Saturday 26 February 2011

The Good Old Days.

I was in a shop this week and an old lady in front of me was talking about 'The good old days,' and how she wished it was still like it was. And I smiled to myself. Because that afternoon I had been putting the finishing touches to a chapter of a book I have been writing concerning life after the war. (I was born in 1939.) I want my children to know what it was really like, warts and all.

'We were in the main healthy if undernourished, though every conceivable malady or affliction was never far away. Like many other children I suffered the horrors of several, all debilitating, and some embarrassing.
Painful puss filled boils, often on the neck where clothing rubbed, the result of an unhealthy diet. Plus sties, an equally painful inflammation of the glands that lie along the edge of the eyelid. Each a sore red swelling with a head of white, painful itching treated, not always successfully by the application of greasy Golden Eye Ointment. Chicken pox and measles would travel through the village, and, on arrival, create anxious times for all who had been in contact with the first victims for the next three weeks.
Red sore patches and yellow oozing blisters would herald the arrival of impetigo, shared towels in infant and junior school meant shared impetigo.
Head lice too were rife, tiny wingless insects very capable of moving from school desk to school desk and then from friend to friend. The discovery of tiny greyish white eggs at an early stage preferable to the extreme itching that signified the eggs had hatched and the lice rife. Plus ringworm, sore, itchy and infectious, a fungus of distinctive red rings often caught from the animals ever present in village life. All irritating conditions but seldom life threatening. The same could not be said of other sicknesses and ailments prevalent in the village and surrounding area.
Whooping cough, particularly feared by parents of children under the age of one, contagious and dangerous. The ‘whooping’ sound emitting as those afflicted breathed in, distressing to victim and parent alike. Plus diphtheria, at least equally distressing. An airborne bacterium that can lead to severe breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure and death.
Scarlet fever, a not uncommon childhood illness, a distinctive, very infectious streptococcal bacteria often needing isolation in hospitals provided for the purpose if it was to be contained and its effects limited.
One child in the village distinctly remembered sitting on the pavement playing snobs, also sometimes called jacks, a pastime popular with many. An innocuous grazed finger caused by contact with the pavement led to isolation in nearby Draycott Hospital and eight weeks incarceration, the result of contracting Scarlet Fever. Another village child was in the same hospital for the same illness. Her smaller sister also contacted the disease, seemingly from innocuously kissing her hand whilst visiting. Each instance of infection distressing but not surprising.
Poliomyelitis, also called polio. A dangerous condition causing weakness, paralysis and serious breathing problems; often with fatal results. So serious that many who survived inherited weaknesses in an arm or leg for the rest of their lives. A contagious disease that was particularly rife when bathing in canals and pools was practised ignorant of and oblivious to the dangers inherent in such seemingly innocent pastimes.
One or two of the village children wore callipers, a reminder that Ockbrook was no more immune from the likes of polio or the condition known as club foot than any other post war village.
Also not unknown were neck goitres, a condition borne of an iodine deficiency, easily prevented in more enlightened times, so prevalent in Derbyshire that it was nicknamed ‘Derbyshire Neck’.
There were also at least two individuals who were termed mongol, (much later more sympathetically termed Downs Syndrome) and at least two persons termed ‘deaf and dumb’. Again a misnomer as the deaf persons in question were not necessarily mute, again indicative of less understanding times. Plus there were also present in the village one or two who were minus limbs due to accidents plus others with all manner of mental incapacity and instability, often hidden behind closed doors. Most afflictions treated with sympathy for village life tended to reflect in the main the idea that ‘You look after your own’. '

Lest people think we were unhappy, we we not, partly because we we knew of nothing else.
A sombre post indeed. So to cheer everyone up, a taste of the humour of the day. Suggesting that at times they were indeed 'The good old days.'

Monday 21 February 2011

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow.

