial to honour Shaun's memory. (Others could give Derby more credibility as a caring city by naming the individuals responsible for shouting abuse and placing photographs on You Tube and Facebook. An appeal to name those involved has proved fruitless, despite the seizing of CCT tapes and press photographs.) I did say at the time I would give the idiots concerned no more of my time. I changed my mind because it is obvious the majority are caring individuals, therein lies hope.
Saturday 4th October A City Shamed.
It was with some trepidation I joined the blogging world with my first blog on the 16th April. I enjoy the fact that amongst other things it helps keep a sixty eight year old mind active. This is my sixty second blog and for the first time it a blog I did not really want to write.
Derby is a somewhat innocuous, nondescript city though it is famous in small ways for a variety of reasons. It is the home of Rolls Royce, one of the most prestigious companies of the world. Joseph Wright is a world renowned and greatly admired artist born in Derby in 1734. Herbert Spencer the Victorian philosopher was born in Derby in 1820. Dr Samuel Johnson, man of letters married in St Werberghs Derby in 1753. Samuel Plimsoll, Derby's Member of Parliament from 1868 to 1880 did much to enhance the safety of vessels at sea; so much so that he was known as 'the sailors friend'. Bess of Hardwick's tomb is in the cathedral and Derby County Football Club is internationally known though it has suffered of late.
A catalogue of events typical of the history of many a town and city in 21st century Britain. Events that I feel were overshadowed the day Derby's small claims to fame were replaced by a single act of hideous infamy.
On Saturday afternoon, the 27th September, around 2.30pm a young man climbed onto the railing at the edge of the Westfield Centre car park. At about 5.45pm the young man fell to his death; a sad event at anytime. What made this particular occurrence particularly horrifying was that it was witnessed by a crowd of onlookers whose reactions were, to say the least, mystifying.
That anyone by choice would witness the sad demise of a fellow human being defies any understanding. That some enjoyed the drama, to the extent of giving abuse and shouting encouragement to jump defies comprehension. Plus the amazing fact that some allowed children to witness the unfolding spectacle. Add the fact that some recorded events on mobile phones (in some cases later posted on internet sites) and you have a 'happening' that is mind bendingly beyond the understanding of normal people.
In the days of public hanging a mob mentality existed. It was a day out, an entertainment for all. The last public hanging in Derby took place in 1862. Have we not moved on from ignorant, uncaring times; seemingly not. For make no mistake, the actions of many bystanders was worse than those of long gone times. For we now live in the main in more civilised times. So what fuels these unthinking, uncaring fools? The word scum is an overused collective noun, but for once where these imbeciles are concerned I think it is justified.
One or two things come to mind then I will give these idiots no more of my time. Do these people now realise in the cold light of day that their behaviour was totally unreprehesible, totally unacceptable to the majority; I hope so. What causes such disregard for our fellow human beings, particularly towards those who find life difficult in the extreme. (Blame is usually directed towards too much alcohol or the fact that a diet of horror movies desensitises but no excuse carries any real weight.)
One further concern occupies my thoughts. In 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie marched on London. Arriving in Derby he changed his mind and returned home with his rag tag army. Now the fact that it was near Derby that he turned back was irrelevant at the time. He knew nothing of Derby so it was not personal. But at the back of mind is the fact that the whole world seems to have read of Saturdays sad events. How many will now view the good citizens of Derby with contemptuous disgust. No matter that the majority are caring, concerned individuals. Presumably these awful events could have happened elsewhere but it would be wrong to say I hope so. Shaun Dykes, aged seventeen, rest in peace; you deserved better of the world.
It is interesting that the original blog attracted no comment whatsoever. I am not sure why.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


