Do you reminisce?

There are those that say never look back what is past is the past but there are an equally vociferous segment think that history plays a big part in our lives. At the moment whilst writing this I have You Tube in the background playing stuff from the 50’s/60’s when I was growing up as a child with the influence of the American music scene and the emergence of the British response. So I have such a rich vein of memories to fall back on and that I admit I will not let go but why should I? I have arranged a number of school reunions and to date I think I can say they have been successful as many have asked since when am I doing another one. School friends of half a century ago get together and exchange chat and want to come back for more, makes me think that the those who think the past is the past are missing something.

Of course not everyone has a great story to tell, there is tragedy there is hardship as much as there is success but overall the feeling in these reunions is that of old friends getting together to have a chat and a laugh and I’m proud to have organised such events. But as with time there is death and we have lost some former classmates and some of the teachers, who incidentally enjoyed this get together as much as us former pupils did so these days such events tend to be depleted somewhat but none the less the overall feeling is of comradeship. I am going to include a couple of pictures and I’m sorry for all those in the pictures if they would rather I not but hey 50 years later many of us met up again and had a great time, and no I’m not going to supply the details to the pictures lol,

assmebly 2 (2) copy again mr-hall's-class-1st-year-ag mrs a's class (2)upgraded copy again

 

 

 

 

THE DRIVE

The twilight was dancing on top of the hills, beyond were the lights of the city, and home. But to get there was another hour’s drive along these twisting roads, and Donna was feeling the effects of having driven nearly 120 miles already. There was no motorway café where she could have pulled off the road and had a coffee before the last part of the journey, and home. She decided against using the motorway, found it tedious, and, if the truth be told, she nearly nodded off at the wheel a couple of times. So this time she decided to take the ordinary roads, with her new sat nav gadget, it would be no problem, just tap in her destination, using the ‘Avoid motorways’ part, and follow the instructions.

Road light were few, maybe an odd house here and there and one light, trees either side were tall and foreboding, casting long dark shadows in the fading evening light. There were many twists and turns, which coupled with her tiring, made driving a chore. As she hit a bit of a straight road there was a dazzling light from behind, something was catching up, fast. “Bloody ell” Donna shouted, at no one in particular, she couldn’t see in front of her because of the light behind, so she slowed down. The other vehicle slowed down, for at this point Donna couldn’t tell what it was, car? Van? Lorry? The bit of straight road came to an end and it was back to the twists and turns as before, only this time Donna had company. The vehicle was getting closer, so close at times their bumpers touched, and it was scaring Donna.

“Mobile” she suddenly remembered, in her bag.
“Damn” as Donna realised that her mobile phone was indeed in her bag, but her bag was in the boot, put there for safety, and, until now, forgotten about. The vehicle behind was still close, too close, as Donna could now feel the sweat trickling down her back. Her fingers hurt, as she had been gripping the steering wheel extra hard, although she hadn’t noticed too much at the time. Then without warning the car, yes it was a car, a red sporty one at that, swerved out and raced past Donna, causing her to slam on her brakes and wait for the inevitable crash. But it never happened; the sports car disappeared around a bend and into thin air. Donna slowed down then came to a stop, wound down the window meaning to take in some fresh air, even if the air was now getting cold. But she remembered she was on a mainly unlit road so pulled off before coming to a halt.

Her breathing was erratic as she warily stepped out of her car and made her way to the boot, with the intention of retrieving her bag, and mobile phone. She lifted the boot, grabbed the bag and moved quickly back to the driving seat. She fumbled about inside her bag for the phone, looked through her list of contacts and found Tricia. Donna pressed the connect button only to see the screen go blank, dead battery. She began to weep, and tremble, was it fear, or all of a sudden the night air was too cold. She pulled back onto the road and took a steady pace to continue her journey, looking in her mirror, only to see darkness. But that comforted her that no one was behind, but something was in front, a car, a red sporty one. It was smashed up against a tree, steam and smoke coming from the bonnet, glass strewn across the road, blood trickling down the door.

Donna slowed, but did not stop, as she passed the wreckage she couldn’t see the driver, she couldn’t see anyone. One front headlight and the backlight were somehow still on, and as the car started to drift out of sight Donna was wracked with both fear and doubts as to what she should do. She pulled over and got out of her car and started to walk back, very slowly. She picked up a large tree branch that lay at the side of the road that was for her protection, protection from what she didn’t know. “Why doesn’t anyone come by?” she thought to herself, but there was nothing, and no one but this wreck of a car. As Donna approached the car, her eyes scanning all around her for any movement, the coldness of the night air got to her, but still she carried on. At last she was within touching distance of the vehicle, but still could not see a driver. But donna could hear a car, not behind, but in front, and as she dashed back to the road she saw her own car disappearing into the distance, and something Donna hadn’t noticed up to that point, a trail of blood from the crashed car to her own.

Stranded no protection from the elements, no protection from anything and still steam and smoke streaming from the crashed car. Donna started to look in the car for a coat, jumper, anything, and nothing at all. She went round the back thinking the boot may be loose and with that some sort of cover inside, coat anything. As if someone had heard her cries the boot was loose and inside was a cardigan, the type with a wrap round belt and a pocket at either side. Not a young woman’s clothes Donna mused, but welcome none the less, and unmarked. Donna herself was bordering on her late 20’s and the ever nearer 30’s but still regarded herself as a lot younger. There was nothing for it, she had to walk, waiting for a knight in shining armour to come along, was not an option. Into the dark she ventured, every step sounded as though she had workmen’s steel toe capped boots on, boots yes, but fashion boots. Her pace was brisk so as to keep her warm, and move her nearer to home. Nothing came either way, nothing she could wave at, draw attention too, nothing and no one. She thought she heard noises, but there was nothing for company, only the trees, and the natural life that called the trees their home.

She rounded a corner and her heart lifted, for in the distance, not too far away was the bright city lights, and the place called home, which had seemed a million miles away not long ago. Then her spirits lifted again as she saw a solitary roadside light, right next to a country cottage, not only that but the cottage had a room light on. She quickened her pace, dashed across the road and knocked on the front door. No reply, she knocked again, nothing, no slight movement of the curtains, nothing. “Just my luck” she thought, so she ventured round the side to see if there was another entrance. Before Donna could get very far she was brought to an abrupt halt, for there, parked in the gloom, but just visible, was a car, her car.  No she hadn’t noticed it when she crossed the road, she hadn’t even noticed the gravel driveway, but this was her car alright. As quietly as she could she crept up to the vehicle to see if the keys were still in the ignition and if so she would jump back in her car and drive off.

Whoever had drove away from the crash scene, now had the sense of mind to remove the car keys this time. One more try on the front door, someone must be in, her car was there, hers that was driven off from a crash scene from what seemed like an hour ago. Bang bang bang, she hammered with her fist, the noise seemed to echo for miles around. Bang bang bang, hurting her hand this time, then looking towards the upstairs of the cottage. And there at the window a face, splattered in blood, hair stuck to the face, which was pallid, and was also a woman’s face. Donna drew back staring at the upstairs window, but the face had gone. Instead Donna found herself face to face with a wreck of a body at the opening front door, a body that looked as if it would collapse at any minute, and did do just that. Donna cautiously moved forward, trembling, not of the cold, that had almost been forgotten, but fear.
The heap on the floor didn’t move, but a line of blood was trickling from it, but Donna couldn’t determine from where on the body the blood originated, she was no medic. Donna bent down and tried to hear if there was any breathing, there was but it was faint. She got up and looked around the room, why hasn’t anyone been by for ages except this wreck of a woman, and looked for a phone.

She was cursing her decision not to take the motorway, when the body moved, in fact the body stood up and there before Donna was a tall woman, who, before the crash, looked like she had been elegantly, dressed but was now a mess of dirt, sweat and blood. The body moved forward, stumbling and finally falling into another heap before reaching Donna. The line of blood continued to where the body now lay, again quite motionless. Donna was about to dial 999 when it came to her to get her car keys and drive away from this place, where she had no reason to hang about other than this poor wreck lying before her and all the human race deciding to abandon this road to Donna herself. 9….9….9

“Which service do you require?” someone said “Police and an ambulance” seemingly as an afterthought. “What’s your name?” Donna Westcliffe “What’s your location?” good question what is my location?
“I’m down the old A63 into Hull, near to Newport/Gilberdyke, that way, it’s a cottage”
“Has there been an accident, anyone injured?”
“Yes yes, why all these questions someone’s badly injured, please send someone”
“I need some detail first, are the injuries bad?”
“I would say very bad”
“You say a cottage, any name or number?”
“I don’t know just send someone”
“It’s the old main road to Hull, Newport/Gillberdyke way”
“A patrol car is on its way can you make yourself seen?”
“Ok I’ll stand outside”
“Hopefully it won’t take long” the voice rang off.

Donna saw a white tablecloth and wrapped that around her, for want of something else. Then she remembered, “My car” dashing round the end of the house she grabbed her jacket from the car, a black one and not very thick at that, but at least something else against the cold night air. With the tablecloth and the jacket along with the cardigan she had taken from the crashed car she didn’t feel too bad waiting for this patrol car. She looked inside the house, the body hadn’t moved and Donna feared the worst, but kept on looking for this car, any car really. “Doesn’t anyone use this road at night?” thinking to herself. After what seemed an eternity a shaft of light came down the road, a car, a patrol car at that. Donna frantically jumped up and down to attract the attention of the 2 police people inside the car, she couldn’t determine if they were both men or what, she was just glad to see them.

“Where’s the ambulance?” were Donna’s first words, but the policeman went into the cottage, and the police woman, as it turned out, stayed with Donna. There was a lot of mumbling into radios as Donna was lead to the police car. Before long an ambulance, more police cars, and personnel, the whole road outside the cottage was suddenly alive with activity, when only what seemed like a few moments ago not a soul had passed by all night. Donna sat in the police car, still shivering when the policeman mumbled something to his companion, ‘hospital’ was the only word Donna could work out. With that another officer, who got in the driving seat, with the police woman sat in the back, next to Donna and they were off. They were hurtling towards Hull, with the police woman asking Donna various questions. The first lot of questions were about how she felt and such, then name, age, where do you live, where had she been, all written down. The warmth from the cars heater was a welcome relief to Donna as she was able to feel her body relaxing. Before long they were at this hospital, Hull Royal Infirmary, with a doctor and nurse to check her over. Nothing was found to be wrong, other than slight shock for which a hot cup of tea was prescribed.

Then it was on to the police station, Queens Gardens, for more intensive questioning at which Donna felt she was some kind of suspect to all this drama. She repeated everything, twice, driving home, then being overtaken, then finding the crashed car, getting out of her car to see about the driver only to hear her own car being driven off. Then starting to walk, and knocking on the door of the cottage after finding he own car on the gravel driveway. The woman at the door, who then collapsed, all this being recorded, and written down by two men in suits, probably detectives Donna thought. All track of time had been lost, all Donna wanted was to get home and her car back. That was not possible at the moment, she was told, so how would she get home? What seemed to be begrudging she was offered a lift in a police car, back to her flat. Donna had the frame of mind to retrieve her bag and a bit more stuff from her car when she spotted it on the drive, which included the keys to her flat. She wearily unlocked her door but was suddenly startled by the bell, the bell to her bedside alarm had just gone off.