Most of my readers will have noticed that in my last post my wife has red hair. That is not to say that in my next post my wife will have red hair. We were in a shop last week. my wife looked at two dresses and asked me which one went with her hair. How silly, choose the dress colour and change the hair colour to match like you always do my dear.
We were in Asda recently and its massive. Now I'm not good in large supermarkets at the best of times. I managed to lose my family in Westfield on a family shopping trip. Having my whereabouts put out on the PA system when you're seventy plus is not funny. Held by the hand when being returned to your family by a young security guard is even less funny. (My daughter had suggested to the guard that her 'lost dad' looked like Lord Bath. As if a twenty something security guard would know what Lord Bath looks like, I ask you!)
But I digress, bright red hair has its advantages. Apart from sticking a toy windmill, or a Union Jack on her head I can think of no better way to signal my wife's whereabouts. It meant I could spot my wife from a dozen aisles away, very useful indeed, no more merging into the crowd. It was not the first time I have found my wife's choice of hair colouring useful. But strangely enough my wife was in fact second not first regarding the most conspicuous customer in the shop on one occasion. I lost my wife only three times. And each time I found her comparatively easily. But my searches revealed a strange thing. Each time I searched for my wife amidst the milling hoards I also 'discovered' a gentleman who was no doubt trying very hard to be inconspicuous. He was, by his general demeanour, gait, skin tone, probably older than me; he also sported a conspicuous, considerable head of curly jet black hair. Unmistakable, he was sporting a hairpiece. and few hairpieces are inconspicuous; one of life's little ironies.
I used to visit regularly a Derby pub renowned for its tough Irish clientele. It also boasted a customer whom I suspect sported the worlds most obvious toupee or wig. Ginger in colour, parted down the middle, it sat squarely on his large, presumably bald head, as if it had just fallen from the sky, reminiscent of a furry animal or tropical insect at rest. One could not fail to be drawn, fascinated, to such an unusual adornment. Whereby the large, fierce looking Irishman would look in your direction and you, in turn would focus your eyes over the head of the gentleman in question. And pretend to study a calender, notice or even the wall itself. The joys of toupe ownership; is it worth it?
If I genuinely have over a thousand followers I must surely have: either someone who wears a hair piece or toupe (not counting those worn for medical reasons) or has close connection with someone who wears such an appliance. Or am I being irreverent, as usual and the whole subject is too delicate for words!
Nothing to do with the subject really. But we went in Asda to buy a memory card reader. Reduced to £4, but only on the internet I was informed in the shop. We came out with; a memory card reader, a memory stick, a new keyboard, a computer mouse, a telephone some gluten free food, and, I nearly forgot, a television!

Tuesday 15 February 2011

How Old Did You Say!

My daughter has bought a motorhome just like her dad. (No, her dad's not LIKE a motorhome, he's GOT a motorhome.) It's a Volkwagen Devon Moonraker. And it's old, again just like her dad. Twenty nine years old, and that's old for any motor. It's called Dottie and the whole family, Alison, Simon and the children, Ted, Tommy and Angelina absolutely adore it.

It's age is a small concern, But what the heck, many modern appliances are not exactly built to last. And I got to thinking, some of the appliances in our house are knocking on a bit. Not counting of course my clothes, but we can't both afford new clothes and my wife looks better in her new skirt and underwear than I do. (I have not tried them on, honest; anyway they were too tight!)
I was not thinking of inanimate objects but man made 'machinery' with moving parts. I'm a collector/hoarder by nature; some say mean. Plus I have never been known to throw away anything in my entire life and I do expect things to last. Especially things my wife has to use.
(In my front garden is a wheat/corn cutter made in Loughborough around 1880. Marked T Beeby. Double Cut. Only its long since seized up and has bits missing, plus my wife seldom cuts corn nowadays so it doesn't count.)

Now the mangle, that's different. The rollers are a bit pitted but I keep telling my wife, its good for a few years yet. She doesn't grease it enough, no wonder its hard work! Plus the butter churn works as well as the day it were made. Some days, especially on hot days in summer she says its too back breaking for comfort. Says I don't think about her. 'Cause I do' I sez, 'if its too hot, have a rest, don't make so much butter, use the little 'un.'

My wife's short of nothing. Cleaning, how easy is that with modern appliances. Our vacuum cleaner is a Hoover; only the best will do. Sez on the bag 'It Beats as it Sweeps as it Cleans.' I've still got the original guarantee; bought on the 7th March 1946. Mind you, I'm thinking of taking it back as the brushes are showing signs of wear. She moans about it sometimes. Reckons the new ones are more efficient. 'Rubbish' I sez (Reckon that were right quick thinking). 'Rubbish' I sez, 'a good workman never blames his tools. Anyway, how would you know what a new one's like.'
I've got to go, I can hear her shouting my tea's ready. An' don't think she's totally hard done by. She'll be in the tin bath by seven, then washing her hair and drying it by her ultra modern, two speed, HMV, art decor style hair drier. Now I concede, it may be a tiny little bit old, but come on, as I told her last week, 'New clothes or new appliances, one or the other. I'm not made of money.'

to be continued.

