Saturday 29 September 2012

Technology- Grumpy Style From the Beginning.

    I was born in 1939; so what was my technological education.. An early memory, fetching an 'accumulator' for the 'wireless' so that I could listen to Vick Oliver and the like. (The accumulator was a glass battery affair housed in a metal frame, exchanged weekly at the post office, price 6d; the 'wireless' had valves.)
Our cottage light was a gas mantle that hissed; we had no electricity; we had no car. No flush toilet, a pan down the garden emptied weekly. 
    We occasionally travelled by bus. Buses and lorries had wheels. The trollies we made as children had wheels, the sledges we made in winter did not. The junior school I think was heated by a coal fired boiler, not very efficiently. One house I lived in had a 'geyser containing water heated by gas. The gas sometimes blew out, lethal evidentally in the wrong circumstances. As I grew up I occasionally set the grass on fire with a magnifying glass. Very satisfying for a child who seldom 'did' technology.
    I eventually had a bike, complete with dynamo, complete with wheel that rubbed against a tyre thus providing a light. Hard work, very technical but not very efficient. Later, I purchased a second hand motor cycle. I learnt to change 'the points' to make it run better, no mean feat for someone with almost nil technical ability. (I also learn in later years how to change the bikes brake linings with the use of rivets; that was close on the end total of a lifetime's technical motoring prowess.)
    I married over forty years ago. My wife and I became the proud possessors of a small television; black and white; no HD, not 3D. (No ariel forthcoming so some kind soul wired it into the metal window frame. We could see the television mast across the fields; not a bad picture if I remember right.) Over the years I used the latest Betamax and VHS tape recorders. Borrowed in my days as a school teacher, I couldn't possibly afford one. I took photos of my children on our camping holidays and eagerly awaited the return of the Kodak film from the chemists.
    Just some of the 'technology' that springs to mind this unexceptional week in October 2012. I get the impression the pace is quickening, am I right? I do a theatre review (in exchange for free tickets in case the taxman reads this) and send it to the paper 'down the line'; I have not written anything using a pen in years. Years ago I wrote some short stories by hand and self-published. Recently I completed my e-book (A Childhood Revisited) and my good friend Russell converted my work to Kindle. (Never mind what Amazon say there is no way I could do this side of the work, not in a thousand years.) I have joined Twitter mainly for marketing reasons and boy am I struggling. I did a one hour session on LinkedIn. The man covered TEN points. One hour later I could remember NOT ONE single point and still can't. Plus, don't laugh, my daughter has fixed me up on Facebook. Don't understand ONE bit of it but watch this space!
    I 'talk' via this blog to people from all over the world. (My wife does the technical side). I am so bad I've just 'published' half of this post before its finished by mistake! (Notice my superior grasp of the subject in my use of the word 'post' Remember the silly **** who told me off because in my early blogging days because I didn't understand where the word 'blog' came from!)
    This post partly came about because of an e-mail I recently received. I put it below as of interest. I am not necessarily endorsing it but we are all capable of sorting out unsolicited mail. It seems to be OK. I was just interested that little old me from the village is of interest to anyone in the great, technological world out there.
Here's to the next few years, God willing. Oh, and I forgot to mention, I STILL do not own a mobile phone!

(Reading through this post I am reminded yet again of the great Arthur English and his 'Open the Cage. Never mind, we old 'uns are still here, just!) 

Dear Ken,
It was great to speak to you just now and thank you so much for assisting me. As discussed, here is some information about what we are doing. If you could possibly put this on your blog I’d be hugely grateful.
Many thanks,
We are making a new series for Channel 4 and would like to speak to over 60’s interested in learning about young, up-and-coming businesses and being shown new ways of making their money work harder for them.
In the current economic climate traditional savings schemes and pensions are not making much money. We would love to hear from people who are interested in exploring new investment ideas so they can enjoy their retirement years and save for future generations.
At this stage we’d just like to find out why this might sound interesting to you, and there is no obligation to take part.
If anyone is interested in experiencing the exciting world of new businesses and would like to find out more, I’d be delighted to hear from them. You can contact me on 0207 5342027 or
Victoria Balfour |
STUDIO LAMBERT LTD| 42 Beak Street | London | W1F 9RH
( O +44(0)20 7534 2027|

Sunday 23 September 2012

And It's Fame Again.