She looked at the clock, shafts of sunlight were breaking through the curtains, she was confused, there in the parking space was her car. What was she doing on the bed, still immaculately dressed, everything intact? Putting on her coat she went down to see her car, perfect, just as it was last night as she had driven home down a long dark twisting road, come home into her flat and fell asleep on the bed. “Last time I drive down that road when I’m tired” she mused. She got undressed, showered, had a light breakfast and got ready for work. It had been one hell of a dream, or nightmare, she had had thought Donna, and gave a little laugh of relief to herself.
It was a beautiful sunny, warm, sunny morning, as she went over to her car and was just about to climb in when this other car came round the corner.

A sporty car, a red one at that, and driven by what looked like a tall elegant, well dressed woman. It passed Donna and sped off, disappearing into the distance.
Donna froze.

 

Books, a resurgance for me.

I have always liked reading much of it these days being tech stuff but now I have got back into books, both real and the Kindle type. In fact I’m comfortable being snuggled up in bed with either a paperback or my tablet computer then read until my eyelids start dropping then its time to sleep. So what do I read? Well at the moment fiction of all kinds and quite a wide choice and if you let me share with you my recent reads then I will but some of you may gasp in disbelief. I will get the naughty books out of the way first and the one everyone was always talking about so I just had to read if for myself  it was 50 Shades Of Grey.

Yes you read that right, the one that women seemingly like by the thousands but why as I’m puzzled as it contained violence against women but other than that what did I think? In a word tedious, I’m not going to spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t read it yet suffice to say that reading just one book on its own, it is a trilogy by the way, doesn’t do the overall story justice. Its a love story, albeit a kinky love story but none the less a good old fashioned love story. But to appreciate the story as a whole all three books should be read.

Then another naughty book, well it comes under the heading of a classic a classic what I am not sure but I was not impressed. Lady Chatterley’s Lover was banned in the UK when I was a young lad but I remember the court case that enabled a copy to be bought from over the counter instead of under it and it has taken me another 50 years to get round to reading it. Well I wished I had waited another 50 years and that’s about all I can say other than the story is well known but the contents were heavy going to read, I think I will give the classics a miss.

This is the second classic I have tried and failed on both the other was War And Peace and by page 38 I was well and truly bogged down, so I gave up. So what else have I been reading, well a while back I came across a TV programme whilst flicking through the channels, as you do, and came across one Tom Selleck playing a cop, a drunken cop at that, Jesse Stone. I was smitten so I delved a bit deeper and found the author of these stories, one Robert B Parker and I am even more smitten now. I have read about Jesse Stone, Sunny Randall and Spenser, all cops or private detectives.

I have found that my eyelids don’t start dropping sometimes until the early hours of the morning as I am enthralled by the stories and the style of writing. Slow and laconic which I find most relaxing and at the moment I have quite a few books to choose from in fact even today, Saturday, I have taken 3 back to the library and taken out 4 more, some more late nights I feel. Then there is the electronic medium, now there is an argument that you can’t beat ‘real’ books, but I’m just happy to read from anything but I take the point. The thing about the electronic way is that I have come across freebies from authors wanting their books to reach a wider audience and down loaded them, along with paid for books, yes Robert B Parker ones at that.

So at the moment I have a pile of books waiting to be read in all formats and I can’t wait to start another story. I have a theory, my return to books is my response to the life in the real world which never seems to vary from stress and strife whenever you put the TV on. I can immerse myself both in a storyline and in my bed reading it and at the same time try and forget the world outside for a while, well until my eyelids start dropping.

I’m a sadist there I’ve said it :)

Ah but not what you are thinking, not THAT kind of sadist but a blog sadist in the sense of all the techie stuff I read from The Register, The Inquirer, and The Verge plus CNet and other stuff and its the continuous fanboys sniping at each other in the Microsoft v Apple v Google episode. I love reading the stuff, hence the sadist thing, boy do they go for each other and when they get all technical it really does get abusive lol. I’m not techie myself but I’m not totally dumb (some may question that assertion) but with Microsoft rolling out Windows 8.1 (or Windoze 8 to some people) and the seemingly impregnable Apple software being attacked by hackers and succeeding things are really hotting up with these geeks.

I am loathed to say guys in the sense of the male of the species as I am sure there are many a female participant in this arena but it don’t make any difference to the bile that is being thrown about. Likewise the Apple, Android, Windows 8 phone stuff it is, well to me, all fascinating stuff as I do actually learn a thing or two about these devices through these clued up people. I’m not sure what the next stage is for all this set up as Windows 8.1 has only just been released for download and a replacement for Steve Balmer hasn’t been announced yet, but that should be interesting reading whoever it may be, Steven Sinofski? oh my LOL.

So carry on guys, and gals, your info is invaluable but not always agreeable as Windows ME is considered a disaster, not to me it wasn’t I found it a good transition at the time but hey I’m joining the debate now so I’ll be braced for those in the know to better. I will head over to more discussions and disagreements and of course the inevitable bile its better than TV LOL.

Celebration time for the the football supporters of Hull City.

For those of you who are not familiar with the European and indeed World Wide game we call football, or to the USA, soccer, its a sport whose popularity increases by the year and has developed an importance to the British nation that is phenomenal. Fueled by money from a satellite TV company the rewards for the clubs in the top tier are huge, both for the players and the clubs. And so most clubs aspire to take part in this league both for the money and the prestige and only a few famous and wealthy clubs tend to be consistent enough to stay in the top flight year after year.

Well the team from my area of England, Yorkshire, are known as the Tigers, because they play in black and amber shirts, sometimes with stripes, but they are otherwise known as Hull City. Now Hull City have languished in the 2nd tier of the football hierarchy since being demoted from the Premiership a few years ago and consequently nearly going bankrupt and out of business due to bad judgements of the previous management. Mediocre players on inflated contracts cost the club a fortune in transfer fees and salaries, so when after a couple of years in the top league things went pear shaped the club was in trouble, big time.

Millions of pounds were squandered and all attempts to remedy the situation failed and bankruptcy loomed. Then a local businessman Assem Allam stepped in and took over and guaranteed Hull City’s debts with multi million pound loans but then did something that didn’t please the supporters. The manager at that point, Nick Barmby, was a local lad made good, he had played for the team previously and this was his first chance at football management. He was sacked, results had been poor overall but he was popular with the fans but he still went.

The Hull City faithful were outraged but the businessmen carried on quietly, appointing a well known manager and former player from Manchester United Steve Bruce to take over whilst Mr Allam continued to make the club a viable business. And on Saturday 4th May 2013 Hull City, after a monumental season and indeed last day of the season miracle, are heading back to the top tier the Premier League. Now unless you are wrapped up in all this football thing its hard to put across how important this is for the area of Hull. The TV exposure alone, usually confined to the top places will now include the Tigers in their reports and of course that could be good or bad but the potential exposure benefits could be huge.

Unless your team is in the Premiership you hardly every get a mention on TV, newspapers or the internet even but now Hull City will come under the spotlight like never before as most of those media pundits are predicting that Hull will go straight back down again at the end of the next season. They may be right but at least this time there won’t be the money problems that nearly drove the club out of business the last time, for the rewards of this league are huge, even after relegation, but at least this time there are proper businessmen to manage things properly.

Well done Hull City on gaining promotion and nearly causing a few heart attacks in the process, lets hope that this stay in the Premiership is long lasting and that a solid foundation can be built for the future of the club at the top level. As the Owner Mr Allam has indicated progress to European competitions, and the extra revenue and exposure, is not out of the question, for a club near extinct not so long ago that is truly amazing.

There is also the hope that this media exposure could result in much needed investment in the Hull area, jobs are much needed so any spin off’s from the footballs teams success would be most welcome. Visiting fans spend money so local shops should benefit as hopefully the local hotels and bars, its an all round win win in the right circumstances it just needs careful handling along the way by people in power, both at the club and the politicians in power.

Getting older, well I’ve never been here before.

Its odd to say the least that with each new day I’m finding out things I never knew before, not knowledge in the sense of learning no silly things like more hair seems to grow out of my nose than on my head, in fact it grows everywhere but my head. I need glasses to read and because of that I have groves in my nose where they sit. But there again I have more groves and lines than I can count and that is something else that comes with age, the look of crumpled cardboard.

Most other functions, well at the moment, seem pretty much the same, oh I forgot, the memory, now I can remember back 50 years or more sometimes, I even surprise myself with what I can remember when I really try, but put down my glasses for a moment then try to pick them up again and I am lost. It annoys me, they can’t be that far away I haven’t moved hardly. Now another oddity, believe it or not I still ride a bike, cycle call it what you will but I find that everything is overtaking me these days and I don’t mean motorised stuff.

Other cyclist just breeze past and no amount of huffing and puffing will let me catch up oh and if a professional cyclists passes me I begin to think I have stopped. I bend down to tie my shoe and boot laces and make noises I never intended to make, (no not flatulence) a kind of ooooo arhhhhhh involuntary noises I call them. Another thing with age is the amount of bad news other people can’t wait to tell you, most depressing is this. You see someone you haven’t seen for a while and the first thing they tell you is who has died.

They are not content with that oh no then then list all those who have had heart attacks, strokes, or any other life altering ailments and even though you may have felt ok before this point a kind of depression comes over you at this not so helpful news. I’m trying to think of some pluses to this age thing, but I haven’t won the lottery so at the moment its a bit of a blank. But the main thing is that those I grew up with are of the same ilk as myself we are old together that is of course some kind soul hasn’t informed me of some other person or persons that we knew are no longer with us. Charmed I’m sure.

I’ve done it again :( ………… yes gone awol :(

It’s not intentional, I have to be in the mood to write or else I can’t write at all and now I see I have neglected my blogs, big time. I could say all the usual junk, time just flies by, I’ve had a lot on just lately, you get the drift, but the fact is I have had things to say but have been too lazy to say them, and that is not the point of blogs to me. A blog is like an online diary in a way, ok maybe not THE intimate stuff, although some do and good luck to them, but a general theme of ones life at the time.

But I have hit a block, writers block maybe, but I’m not an author so that’s out, but no, more of a resistance to actually write anything, which is unusual. It’s hard to explain, and before anyone thinks, not a depression thing either, just no impetuous to write. So I’m back and I feel right to write what I have just done, nothing earth shattering I know but at least I’ve got back in the groove so to speak, and as an aside a lot has gone on in my life.

I have a new grandson, soppy maybe but I adore the little guy, my other grandchildren are at or nearly at teenage years but I love them to bits although now they have a life of their own. But my new grandson is new to the world and he is responding to me now and so it starts all over again where I have this new life to integrate into mine, I just hope I last long enough to enjoy him growing up.

I do wonder what kind of world he will grow up in, and in a way it terrifies me, being of the older generation, but Facebook is a case in point, I’m not on it by the way, but it seems to be the way of the young where all and sundry is posted and collected in vast databases, I don’t think 1984 was written with the assumption that people would be so compliant with agreeing to so much being collected about them.

Well I suppose the younger generation will deal with in their own way, but it’s not to my liking but there again I’m too cynical these days, I’ve grown old and weary about sound-bites by people in power, be it government or private enterprise, not much difference to me. Anyway I will try to keep a bit more up to date with these blogs of mine, there are 3, so thanks for hanging around.

YES ANOTHER PHILOSOPHY ON LIFE.

