Wednesday 20 August 2014

Punch and Judy Show at London Covent Garden May Fayre

Is it me or is the Whole World Going Mad?

    Do you ever see the news on television, or read the papers and conclude that the whole world's going mad; or is it just me. And you're not supposed to say 'mad' any more, it's not politically correct. Can we say barmy instead, you tell me. It all reminds me of my old favourite,  Arthur English. 'Stop the world' he used to say, 'Open the cage.' Well something like that! I know exactly what he meant.
    Here in dear old Derby they had a Punch and Judy show in a big shopping complex. Great, Punch and Judy has been going for three hundred and fifty years. And a good time was had by all. Except that a lady representing  some society or other complained bitterly about the violence; particularly the domestic violence. Granted Punch was evil personified. He threw the baby around and abused his wife. But surely Punch and Judy shows don't glorify domestic violence; and he was after all arrested by the policeman.
    An audience, including children KNOW Punch is Evil. I would doubt children would be influenced negatively by this type of theatre. I'm not going to labour the point, but there were many letters in the local paper, The Derby Telegraph; very few supported the opinion that Punch and Judy shows should be banned. What do you think?
    Derby has been hit by the recession, times have been hard for many and financial cuts seem never ending. The local council is aware of how bad things are, so they tell us. They have decided to find out what the good people of Derby REALLY need. (Are there elections coming up I wonder.) So in their wisdom they have brought in consultants to find out what we REALLY need or want. And the cost, good people of Derby? £400,000! £400,000 that could have been spent on OAP clubs or homes;  on the young, on our decrepit roads or cutting the long grass at the side of our roads. We don't need highly paid consultants to search out what we REALLY need. Less spending on banal surveys for starters would help.
    Yet our problems are tiny when compared globally. The whole world seems to be at war. Syria, Iran, the Ukraine see violence daily; war brings horrors that are almost beyond belief. Starvation, the loss of home, mass killing, all are present, often in the name of religion. Yet I doubt that we think of the world beyond our little existences for long. Most of us are selfish by nature, mores the pity. So we live almost in a bubble, not necessarily all of our making. And its the little things in OUR lives that mainly catch the eye. Little things that reinforce the idea that the world's going mad. For instance I watch QVC on occasion. What a sad person I have become! On QVC they have make things out of cards. Mindbendingly dull but whatever turns you on and all that. And do you know they were making this week? Christmas cards, for goodness sake! and they've been doing them since June!
    All these 'happenings' in the world were starting to get me down and I didn't know what to do about them. Then I went with Paulette to shop at Lidyl, parked up and realised the answer was staring me in the face. The Lidl where we shop is situated in Normanton, reputedly the roughest part of Derby but we love it. I sit in the car whist Paulette shops, not through idleness, honest, but my mobility is not good. 
    I  tend to 'people watch', always entertaining, often educational. Ten paces from my car stood a young man, around thirty years of age; unexceptional, someone who you would not normally give a second glance. He appeared deep in thought; certainly in a world of his own, oblivious of others. He proceeded to extract a 'spliff' from his pocket, studied it, put it in his mouth and lit it. For the next five minutes he smoked contentedly if somewhat vacantly; he was oblivious to passers by, of my gaze, of the world beyond the pavement on which he stood. He produced a second 'spliff' from his pocket, lighting it with the tiny but still lit end of his first, very thin 'spliff'. Finally finishing his second 'smoke' he smiled to himself and he was gone, perhaps never to be seen again.
    Whist finishing off this post my juke box played loudly in the background. The unforgettable Harry Lauder i think accompanied my efforts. And the words of his immortal song rang out loud and clear; 'Keep Right On to the end of the Road'. Now there's a thought!


Thursday 7 August 2014

Driving or Driven have You ever been in charge

  The world news recently included the possibility, nay probability that some cars in the future would be driverless. The technology is already here. Vehicles have been tested for thousands of miles. No steering wheel, all done by sensors via satellites. The details are almost unimportant, like it or not, change waits for no man.
     This brings possibilities that are beyond our comprehension. (Try the idea out on friends or acquaintances and step back to avoid the vitriolic comments.) Many of us, especially males consider ourselves wonderful behind a wheel. The idea of 'competing' with a driverless car on the motorway, 'driven' by a blind man is not easily accepted! Fancy driving through my hometown Derby in a car with no steering wheel, avoiding inebriated jaywalkers, the idea is fascinating. Who gets the blame when you run over someone, you or the car;  or the satellite in charge? And does this technology mean you can sleep on long journeys and arrive at your destination refreshed?
    I can understand driverless trains, but they run on rails. Plus I find aeroplanes amazing; even more so when the pilot takes his hand off whatever keeps it flying in a straight line. Surely you wouldn't drive into a dark tunnel with your eyes shut. so why do you fly in a plane that has the pilot on his break in another 'room' ( I am a geriatric who has never flown in an aeroplane; no kidding! And I wouldn't transport a dog in some of the conditions you are expected to endure on some flights I have witnessed.) Regarding the driverless road vehicles the idea is to have some of the cars on our roads by 2015. Watch this space; on second thoughts, watch that car coming down the road with the owner sitting in the back reading his newspaper.
    All of this technological talk set me thinking. In life in general; are you the driver, or are you driven! I know of many who are adamant that they are 'in charge', their 'destiny' is in their hands. Now self assurance is commendable, but I reckon, and have always thought so that we are 'driven' not 'drivers' in life.; let me tell you why.
    Throughout our short lives we make decisions. We don't have a say on where we are born. We do, to a certain degree have a choice where we live out our lives. Our qualifications and wealth, or lack of either, will, to a degree, determine where we live out our lives. We have some choices as humans, but only up to a point; my position in life is fairly well decided for me give and take a little leeway. I can't be the next King of England for instance. I'm not even king of my own castle, so to speak; my wife and two daughters see to that! I reckon the only thing I'm in charge of is the television remote, but don't tell anyone. I have limited control of my health; of any case even the richest amongst us seldom  live beyond a hundred years of age. Death is the great leveller, whoever may we be. (Concerning our religious friends, a belief in an 'Afterlife' and all that is not relevant to this blog post.)
    Its a funny old life to be sure. Our ancestors hoped, guessed their might be 'something else' to life. That's why man has always worshipped statues, idols, craven images; be they intellectual modern men living in concrete jungles  or mere natives in some real green jungle in a far off land. Modern man thinks he's so clever at times. But driverless cars, I bet few of you saw that coming. On second thoughts, it doesn't really matter. Car accidents are caused by drivers, NOT the car! When a driverless car approaches, NO problem, NO FOOL OF A DRIVER TO CONTEND WITH! Driverless cars, bring them on!

I trust you will find these Youtube films both entertaining and educational.   

Mercedes's autonomous driving on highway

Self-Driving Car Test: Steve Mahan