Thursday 26 September 2013

Was Life Ever Simple?

    My apologies to any reader/follower who has commented on my blog but received no reply. I do not mean to be rude. But I am finding it more and more difficult to do so. You used to merely click and reply. Now I cannot always follow the instructions as to what is required. Is it me or is life getting harder for us 'old uns'?
    What was my introduction to technology? Listening to the 'wireless' after the war I reckon. Vick Oliver, Ted Ray, Al Read and the like. All for sixpence, the price of exchange for a recharged accumulator at the post office. Television in the 1950's, black and white picture 9-12 inches. (Next door, there was noway my mother could have afforded a 'tele'.) Listening to vinyl records (78.s 33's, 45's on a record player. (Again I never owned one of my own.) Then cassettes crept in but I'm not sure when. Mind you juke boxes seem to have been around forever.
    There were no computers around when I was at school. Nor too many computers when I was teaching. Many teachers only half knew what they were doing when they crept in, how long ago was it? Now the technology is everywhere; unavoidable, dominating, frightening. I understand only a tiny fraction of it all. (My four year old grandson is a wonder on these games thingymesgigs they all seem to have.) I find modern life tantalisingly difficult. Again, is it just me, everyone else seems so clever!
    I do not own a mobile phone. I thought for years they were a 'walking aid' without which movement was difficult, nay impossible. I have recently bought a car fitted with a 'Bluetooth system'. What the hell am I supposed to do with it? I see my grandchildren with iPods or is it iPads. I am typing this post on my recently acquired Apple Mac computer. Very very difficult which is why we are going for lessons!
I wrote an ebook concerning my life (A Childhood Revisited available on Kindle/Amazon.) Some people think that proves I am computer literate. Not true at all, I have good friends who help me out. (M
y wife will finish off this post by putting in the 'Labels' etc.)
    My son in law Jeff is a world rated photographer. If you have a moment look him up, his wedding photographs in particular are wonderful. (Jeff My daughter Sarah is a major part of the business. What shocked me was what a seriously important, time consuming  part of the business Facebook plays. The time involved is phenomenal. I know virtually nothing concerning Facebook but I do realise it is a force to be reckoned with. ( Since I have been incapacitated I have seen much of 'Jeremy Kyle' on the television. What a sad human being I have become!) It is a programme concerning people with problems. It is sinisterly amazing how many times Facebook is mentioned. Facebook has much to answer for.
I have a Twitter account, which someone set me up but I can't really get the hang of it. They tell me blogging is in decline. Evidently Twittering is increasing at blogging's expense. (I reckon Twittering is for people who can write one sentence, often badly but no more!) There are some amazing blogs around. My puny efforts are basic in the extreme. I feel I am hanging on by my fingernails. But then I look back and marvel as to how many 'names', famous in their day are no longer with us. So its onward ever onward whilst ever someone wishes to read my geriatric ramblings. Now I'm going for a lie down!

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Weddings Always Cheer You Up.