I have been thinking, a lot lately, I’m at that age I’m afraid and I am totally confused as ever about life and what goes on in life. My nerves have been stretched to the limit this past few days due to a flood in our kitchen and its now I realise I can’t deal with it like I use to, I’m too old. But then I read a lot both on-line and normal media and the puzzlement sets in.

I am worried about water coming in through the ceiling, it’s a mess but then my wife was at a charity do last Friday and long-time former neighbour,  has a daughter, we know her mum as well, 7 years old and has leukaemia and a workmate has a granddaughter, 10,  who has cancer, both are going through treatments usually administered more to my age group, 60’s, than young children and it got me thinking, really thinking about life.

I’m upset about water and the mess its left behind and then I curse myself when I hear of other people’s lives and the fact that a bit of water would, if they had their way, be worth it if it is all they had to worry about, like the 2 children mentioned. Then I look a bit more deeply at the news Worldwide and it’s not a good read, not good at all. There is water involved in some headlines, more than what I experienced, lots more, flash floods.

People losing their lives in Spain, 10 of them, in a flash, literally, and when you look back over previous news you see instances of people going about their daily lives one minute then dead the next, and I don’t mean the likes of car accidents or whatever or violence, but both those no less traumatic to the relatives of the victims. I have dealt with family crisis before and although stressful I got over it but with age it doesn’t seem so easy.

So what is it with life? As I say I read and I can see people who, on the surface, have it all, but the majority seem to have very little. You have men and women with incredible looks and those who are born disfigured for life, you have those who are powerful athletes and sports men and women of many kinds, yet there are those who are barely able or not able to walk at all. There are children born with blindness, deafness who will lead a life with an inborn disadvantage through no fault of their own but others born into luxury and privilege.

And it seems down to where you are actually born that also affects your life ahead, in certain countries you are relatively free to pursue opportunities that exist, in others you will never get the chance if you are born into certain ruling elites. Certain countries of the world seem to permanently fighting wars and famine and corruption with the victims usually the worse off and the poor. But hasn’t it always been the case?

I’m not expert on history although I do like the subject but over the centuries lives seem to prosper or not by some arbitrary means and I don’t know the formula. I suppose there are those who would bring religion into the equation, but surely it isn’t HE who decides who should live a relatively calm cushioned life and someone who is condemned to hard labour?  Surely it isn’t HE who says that someone can run faster than anyone else on Earth and there again condemn someone to not be able to run at all?

And I certainly don’t think it is HE who allows someone to be worth more than some countries and others grovel in the gutters for scraps to keep alive. No I just don’t know what decides all this and I know really that I will never know the answer, all this as I think about the flood in our kitchen

Technology

I have always liked technology and up to a point considered myself something of a geek, compared to my like minded friends. Remember VHS & Betamax, well I understood the basics, Betamax was better quality but VHS was more popular so the rest, as they say is history. Then it moved on apace and as always America was at the forefront, except for things like mobile/cell phones and satellite TV. In every other aspect America lead the way but then a funny thing happened.

The likes of Commodore, Atari, Radio Shack and T.I.  were trailblazers in the early computer craze the UK was quietly having its own revolutions, lead by one Sir Clive Sinclair with his ZX and ZX Spectrum, computers were now in the mainstream, especially when the BBC got involved. And I kept up with it all, although my programming ability only stretched as far as Atari Basic. Things were gathering pace, whereas America had its cable TV with many channels we on this side of the Atlantic had basically 4 channels then satellite appeared.

It had been there for a while but at last it became mainstream and for me especially it was a revolution. I was getting channels from the Continent, Holland, Germany, France, Belgium, and others, not just the normal diet of BBC/ITV, News, music, drama and yes some stuff that was not mainstream, it was an eye opener. I use to go on about this new world out there TV wise but all I got was blank stares, I could watch football/soccer in Germany I could watch pop concerts in Holland it was amazing stuff, but lost on my friends.

And of course the march of technology was gaining pace, mobile/cell phones were available, not the brick like phones of the Wall Street film fame but small enough to fit in a pocket which again was like a breath of fresh air. You didn’t have to look for a phone box just use your own personal phone box, but charges were steep at first. And as we moved on video tape gave way to disc and all the time the computer was evolving. Desktops took off, millions of them were sold we all could surf this WWW look up things, send electronic mail in an instance, get updates, all heady stuff.

But just lately I have regressed, I can’t keep up, the pace is going too fast for me, we now have social networks, where everything is instant, and updated for everyone to see and the young people have took it too their hearts and that is where I have now realized one thing I never thought would happen, I can’t keep up. I still read tech stuff and it begins to frighten me in a way as its took a path I could never imagine. People seem to relish publishing everything about their lives for all to read, although privacy rules are suppose to be in place.

Apps have taken over, the mobile/cell phone is everywhere and a lot more powerful beast to the first one I owned and computers have changed. We are in the era of portable and portable means a phone or pad computer, Wi Fi …….. 3G/4G …. all sorts of stuff that is getting ever more complex and the thing that has really hit home is watching my grandchildren with all this. To me its amazing, to them, who have grown up with all this, it is part of life, they don’t know any difference so all the gadgets that make me stand and stare with awe is just a normal progression to them.

They are 15 and 11 respectively and have a computer, desktop, a laptop, mobile/cellphone, a Kindle/Sony reader, Xbox, Sony Playstation, Nintendo Wii,  NDS ( is that right?) flat screen TV’s in their bedrooms a  50inch plasma TV in the main living room with all the satellite channels, their father has a car with TV in the back and a sound system that takes his mobile/cell phone calls without him taking his hand off the steering wheel. And here is the rub, all their friends are the same, its the norm.

I have come across some magazines, newspaper articles dating from the 1970’s/80’s when all this was a brave new, exciting world, but now I’m not sure if its either brave or exciting but more like foolish. We are tracked, we are instant, we are at the mercy of those big corporations who have all this data on us yet allow us to function in today’s world, and it is gather in pace. I have long given up thinking as to where it will all end the kids of today seem happy enough with it all, and they will have to live with it, in the meantime I will put on an old VHS tape on and see what I recorded 20 years ago ….. did we really wear clothes like that LOL.

So I look on YouTube and find music from artist I loved many years ago, I keep up to date with the news, instant if I want, but not to my mobile/cell phone, I just log on when I get home. No pad computer no Android or IPhone, no flat screen TV or computer monitor it can all not pass me by as I know there is not end, by reading the geeky stuff of what is coming along in the future. So get rid of the screens you are use too, you will ‘wear’ your computers, you will be online, always, whether you want to be or not, cars will drive themselves, park themselves and all the time this will be recorded, for whom? I know not and these days I care not.

Just a note.

As I have stated in the ‘Announcement’ I am moving my holiday/vaction/travel stuff over to a new blog TRAVELOGRAPHY. But the stuff already posted here shall stay, I was originally going to delete it all but have now changed my mind. I know I could have had a new section within the blog just on my travel, but I wanted to do one just on the travel and picture aspect as at some point I may post more pictures in this blog but not necessarily of travel.

I’m not sure how all this will work out for with me not being a coder or au fait with HTML I may mess up and although there are help forums and the like I just don’t have the time to look through it all, and more to the point, to take it all in. But this is not abandonment and there may be more changes as yet if things don’t work out, but that’s for another day.

Announcement!

I am in the process of reorganising my blogs, hullcityengland, and Off on a tangent into obscurity. It is all taking time so this new blog of mine, in which I am going to put all my pictures from my travels, and in time update those posts, hence the name which is TRAVELOGRAPHY, a word combining travel with photography. I have limited time as it is due to other commitments but for noW I will try and get at least one or two posts up online. Hoping you will drop by some time.

Achademic Excellence and fine old buildings go together it seems.

My wife and I have been on a few weekend trips just lately, no not those trips, coach trips and some of the places we have been are the academic excellence centres of the world, Oxford and Cambridge. Notwithstanding their academic power they also have some beautiful buildings to teach this stuff in, and its that side of the equation that grabs me the most, just as well as for my brainpower they would not just show me the door but would not let me near it :)  ……. so here are some pictures First Cambridge, we were there on Saturday 2nd June.

It has to be said also that many of these pictures were taken through gaps in iron gates and fencing as they were not open to the public until later in the day when I would be gone. Some didn’t allow anyone in other than students and their families as exams were taking place, which is fair comment I would say. I could have put a slide show but it doesn’t show the full pictures as I intended and I know I haven’t put comments about which college is which, but I may amend that at a later date, oh and the ducks were friendly as well, as long as you fed them that is :)

Sh*t I shouldn’t do this.

I was into one of my Youtube modes, I get like this, I have a drink nearby and nostalgia fills my head, and this time it took me into a deep crevice. That crevice was my youth and the music of my youth, but this music is now global but still personal. This video really got me going, heroes, from the age of 12 or 13 years onward until now and until I die.

Then I started probing, fatal, and I came across this video.

Now we are getting to the real heavy stuff, many of my heroes are dead and I come across videos and I realise my time has past. Don’t tell me to listen to ‘modern’ stuff, its crap, in fact its more than crap its not even music even if millions like it. I know what I like and there are 2 samples here. Today’s so called music should not even be called music, its earache, on a grand scale. When I come across stuff like this I realise the world I knew has gone, despite IPads, mobile/cell phones, computers surrounding us I preferred the days of my youth and I’m happy in the knowledge that I was there.

Today’s stuff is suppose to have a message, get real there ain’t no message its crap through and through, proper music stopped in the 80’s, despite some crap stuff at the time,  todays is an aberration.

An attempt at a short story (very short) ….. well we all have to start somewhere.

Charlie laid in bed, she was irritated by a shaft of sunlight coming through the curtains and shining on her face. She turn over but was still irritated but this was more to do with her being out the night before. She had been to her favourite club but one of her friends had told her that it had been taken over by a younger clientele and so she should move on to somewhere more appropriate. At this suggestion she had always replied with an expletive that also happened to be the clubs name.

“Bollocks”

She got out of bed and ran the bath, bath salts, her fave perfumed soap and a long soak that would do it. She lay there and it was bliss, so much so she was startled by the sound of the phone ringing, she must have nodded off. She picked up the phone from a cabinet alongside the bath.

“Hello”

“Charlene?”

She sat up in the bath, only one person called her Charlene by her proper name and she had broke up with him a long while ago.

“Who’s talking please?”

“You know who it is, don’t say you have forgotten my voice already.”

“How did you get my number its ex-directory?”

“Y’know”

“No I damn well don’t know” she was now furious.

“Look Charlene I just want”

“Its Charlie”

No reply.

“I just want a chat then I will leave you alone, promise” and before she could say anything else he said “I’ll come round later” then put the phone down.

The bath water was now cold, she must have dozed for quite a while, so it was straight in the shower and the warm water soon soothed her irritation from the phone call and the night before.

What did he want? Charlie had got her life back after a split with Robert after an acrimonious parting of the ways over nothing more trivial that who had left the TV on. Robert thought it was best so to give the impression that the place wasn’t empty all day.

To Charlie it was an unnecessary expense and seeing as she was paying the bills it was an expense she could do without. Then there was his drinking, this was after he was fed up with work, he had a good job with computers or something, Charlie never knew what.

But in a fit of pique one day after being passed over for promotion in favour of the bosses son he  told his boss, and his son what he thought of them and the firm. He was given half an hour to clear his desk and was then escorted from the premises.