    I have pondered this fame 'thingymagig' all week. Then a strange thing happened. I was at a Derby County football match recently. Now there's a famous club for you, one of the original twelve in the English Football League, dating back to 1888-1889. Suddenly a loud voice called out a man's name and around eighteen thousand people home supporters started clapping; they clapped for around a minute and the away supporters joined in. Who were they clapping for? Was it David Cameron, Nelson  Mandela or Prince William. None of these, the applause was for Mr Douglas Else who died last week, aged eighty six. 
Affectionately known as 'Badge Man', Douglas attended Derby County home and away matches for many, many years. In a wheelchair in later years, pushed by his son, Steven he was instantly recognisable. For he was adorned by Derby County badges, from head to foot, an estimated 800 in number. Perhaps a strange thing to do, but a harmless hobby that gave no doubt gave pleasure to all who met him, however fleetingly over the years.
    It set me thinking for many reasons. Douglas will be remembered for his devotion to Derby County and his extraordinary collection. I doubt that he sought fame but many of us would like to be remembered after we have gone.
     I spent many years writing my e-book concening my earlier life. I did not write it seeking fame but mainly to explain to my children what my life was like in the 1950's. I shall never be famous, nor would I particularly wish to be, but I must admit I like the idea that someone, somewhere MIGHT take a peek at my book in a hundred years time. I like the idea of leaving something behind; the idea that people in the future will know I existed appeals. (I wish I had a religious faith in an afterlife but am content to believe that my 'spirit' or whatever will continue in my children and my children's children. Perhaps part of me may even continue 'on the wind' so to speak; you never know!
    What are you going to leave behind. (I reckon there's a book in everyone waiting to get out; if I can do it, anyone can.) What will you be remembered for. It doesn't have to be massive or magical. Being a 'nice' human being would literally be nice. What would you like as your epitaph. Are you going to leave anything spiritual or perhaps material. Or don't you like to think about it.

Concerning fame, beware,  just two thoughts that caught my eye.
Men's fame is like their hair, which grows after they are dead, and with just as little use.
Fame always melts like ice cream in the dish.

Monday 17 September 2012

'Fame', here lies a Cautionary Tale.

    I have been 'blogging' since April 2008. I'm not sure exactly why I started, but as I said at the time, probably ego came into it. Who doesn't like to hear the sound of their own voice! Plus it was all new to me and I like challenges. Only there are few people in the Western world that are so technically inept as myself; its a genetic thing I reckon, plus an age thing, plus a condition known as TGA which did my mental capabilities, never exceptional any favours at all.
    Various people, including my son in law Jeff helped me out, I adopted the name grumpyoldken and off I went.
    On the 16th April I wrote a blog entitled In the Beginning. I blogged regularly, more than weekly, only vaguely knowing what I was doing. Various people helped me out and I discovered a whole new world and some lovely people. I remember the thrill of receiving my first comments. Both, like Lord Lucan vanished in mysterious circumstances. Lindsey and Kyozan, where are you now, my friends? I remember too the shock and indignation at receiving a sarcastic, uncalled for comment when I pointed out, totally innocently that I didn't even know the derivation of the word 'blog'. Welcome to the world of blogging! The same pompous, self important twerp later sent me another dismissive missive (at least he was consistent.) I wondered about this 'blogging lark' Fortunately such idiots are in the minority. As a matter of fact over four years later I have never had a further negative comment; an extraordinary testament to the warm brother and sisterhood out there who regularly blog.
    My blogs are heartfelt I hope, if unexceptional; I marvel at the blogs that are out there. Erudite individuals who put me to shame. Bloggers Bernard and Eddie Bluelights spring to mind, learned gentlemen whose computer skills put me to shame, technical experts who dwarf my puny efforts. Plus advancing years seem no barrier to some.                                    .
    Around December 2010 my blog somehow appeared on an American site, something to do with Blogger I believe. Over a seven day period I had over 12,000 'hits' if memory serves me right, attracted over 1,000 'followers' and at the peak of my 'success' once had over 100 comments per post. I suddenly had visitors   from all over the world; America, Korea, Japan, India, South America. Even Finland, how the heck did someone in Finland know of my existence!
    The whole situation was embarrassing, surreal, unmanageable. Part of the embarrassment lay in the fact that no way can you personally acknowledge so many visitors. In fact one of the downsides of blogging is that individual personal circumstances mean we often fail to acknowledge others. In doing so we appear 'rude and disrespectful', a fact that has always filled me with feelings of guilt. (We are 'what we are' and I was always taught to be respectful to others. Ah the joys of a chapel upbringing!)
    The 'fame' passed; imperceptibly over a period of time my followers drifted away; and away; and away; to an alarming degree. Perhaps it's the Andy Warhol 'fifteen minutes of fame' syndrome. I remember bloggers from the past who were highly successful but who have vanished, often without trace. Some have, in four years consciously 'withdrawn'; others have sadly passed away. I strongly suspect blogging is a somewhat ephemeral pursuit, am I right? Yet there are still bloggers who attract wide audiences and masses of comments.
    I try to blog weekly. no fixed agenda but after over four years I  find it difficult.
 I consciously avoid topical subjects in the main thereby adding to my problems. Pressures elsewhere also add to my difficulties. I published, with technical help an e-book entitled 'A Childhood Revisited'. The technical side is mind bending. Completion due only to the skills and patience of my mentor Russell.
    The buzz  word in the e-book world seems to be 'marketing'; I have even jointed Twitter! (Who said I was always a bit of a twit!) My feeble brain is overstretched but life goes on. I will probably carry on blogging, hopefully until I am down to my last 'follower.' Thanks to everyone reads my attempts to amuse, educate, inform. how does it go 'You've made an old man very happy'.   