    Quite an exciting week, at least for geriatrics, the week of Paul, son of friends Richard and Lynn's wedding near Plymouth in Devon. Visited cousin John and wife Mary at Yeovil on the way. We talked of childhood, it all seems so long ago. ((our childhoods together were all of sixty/seventy years ago.) Life is short and this 'ain't a practice. Thanks for your hospitalityJohn and Mary.
     The wedding was held near Plymouth so we stayed in a hotel. (The Smithaleigh Hotel). Can you believe that my wife and I have never stayed in a hotel since our wedding night all those forty three years ago! Aren't we sad people, my wife and I! My 'sophisticated' daughter had to educate us beforehand concerning room service, en suite baths and 'tipping!
    The night before the wedding a group of Paul's guests, including my wife and myself sat together in the hotel. I was very taken as to our roles in life. We were all, or had been people in professional positions, with the exception of my wife. She was what is now referred to as a 'home maker'. She was also a 'dinner lady' for many years, and a good one at that!  Times change, my own family fifty or so years ago consisted of labourers, servants, plumbers, butchers, painters and decorators, factory workers and the like. I don't remember anyone being out of work, though I 'drew dole' once for all of one month; I never forgot it!
    The wedding service  was held at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in the village of Ermington. The church was uniquely attractive, famous for it's crooked spire; the service modern yet relevant; the bride beautiful, the groom handsome. I did my usual geriatric trick of 'mishearing'. (Do you remember in church last week I thought the minister said the address was to  be on all things 'risque'. Only it turned out he said 'risky'.) Well, a young man at this wedding announced that he was to read Geoffrey Winthrop Young's 'Comfort in High Hills'. Now I thought this sounded terribly interesting, except I was a little disappointed as I thought he had said it was to be 'Comfort in High Heels'. I promise if there's to be a third time I'll get a hearing aid!
    The setting of the church and the bride Kathryn's (seemingly referred to universally as Kath) home where the reception was held are rural in the extreme. Outside the quaint church for instance slopes are the norm. I am still struggling to walk (my knee 'op' had not gone well) so the offer of help down the slope from a young lady guest  was gratefully received. We chatted as I made painful progress. "And what do you do as a living" I enquired. "I'm a doctor in A and E" she modestly replied! She was one step ahead as to what might happen next I reckon! Plus an elder lady, called Pat I think took my arm and helped me up, not down the hill to my car. Don't let anyone tell you there are no pleasant, helpful individuals left in the world!
    We are all different in the world and we all live in different places. But for real rural isolation you want to see where bride Kath was brought up! On a farm, at Burraton, near Ivybridge miles, and I mean miles down one track country lanes. We seldom, in our busy, busy lives think as to where others in Great Britain, never mind elsewhere live out their lives. Gordon and Francis, you certainly found a special place to bring up daughter Kath.
    The wedding reception was special; the choice of curry as the main meal was 'different'! There were many young people present (I consider anyone under forty is young!) The band (are musicians still called bands?) were infectious (in the nicest possible way.) The dancing, uninhibited in the extreme was a joy to behold. Seemingly anything goes and non the worse for that; frivolous, fascinating and fun.
    Both the bride and the bridegroom are mountaineering instructors. How about that,then! Or as Max Miller would have said, 'Now there's a funny thing.' Several guests had the same or similar occupations. Paul and Kath are a popular pair very reminiscent of all that is good in the young of today. Many guests were similarly endowed, the whole atmosphere was terrific. Well done, Gordon and Frances, Good luck in the future to Paul and Kath.
    The drive home in the dark was amazing. well done the sat nav, but most of all well done to my wife! A memorable few days; just what was needed as autumn is suddenly upon us!

Tuesday 10 September 2013

I Went to Church on Sunday.

    I went to church on Sunday. Nothing much there, except that weddings and funerals excepted, it must be at least thirty years since I last went.; and no, the building did not fall down! It was sixty years on Sunday since my mother died. She was forty seven, I was thirteen. I placed a small posy of flowers on the grave and said a private prayer of my own. I will speak more concerning the last sixty years but at a later date
    I was brought up in a Moravian household. I suppose to many that in itself is unusual. The Moravian Church is, I believe, the oldest Protestant church in Europe. I will again speak of this church at a later date. When you are young you don't tend to query too much who you are and all that goes with it, so to speak. Moravians tend to have small, originally self sufficient communities all over Europe and obviously including England. My childhood and upbringing was in the main happy, given my personal circumstances. After the war there was often an air of uncertainty and foreboding present, particularly concerning a Third World War. (nuclear bombs were often talked about.) I distinctly remember, somewhat smugly that I, being a Christian and a Moravian, would go to heaven of any case; others would not be so lucky.
    I attended church\chapel twice on Sundays until my very late teens and thought nothing of it. Girls from the local girls boarding school attended the morning service and were an obvious attraction. Liaisons were sought but seldom materialised; teenage boys can but dream! Two hours lost on Sundays and the sermons seemed to go on forever; but undoubtedly a way of life that installed in me moral values that I adhere to to this day. And so to Sunday, 9th September, 2013.
    The chapel was bright and cheerful just as I remembered it. At the front, at the back of the altar a huge, frowning face still surveys its 'audience' But a face not obvious to all. (I checked) Now why have I, forever and a day been drawn to an 'apparition' that most are not aware. You tell me! The boarders from the school still attend; I suspect they have no choice, unlike the rest of the congregation. Attractive girls, but very noticeable the fact that many were of foreign extraction. As Bob Dylan used to tell us, 'Times they are a'changing.'
    The congregation otherwise was sparse and in the main ominously elderly. I have a vision of a splendid chapel, built in the 1750's in the not too distant future sporting a great big sign, not Ockbrook Moravian Church but a more modern message stating simply 'Tesco Express'.
    The minister, by Moravian standards a comparatively young man, delivered the service with enthusiasm and vigour; what a task he has inherited. A too modern approach will meet with disapproval from those entrenched in the traditional ways of the past. Yet one of his aims will be to offer something that will encourage the young to attend and become lifelong Moravians. (Tasks such as keeping a graveyard tidy is, I've no doubt almost beyond the aged, an awesome practicality easily overlooked!)
    The sermon was topical, ernest and no doubt from the heart. Syria and its problems were mentioned several times. I do hope people living in safe, middle class, cosy Ockbrook do try, if only occasionally
 to think of the lives of others in the world not so fortunate as themselves.
On a not so serious note. The minister's 'speel' was delivered under the banner of 'Things that in life are 'risky'. A thoughtful enough sermon except that I misheard him. I thought he said 'Things that in life are 'risque'. Now that would have been worth hearing! Oh well, the joys of getting old! Mind you, I thought it would have been a bit too modern for rather staid old people. Mind you, I bet the schoolgirls would have paid greater attention!
    The church provided a cup of tea afterwards and several spoke to myself and my wife; pleasant  people, are Moravians. If it was an echo of the past, it was a nice echo. The religious side of life for me has changed. But the community side of Ockbrook Moravian life is important. It is very much a part of life for many, all the more so as they get older. I enjoyed my visit, irrespective of the sad event my visit       recorded. Perhaps my next visit will be a little less than thirty years!