This left Charlie as the sole breadwinner, but what did he want now? She decided to get ready and go to the shops, her provisions were low anyway. She brushed her hair, a bit of makeup, she wasn’t going to be long, and went to her car. Then she had a change of heart.

There had been some good times, sex was very good and there was even talk of marriage at one point. She came back to the apartment and started to tidy up, things had slipped lately, clothes put away or in the wash basket, pots washed, then through the window she saw this figure crossing the road.

Tall, with dark hair, swept back, black leather jacket and ice blue jeans, a throwback to the rock n roll era, yes she knew that figure. She was overcome with panic when she heard the first faint knock on the door, she looked at herself in the mirror.

“My god what a mess” she thought, “Why didn’t I take more care getting ready?”

“Charlene?”

She didn’t answer.

“Charlene you there?”

Still no reply, at that she heard footsteps walking away so she dashed to the door and threw it open. He stood only a few feet away, they gazed at each other, then Charlie said:

“Are you coming in all staying there all day?”

He walked towards the sofa, a light kiss on each of Charlies cheeks then took off his leather jacket.

“Coffee? Black?” his usual, she hadn’t forgotten.

“Tea please Charlene

“Charlie if you don’t mind”

He must work out she thought he looks in so much better shape than when she last saw him.

“You look great”

“I look a mess” was Charlies terse reply.

“Out last night, clubbing at Bollocks?” a slight smile crossed his face as he said this.

“I hear it’s been taken over by a younger clientele these days but it’s not my scene”

“What is your scene these days then?” irritated again.”

“Marriage”

At that Charlie coughed and spluttered her coffee all over.

“That’s what I’ve come over to tell you and bring you an invitation” he puts an envelope on the coffee table then stood up and put his jacket on.

“We both hope you can come, oh and bring a friend or partner” and with that, two light kisses on the cheeks and he was gone.

Charlie was incredulous, she was half hoping that he had come over to apologise and try to mend their broken relationship but instead he brings over a wedding invitation, his, when at one time it was going to be theirs.

She put her coat on and made for the door, she really did needs some provisions, she also took a bit more time with her appearance. Just about to get in her car and a nagging feeling was gnawing away at her, she hadn’t touched the envelope on the coffee table but now wanted to know who he was going to marry, instead of her.

She came back into the apartment and snatched the envelope off the table, it read:

You are cordially invited to the CIVIL UNION AND MARRIAGE of MR ROBERT CORNELL to MR COLIN BAXTER at HULL CITY REGISTER OFFICE 28th July 2012.

Charlie didn’t move but read the invitation again and promptly fainted.

I should not say these things ……… but ……..

You are not a rebel, you are not a protester, you are not a radical, but you think, what today is the unthinkable. Do you think the law is too soft on lawbreakers? Do you think too many are living off the fat of others? By that I mean claim benefits because they don’t like getting up early to bother with a job. I know jobs are disappearing by the thousands at the moment but that wasn’t always the case.

Do you think that a naughty, unmanageable child needs a slap for being cheeky? Then you get the usual thing like, isn’t today’s music crap? TV isn’t the same even with a multitude of channels, and when you get really deep, shouldn’t they bring back capital punishment? I’ve been mulling over many things that were normal during my childhood that today are a no no, capital punishment in the UK was usually a news item on the BBC when we only had 2 channels of TV.

Giving a child a slap, usually across the back of the legs or the bottom, was common during my childhood years,  and that big no no which causes debates all over, corporal punishment in schools eg cane for the boys a slipper or ruler, for the girls. It was called school discipline, now its been turned into teaching children violence works and is evil, it taught me that it would hurt if I did wrong at school, I learned.

So by the sound of it the modern day person would think of me as some horrendous dinosaur when most of the things I have mentioned never got a thought at the time as it was life as we knew it. We even had police walking around who seemed to know all your names and you knew not to be cheeky and respect the guy (usually a guy, sorry girls). But that’s the word the world seems to have forgotten these days, respect. Nothing radical, nothing outrageous but a realisation that the old person you mock may have just fought in a war to help you keep your freedoms.

Or the person who takes an age to walk a few steps and may be in your way may have had suffered a stroke or other life threatening illnesses. Or just the fact that all people were, at one time, young and energetic, fun, happy-go-lucky, but then life got them. In some cases a war that maimed them, or an illness that debilitated them or the sheer weight of personal problems. But as I say there is no respect for anything that hinders the path to greater human need of consumption, regardless of the consequences.

I am at a stage in life where I do wear rose-tinted spectacles in thinking my childhood was so much better than today’s. They have computers, gadgets that come straight from Sci Fi in my days and all sorts of comforts and advantages we could never even dream of. We had 78rpm and 45rpm records and record players, black and white TV but most of us had respect, respect for our parents, grandparents, that old lady who lived on her own and even to the point of offering your seat on a crowded bus if an older person got on and couldn’t get a seat.

I would think that all these people who banned our childhood thought of it as being horrifically cruel, a childhood where men held doors open for women without suffering a withering sneer, where people put their hand over their mouth when coughing, when spitting was regarded as a disgusting habit, where taking time when someone is in your way instead of barging past is probably today regarded as quaint. Maybe, but those rose-tinted spectacles sure make me smile now and again.

A return to Benidorm, Spain.

Here we go again, some more pictures of Benidorm, maybe these will turn out as intended, not keyholes. But Benidorm is still Benidorm only this time it was better than I expected. You may have read, or seen on the news, a thing called the Euro crisis, so many countries in the Euro zone are heavily in debt that the currency itself is at risk, although bankers and politicians tell you otherwise.

Greece has had some dizzying amount of money lent to it to pay off debts that were due to be paid so how lending them even more helps things I don’t know. So Spain, and Portugal, are close to the same scenario and I wasn’t expecting to see much activity in what is essentially a holiday resort. But what do I see when I get there? Much the same as in years gone by, the Spanish were in the bars, eating, drinking and talking, well that is a bit of an understatement as they debate with great fervour.

Tapas alley was as bustling as ever and bars and shops were being spruced up ready for another summers season of holiday makers. It all made for a great atmosphere and one that I love, even thought I cannot speak Spanish, or any other language, that is not a hindrance as you get a lot of help from the bar staff, shop assistants, to assist in your needs. Well I do know how to say Hola, dos, vino tinto por favour, pathetic I know.

Levante, with long sandy beaches and many bars.

One way of getting around Spain in this type of weather.

Amongst the high-rise apartments and hotels a lovely Spanish villa right on the front of the prom.

A more distant view of the sea front of Benidorm, there are actually 3 beaches, Levante (sunrise), Poniente (sunset) and a small beach in between called Malpas.

This is the Malpas beach, like a private cove and far different to its bigger brothers.

One of the many sand sculptures.

After the hustle and bustle of the day, peace.

Benidorm was built to its present position mainly for the hordes of British holiday makers who wanted some of that Spanish sun but still wanted the comforts of home. Like British food, beer, TV etc so a whole industry was set up to cater for these invaders. And invade we did, millions of us have at some time been to this lovely place, many time and time again, and although the place is occupied predominately by the British it is also a favourite with the Spanish themselves.

There are other nationalities, Germans, Dutch, Scandinavians, and just recently Russians, not many from the likes of France or Italy, well they have their own Benidorm’s. It’s a peculiar thing in a way that the British attend clubs and bars, just like back home, and see entertainment, singers, comedians and the likes, whilst the Spanish just sit and chat, or debate. They make their own entertainment, ok a TV may be on in the background, but no one is watching, unless football (soccer) is on.

And not too far away are some lovely areas to explore if that is your thing or you fancy a stroll. At one end of Levante in the Ricon area, is a small mountain range, not too high, but there is a road to walk along in safety as no traffic is allowed. It leads to what’s left of an old fort that was used as a look out for foreign invaders, British or otherwise.

The road leading up to the old fort.

The fort, or what's left of it.

I don’t know what will become of the Euro zone situation but it seems as though the Spanish will still be coming to Benidorm and the tapas bars and will be eating, drinking and debating as they have in years gone by. But that’s the essence of Benidorm, enjoy the holiday and come back again soon.

All we are saying …… is give peace a chance.

Its Sunday, the weather is glorious, its sunny and in the mid 60’s F, my wife and I are sat on deck chairs in the garden, a glass of vino at our side and all it well with the world …….not. Bang bang bang, drill drill drill, bang bang bang, lawnmowers, and I’m sure someone is drilling for oil as there is the sound of a formula 1 car revving up. We try to ignore and I shout out in vain, BE QUIET!

Then miraculously it is quiet …… for a minute or so and then its bang bang bang, drill drill drill. It’s as if the whole neighbourhood has dusted down their DIY stuff and decided that today’s the day that they will start their never-ending quest to spoil the peace and quiet for everyone else, oh and we haven’t got to the bonfires yet. Yes folks those twigs, dead grass, and any other detritus has to be got rid of, to hell with going to the local tip, about 2 miles away, nope we will have our very own bonfire so we can send smoke signals to the nearest Apache tribe instead of sending a text.

I think some guys are masochists they can’t wait to knock something down only to rebuild it again come hell or high water, the amateur car mechanics are not all that bad, until they decided to start the engine and the whole place sounds like a starting grid at a GP. But hey the sun is shining so ignore the racket, I wish as not only is it on the ground it is also in the air as the local flying club have woken up as well. Like scene of a WW2 film we have light aircraft that I’m sure are replicas of those kamikaze pilots from those films.

We not only have the real aircraft circling overhead we also have the model kind which are really something when they nosedive into your fish pond. They buzz about and you don’t take much notice, well I didn’t until one crash landed in our said fish pond. 2 guys came knocking at our door with a variant of ‘can we have our ball back’. And there, nose down, was a fair-sized model plane that had gone awol, it took 2 of them to haul it out of the pond, apologise profusely and say it won’t happen again, but guess what, it does.

So you can see the coming of summer, whilst I greet with overwhelming enthusiasm I also welcome with trepidation, I love the summer and the sun, especially at the weekends when the usual rigid itinerary of work is suspended for a short while. But unless these DIY Rambo’s and others retreat then its just a matter of grin and bear it ….. oh hang on …… bang bang bang ……. drill drill drill …….. vroom vroom vroom ………… sigh!

What now?

Something occurred to me about my post and replies and surfing other people’s blogs, what do people like who don’t like music? There must be many for who music doesn’t hit the spot, not matter what music. From Handel to head banging some people just don’t dig it, so what it their thing?

I suppose, reading, TV, videos, but music you can listen too anywhere these days with the advent of a stamp size record deck in your pocket. From my own point of view I can’t think about not having music its my escape when the day has been too much at times. I can put my headphones on, pick a playlist and close my eyes to escapism. The playlist may differ from day-to-day, but melodic stuff does have a place in my heart.

I have written a couple of songs myself but having no professional equipment at all I simply sang into my computer mike whilst playing my guitar and I also have a camcorder where I did a recording, but of course the mike was on the camcorder, again, rather primitive stuff, but I liked it. Although movies are available online I don’t actually seen anyone looking at movies whilst on the move so to speak, like people listen to music.

When I think back to 78’s and LP’s and now to the thousands of songs on a piece of memory I wonder where we go from here with music. But wherever it is my music will be the same, I am stuck in a time warp and no amount of todays wizardry will move me …….. Here comes the sun, here comes the sun and I say, its alright (courtesy of G. Harrison).

Diverse videos ….. for no particular reason.

