Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Thinking, just Thinking.

    I sat in a wheelchair, alone in the middle of a shop this week whilst my wife shopped. Operation imminent, wheelchair borrowed. A strange, lonely experience until a middle aged man deliberately came over and talked to me. A sociable thing to do from an aware, affable individual. If he did nothing else that day , no matter, his action towards me was positive, meaningful, deliberate. I must have spent too long this summer just sitting, brooding, because, by heck, it didn't half set me thinking.
    Some more 'What are we here for; what's it all about moments.' ( Those of a religious 'bent', please forgive me, but it's not for me. Lovely idea, this afterlife thing, but too many aspects that don't make sense to me. For instance, Saturday you die, Sunday you're sitting alongside God. (Who?) And, is my mum, died in 1953, still my mum? Is she still forty seven. And will I be able to ask Roman soldiers questions. (I was always interested in Roman soldiers at school.) And so on and so on and so on. Please, no more deep questions concerning 'The Meaning of Life'. Instead, lets just 'muse' for a while on life. (What a lovely word is 'muse.)
    What a strange life it must be for Stephen Hawkin. One of the cleverest men in the world, totally paralysed, able to communicate only by using a speech generating device. Presumably in his mind he has physical movement. Having said that, who am I to ''presume' for anyone!
    This week 'they' reckon there will be 7 billion people on earth. 'They' reckon also from the beginning of time there has been 108 billion humans over the past 50 millenium. All beyond me but I was never any good at maths!
    Saw some programme or other on Monaco, noticed some very, very rich people sitting on boats. Some of them will never work in their lives and will never have to. What is the purpose of their lives. Indeed, does life, any life have to have a purpose? A man I know does a mundane job and hates every minute; he has only twenty or so years to go. Another man I know has an equally boring job but doesn't mind doing it. Is that ok; are both men wasting their lives on earth?
    Who is the very cleverest man (or Woman) in the world. Do they sit and ponder (another nice word, ponder) I wonder.
    All brought on by my imminent operation. Time marches on, we are all born, we live and we die. Role on Christmas, and, as Arthur English  used to say, 'Play the music, open the cage.'

Monday, 21 October 2013

Reasons to be Grumpy.