What's the oldest thing you own?

Sunday 13 February 2011

Hey, That's Not a Proper Post!

This is probably the strangest post, if you can call it a post that I've ever done. The recent mention as a 'blog of note' was very welcome but is not without problems. I have always answered any comment on my blog out of common courtesy. (Except when abusive, and I have only had one abusive reply in nearly three years!)
Because of the blog of note mention, whilst loving the visitors,I find it impossible to answer every comment and have steadily 'gone under' since! (I can assure you I read EVERY comment. I also promise I VISIT the blog of every visitor where possible even if I don't comment.) All this has bothered me as it may give the impression I am uncaring concerning my fellow bloggers; nothing could be further from the truth.
I get an 'award' and the world goes mad. Yet out there are many, many blogs that put mine to shame. For example, Life in Windemere, a blog written by a lady who has suffered life threatening illness yet writes with great courage and without self pity. Clouds and Silver Linings, the blog of Eddie, an ex-ambulance driver, whose self taught grasp of technology drives me mad with jealousy. Pig in the Kitchen, whose recipes are breathtaking, all the more so as many are gluten free. (My wife is a coeliac) And Bernard, who is both older and wiser than me! (Bernard predicted the the 'blog of note' thingy would give me problems.) Now of course I feel guilty for not mentioning the many others that I follow or have been following me since the early days. 'Guilt, guilt, guilt, oh lordy!
All this has also made me aware of the many out there who get no comments week after week. I have started deliberately visiting a 'commentless' blog, any commentless blog and trying to give a word of encouragement. How about visiting a 'commentless' blog, (from my followers list if you like.) (Who was it who once said, make my day!) One example, Witty Prmt who blogs merrily on without reward or reader comment. What would he say if he suddenly received half a dozen comments. (Mind you, I only want him encouraged, not frightened to death!)
I have completed just short of three hundred posts since April 2008. How some of you complete one a day is beyond me. Some observations. My first post ever contained those immortal lines 'softly softly catchee monkey'; how my daughter hates those words! The happiest post was perhaps 'Ted Arthur Roberts' (16th April 2009), the saddest 'RIP Shaun' (15th January 2009). And the most surprising 'Ramblings from a Misspent Youth', (12th June 2010) purely and simply because I was hospitalised and didn't see it coming!
This 'post' in a way is for all the 'little people' out there. The bloggers who seek neither fame nor fortune; but who nevertheless entertain, inform, educate; some of you are awesome, astonishing. All take a bow. I have been amazed since I joined the blogging fraternity all those months ago. Long may I continue to be so. (As long as senility doesn't completely take over although the post dated 27th April 2008 suggests it's a distinct possibility.) And concerning my next post, as they used to say on the television (as those of considerable age will testify,) 'Normal Service will be Resumed as soon as Possible'.