Just a few of the videos I have on my faves on YouTube, there are too many to include so these are just a sample of my likes. I have no claim to copyright this belongs to the singers/songwriters involved, my only claim is that I look at these over and over again and never get bored doing so. I have about 80 videos in my favourite list and if you want to see them take a look at my channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/brandyandcoke?feature=BF

I like reading about techie stuff but what I am now reading I don’t like.

This is not about techie stuff, your computers, gadgets, big boys and little boys toys, that type of thing, No I’m talking about what I have been reading about these things, mainly mobile/cell phones. Smartphones they are calling them because in comparison to the ‘brick’ featured in films like Wall Street they are very smart indeed. Too smart and getting smarter from what I have been reading.

Now the way the world is today everybody you talk to seems to be on Facebook, or some other social network place and you can basically read all about their lives because they put it on there and are not too bothered about who can read it, despite the scares of late. But our handy little phone is about to get a whole lot more informative about us.

Whilst surfing news sites I have on my favourites I came across an article in CNN and read more, to get the gist of what I am saying here this is the link.:

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/28/opinion/mobile-frankenstein-keen/index.html

It goes on to mention an article in the Wall Street Journal, again expanding on the theme of what  is being kept about us and do we care?

http://online.wsj.com/public/page/what-they-know-digital-privacy.html

The story goes is that the more they know about you the more they can accurately taper adverts to what you like on your surfing habits, but its gets more creepy than that. It seems they want to know everything possible and are building huge data warehouses to store all this info, this is totally beyond big brother. I have also been reading about some professor guy who voluntarily embedded a chip in his arm then the information transmitted by this chip enabled him to open doors by just walking up to it, no keys.

Same with his car and his office, even a modified cash machine worked this way by him just typing in the amount he wanted, the chip in his arm did the rest. This guy believes we should all have these chips embedded with personal information about blood types, any ailments or illnesses, what medication we may be on, next of kin, social security number etc etc. This is useful in case we collapse and the paramedics may need that information, the police would quite like all this information as well. Oh and if you think this is fantasy, how many people have their pets ‘chipped’ these days?

Read on:

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=98077&page=1

http://www.countdown.org/end/mark_of_the_beast_07.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microchip_implant_%28human%29

Its nothing new of course, I’ve been reading about this thing for a number of years but now it seem more of a probability than a possibility as its being done by stealth. By that I mean credit cards are smarter, in fact there are smart cards, mobile/cell phones, tracking cookies have been around for years but now they are getting smarter. Other stuff even more intrusive is going on but that happens to be governmental approved stuff.

Our first visit to the USA a number of years ago and pre 9/11 included:

Questions at the airline desk in the UK, 6 forms each to fill in, 2 in the UK, 2 on the plane and 2 at US Immigration. Then Homeland Security, fingerprinted, iris’s scanned, more questions, patted down, body scanners both in the UK and the US and that was before I even put foot in the land of the free. And all this down on a computer archive somewhere, but the things I’m talking about when I’ve been reading, go much further, tracked from birth to death and all under the guise of being for our benefit.

But as I say, with the tremendous growth of Facebook, and others like it, maybe people don’t care what is online about them, or stored on some anonymous database. But our phones are becoming embedded in our lives and if you believe some of the articles written by people how understand these things, then the phone will be our lifetime’s information storage portal.

Oh hell I’ve hit the nostalgia trail.

Its been a long week when you get up at 3:30am – 4am so I’m chilling ……. its 7:25pm UK time and I’ve been delving into my CD’s, yep CD’s, helped along by a bottle of South African red wine, and I’ve come up with things from my past, well teenager past. No surprise really as I’ve picked out The Beatles Help and Rubber Soul CD’s and you know what, you forget how good these songs are.

From Help to If I Needed Someone the very songs evoke memories of the past, when the world was a wonderful place. Brit pop had conquered the world, led by The Beatles and followed by countless others and I don’t know what dragged me back there tonight. I just felt that way out, I had been on YouTube so maybe that had something to do with it, but none the less I like my music, the optimum word there is ‘my’ music. I don’t profess to be a connoisseur of music but I know what I like and its MOR, yes that stuff that people of a certain age fall back on.

I don’t know how many CD’s I have but they range from The Beatles to Martina McBride, with Elvis thrown in somewhere. But along that road there are obscure names that hang like Christmas decoration, they are nice for a while but then you take them down, Norwegian Wood on now. So I have stuff that maybe should not see the light of day but its my light of day and that’s all that matters. I could give you a full list of my CD but by then you would ‘unfollow’ my blog, so I’ll give that a miss.

Nowhere Man on now, oh this music is really taking me back, I admit that I think I may have been born at the right time for many things and music is one them, and I think it a shame that anyone not into music is missing a lot in life. But anyway I would embed video into this rambling but I’m not sure how, so I won’t.

These days music is everywhere, but I wonder if it evokes the memories I have of certain songs at certain times of my life. Like Billy J Kramer, to those outside of the UK it will mean nothing at all, but he was another guy who fronted a very good group, Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas and who made a record, Little Children, amongst many others. But Little Children had a significance. It’s a slow song that demanded a slow dance and I just happened to be in a dance hall with the girl of my dreams at the time, I mean 15, cool, with hair, no wrinkles, my life in front of me, get where I am at here.

And so Iife moves on, and I go to gigs and see why some of these stars are stars, they are superb, but now I’m wallowing in nostalgia, because it wasn’t all roses, crap happened but you tend to block it out if you can, illness and death takes over at some point and you attend more funerals than Christenings, so you grow up but the music stays the same and when you sit down at your computer with a bottle of vino or whatever, and people you have known have passed on and you smile when a certain song comes along, you are at the stage I am at now, just enjoy the moment.

Quandry time, questions, questions, questions

This is one of those stupid silly things that crop up in conversation sometimes, especially amongst friends, the subject? Age. And my question was thus, at what age are you too old to be young? Which on the face of it is easy, anyone older than yourself is too old to be young, but what when you get to the age of that person?

Lets take an example, many years ago, I was in my 20’s then, and there was a nightclub, Bailey’s, but seeing as it was in the UK it probably means noting to anyone, but at the time it was a nightclub chain and a very good one at that. They put on cabaret, class acts of the day in the UK and also from the USA, Jimmy Ruffin was one artist I saw, and also a disco, which was also an up and coming thing.

On one particular evening me and my mates were all having a beer, looking at the girls that type of thing, but the other thing was a group of people who looked about in their 30’s. They were dressed in suits, nice dresses (we are talking about the guys in suits and the girls in dresses here LOL) and quite smart but, and how can I put this, they looked dated, yes old. Bear in mind we were only about 10 years younger but it might as well have been about 100 years difference.

Now fast forward 10 years and guess what? You get the drift here, you have replaced those people you use to giggle at because they looked so out of date. But hey to yourself you are still THE MAN, even though your hair is, shall we say, receding, you may have, shall we say, a less than svelte figure, in fact a beer bulge. And so you go on the dance floor and do your stuff, ever seen the younger ones snigger at you? Time to take a rain check here.

The music is not the music you grew up on and you don’t actually know who is singing what these days but hey you dance away anyway. Only the dances have changed and all the stuff you liked is now, shall we say, past history. Then it dawns on you, you are past the sell by date, your time has past, you are ancient history. But my question is …… when does this happen? When do you feel that you are of another era? You may still sing along to the music of the day, but your heart isn’t really in it, you like your stuff.

There is a gender thing here as well, as usual, women have to work harder to keep up with trends and the effects of aging, but most deal with it elegantly if not with alacrity ( that word will get you reaching for your dictionaries :) LOL ) whilst men age ……. graciously, well most (ever seen a guy who pulls his hair over from his armpits :) …….. )

So back to the point of all this drivel, at what age is too old to be young? I haven’t a clue, I have lost count of the times I’ve been told to ‘grow up’, but I never have. At times I am in my teens in my head, (especially when I have You Tube on) and others I feel my age and I don’t know why. So help me out here, am I past my sell by date? Doomed? ah what the hell, I’m listening to Cindy Lauper at the moment and feel like I’m 30 …… oh hell I look old :)

The US of America

For anyone from the UK who has not visited the USA it must be difficult to fathom out what all the fuss is about, and for those Americans that live in the USA they must have the same feeling as they see it everyday. The first thing people say in the UK is the flying time, lots of people do not like flying, simple, and the thought of being on an aircraft from anything up to 13 hours, fills them with horror as 2 hours to Spain in enough for them.

America has been everywhere for as long as I can remember, from TV shows (I Love Lucy) to music (Elvis, Ray Charles) so we have grown up together and oddly enough not with our near neighbours, Europe. I don’t recall many European TV shows, (I can’t think of any at the moment) but certain music from Europe has had a foothold in the UK, Johnny Hallyday was popular with the girls if I remember but the main European group was Abba.

So came the day I thought could never happen, a holiday/vacation in the USA, it was surreal, I was going but not believing it even when sat on the plane. Even more strange was the fact that when we were going to land at McCarran (Las Vegas) airport it would be at an earlier time from when we set off from the UK. On the plane itself was a revelation, little screens in the back of the seat in front where I could watch movies, listen to music, or watch a picture of the terrain we were flying over.

We were well fed, often, but drink was kept to the usual English type, tea, I’m not a big alcohol drinker when on a plane, I once had a couple of drinks on a short trip to Spain years ago and felt dreadful afterwards and vowed never again, so I don’t. Then we came into land, yes terra firma, in the USA, Chicago actually as we had to catch a connecting flight, it wasn’t direct. We had to collect our cases and make our way to the connecting flight, but first get through immigration.

Photographs, fingerprints, forms and more forms, questions and more questions, this was pre 9/11 by the way, do you want me to visit your country? Eventually we were through, but not before my wife was in a state that we were going to miss our connection, and the fact that our two friends whom we were traveling with, had sailed through immigration, two women traveling seemed to have had an easier time with things than my wife and I. Collect cases and on to find the TED airline desk, I was in a daze taking everything in, I was thinking Al Capone, Eliot Ness, was that really Chicago, the windy city, I could see?

The TED flight was uneventful but we had spent a long time on airplanes and just wanted to get to our destination, and even though sat down most of the time it was tiring. Finally we could see Las Vegas come into view, it was night time so everything was lit up, an explosion of colour in the desert which not only woke us up but also dazzled us with its spectacular entrance into this traveling experience.

So lets live the dream, collect our cases, the case carrousel being in amongst the slot machine then find a cab. Get a grip man, you are in the USA, still not believing I was traveling down Las Vegas Blvd. Excalibur, New York New York, MGM, Monte Carlo, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, wake up man you are actually here stop day dreaming. Then our hotel Imperial Palace, check in, 16th floor sir, 16th? So make our way to the lifts, pass the slot machines, a fact of life in Vegas, card tables, dice, spinning wheels, and some familiar faces.

Was I seeing things? Madonna? Roy Orbison? Tony Orlando? Elvis? (well there had to be an Elvis) …….. even a Dolly Parton, and they were all dealing cards, I thought I had discovered a secret second life for all of these stars and as some people say Elvis wasn’t really dead but a card dealer in Las Vegas. I wasn’t seeing things they were, impersonators, dressed just like the real people did and not only that, as I was to find out, they actually got up onto a small stage and sang.

