Saturday 24 November 2012

It's All Still in the Mind.

    Five of the family met up together recently. Its fairly unusual for us to be all in one place, sitting still and talking together. What sad lives we lead at times. Plus we are all getting older. The time will come when we will be saying simply 'I wish.....'
    I've always had strong views on aspects of life; being orphaned young and thereby being 'my own man' accounts for a lot. On religion 'I know nowt'. What I do believe is that the human brain is the cleverest 'computer' ever. I believe that the brain can and does store EVERYTHING we have ever experienced. It is always there in our brains and can be recalled, how I'm not sure, right up to our end. We have no control over this in the same way that we have no real control over our living and breathing. ( Obviously things like demensia affects the equation for some of us). But when that old ticker stops that's it; what happens then to our memories, you tell me.
    This musing, these 'What's it all about. Alfie' moments came to mind when I remembered, several hours later what had been mentioned/ discussed at a family get-together. No order, no pattern, things/events/happenings fleetingly recalled and then gone again. If you think you are in control of anything in this life, you must be joking.

 Uncontrolled recall, in no order at this gathering.
    Travelling eighty miles to Grimsby as a salesman to sell a kitchen and they were out. Introduction to Grimsby, two female police officers jump on a man for drinking in the street. Bridlington, a friend moves to Bridlington. Why would anyone WANT to live in Bridlington by choice. School lesson plans, first teaching wage, was it £27 a week. Why should school and teaching be recalled. I invite an ex pupil back to school; he returns driving a large circus lorry and trailer. I 'manage' an aging aunts lock up garages. A caravan turns up on the yard with occupant but NO vehicle. In one garage is no vehicle but around a dozen hens. I can remember the days when it wasn't unusual in the village to have hens behind wire netting under the kitchen table.One garage is used for prostitution. (A pimp watches from another garage, unobserved; I find a man's empty wallet, a slip of paper informs he is from from Burton. He has been robbed, an expensive transaction.)
    My wife and I take a mattress as a gift to an old couple. The man comes to the door minus trousers or pants. Under the kitchen table is a dead dog. Concerned I visit the council offices. I am told to mind my own business, it is their 'right' to live as they see fit. In the garages are gas meters that are fitted prior to the meter readers call and returned after his visit. I meet a man on Allenton Market. He specialises in machines that slow down a meter (to do with magnets). I like him but one Sunday afternoon he murders his brother in law after a drinking session. My brother in law working for the Post Office has to set up elaborate wire taps for the police but is not allowed to know why. I remember a family who ran a family business supplying fire lighting sticks for the public. Their electricity supply was courtesy of the local street light. I remember being shown how to feed a coin through a fruit machine continuously by using a coin on a length of wire. I remember living in a changing room of a youth club I ran. Eventually I got decent 'digs' then I married my landladies grand daughter. My grandmothers funeral was like a scene out of a Dickens story. Snow howled down; It seemed a shame for the oldest of the mourners to go home. 
    Enough is enough. It all reminds me of David Bowie and 'Ground Control to Major Tom'.None of this blog is in any order, neither is it 'doctored for effect. It is not meant to be and that is the point. All I am trying to show is a fraction of what is stored in a brain, a tiny fraction overall; in this case recalled in a two hour period.
    I can see how events trigger off memories. Some/most of these events long forgotten. I can see all the events were real, not made up. Beyond that I understand/know little. I will come back to this 'theme' again but not yet.I assume I am reasonably normal in all this, of any case, what is normal. Whoops, here we go again! Any comments gratefully received. Of any case I can't do too much about it all, so I'm off, in the pouring rain, to see Derby County. Now that ain't normal!

Thursday 15 November 2012

'It's Nice to be Nice'.