Tuesday 8 February 2011


I wonder if there is a 'lost' gene. I reckon the answer is yes and I've definitely got it, and had it for as long as I can remember. For instance I remember as a schoolboy proudly carrying my football boots wrapped in brown paper onto the bus to school; and not so proudly retrieving them from the lost property at the bus depot next day. No wonder I was never the star player, lack of actual match practice I reckon.
Equally vivid is the time spent trying to remember where I'd parked my far from valuable bicycle; definitely stolen I decided, though why should anyone want my dilapidated bike only the Almighty could surely know. Except that in an illuminated flashback I suddenly remembered going to town on my bike and coming home on the bus. And incidentally returning to town and finding my bike still parked at the curb in the market place three days later. Those were the days, my friend!
Then there's library books. Normal people choose their books, take them home and read them; far too boring! Definitely so when you can choose them, take them to the car, put them on the car roof, open the car door, get in and drive off. More fun, if rather expensive.
I remember searching, in a Spanish town (was it San Sebastian) for my Mini-Cooper S parked that very same day; on a humid summer evening; and returning to no car. Even hiring a taxi to tour the area in the forlorn hope that we (my holiday friend and I) recognise a street, a house, anything. Until, walking, (the taxi had long since gone) we espied under a street lamp, over a bridge on the OTHER side of the river a glorious pale blue Mini Cooper S. Not unlike mine; in fact it was mine. We had unsuccessfully, not surprisingly not previously found my pride and joy having unwittingly, very stupidly crossed the river bridge and had therefore been searching on the wrong riverbank for several hours. (Dementia, don't talk to me about dementia, I invented it!)
Unfortunately this 'lost' thing runs in the family. My wife, Paulette, bless her wore large 'owl like' round glasses when we first met. Probably to please me she graduated to contact lenses, with mixed success. When we travelled on honeymoon in my Mini Cooper she triumphantly sported her newish contact lenses. Only they tended to fall out with regular monotony. You need to search for a contact lens in a car full of confetti to really have fun. (My wife crashed the car on honeymoon in the Lake District and we're still married! Shows what a forgiving sort of chap I am!)
I remember being pulled up a sand dune at Sheringham by our less than well behaved bull terrier Buster, Paulette, the children and myself. And what should 'pop out' but one of my wife's contact lenses. On a sand dune, I ask you! Finding a contact lens amongst hundreds of tons of sand, no chance, surely one of natures most difficult tasks. Mind you, I was more successful when my wife lost a lens in the shower. I went to the drains, patiently emptied out all the filthy stagnant, foul smelling water and patiently sifted the gritty, oozing contents; a labour of love, true love. (Every beetle 'shell' felt just like a lens to the touch.) And surprise, surprise, after around two hours I found it. And do you know what, she refused to wear it again; now there's gratitude for you!
We didn't have much luck with my wife's contact lenses. They were forever falling out. they usually stick to the clothes of the person wearing them. The trick is to undress, pile the clothes in a neat pile on the floor and then go through them very carefully. Now this gets great interest if in, say Marks and Spencer, but at home in the same circumstances interest in the lens diminishes for some considerable time.
Life goes on. I notice much time is spent in our family searching for children's dummies, schoolbags, coats, nintendos, you name it, we apparently lose it. Definitely a family of 'losers'. But I bet we're not on our own. What is the biggest thing you've lost; or the most important. And whose the biggest 'loser' in your family, you or the kids.

Thursday 3 February 2011

Do You jump to Conclusions.

Do you ever get it wrong, or is it only me? Ever made a decision in life and its been the wrong one? I ask because at seventy plus I never seem to learn. And I do really try not to jump to conclusions yet I still sometimes get it wrong.
Mind you, I'm probably not on my own. ( Googled 'Jumping to Conclusins' and it came up with 612,000 suggestions; scary but I I'll leave the 'heavy' stuff to those more academically qualified
Some time ago I was seriously incapacitated due to falling down on the street. (Icy pavements, honest, not the drink!) So much so that my wife had to do all the fetching and carrying. (What's new, then!)
'Will you fetch me a demijohn from the garage, not the narrow necked type' I asked. (politely)
'Why don't you use a milk bottle' was my wife's reply.
Now I KNEW why I wanted a demijohn; my wife THOUGHT she knew why I wanted a demijohn but she jumped to conclusions; very much the wrong conclusions!
I once went on a First Aid course. Quite liked it, was dying to show off my new found knowledge. Shortly after the course I travelled down a road in the car. And out of the window, I was shocked to see a motionless form stretched out on the pavement. Slamming on the brakes I crashed to a stop and leapt out. I ran to the still form, noting with expertise, I thought, that it was a male, elderly, lying on his side, eyes looking blankly upwards. Heart attack, obviously. Calmly, as I had been taught, I recalled the various types of mouth to mouth resuscitation.
'Are you alright?' I enquired.
I was somewhat taken aback to hear the answer.
The body continued to lie motionless, eyes skyward' You're sure?' I reiterated. still somewhat surprised that a 'body' answered at all, never mind in the affirmative.
'Yes thank you,' the body answered coldly.
Nonplussed, I searched my mind for the reason for this odd behaviour on the part of the recumbent being.
Suddenly I noticed horizontal man was also apparently 'armless' if not harmless. (sorry!) The reason was immediately obvious, to my eternal embarrassment. One arm and hand was extended downwards into the ground. My 'patient' was engaged in turning some sort of stopcock set in the ground, hence his strange position. I left hurriedly!
We make decisions all our lives, some important, some not so; plus we come to conclusions. Based on what I wonder. (It occurs to me that, in spite of my eccentricities, my wife made a good decision choosing me all those years ago.) But more to the point, do you ever jump to conclusions, and dare you tell us about it!