Sometime later we were to stop and see these people deal cards one minute then get up and stage and really rock the place, they were no karaoke singer, but pretty good. We may have been awake for nearly 2 days but we were suddenly alive once we found our rooms, freshened up and changed, it was time to hit the strip. Maybe more some other time.

MGM with live lions in the foyer, now retired.

The Paris hotel I believe this replica of the Eiffel Tower is 1 third size of the original.

This is when I think Las Vegas comes alive, night time is a magnificent spectacle

The Luxor is based on and Egyptian theme.

Our hotel, Imperial Palace based on an oriental theme, well sort of LOL.

For those with more money than me ..... the Venetian, luxury.

For those with a bit of history, downtown Vegas Fremont Street and Binion's.

One small step for man one giant leap for mankind (not really but it sounds good :) )

Morezennow, http://morezennow.wordpress.com/ passed on an award to me, for which I’m very humbled and grateful. She writes a quirky and often hilarious blog covering many different subjects, and succeeds in making them all interesting to read. So thank you Morezennow for the:

One Lovely Blog Award   I now have rules to follow which I shall do in time but for now I shall wallow in the afterglow.    

Memories from the school yard.

Aside

A poem I wrote when thinking of my old school and my schoolmates, some of whom I still see. I don’t mind copying as long as I get acknowledgement please.

Just looking at some old school pictures and this came to mind.

We looked across the classroom, meeting each others eyes

We’d meet near the school gates, trying not to laugh

Lessons could be forgotten, for the next 100 years

As all of our classmates, gave us long big cheers

 

We walked hand in hand not caring who could see

It would always be this way, just you and me

All my friends just knew it, right from the start

This would be the girl, who’d take away my heart

 

I’d miss football, and cricket, and almost anything else

Just to walk this girl home who lived in another terrace

Couldn’t wait for 4 ‘o’ clock couldn’t wait for dinner

Just wanted to be outside, so that I could be with her

 

I remember now it was 1st years, maybe about 12

I’d have a picture of her, in my bedroom on the shelf

Hid it in the morning, so my mum didn’t see

Brought it out again later, sometime after tea

 

I had to do my homework, her picture by my side

Didn’t really notice that my school marks began to slide

Mum and dad were not too please ‘what’s this then lad?’

Been looking at your school report it’s gone from good to bad

 

Too much football and cricket well put a stop to that

Swatting is what you will do and that will be that

Didn’t tell them the real truth, they wouldn’t understand

Just wanted to be with her, just wanted to hold her hand

 

Soon it was common knowledge, was forbidden to see her again

School and back home again, homework, then to bed

School marks didn’t improve that much couldn’t really care

Why should I bother if I couldn’t be with her?

 

Mum came to the rescue, I’ll see what I can do

Saw her mum the other day, and her daughter is missing you

See her at weekends, to see how it goes

She’s pretty, but that you already know

 

I’ll deal with your father, so don’t you worry

You’ll be late for school now, so go on, hurry

There she was, stood at the gates

We walked in together, we were both late

It’s all so long ago, but like yesterday

As I look in the schoolyard, and see the children play

Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink ……

We have a peculiarity in the UK, well that’s one way of putting it, others wouldn’t be so kind. Its been on our national news that we are facing drought conditions in certain parts of the country for the coming summer months, mostly the south of England. Now take a look at a map of the UK and you may just notice something.

It may just occur to you that we are surrounded by blue stuff, ok its not really blue its mostly a murky grey/brown stuff but yes its water, and yes we are an island. So what’s this drought thing? Well its not a drought for the whole country just say from the Lincoln part down to Brighton and across to Northampton, the South East corner the rivers and reservoirs are running dry it seems. But in Scotland and parts of the North of England they are swimming in the stuff, so hear this you guys why don’t we pipe all the water you don’t use up in the North, down to the Southeast where we need it?

Sounds reasonable? Well yes I suppose it does except for one little obstacle, who’s going to pay for all this? A little explanation here for those outside the UK, our water industry was, for many years, a public utility, that means it was run by local authorities and government departments, but then it was sold off in the great rush of privatisations, I’m not even sure myself who actually own’s our water companies these days. But of course private companies have to make money and they don’t do that by spending great amounts making the water system better.

We were told that under previous ownership the whole system was breaking down so it would take years for the new owners, and bundles of money, to put all this right, that was in the 1989. You could see at various times that indeed mains water pipes were bursting and flooding roads and the surrounding area but what was also happening was that was other pipes were leaking gallons of water every year, and it appears that is still the case years after these private firms took over.

So yet again the carrion call is for all that surplus water in the Northern regions to be shipped, or piped to the South. But why can’t the water down south, like the North Sea and English Channel be used instead. In this day and age cannot desalination plants be built to make the sea water usable, or is that too simple a solution? It seems like the answer is no we can’t build desalination plants, as the cost of running these things is exorbitant, but isn’t piping water two thirds of the way of the country just as costly?

Oh and by the way there is a desalination plant already built, in London, and will only be used in case of emergencies, like a drought, looks like it will be used this year. And there was a government report on water shortages in the South East in 2006, but its so long and tedious I won’t bother copying any extracts but I’ll summarise it. Basically we have been here before and nothing has been done.

A trip to Beatleland a.k.a. Liverpool (part 2)

The first part was rather rushed, so I apologise for that, we have grandchildren sleeping over and my attention wandered somewhat. But this second part is much like the first, pictures/photos and an explanation. Liverpool was a vast port catering for the Atlantic Ocean trade of luxury liners transporting their passengers to the USA, of which the Titanic was one such ship. But all that has gone now but the docks area has had a massive investment program to make it into a very cosmopolitan shopping and eating place.

Other things have also changed since the early days of The Beatles, The Cavern being one such place. The original was cellar, heaving with bodies dripping in sweat and dancing to the music of various groups, including The Beatles. But it seems the original Cavern was not very health and safety friendly so it had to go and a ‘New’ Cavern was constructed, I believe using the original bricks and style of the old, but with modern features, not least air vents and fire escapes.

What has not changed is the history of the place and its place in music history you can always go to Wikipedia and get far more information than I can give suffice to say it made, along with Hamburg, The Beatles as we knew them.

The Cavern Club (not to be confused with the Cavern pub close by)

And of course memorablilia.

R.I.P. John, your place in history is secure along with the others.

And of course there are plenty of places to indulge in Beatle stuff of all kinds.

And finally.

I have more pictures, when I sort them out, so maybe a Part 3, who knows?

A trip to Beatleland, a.k.a. Liverpool.

A little while ago my wife and I went on a coach trip to the land of the Beatles, Liverpool. Its not far from where we live, when I say far, a few hours travel, depending if you stop off its between 3 to 4hrs. Its a lively place and although probably not as famous as the Fab Four, its where the Titanic sailed from. But back to Beatleland, and once there we took a tour, round all the Beatle sites and the tour was aptly named The Magical Mystery Tour.

Now Liverpool, like a lot of Norther England cities, is a place in transition, and that pace of transition is determined by the one thing that determines most things in life, money. Many old houses have been knocked down for large areas to be re-developed, my own city, Hull, has the same thing, but on a smaller scale. But the Beatle stuff is still there, just, there seems to be an on going battle with the authorities and the historian type people over Ringo Star’s first house.

Its in the middle of a derelict area due for demolition but some want to preserve the house on a historical basis, but the last we heard it was holding up the whole redevelopment of the area, a tricky one though, it has historical interest, but he only lived there before The Beatles became famous, so not sure what will happen. I took some pictures, so without further ado I will post them, with a short explanation, well sort of.

The name says it all.

Yes THE Penny Lane, it was cold though.

Don't know about the Strawberry Fields forever bit but the iron gates have been welded into place because they kept getting stolen by souvenir hunters.

One of the houses George lived at, he moved a few times apparantly, before the fame that was.One of the houses George lived in, he moved a few times apparently, this was before the fame.

Aunt Mimi's John's home.

Actually its quiet ironic this ‘Working Class Hero’ lived in the best house and area of the lot of them.

Paul's home.The name where he lived.

And Ringo's house, the one just past the tree on the left and right in the middle of all the other borded up houses waiting to be demolished, some want to save Ringo's house.

THE Penny Lane again.

'Behind the shelter in the middle of the roundabout a pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray' words by Lennon & McCartney of course and this is THE shelter in the middle of the roundabout.‘Behind the shelter in the middle of the roundabout a pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray’ words by Lennon & McCartney of course but this is THE shelter.

'A banker with a motor car' and this is the bank

Thats the first lot for now, I will carry on with this theme at some point in the meantime I will post this off.

The Weekend is here.

Yes its a Friday, another week where I could curse, which is most weeks, but this is the time I like to look forward too. Nothing special but my wife and I have totally different relaxation moods, she likes the TV, I like my computer. But her TV is soaps, tennis and darts (don’t ask) but that’s fine by me, I have music or more to the point I have You Tube.

Its a vice, I have my own playlist where I can wallow in nostalgia of the music of years gone by. I can re-live the magic of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s till my hearts content, well almost. I find that You Tube is going more and more corporate and so a lot of previous videos have their audio blocked, which isn’t much use. This bugs me, why so much is available but then other stuff, which I happen to like isn’t.

Oh well there is a plethora of radio stations to choose from and that’s the rub, I can search the internet to find what I want something my wife downstairs has no interest in as she like her big screen, well a reasonable 32″, to watch the likes so Rafael Nadal and company knocking a ball over a net whilst I am going berserk upstairs listening to Fleetwood Mack, The Eagles, Dire Straights, Elton John, The Beatles, you get the drift.

I am of the older generation where none of this was possible, we had records, 33rpm, 45rpm (revolutions per minuter just in case you are wondering) then a marvelous invention came along, tape cassettes, and CD’s oh my, what brilliance. Instead of moving an arm with a needle in to a track you liked you could just press a button and chose your own playlist, and the quality of the sound, out of this world.

We bought all the same stuff we already had on vinyl on cassette and CD, we paid out a fortune, but hey it was fabulous, until stuff was coming out on all sorts of differing formats that we didn’t understand MP3, what on earth was that? You didn’t have to pay either you could ‘download it’ pardon? And so it came to pass Napster was a totally different beast where you could get practically any music you wanted for free, it wasn’t long before the internet was awash with the stuff.

But that was a blessing and not a blessing in disguise as there was too much of the stuff, blimey I like my music but I happened to look up internet radio stations, I was overwhelmed by what was on offer, even did a spot of DJ’ing myself, quite enjoyed it too. But then people were listening to their music with things hung around their necks, IPods they called them, not only that mobile phones, another phenomenon, also played music and so it was all over the place.

But as I write this I am still on You Tube and even though its pitch black of night I find I can listen to George Harrison’s Here Comes The Sun, sung by Paul Simon, Dave Crosby and Graham Nash, I’m spoilt for my choice of music and the choice of artist who sing my chosen songs. I have hundreds of CD’s which I play, sometimes, but for a greater understanding of my music scene, I don’t profess to be a lover of today’s stuff, then the internet, curtsey of my computer, fills the need.

But having said all that I still believe its hard to beat a live performance, its here that you can see why the older pop/rock/country/whatever stars are, stars. From the Bee Gees to Elton John taking in Celine Dion I can honestly say that the thrill of seeing the stars play and sing their own hits take some beating for thrills. I haven’t seen nearly enough live performances over the years, for various reasons, mainly financial, but even local artists or tribute artists sometimes fill the need.