 In the Beginning   My first ever blog

Hooray we're away. Watch this space. As the old man used to say, 'softly, softly, catchee monkey.' A saying incidentally that one of my daughters finds incredibly naff. After several attempts this blog is finally off the ground, courtesy of a good friend, Chris who has the most incredible knowledge of how computers work. Thanks Chris, I feel as if I've now fully entered the 21st century. So 'What's it all about, Alfie?'
I suppose firstly, in a way it's an ego trip, hopefully allowed at my age. Secondly having had various health problems, nothing new at my age, I need to keep what's left of the old brain going. Thirdly, I write regularly, make little out of it but need an audience (the old ego trip again). So off we go and let's see what develops. But firstly, after all the excitement I need a lie down!

Monday 10 September 2012

Blasts from the past.

We live in clever times and tend to think everything from the past was inferior. To redress the balance, some photos from a Lilliput collection of 1939; the year I was born. War was looming and sometimes shows in the 'humour', perhaps apprehension akin to fear of what lay ahead. Equal to anything offered today, I reckon there is an observational wit and insight in these photos that needs no words. From a time before the wonder of computers and digital cameras.What do you think.(Apologies for my lack of computer skills. You can't expect me to master the light switch AND the computer!)

Sunday 2 September 2012

Bit and Bobs, This and That; Geriatric Ramblings.

    Funny old week. Saw my beloved Derby County. They won 5-1. They were brilliant, superb, outstanding, excellent, terrific. (You get the impression they were good!) So why not every week? The frailty of the human condition. Then I saw a performance of the BBC 'Proms' from the Royal Albert Hall on television. Amazingly good, such skilful musicians, wonderful. breathtaking, unforgettable. How clever humans can be, how good life is at times. (As a family we are also in the middle of problems, some close. Serious illness, domestic problems of friends close to us, the effects of unemployment and recession, all are present.) My aging, sometimes less than adequate mind takes it all in, often in the dark, night hours. I have no doubt many of what is left of my readers have exactly the same or similar problems. (Regarding readers I am sure 'blogging' is an ephemeral pastime so I am somewhat philosophical.) But yet again I am left with the old 'What's it all about' syndrome.
    It's over a year since Francois, my wife's mother died. It hit the family badly, she was much loved. I came across Paulette's prayer book she was given at her communion. It is dated 23rd June 1961. The funeral service was the 23rd June 2012. Coincidence, presumably. We brought back to Derby the summer house much loved by Francois. It sits in our garden, a constant, comforting reminder. And the rainbow that appeared one day? you tell me! We all like the thought of 'something else' besides this life, strange and mystifying though it is at times. I confess I find it beyond my limited comprehension.
    Max Bygraves died this week. If there is 'something else', perhaps he's singing away somewhere, always the entertainer!

    Next week, the first day of the rest of my life. On Wednesday I am to appear on the local radio station (Radio Derby) to talk about my e-book. (A Childhood Revisited); presumably my Andy Warhol 'fifteen minutes of fame!