    People sometimes remark on my choice of blog name. 'You don't seem grumpy to me' they say and in the main they're right. I reckon I tend to look on the bright side. Of any case, you don't really want to leave my posts feeling depressed, do you. So when I do feel like a moan (we all do sometimes) I like to have a real go so here goes, three for the price of one!
    Does Vince Cable, MP get on your nerves; he does me! I There's something about the man that irritates me. I find him pompous, self important, arrogant, self congratulatory. The sale of the Post Office was over subscribed; seven times over; the potential financial loss to the country was terrific. As Business Secretary he seems to be the only person in the country who seemed surprised. He's being hauled before a committee to explain his actions; good!
    When the Thames Link contract was put out to tender it was awarded to Seimans, a German company with a history of dubious deals. Result, sixteen hundred people lost their jobs with Bombardier in Derby, my home town. He, Cable, our not so beloved Business Secretary was called to Derby to explain his thinking. His reply, 'I didn't know Derby was a railway city.' What a plonker! Don't you have Civil Servants to inform you on such things! For your information the railways first came to Derby in 1840. (Swindon, York, Darlington, Doncaster and Crewe are five more well known railway towns and cities.)
    How long do we have to wait for your next 'bodge' I wonder, not that I expect you to apologise for your crass incompetence.
    Members of Parliament are not renowned for their humility, or their honesty for that matter. MP David Laws appears on television as Lib Dem Educational spokesman far too often for my liking. Mind you, once is too much for me. This is the man who fiddled, there is no other word for it something in the region of £40,000 in expenses so that he could house his boyfriend in a house that he owned; if you or me did likewise we could well end up in prison, where I think he ought to be.
    And one more makes three! A year or two ago my local pub went the way of many others, it became a Tesco Express. I had no strong opinions on the matter. Plus my wife was pleased, so I was pleased and it has its uses. My wife is a coeliac so life for her is never easy. (A Coeliac must have a gluten free diet, never easy, often very difficult. Imaging buying cakes for your family but not being able to eat them yourself. Paulette, my wife found somewhere selling gluten free fish and chips recently, the first time she has had fish and chips since 1985!) The Tesco Express shop has/had a small gluten free section, a source of great excitement to my wife. I use the past tense because the gluten free facility was withdrawn in all Tesco Expresses recently. The young manager says it was obviously not because of' space reasons. (The staff are pleasant and helpful, a fact I mentioned in a recent 'local' survey in the place.)
    I e-mailed Tesco and pointed out that their apparent interest in customers is mere lip service. In fairness they did reply but the young lady who rang was seemingly following a script. There is, I believe, no REAL interest in customer needs, interests etc. In view of the poster at the front of the building, hypocrisy of the highest order. I would have loved a REAL reason for gluten free food withdrawal. Too much hassle, Tesco? So life goes on, big business rules and profit is king. 'Tesco cares', whose kidding who, Tesco!
    We seem to be ruled and surrounded by moronic, greedy, hypocritical 'fat cats' who don't really care for anything in life but their profits, their image, their selves. Another of the big six energy companies put up their prices today, well above inflation. It's caviar for some, another trip to a food bank for others. But why should fools, incompetents and downright liars take up my time. Instead a short tale concerning real people in this often corrupt and greedy world.
    My wife and I had a meal recently in a local garden centre. (Those gluten free fish and chips were the lure!) A young lady was present and caught the eye. Slightly built, leather jacketed, jeans, complete with facial adornments; many, particularly of my age group would probably not approve. She was accompanied by a frail, elderly lady. And the young lady's  care and devotion was extraordinary, eye catching in the extreme. I have never ever seen such obvious care and concern from one person towards another. There are some good people out there if we care to look. Thank you, young lady, for restoring my faith in human nature. (Apparently the couple were part of a family gathering. The young lady was a physiotherapist and the family group was from Newcastle way. 'Good on yer, lass.')

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Art Mimics Life, or is it Life mimics Art.

    I sat on the bedroom floor at 7am this Saturday morning; I didn't mean to! I had sat on the duvet, a shiny 'posh' affair chosen by my wife,  preparing to go to the toilet (me not the wife) when I suddenly slid gracefully to the floor. A bit of a surprise, but no problem, I sat upright, unhurt except for my dignity and smiled at the absurdity of it all. Only when I prepared to get up, I realised I had a problem.            Not exactly fit at the best of times, 'at this moment in time' (what at irritating saying so reminiscent of politicians and equally dim footballers ) I am awaiting further knee surgery in November to correct my 'duff' new knee.) Thus no way could I return myself to the vertical from sitting on my backside on any floor, be it bar or bedroom. (I would have considered the former the most likely 'happening' had you asked me prior to my unfortunate accident) I contemplated my predicament, (and my navel as I sleep 'unclothed' as they say). I bet you didn't wish to know that; too much information as they say nowadays. Not necessarily a pretty sight, admittedly at twenty five, even less so at seventy plus! Having said that, is there anything dafter in life than a seventy three year old sitting on the floor with no clothes on!
    Alfie, our 'holiday' dog for the week, who misses nothing, joined me, grinning profusely; please don't tell me dogs don't grin, this one does. A Rotweiller crossed with a Labrador, Alfie is around 100lbs in weight I reckon; big enough to pick me up, surely? Drag me to a phone? No, well at least he kept me company! Mind you, we've had dogs stay in the past that would have done better. Harry, scruff Harry would have fetched me the phone. Charlie the Bull Terrier would have gone in the fridge , which he frequently did when we were out and brought me some food. Kai the Collie is so bright he would have not needed to bring the phone, he would probably have made a phone call himself! All of which counted for nothing.
    I was becoming a little despondent when in the doorway salvation appeared in the shape of Paulette my long suffering wife. I feel I must explain why my wife appeared from elsewhere. We are not merely
'good friends'. We are more than that! But my wife insists that my snoring 'allegedly' is of astronomic proportions. So much so that she starts the night in our 'marital bed', retreats to another room when I go to sleep and returns in the early hours. A goodly arrangement. Remind me to tape record my wife when asleep. I am not the only one who snores, my dear!
    A little surprised at my predicament, though not exceptionally so (she reckons I do some daft things at times) she attempted to lift me to an upright position. Alas, to no avail. The saying 'Not as strong as a good onion' springs to mind. In fairness my wife is not in the best of health plus forty three years of caring for me has taken its toll!
    Somewhat flummoxed we surveyed the situation. Who is responsible for 'retrieving' geriatrics from bedroom floors; The Police, Fire or Ambulance Service? Try sons-in-laws, especially if they live in the same street! A phone call was all that was needed. Simon my son-in-law is a good lad. Plus he'd only been backward and forward to London all week problem solving for his employers Bombardier. He didn't really want a lie in on this Saturday morning, surely? If I hadn't rang him, his children, Ted, Tommy and Angelina would have ensured he'd have only been lazing in bed until some ungodly hour! (Chance would have been a fine thing!)
    Ten minutes, that's all it took for Simon to dress, stroll up the street to our house and oh, so easily restore me to an upright position. Thanks Simon! Ah, the joys of getting old! Does it ring a bell, anyone?
     Some time ago I wrote a book of short stories, entitled 'There's Nowt So Strange As Folk and other stories'. Something I always wanted to do, some of the stories are loosely taken from personal experiences, but others are completely made up. The first story is called 'The Fall Guy' and concerns an eighty four year old called James who falls in the house whilst preparing his breakfast! The main difference to my own experience was the fact that James had no son-in-law to hand. Plus James's predicament lasted several days rather than mere minutes. Hence the title of this post. Isn't life strange at times!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Harry and Sam, What do You Think?