And as I read that digital music is overtaking the physical ownership of music I still like to think I can take out a CD anytime I want, and listen in reasonable quality, to the type of music I like without worrying that there is going to be an interruption to the internet connection some time down the line. Computers have done wonders and devastation in equal doses for music, new stuff is getting heard without the need for agents and established stars are seeing their stuff copied all over the place. That is for better minds than mine to sort out, in the meantime its back to You Tube and Sultans Of Swing.

The world is getting smaller, very small.

I’ve been lurking, looking at peoples blogs see how the wind blows so to speak, see what topics are topical, and the subject matter is varied. But one thing comes across very forcibly, people travel to far off places with such ease these days, there must be very few places which have not been visited on this planet, bar off course some of the remotest outposts.

But then I got to thinking, in my limited way where have I been? And this is where I surprised myself as I love traveling as much as I can the list of places I have been too just never occurred to me, until I look at the pictures I have taken that is. So where have I been, well here goes, and its not a brag or anything like that, just a confirmation of how small the globe is when me, and I’m no big shot, can have been to so many places.

Europe:

Holland, German, France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, and its islands of Ibiza, Majorca (or Mallorca as it is known), Greece, or more correctly the Greek islands of Corfu, Rhodes, Crete, Cyprus, Gibraltar, and of course most of the UK. And many places within these places.

Elsewhere: USA

Memphis, Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, Denver

Just looking at the list amazes me even today as back in the 1950’s and 60’s it was just not imaginable that I would go to so many places when the furthest I had been was from one end of the UK to the other. But now we have friends who go cruising every year to some different hemisphere, and people take these ‘cheap’ airlines and go away to another country just for a weekend. If fact from where I live an overnight ferry could take me to Holland or Belgium on a Friday or Saturday, spend a day there, then come back and be back home ready for the start of a new week.

Although the care free days of travel have long gone, I still get a buzz from airports, ferry ports, or even train and bus stations as travel consumes me, I just don’t get to do enough of it, but I can’t complain really.

Arguments.

Arguments are a part of life, some people thrive on them, some people cannot be wrong, for whatever reason, and some people just argue their point and let that be that. It can be called debates, but its the same thing, there is a  differing of opinion and so disagreement, in other words an argument. But I have come to believe that they all leave a bad taste in the mouth after they are over. It may be between good friends, who are not so good after an argument, and as for family arguments, well the animosity after one can go on for years.

I have done my fair share over the years and as I look back at what they were about I admit a lot were juvenile and puerile, not worth the effort in the first place. The main ones being about sport, well football (soccer to our American friends), music, fave groups, bands, songs, and politics. You can throw in religion, food, holiday/vacation places, even the weather forecast and you go from the sublime to the ridiculous. I’ve also realised that most of my arguments were un-winnable in the first place.

Take football (soccer), I could reel off statistics to show that my teams, usually Hull City and Manchester United, were the best, no matter what, even after they lost, which in the case of Hull City at one time was an awful lot of times. But I could go back years with results and other facts and seemingly win an augment, but all I actually did was alienate the people I argued with, who at that point had been a friend, but was not the same friend afterwards.

Politics were even more divisive, and futile, even politicians couldn’t agree with each other never mind the public. Religion I left alone, I am neither for or against, it’s each to his own and I don’t know enough about each different one to argue. Holidays/vacations, how on earth do you argue about where you chose to go away, but I did when someone said where I had decided to go one year was rubbish, even though they had never been, but had heard it was, cue argument.

And so arguments are off the menu, it doesn’t matter what the subject is it will be a case of nod the head and say yeh. My points of view will have those who agree and disagree, and I can’t honestly say that my arguments have swayed anyone to my way of thinking at the end of the day, and I’m not going to argue about that.

Short careers?

I’ve been reading yet another debate on the thorny issue of copyright and availability of artists/performers on the internet. The issue this time was Spotify, now I don’t have this service, which is like a streaming music service, but not all artists are available. But the bit that caught my eye, and what seems to be cropping up more and more is the so called ‘short’ lifespan of these so called stars.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know not all artists can be Beatles or Tina Turners, but what these ‘artists’ earn during their so called ‘short’ lifespan is way beyond the dreams of those of us who get up each day just to survive. This same argument is given for footballers (soccer players to our American friends) and yet we have one so called pundit on the BBC allegedly earning £40,000 an appearance, not year, but each time he sits giving us his words of wisdom.

Song writers who write songs are protected as it is for about 80 years or so for copyright, as are many other forms or artistic output. Those of us in the real world are not protected from week to week never mind 80 years. For the record (no pun intended) I have bought songs I like in the form of a 45rpm single, 33rpm LP, cassette tape, CD, DVD audio, and now Mp3 and each time the originator of those songs have had a cut of the price I’ve paid, so who’s conning who?

hullcityengland.

This is the title you see at the top of my blog, but do you know what it is, where it is, do you care? Well for a little background here are some pictures of Hull, a city on the east coast of England, about 200 miles from London and in what is normally called the North of England. A port, once a fishing port of importance but that’s all gone now, overnight ferries take people backwards and forwards to Holland and Belgium all the year round and an airport, Humberside is not far away.

Surrounded by rolling countryside of the county of East Yorkshire and a historical link to many pieces of English history, not least the Civil War between Parliament and The King, Charles 1st. The pictures are mainly of the city centre and the house of one William Wilberforce, a local MP who was instrumental for laws helping abolish slavery during his lifetime.

Hull City Centre

Hull City Centre.

Princes Quay.

Hull Marina.

Posterngate, one of the streets of the old town.

Statue of William Wilberforce, MP for Hull many years ago.

Part of the Wilberforce house.

More rooms of Wilberforce House.

Beautiful house.

Holy Trinity Church in the heart of the city.

Beautiful interior.

Holy Trinity again.

Hull in the height of summer.

Good work by the gardeners.

A little shade from the summer heat.

That is just a glimpse to the place in the title of this blog. Oh and by the way, I did post something on the same subject a while ago and can’t find out if I can move the post up the viewing scale so here is a link.

http://hullcityengland.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/kingston-upon-hull-or-just-hull-where-you-ask/

I’m getting deep here, not a place I’m use too.

I’m 62 years old, and I understand life less now than when I was 12. I’m not a philosopher, sage, or even a wise old man even though with age is suppose to come wisdom. But a number of things baffle my brain more with each passing day, and I don’t have the answers and don’t know where to find them. I read lots of stuff, health, fitness, life, death, technology, sport, the list is nearly endless, and I try and understand what is actually written, not just skip over it and not actually understand what I have just read.

But then I start thinking, eat fruit and veg, exercise, don’t eat this or that or drink too much, regiment your life in a certain direction and you will live a long and healthy life. But here’s the conundrum, you don’t, well a lot of people certainly don’t as I go to ever more funerals of people I have known the older I get. And now I’m hearing of 10 years old having cancer treatment, WHAT? These kids haven’t even began to live and now they have diseases of life threatening proportions, why?

And that word why crops up all the time in so many different ways, I see men smoke, drink and generally the only exercise they get is opening the door of a bar, and they are in their 70’s and 80’s yet have known people who eat sensibly, drink, but not to excess, and take exercise, and guess what? Yes they are now dead, why?

I loose track of the health and fitness programs, videos, magazine articles, all proclaiming this and that life enhancing remedies but all I see is people crippled after even slight exercise, or even injured in the process, and other people who take this fitness thing to extremes with diets and fitness that make them look like skeletal equivalents of the living dead. So what does it all mean? Well that’s just it, I don’t know, this is not about the meaning of life, its more to do with why does life deal some people with all the pluses and many, including 10 year olds who need chemo treatment, all the minuses?

The year is different but that is all.

So its 2012, yes doom and gloom predominates but we are told to look on the bright side of things, really? Uncle Dave at No 10 is humming Monty Python’s song already, Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, dah da, dah da, dah de de de de, dah da and why? The London Olympics of course, note LONDON OLYMPICS. We should all be happy that billions, we are broke folks, yes billions are being spent to re-generate poor London, that’s ok then. For other areas of the UK its a certain salute with any number of fingers you wish to choose as yet today another few billion is being urged to be spent building a rail line and from where you ask, no better still don’t ask.

But for us in the outer fringes of this so called UK we can whistle, in our area there is no money for road or rail improvements, no matter how dire they are getting to be, we have to get the economy right first, what they should also add that in the meantime the money we do have will be spent wisely, in London.

Reflection.

Its 8pm here in England, I’m listening to Crosby, Still and Nash, Teach Your Children Well, its a song that is played in a charming film about love between school children, what Donny Osmond called Puppy Love.The film is essentially English but had a big following in Japan. Its called Melody in England, but may vary in other parts of the world.

It starred Jack Wild, Mark Lester, and Tracy Hyde, the love interest in the film. But it got me thinking, on past years mainly, and where it has all gone, the boys, and girls who were a big part of my life at school in England. I’m talking over 50 years ago now, the ones this film brought back to life most vividly.

I liked school back in the 1950’s and 60’s, it was a fun time to grow up in, not IPhones, no computers, no nothing really, but we met our friends face to face, not on Facebook. We met each day and like the weather it was sometimes fine, and sometimes stormy. Girls were always an item, but you dare not say so, you fancied someone in the class, that was fatal. For those in far off lands I’m sure you had your own version of school crushes, the setting may be different but the scenario is usually the same, remember Grease?

So what has brought all this on? Well in a testament to how time has flown by, my grandson, he now has a girlfriend from school, and the best of luck to them both but my mind raced back the 50 years or so ago I mentioned, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would experience a grandson of mine doing an action replay, it made me giggle.

Its a crime to grow old.

The words in the title were said by my mum, some 30 years ago. I was a mere lad in my 30’s, my mum into her mid sixties and feeling alone in the world since the death of my father. I can’t forget I won’t forget those words as I now approach the age in which my father died back in 1979. No matter what I did, I couldn’t replace dad, I had my own family by then and the problems associated with mortgage and bringing up a family. But now those words come back to me, crystal clear, and all the more poignant as I am at the stage my parents were back then.

I find that it is a crime to grow old, ridiculed, berated, and targeted as indispensable by governments of whatever persuasion, despite the rhetoric spouted by politicians to the contrary. Each day a report comes out highlighting the treatment of older people, both at home and in so called care. Those of us of a certain age can only hope we keep our life long wits about us as age creeps along, otherwise we are cast to the wolves, or worse. Of course youngsters sneer at such notions of looking after the older generation, they have had their lives so its the young that need the help. And too a point they have a point, but today’s young have no idea or hardship, real hardship I mean.

The hardship of today does not reflect the hardship of years gone by, after the war, my parents time, there was nothing to speak of, but today if they had to deal with that type of thing it would be a demand to the authorities that they give money for the latest ‘thing’. And because the young seem to get their way something has to give and the give is those who have paid their way for many years previously get nothing. There are a few concessions of course, bus passes and a fuel allowance, things that those savvy with the ways and means of the handout system have been receiving for years.

But hey the old will die soon anyway, but wait folks, I will say the obvious, age will catch up with you, but don’t squeal, because it will then be time for you to also appreciate what my mum said many years ago ….. Its A Crime To Grow Old.

The UK and Europe.