I feel exhausted, there again I didn't have a very good night's sleep. I usually blog around twice a week and I knew I was about due today. So I tossed and turned all night wondering what on earth to write. I could look in the papers and be topical but it's not my style. Of any case millions out there do that already. and who wants to know the opinions of a retired, sixty nine year old, at the moment exhausted ex-schoolmaster. Which begs the question, if I'm struggling to fill two blogs a week, how do you six or seven times a week bloggers do it. Some of you seldom go to bed, that's for sure!
And what did you do in your LBB?
Life Before Blogging, do you remember those far off days. And if you do, what on earth did you do with your time! I've asked this question of several bloggers and amazingly often bloggers are unwilling to divulge such highly secret information. Perhaps life as we know it before LBB never really existed. Similarly the question, 'Why blog' receives equally evasive replies.
There's no doubt the blogging world is a godsend for many. The lonely, the exiled, the newly liberated, all welcome the opportunities offered. It is for some a club, a collection of like minded people who offer support and solice to each other, often in times of need. The benefits that blogging offers many cannot be overestimated. For others it is a chance to pontificate, without interruption on every conceivable subject. What was it Nicholas Murray Butler said. 'An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.' Which again puzzles this comparative newcomer to the world of blogging, why spend so much time for no financial reward whatsoever. (Please spare me the' There's more to life than money' spiel. There isn't if you haven't got any.)
Professional bloggers get paid, the sole reason for their often dubious efforts. Most areas have local newspaper hacks who churn out banal, often peurile blogs on a weekly basis. Not for them the luxury of choosing when to blog. It's the 'You're paid to blog, so blog' school of thought. We amateurs are more in control of our blogs, and are unpaid, so it is our choice. So why the compulsion to show others our knowledge, skill, wit. And why so public a face. I've often wondered how many bloggers kept extensive diaries prior to their rebirth as bloggers. And how many would have subjected those diaries to full public scrutiny.
I have a public speaking engagement tonight, at the St Augustines Wives Group in Upperdale Road, Derby (see blog dated Fri 6th June Talk Talk). And I get paid to do so. I get paid £164,000 for a ninety minute speech. Mr Blair also gives speeches, he gets £20 for approximately fifty minutes but has to pay his own travelling expenses. Or is it the other way round; I forget! (Bill Clinton earned $475,000 in a single day from two speeches.)I would be the first to admit there is an element of an ego tripping in public speaking closely related to blogging. Plus after a serious illness it is my way of keeping the old brain cells or what is left active. (see blog dated 18th May Hooray For The NHS). I suspect the problem comes when hobby becomes obsession. When compulsion drives ever deeper and the hobby or interest takes over. The main reason I doubt I could cope with blogging daily.
I was in hospital many years ago. The old chap in the next bed would relate hourly how many rolls of wire he would have made on any particular day. An admirable, dedicated workman who had made this wire for forty years. Admirable except that he was dying. I find that sad, surely there are more important things in life; maybe I'm wrong.
Funny thing, obsession. I know a man whose whole life revolves around twitching. (Bird watching to you and me) His wife has to dress up in a penguin suit and sit on the end of the bed squawking if she wishes to arouse him. All right, not true but you know what I mean when we talk about compulsions and obsessions.
Gordon Brown and Nigel Clough both made publicised visits to Derby last Wednesday. It is less well known that The Queen also visited. As Michael Caine would have said, 'Not a lot of people know that.'
She visited our local asylum on an informal visit. She does this sometimes you know. It tends to deflect the bad publicity the minor royals attract every time they open their mouths.
She took great interest in the gardens and was particularly taken by one old chap who was tending the flowerbeds.
'Good morning, my man,' she said to him graciously, (The Queen always does graciously) 'and what's the matter with you. Why are you in here?'
The old man sighed a great sigh. 'There's nothing the matter with me. I'm just a harmless old blogger who suffered writers blog. Broke down, cracked up and I'm now kept in here completely against my will.'
The Queen is a little deaf (not a lot of people know that either) and wasn't sure sure she'd heard exactly what he had said, but no matter.
'I'll see about that,' said The Queen indignantly (she can also do surprise, consternation, etc. She can do them all, for she is The Queen when alls said and done.) 'I'll not have my subjects locked up for nothing; even buggers. I'll sort it out when I get back to the palace.'
The old man was ecstatic. 'Thank you ma'am, thank you oh thank you.' And he bowed as bloggers do. (psst, how do bloggers bow?) And The Queen waved her hand dismissively, as queens do and moved on.
The Queen had travelled a mere ten steps when she received a large blow to the back of the head which brought her to her knees. She staggered to her feet, turned and through glazed eyes saw the old man gesticulating wildly.
'Don't forget,' he shouted, clutching another house brick in his other hand.
Enjoy your blogging, but don't take it too seriously, for you never know.
One final thought for today. Anyone any bright ideas for an epitaph on a bloggers tombstone?