    Am I the only one fed up with Melvyn King constantly appearing on television telling us all how the 'bad times' are here to stay. (A man who 'didn't see it coming' and he's only the Governor of the Bank of England).
    I spend too much time discussing whether life is harder than it was in our youth, a long time ago indeed! Times are hard, but not for everyone. Plus I reckon we ordinary mortals are only sold half the story, we get only half the picture. some are doing very well, thank you very much in these hard recessional times.
    The greedy failed bankers still receive massive index linked pensions for life. The energy companies are caught out fiddling the figures so as to inflate their profits. Little or nothing will happen. The price of oil has dropped dramatically over many months, the price of fuel to you and me has hardly changed over the same period. Starbooks, Amazon, Google, all morally corrupt, contributing very little to our country in taxes, despite earning massive profits from their UK dealings.  I suspect we could wipe out much of our debts if we REALLY wished to nail those profiting at our expense. All the aforementioned, I feel, contributes overall to the 'mood/feeling' within the country. A 'feeling' that can be reflected in our day to day lives, both as 'buyers and sellers'. And how we ALL live our lives will affect the mood of the country.                            .
    T K MAX. An international retailer in the USA, Poland, the UK and Canada. Recently opened its 1000th store. Originally of the 'pile 'it high and sell it cheap' philosophy.
My wife bought a rucksack/bag from T K Max that unfortunately suffered a defect in a strap that made the bag unusable. (Have you seen what women carry in their bags!) She took it back and explained the bag had special sentimental value. A cheerful young chap went to the trouble of sorting the problem 'How about £30 to have the bag mended?' he suggested. A visit to a cheery shoe shop, Greens Footwear Ltd in Allenton       and two days and £4 later, job done. Well done all concerned. Happy smiling faces all round.
    CURRYS. Originated from the efforts of Henry Curry who first made bikes in 1884. also Currys Digital Stores. Owned by Dixons.(PC World) around 400 shops/stores.
My wife bought a microwave from Currys. It was fine but developed a fault in the plastic casing. We were horrified as the fault was identical to a previous microwave fault. Apprehensive I took it back. (It was on extended warranty.) Someone lifted it out of the car (helpful at my age) and we were invited to choose another. No interregation, no fuss, nothing. Fresh paperwork sorted for the new microwave. (It took my wife ages to choose another!) and away. Thanks Currys. Happy smiling faces all round.
COSTCO Wholesale 92,000 full time employees worldwide  Founded 1983 first company to go from zero to 3 billion dollars in six years.
 We shop regularly at Costco. Everyone seems happy to work there. We bought a television, the range was bewildering. Three young men (on successive days) took us over, sorted us out, guided our purchase even down to payment methods for best effect. Everybody seems happy to work there. We're waiting to see a long face. (Black mark, the baked potatoes can be iffy!) Nevertheless happy smiling faces win.

DEBENHAMS  240 stores across 28 countries. Multichannel 'Retailer of the Year' 2012. 'Of Proud British Heritage.'  and  stands for 'greater value, wider choice, excellent service'. (Debenhams own words in both cases.)
    My wife bought some boots from Debenhams, price £65. Less than a year old, the tops parted from the soles, making the boots unwearable in wet weather. My wife took them back. She found Debenhams response unhelpful. I did not go into the shop but on her return she was crestfallen to say the least. Not amused I rang head office. Not unhelpful I thought they were nevertheless far from enthusiastic regarding our problems but suggested another visit to their store. Not easy (I am classed disabled) We nevertheless complied.) Monday morning, a wearying experience. Seeing the manager, as suggested, not possible. A senior member of staff took charge. The boots, she suggested, were FASHION boots. (not bought as fashion boots). Of any case, Debenhams guarantee was for SIX months only I was informed.I took off my own shoes, over two years old and we compared. (My shoes are Hotters, British made. No comparison. Another senior member of staff was summoned and EVENTUALLY conceded my wife's boots (made in China) at £65 were poor value. We were eventually offered another pair of boots but declined and accepted a voucher instead. Hopefully they do sell items that will make us smile, not frown; any suggestions. Last words on Debenhams. We found Debenhams lukewarm, condescending, unsmiling and unhelpful in the main as if looking for a let out. On the morning we attended staff were 'thin on the ground' as some staff were on 'Staff Training!!! 

    I have, by the way, no connection with any of the firms concerned. What I do have is friends in a high tech business who, amongst other things, teach massive conglomerations how to teach their staff how to deal with people. A lot of 'how to's' methinks. I once knew an old man in a pub. Long gone, both. I remember nothing of him except for one thing. He used to say, simply, 'It's nice to be nice.' Trite maybe, but wise words. Many a big business would do well to have the old man's words 'WRIT LARGE' in bold lettering on their company walls.

    It occurs to me that a system is needed to give award to firms or individuals that do actually contribute to lifting our moral in these hard times. Any suggestions for Grumpy prizes, to be be known forthwith as The GOK awards!

Thursday 8 November 2012

26,665 days or therabouts.

It's my birthday tomorrow the 9th. It was a Thursday like today. I remember it well! So I've been about for around 26,665 days or thereabouts.
How many more depends on a heart that started on day one and will stop when it's ready; quite a thought. Its a lot of days in a way. Mind you, around 9000 of them have been accounted for by sleeping. I spent around 4000 AT school and over 6000 IN school. (Teaching). I spent around 1500 in a boring office job, 750ish working for Woolworths and around 1700 trying to be a full time youth leader. Add another 1700ish training to be the aforesaid teacher and youth leader and you no longer wonder where the years went. Plus over 15,000 days of married life aren't to be sneezed at: not easy but always happy.
There have been trauma galore. Losing your mother at thirteen is life changing: especially when no father was ever present. Plus reminders of our mortality are always educational, whether they be courtesy of motorbikes or boring old diabetes, skin cancer or TGA's. You spend more time at doctors and hospitals when you reach 'senior years' than is comfortable but we ought to remember many in the world do not have such privileges.
Wise William Shakespeare was spot on when he wrote of the Seven Ages of Man. Basically you start as a dribbling infant and you end as a dribbling 'infant elect'.
But good times outnumber the bad. The joys of a happy marriage, children, grandchildren. So ordinary an existence; so blessed am I. I am pleased to be alive. Who was it who said 'This ain't a practice'. As our American friends tend to say 'Have a nice day'. I'm sure I will!.