    Harry is on holiday at our house. He's around four years old, a grand little dog; scruffy, bright, lively of dubious parentage and I would have said fearless. Except for a curious incident and strange behaviour for some considerable time around seven o'clock on Friday morning.
    He bounded into our bedroom as dogs do; at least in our house they do. My wife rejoined me, correction us, and we settled hopefully for another thirty minutes. Except that Harry suddenly became very agitated, growling, physically shaking and standing, on the bedcovers (and our prone bodies at times) as if he could see, smell and or hear something we could not. This behaviour continued, in various degrees for a long time (thirty minutes?) and he was impossible to pacify.
My readers by now are probably aware my favourite saying is 'What's it all about, Alfie? '
     The curtains were shut; the light was gloomy but not dark. The street, never particularly noisy was virtually silent. Not a sound, save for a dog, in the distance that did bark twice but Harry did not react to these faint barks. He faced the street all the time. He jumped on and off the bed probably in the region of twenty times;  (he jumped back on the bed almost immediately.) I know that this is not normal behaviour for Harry and he was perfectly OK afterwards so can the animal behaviourists out there explain it all  to me, please.
    The house is a 1930's bungalow. Is it 'haunted'. Two previous owners; one an old lady (who smoked somewhat heavily) and my daughter Sarah and husband Jeff. (A fairly normal couple; well I did say fairly!) My wife and I are also, in the main fairly normal I reckon! But I've no doubt Harry did see, hear or smell something we could not. There is no doubt animal senses are superior to ours in so many ways.  And now a little  'Grumpy' story just to confuse things even more!
    Some years ago my family and I, plus white bull terrier Sam, a beloved family pet visited Holy Island in Northumberland, a haunting, daunting sort of place. Its a magical sort of place nevertheless and I particularly wanted to visit the churchyard, having a particularly macabre interest in such places.  Is it that I am becoming increasingly aware of my own mortality, I wonder! Only young Sam was having non of it and refused point blank to pass under the archway formed by the lynchgate at the graveyard entrance. So I visited the churchyard whilst Sam didn't. (Sam was passed to the children; they didn't like churchyards anyway!)
    Three months later, at Christmas I bought my son-in-law Simon a book about Ghosts in Britain. And there, low and behold was the story of the white dog that allegedly haunts the ruins of the abbey adjoining the churchyard on Holy Island. Clever old Sam, but it makes you think. What do you reckon!