Friday, 9 January 2009

Quirks of Fate

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown visited Derby on Wednesday, as did Nigel Clough. And whose visit will be remembered longest, Nigel's of course. For Nigel has become manager of the local football team..
We are rather a small time town, and county for that matter. (We are actually a city but you would hardly know.) The local airport, East Midlands, four miles from Derby incorporated the name Notts in its title for a spell, arguing that no one knew where Derby or Derbyshire was. (I travel fairly extensively in the British Isles and find this is often the case.) Rather naff but perhaps the airport authority had a point.
We have little interest in informing the world of our greatness, our superiority over other beings. (Lest it be said we lack pride, our football ground is called Pride Park, not too often with just cause, except for last Wednesday of course.
If some Yorkshiremen are exiled, they often have to tell you, ad nauseum where they are from; if you work with some Yorkshiremen they too also remind you frequently. Not imagined, alas, I have worked with many. And quite frankly, if I was expected to shout 'Derbyshire, Derbyshire' at a football match I'd be embarrassed. I have many Yorkshire friends, including bloggers, visit the county often and much of the place is beautiful; so please, no more unwanted bellicose rants in my direction.
Which all makes me wonder how others see us and our home areas.
Derby; Bonnie Prince Charlie, marched from Scotland, got as far as Derby and went home; I wonder why. Derby, home of Derby Crown China, Rolls Royce aero engines. Derbyshire, Bakewell Puddings, (they are puddings, not tarts,) a crooked spire and underrated scenery.
It is interesting how places become famous, and occasionally infamous. I have never been to Hastings but I know there was a battle there. Lockerbie, for ever remembered for an horrific air crash. (It is twenty years this week since the Kegworth Air Disaster not far from here. I wonder how many will think of this when the name of Kegworth is mentioned.) I think of Hungerford and only think of a terrible gunman running amok. Bamburgh will forever be remembered as the birthplace of the brave Grace Darling. Nottingham and Robin Hood, the White Cliffs of Dover, Dick Turpin and York, we often form a picture of many places without having ever visited.
(Concerning infamy, see blog dated 4th October. I would be mortified if Derby were to be remembered for such detestable, thoughtless insensitive behaviour. It seems to have already been forgotten. Sad in a way though I would not like it to be thought of as being typical of the place.)
We seek an identity, some more than others. Which brings me back to good old Nigel; just a football manager. A forty two year old, modest, unassuming, likeable typical Derbyshire born individual. Whose arrival in Derby on Wednesday resembled that of the Messiah. And to many he is just that. Almost thirty thousand people go to the football at Derby. That's a lot of people for a the size of the place. (population around 230,000.) Football is in a way a tribal thing, intangible but an identity for many, and in cases like Derby somewhat traditional. Many children from an early age will 'adopt' a team. Usually a famous successful team, for instance Manchester United. Right or wrong, people travel miles to go to their home matches just for the privilege of watching what they consider the best and inevitably claim 'bragging rights' over lesser mortals. None of us have any control over where we were born. I was born in Derby and saw my first Derby County match in 1948. I have followed them since through thick and thin, and boy, have there been some thin times! Without wishing to labour the point, only a football fan can realise how a successful football team can lift a town. Many years ago Nigel Clough's father, Brian became the manager of Derby County and was extremely successful and popular. History repeats itself and the whole town is agog with excitement. Incidentally life can be very quirky. Nigel Clough was born here and lives here with his family. His father came from Middlesborough but we didn't mind and he is in fact buried here.
I look at the addresses of the friends I have made amongst the visitors to my humble blog; two things spring to mind. How do you see your town/city/area. What would you expect it to mean to me? And secondly, off the top of your head, what do you know of Derby and Derbyshire?

