Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Image Says it All; Or Does It.

     I got a few raised eyebrows when I suggested there was a faint smell of formaldehyde emitted from a pensioners group I saw in Hawes on my travels. It was 'tongue in cheek' but looking back it made me think. Have I, like the majority of the population, got a pre-conceived idea as to what old people are like. By old I reckon I am thinking about 'grown ups'. This is the way our children, or grandchildren  for that matter think. They, teenagers live in a world of their own. If you don't believe me, ask a teenager what they think about 'snogging' in particular old people 'snogging', grandma and granddad for instance. 'Opinions will probably vary from 'embarrassing to disgusting'. And the idea of 'sex' and old people, 'ugh', don't go there! The point I am trying to make is that we have an image in our mind of what people should 'do' what they should 'be'; and this image, this picture is often closely related to  physical age. So what these images, these pictures without us realising it,  determine the way we live.
    A case in point is the question of transport. Most elderly individuals drive cars, not ride motorbikes for obvious reasons. (When did you last see a motorbike and sidecar.) Many years ago, in my youth men aspired to owning a Ford Popular or an Austin Seven. The man who had 'truly' arrived, usually late in life, if at all, proudly owned a Rover.
   Paul the plasterer is not of pensionable age. No teenager either admittedly, but old enough to make the mature, staid, unexciting choices prevalent of so many middle aged males. Not so Paul, his choice of transport is a  900cc Triumph Speeedmaster, an awesome machine full of sound and fury. Complete with a number plate suggesting a mischievous sense of humour cheerfully acceptable in the so often over serious western world. Paul is indeed an unusual individual; more of this in a later post.
John is of pensionable age, no doubt at all. But like Paul, John is young at heart. John is a retired Rolls Royce engineer, brilliant, knowledgeable, innovative. RR produce some of the best aero engines in the world. Most of the workers are proud to work there; reliable, sensible individuals who give the company their whole working lives. I reckon it takes a certain type of person to work for RR. (I was taken to RR concerning employment when I left school. It was immediately obviously to a non too self disciplined schoolboy this place was not for him. I often wondered, do RR set on certain type of person, or do they BECOME a certain type of person. I went instead to work for F W Woolworth!!)
    RR car park is full of Fords, Audis, Nissans; sensible if sometimes uninspiring choices. John's choice of transport is a Bettson. A trike, a three wheeled motorbike rebuilt by himself and using two Hillman Imp engines. An engineering feat beyond ordinary mortals.  And to see John and his delightful wife astride this monster of a machine is a joy to behold.
    A year or so ago our life became more difficult for several reasons. Being of definite pensionable age my wife and I decided to buy a car to lighten the gloom. ('My wife and I', sounds very royal, except that the Queen has never bought a car in her life!) What do the young look for in a car we pondered.
    Something sporty for a start; plus 'go faster stripes. Darkened windows (reminiscent of a drug dealers car),  a spoiler and a host of decals. Oh, and bucket seats, a definite requirement for the sporty young male. So we bought a sporty Seat Ibiza, an FR model. Plus go faster stripes, darkened windows, a spoiler, decals and bucket seats. All set off by my beloved registration reminding of Derby County, 0009 RAM. To see young sporty types faces as my wife and I overtake is in itself worth the purchase. (Complete with 'shade;, Grumpy Old Ken, of course, not the other whizz kids!)
On the rear of the car is the following; my wife is not so keen but I couldn't resist it.
'This car is owned and driven by geriatrics. Why should the young 'uns have all the fun!
    They say today's eighty year olds are yesterdays sixty year olds. Some also say men never grow up! What do you, dear readers think? Whatever your age or gender, tell me, do you have things you hang on to from the past. Have you got ways of reminding you of when you were younger. There's nothing wrong with that, I reckon. Why SHOULD we act our age if we don't want to!

(This post has taken me a long time. I 'lost' the content, how I've no idea! Perhaps it's a sign of getting old!)

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Beware, Geriatrics on The Loose.

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

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.