Monday 2 September 2013

Thinking Out Loud

    I'm usually at a loss as to what my next post will be about. I remember the time, being a total novice I asked of fellow bloggers 'What's it all about, Alfie'. Several helped me out and my 'Grumpy Old Ken' blog flourished in my own haphazard way. And one thing I learnt (how ignorant I was in those days a mere four years ago) is that a blog is whatever you want it to be. A 'diary' if you like, YOUR thoughts etc, but on the internet, not paper. So no attempt this week at creating a masterpiece of wit and wisdom.  No doubt all the better for it! Just a mere musing of what the weeks been for me!
     I'm still struggling along, the knee refuses to show any real progress, the rigures of physiotherapy continues to dominate, life is not easy; but there are so many worse off and every situation in life teaches us something if we allow it to do so. For instance, I had no idea as to the trials and tribulations associated with disability. Steps are everywhere, there are few concessions offered. Lifts in the public arena are few and far between and frequently out of order. The world out there is a survival of the fittest. Welcome to the real world, Grumpy.
    My wife and I visited Wollaton Hall, a magnificent structure built between 1580 and1588.       . Except that the lift, you've guessed, was out of order and the steps at the front of the building were almost impossible for someone in my condition. Plus disabled parking was available, yet very poorly advertised Mind you, an attendant had the sense to find me a wheelchair to make my visit enjoyable. Well done that man! (I got the impression that 'cuts' had made staffing a joke, but not a 'funny ha ha' joke.)
    Everyone ought to have a session in a wheelchair, be they fit or otherwise to get some insight into the world out there offered to the disabled. But lets not get too negative, life is still good in the main. Two individuals I met in a week in which Jamie Oliver suggested the British young are feckless, work shy and lazy.
    Seeking advice on kitchens we visited B and Q (they found me a wheelchair, rather battered but usable). A young employee, mid twenties, gave us time and advice in our quest for the kitchen of our dreams. He was civil, dedicated to kitchens, knowledgeable, ambitious. I wouldn't mind selling kitchens, but only for a morning. My shortest 'career move', selling Betterware lasted four hours! He had been employed by B and Q for ten years. Again, well done that man.
    At Wollaton Hall we found a cafe. I have seldom seen a cafe so busy; particularly with young mothers and their offspring. To put a not too delicate slant on it, Nottingham and district certainly knows how to breed! A young man around nineteen years of age (he reminded me of a young Elvis Presley) appeared to be in charge. He fetched tray after tray after tray of used cups, empty bottles etc from the tables in the courtyard. He also swept up and delivered black bags of rubbish to bins provided. He even responded at one stage to a message that a child was locked in a toilet and couldn't get out! When he eventually paused for a moment I commented on his frenzied work rate. His answer was interesting.
He basically suggested that he was paid to work and that is what he did. Eat your heart out, Jamie Oliver!
     Concerning disability provision we attended the Derby County v Burnley football match on Saturday afternoon. The parking is good, an electric buggy picks us up at my car door and deposits us at the entrance to the main foyer. A lift ride, a few steps, stewards to hand and hey presto, in my front row seat. Big business can be disability aware  when it tries. (Now all we need is a winning team!)
    Limping around, 'big time' is not to be recommended. But one thing it does, is slow you down and give you time to think. I sat in front of the magnificent old building and do you know what was going through my mind. I've no doubt a little chap with five or six children, possibly called Percy or Montmorency worked on the building of Wollaton Hall all those years ago. Where are his mortal remains now, I wonder. Life is short with an inevitability that catches up with us all.
     Enough of my geriatric ramblings. One final thought. How many of you, not from this area, recognise Wollaton Hall. It does of course feature in the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, Wollaton Hall was of course Wayne Manor. Grumpy's blog may well be boring but it's often educational!