Monday, 5 January 2009

Three Things That Make Me Happy

Who would have thought that I would be writing a list, on a machine, whose workings I don't understand, at the request of a lady thousands of miles away, all at the age of sixty nine. But why not, indeed!
Taking it for granted that family and friends need no listing being precious beyond mention, in no particular order, Things that Make me Happy.
1 Attending Derby County Football Club matches.
I expect few to understand. Its an occupation, a leisure activity sometimes without rhyme or reason. In winter it is often cold beyond belief. The seats are uncomfortable, it is impossible to leave the car park within forty five minutes of a match ending, it is also expensive and the team is frequently terrible beyond belief. (Last year we were relegated from the Premier League with the least points ever in the leagues history.) Yet our ground is called Pride Park.
It is also real, live, as opposed to television, always intriguing and sometimes exciting. We live primarily in hope and expectation. It is both tribal and traditional. I have a brick alongside hundreds of others set in the pathway outside the ground. Going from memory mine is inscribed 'The best of times, the worst of times.' (Hard Times?)
My wife attends with me, as do over 25000 diehards. Bellicose ranting and sabre rattling is not for me. I don't 'hate' the opposition as many scream weekly. But I love my football, have attended since 1948 and hopefully will continue to do so until I die. I might even consider having my ashes scattered in the penalty box.
2 Collecting.
I have what could loosely be called a 'museum'. It houses a multitude of objects, of little value in the main, but a source of pleasure and education to many. Some exhibits have been bought, some given, some retrieved from roadside skips. There is no theme, I collect anything that takes my fancy, size and space permitting.
For example:
Puppets, Jack in a Box, an Etch A Sketch and Sindy plus horse (and pram, and scooter, caravan, dog, etc,etc.)
Sewing machines, valve radios, wicker basketed child's weighing scales and cameras by the half dozen.
Butter makers, Victorian bike lamps, treddle boot and shoe repairer and magic lantern.
Victorian bottles, cut throat razors, and a grappling iron. (used for fetching bodies from the river.)
Gas masks, WW2 helmets, field telephones and Morse Keys.
The list is endless and is added to on occasion. Finding a new item gives satisfaction, I love it, the local school 'borrows' and we are all happy. Last 'in' so to speak, an old type blood pressure monitor in a wooden box. When did you last see one in use? (Bought at the car boot in Hexham Cattle Market)
You start with one item and a pattern emerges. I acquired a ceramic 'potty, to which was added a pot bedpan; along came a pot urine bottle and a stone hot water bottle and now the blood pressure monitor. This little group incidentally fascinates the infants at my daughters school. (And I suspect the young teachers who have not experienced the joys of using such objects.)
3 The Purchase of Anything New. New to me, that is, as opposed to new 'new'.
I suspect this is a throwback to a childhood that was poor in the extreme. (Poor but not unhappy.)
I remember an early Christmas toy; a tinplate, wind up toy jeep maybe five inches long.. Then a small toy cannon, even smaller that fired matchsticks. A huge leather football that gained immense brownie points with other 'kids on the block'. A second hand bike for passing the eleven plus (bought by a relative) and a Raleigh bike with Sturmey Archer gears bought from the proceeds of a paper round, aged fifteen, 7/6d a week.
A 9mm gun, surreptitiously hidden away from adults when I was around sixteen. (I now abhor guns, aged sixty nine.) A second hand 197cc Francis Barnett motorbike and later an old minivan which I lovingly brush painted. Plus a Mini Cooper S; boy did that car get me in trouble but how I loved it. Ladas, Moskvichs, Fiat motorhomes, all passed through, all appreciated, all eventually superseded.
Marriage and our first real home, a draughty, rented semi-derelict farm cottage, but we were in heaven. Five houses later and we are in the first year of what will almost certainly be our last home.
The pattern is obvious. Toy jeeps for pennies, bungalows for many thousands. all treasured but all temporary I fear. But in this material age 'retail therapy' is still as good as any drug to banish the blues. (Perhaps it is a drug.) I can buy virtually buy anything I want within reason at this stage of my life. And thank goodness I still get pleasure from the ability to purchase 'something new'. I am not known for my sartorial elegance but I must admit I do like my new corduroy trousers I bought last week. Plus my wife says my new jacket bought in the sales looks very smart. It ought to, she chose it!
Now comes the tricky(for me) bit.
I am being instructed/taught tagging by one my mentors, Frogdancer hence this blog 'Six Things That Make Me Happy.' Or in my case three! I've tagged six people, and I've probably done that wrong. The joys of getting old, technology never was my strong point even when I was still alive! Anyone can take part, feel free. If anyone out there responds, that too will make me happy.