Thursday 23 June 2011

Francoise Helene Germaine Sherwood.

Its a sad time for my family. My mother in law Francoise died suddenly last week, the funeral is on the 23rd June. She was much loved by all and her three children, Christine, Paulette and Nigel have taken it particularly badly. Grief is somewhat of a private affair, time will undoubtedly part heal and the happy memories of Francoise will always be there. I am not a religious person but would like to share three things with you.

Firstly, my wife wrote her own thoughts to be read at the funeral. I thing they are truthful, simple and moving.


To most of you Francoise was a generous, kind friend and neighbour. To me, quite simply, she was ‘mum’.
Always there for me: my friend, my support, my confidant, my rock.
Whenever she came to visit we would wander up to the Normanton Road shops. A road dominated by ethnic shops, a never ending source of wonderful foods and amazing clothes.
Mum always had an eye for a bargain and we would regularly find coats, cardigans and jumpers that suited her. Not forgetting the purchase of naan bread, vermicelli noodles and spring rolls that turned out to be unbelievably eye wateringly spicy.
Where clothes and mum were concerned certain words spring to mind: elegant, stylish, timeless, chic. She must have despaired of me regularly looking as if I was colour blind and had just fallen out of bed.
We spoke everyday on the telephone, just before she went to bed; sometimes two or three times a day. Particularly if I was having a ‘cooking crisis’, for mum was a wonderful cook.
I will always be grateful to Christine for caring for mum so well and to everyone in the village for taking mum to their hearts.
When a friend asked Ken about mum, he simply said she was ‘a class act.’ I couldn’t have put it better myself.
There’s a hole in my heart that I don’t think will ever heal.
Love you mum.

Secondly, Francoise, unknown to her family, planned her own funeral in great detail. Including the reading from the Bible of Corinthians 13.

'If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.'

My wife, on learning of Francoise's choice of reading, looked it up in the Bible she keeps by her bedside. The Bible given to her by her mother and father on the occasion of her confirmation into the church many years ago. Look at the date written on the inside cover. The 23rd June, 1961. Fifty years to the day. Rest in peace, Francoise. Your words, your wisdom and your example to us all live on.

Friday 17 June 2011

What Did Your Dog Have For Breakfast.

You either like dogs or you don't; Me, I've had dogs most of my life and they never cease to amaze. Their capacity for eating anything that stops moving is bordering on the ridiculous. Plus Buster our bull terrier loved balls so disaster was never far away. We replaced gear knobs with regular monotony. He chewed them into small pieces with consummate ease but fortunately spit out the pieces; a nuisance and expensive but comparatively harmless. Not so harmless the day he chewed the handbrake. And down the drive he went, One bemused dog, one bent garage door, one less than immaculate Lada bumper. And that was on a good day!

My daughter Sarah, son-in-law Jeff and grand daughter Helena fancied a dog. You would have thought they would have opted for a poodle, a whippet or a Jack Russell when they looked for a dog; So what did they choose. Ramsey has a pedigree longer than mine. (not difficult, mine is non existent.) He is handsome, amusing, lively and he is no angel. Plus he is also a bull terrier so what do you expect. Trouble, surely not!

He's in the main lively though he has always been erratic, up and down, so to speak. Difficult to feed on occasion, prone to diarrhea and stomach upsets. There again, if you insist on eating anything and everything, what do you expect. Except that surely a dog wouldn't eat eat the cable belonging to the Wii, that would be going too far. Not very digestible and would make you unpopular because now nobody can play. But X-rays and a stay at the vets confirmed suspicions.

A hopeful, anxious wait ensued; time passed but the cable didn't. What a to do; what to do. The decision taken out of Jeff and Sarah's hands as the dog took a decided turn for the worse. Return to the vets, a skillful operation expertly undertaken Empty stomach, empty wallet. And the complete reason for Ramsey not feeling too well was revealed.

The photograph reveals the full extent of Ramsey's penchant for devouring objects not of any nutritional value. I am not sure of each and every object, but they include; cling film, bottle tops, pump bag string, material containing a zip, piece of blanket, leaves, shoe laces, the cable for the Wii and the wrist strap for the Wii.

Ramsey doesn't like his new muzzle. He's been trying to eat it. But otherwise he's far more lively than he has been for a while. He has his stitches out this week. I personally wouldn't have bothered with stitches; I'd have opted for a zip. Are your pets better behaved or cheaper to run!

Friday 10 June 2011

May, Marvellous, Maybe. Grumpy's Alternative News.

Almost everyone knows if you have problems reading words, you might be dyslexic. But did you know having problems with numbers is referred to as suffering from 'dyscalculia.' (According to Brian Butterworth of University College London.) I'm cynical but not over surprised. Yet another educational label I suspect. No wonder people get mental blockages concerning numbers. Astronomers have created a 3-D map of the universe spanning from the Milky Way to 380.000,000 years away. British scientists in the journal Nature announce that the electron (the smallest of the particles that compose atoms) differs from a perfect sphere by less than 0.000000000000000000000000001cm. Bet you didn't know that! A gold prospector in the Lake District says the biggest 'gold piece' he has ever found after forty years was .001 of a gram. (Less than a grain of sugar.) What was it Arthur English used to say, 'Stop the music, open the cage'. Enough to make anyone 'dyscalculic. Let's get back to the real world.
I see a woman in Wales claiming sickness benefits was filmed skydiving. I was tempted to think, shame the parachute opened but she was doing it for charity! And Wales again. (Its not I hate Wales week, though I've not forgiven you for a parking ticket ON A CAR PARK.) Thirteen workers at Port Talbot sacked for sleeping 'on the job' have complained about Tata Steels M-15 style surveillance and the lack of a warning. Diddums!

Two young ladies who deserve a pat on the back. Princess Beatrice for putting her much derided wedding hat on eBay where it raised £81,100,01 for Unicef and Children in Crisis. And ten year old Emily Lewis-Clarke from Newton Abbott whose petition has persuaded the Football Association to raise the age limit for mixed sex sides from eleven to thirteen.
The animal kingdom is as ever a source of news. I see there is a move in Texas to make 'noodlin', also called 'hillbilly-hand-fishin' legal. And still in the USA, a ten year old fishing in a canal in Rockledge, Florida 'hooked' a four feet long alligator. So he took it home to show his grandfather, as you would. Oh well, whatever turns you on.
The Table Mountain cockroach has been named one of the top ten species discoveries of the year. The list also includes a glow-in-the-dark mushroom and a leech with enormous teeth.

In Bridlington a six year old racing pigeon fetched £16,700 and it can't even fly. Mind you, it has been bought for breeding purposes. Whilst in Hampshire armed officers and a police helicopter were deployed to hunt a white tiger that had been spotted in a field. Only it fell over when the helicopter got too close. Mind you, it would, wouldn't it as it was a life sized cuddly toy. Strange, but not as strange as the revelation that Nazi scientists tried to breed a secret army of 'educated' dogs that could speak, read and write. The dogs were sent for training at the Animal Speech School near Hanover and the stars evidently were an Airedale called Rolf and a German pointer called Don. You couldn't make it up.
So on to Canada and Kathy Witterick, David Stocker and their four month old offspring, Storm. Funny name for a boy, or is she a girl. You see, the couple refuse to divulge the sex of the child, as they say it will give Storm the right to live as a boy or a girl when he or she grows up. I'm glad all the crackpots in the world don't live over here, and I always thought Canadians were such sensible people.

Nearly there, just a note to say that the Californian preacher who decided the world was going to end in May has decided he miscalculated. Evidently the end of the world is now going to be October the 21st. Now Britain evidently has a shortage of burial spaces. The London Borough of Southwark has only 155 spaces left. And its not long to October! 155 spaces and they reckon that's three months supply. July, August, September. Oh dear, if you live in Southwark I suggest you get in quick!

That's about it. It really is a strange world. But whilst still alive, you can always escape to a quiet 'sit' on a bench in the countryside. Though not on National Trust property you can't! They now have 'talking benches' that comment on the surroundings. Oh for peace and quiet in this mad, mad world!

Friday 3 June 2011

''The Good Old Days; Times they are A'changing.'

I've only just mastered the light switch so I've no chance with anything remotely technical. (Talking of 'remotes', I can work one, just, but can't find things like teletext. And that's on the few occasions I can physically find the darn thing. It's all my wife's fault; it always is! Strange really, because the remote is mine after all. All remotes belong to the men, ladies, didn't you know!)

But I digress. I got to thinking how technical the world has become, particularly concerning toys since I was a child. I spent a weekend in the Yorkshire Dales with a camping group from Leeds. Lovely scenery; fantastic people. But the children's antics fascinated me. One young lad in particular had his eyes glued to his Nintendo, not the scenery for the entire weekend. Amazing but not over surprising. My grandson, extremely bright, has to be prised away from his on occasion. Even my wife has one. They claim they keep the mind in good shape and who am I to argue. (I don't even have a mobile phone. Thirty pounds for the phone, that's good you say. Ah, but how much is the cable. You don't tell me that, I bet it's expensive!) But I do wonder sometimes if our mental development was held back because we lived in much simpler times.

Do you remember 'Pocket Simon'. An early 'computer' game dating back to around 1980. My, doesn't it look dated now but how 'with it' it was when it came out.
A favourite saying of many children today is 'I'm bored.' Hundreds of TV channels, Wii's, computer programmes on offer but ''I'm bored.' I look at the 'Jack in the Box' on my shelf and I wonder. I wonder if the modern offerings give as much pleasure and excitement as old 'Tom and Jerry'. Modern children would probably find it repetitive, limited in appeal. They would probably be 'bored' within minutes, if not seconds. I'm not often one for nostalgia but at times I do wonder. Perhaps they were 'the good old days' after all. What was your favourite toy and what fascinated you when you were young, perhaps all those years ago.