Seems like us Brits are in the doghouse again over Europe, but what really infuriates me is the posturing by the French & German’s over our refusal to sign up to their ideas without getting anything in return. Our stance was clear from the start, it was no secret that Cameron wanted some safeguards for our financial industry, that was stated from the off. My take on this is that maybe Europe has a point about central control of these institutions and their cavalier attitudes to vast amounts of money, and I don’t really know how important that particular industry is to the UK.

But what I do think is that this whole episode has been a set up, to more or less marginalise the UK and it has succeeded. The way I see it is this, are you telling me that the Dutch, Italians, Belgians, Spanish, Portuguese, Greeks and all the other nations agree with everything that was in this agreement? All I know is that we are a thorn in the side of the ‘big’ 2 in Europe, have been since the days of Thatcher but to be fair to us, we never signed up originally to the set up in place now.

I voted yes back in the 1970’s to join a trading pact, nothing else, free trade between European countries, we had been blocked from joining the original European Community, twice, by the French remember. But since then this pact has become a whole different ball game, and for us it has been done by stealth. Now the French are at it again and have us blocked, again, because from now on we will be peripheral in the European ideal. I’m no big supporter of David Cameron and his party, but as I have stated, his stance was known from the beginning of this latest round of meetings, we were stitched up and fell for it.

Nice to see people actually reading my blogs, but why no comments?

I see there is a steady stream of people who are kind enough to actually look at what I write, but I have no indication as to what they actually think about my prose. I was hoping I could learn from any comments made to try and improve my writing, but maybe it doesn’t need improving, or at least appears so.

But the main theme at the moment is loss of jobs and the implications. When I think back over the years each time I have lost my job it has been around, or near to, Christmas. Not sure if this is deliberate or for tax purposes or what but that is what has happened, and sure enough some jobs are being lost as I write.

The date when people actually leave will be December 31st so they will start the New Year unemployed and the prospects of other jobs is, to put it mildly, bleak at the moment. Some have voluntarily given up their jobs for an extra ‘incentive’ i.e. more severance pay but these people are either ready to give up work or might have something else to go to anyway, which is great, leave, get paid extra for leaving, then start a new job.

The first time I lost my job I was 20 years old, unmarried, but planning on getting married the following year. Our plans for a house, and everything else were put on hold and as it was a winter no one was hiring. This has happened a couple of more times since but of course being older now I am in a category that finds it extra hard to get employment, the over 60’s.

At the moment I have no idea what is happening, only the broadest of outlines have been given about job losses but the total seems to around 80 across all departments. It would be nice to be able to give up my job and have more time for myself but I still have to live and pay my way and my lottery tickets have numbers that never seem to appear in any configuration that would give me a payout. Merry Christmas? I’m not so sure at the moment. 

Wasted time or pastime?

I take photographs, but that doesn’t mean I’m a photographer, I have no professional, or any other qualifications other than that all encompassing logo ‘amateur snapper’.  I do try and take care with the pictures I take but I lack a lot of technical ability, I have a fall-back to rely on, take lots of pictures and discard the rubbish ones, or ones I regard as rubbish, it seem to suffice for me. I know a lot of people ‘doctor’ their pictures, with the likes of Photoshop, Corel etc, but I have yet to master that technique as there are not enough hours in the day for me to carry out this pastime. Anyway enough of this drivel I will let you see for yourself. Oh and I have the copyright to these pictures.

As you can see they were taken in Florence this year as we toured parts of Italy, I’m quite pleased with them as the place itself is rather pretty and I think I have captured that, but what do you think? Please let me know. Oh and the picture on the header is mine as well.

Mmmmm another blog and another point of view I suppose.

I’m not new to blogs but new to this blog so bear with me. The world is full of doom and gloom, wars, famine, disease, disasters, financial and otherwise and the only ‘good’ news tends to be of the frivolous kind, like affairs, minor celebrities who have appeared on something like X Factor or its ilk, and politicians trying cover up more of what they, our representative and lawmakers, would rather we did not know.

But has it always been so?

I tend to think so, names and places seem to change but the general scenario doesn’t. Take war, I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a conflict somewhere on this Earth, likewise with famine, disease, and disasters, and as for politicians, well pick any country you like and you can be sure politicians are in the news for something other than what they are suppose to be in the news for.

I cannot changed anything but do these things change me?

In a word yes, I become cynical, or should I say more cynical of the whole set up, that set up being life itself. No matter how I try and I have tried, I cannot fathom whey some people have an easy ride through life and others struggle the moment they are born. No this is not another rant about the meaning of life, but how life is from where I see it, and no matter how old I get it seems to be like an old fashioned record stuck on the turntable, the names and places may change, but the tunes the same.

Kingston Upon Hull or just Hull …… where, you ask?

Hull is sometimes known as Kingston Upon Hull, which is its official name, but to most people its just, Hull. It is a port on the east coast of England and at one time was Britain’s 3rd largest port. Its about halfway up the UK so is regarded as being the north of England. It faces the North Sea so has historical links with Scandinavia and Europe and Hull’s fishing fleet use to use the Icelandic region for its catch. Alas that industry is no longer around, decimated many years ago by Icelandic claims of an exclusive 200 mile around Iceland thereby excluding many of the trawlers from Hull plying their trade.

These days it is a city of around 250,000 people, surrounded by countryside but not as glamorous of the more famous Northern cities of England, but in a way it is unique because of that. People visit places like York, Leeds, Sheffield etc but not Hull, its their loss. But this weekend, and during the beautiful weather we have been having I have been out in the city centre with my camera and this my friends is a little look at the City Of Hull, England.

We start in the Marina area, developed over the last few years of what was bustling docks of many years ago.(Click on the photographs to see larger versions)

Hull has a maritime and military history dating back many centuries.

Hull took a battering during the World Wars but other places got more mentions as Hull’s name was not allowed to be published or spoken of because of security concerns so was always known as the North – East town. Many buildings were destroyed and many people killed.

This is where the River Humber meets the River Hull then carries on its journey to the North Sea. The pointed building in the foreground is The Deep, an aquarium of renown.
 

The white vessels are now part of P&O Ferries that go across to the continent every night of the year except Christmas Day and New Years Eve, they use to be called North Sea Ferries.
  

Looking down the barrel of one of the cannons stationed along the port area in readiness for any German invasion during World War 2.

The inscription on this statue says it all:
Over 2,200,000 people passed through Hull and other Humber ports to America between 1836 and 1914.

Many artefacts of Hull’s engineering history as still on show.

A retired lifeboat that use to help ships navigate the tricky River Humber terrain.

This whole area still has some re-developement ongoing as it transforms into an artistic area with many small businesses starting up.

Some of the housing from grander times where rich merchants use to live.

On this particular day an outdoor boxing tournement in conjunction with a local boys club.

This is but a rudimentary look at the city of Hull, nowhere near comprehensive as the place has a lot of historical, military, and strategic importance over the years, check out the links.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingston_upon_Hull

http://www.thedeep.co.uk/

Going home soon.

The two said cats in the previous blog, Monkey and Moo are going home soon, well sometime tomorrow 2nd October, that’s if they will go home. Home is with our son and daughter in law who will be flying back from holiday/vacation in Orlando Florida back to an unbelievably sunny and warm UK. And it will be a big if too, going home, if its anything like the last time we had them.

They both refused to come out from underneath a chair and was such that we couldn’t reach them and when we could they both tried to claw us. In the end it was bribery, food, but when they realised they had been tricked they were not pleased to say the least. So if all goes according to plan they should be in their rightful abode at some point over the weekend and we will be able to go back to our pet less state.

And no it hasn’t given me the impetuous to have our own cats, dogs, parrots, whatever, look after them sometimes when asked but that is as far as it will get. I have listened to friends and the stress they get themselves in when contemplating holidays/vacations and how their pets will be whilst they are away. Funny thing is I remember as a child our cat, Muff, was left for a week or so, cat food left in a place known to him, water, and when we came back he was as sprightly as when we left. No fancy boarding arrangements as Muff often disappeared for days on end in any case and never seemed any the worse for it.

Like I have already said, he lived until a fair age and only failing sight let him down, big time, as he got run over. Oh and he didn’t like being bathed, washed or whatever, as we did do on a few occasions. But what a magnificent ginger colour he was when clean, not for long mind you as a couple of days after he would be everything but ginger goodness know what he had been up too. As I have realised a lot of things with my early life, we didn’t take photographs, no digi cameras in those days, so no pictures, and those that I do have did not feature our Muff the cat. 

We have company that are making themselves very much at home.

We don’t have pets but we have company, in the shape of two cats. Our son and daughter in law’s cats to be precise, who at this moment happen to be on holiday/vacation. Well that could apply to the two moggies as well as they seem to think they are on holiday/vacation as well. They have made themselves welcome, very welcome and comfortable as they lay down whenever the sun shines through the window, which just lately means they are laid down for most of the day. We have had them for two weeks and another week to go, they are no bother but we have to be careful to make sure certain doors are closed and windows are not open or else they will be out, and gone.

 This one is called Monkey, no I know its not a monkey but that’s its name, nothing to do with me, our son and daughter in law named her.

Monkey

And this one is called Moo, yes that’s right Moo, and no I don’t know why either.

Moo

And the pair of them very much at home thank you in fact I think they thinking to themselves ……. oh no not another picture?

                                         Moo & Monkey

I last had a cat when I was a child, a ginger one called Muff, named after a puppet character on the BBC when everything was in black & white, the character was called Muffin the Mule and someone use to make it dance by pulling strings. Alas old age got to it, Muff was going blind and one day got knocked down and killed. I didn’t know but a road sweeper swept up his body and placed him in his cart to take away.

Mum told me and I cried for days and vowed never to have another pet a vow I kept until I got married and my wife and I acquired my mother in laws parakeet. Peter the parrot wasn’t very nice to mother in law, in fact he wasn’t very nice to nearly everyone but me. Although he did take a chunk out or my finger one time, but never did it again after I swiped him off his perch

When our children started to grow up they wanted to get a puppy, and I refused, sob sob, but I knew that after the first flush of cuddling the puppy to death I would be the one doing the ‘walkies’ in all weathers, I know I’ve seen other guys go by our window in the pouring rain being pulled along by the dog. So we have been pet less, save for a few goldfish, until now, Monkey and Moo are in residence.

At the moment they are catching the evening sun, yes laid down, what a charmed life they lead, but it will be strange when they have gone back home, if we can get them back home that is.

 

A British obsession ……. the weather.

We are basking in temperatures of 20 degrees plus centigrade, and the forecast is for even higher temperatures next week and guess what I’ve been doing today? I’ve been taking advantage of special offers at our local DIY supermarket and buying insulation, yes that’s right insulation. Insulation for the roof space (loft) and insulation for the hot and cold pipes in the house, crazy or what?

Well I have been reading reports, both in newspapers and online of an icy blast coming our way beginning October and a repeat of the harsh winter we had last year. Now to some folk, I would imagine Canadians, Americans and many Europeans, our ‘harsh’ winters are a joke, we get 2 inches of snow and Britain comes to a stop. Canada and other places have up to 6 feet of snow and still function.

It must be of some amusement to watch the UK news and see cars, buses, lorries, etc off the road, trains halted, planes grounded, through a dusting of snow, but it has always been the case. We had train cancellations one year through ‘leaves on the lines’ I kid you not, another time it was the ‘wrong’ kind of snow on the tracks, and these were comments from high-ranking staff of the firms. We invite ridicule when places like Russia function, Alaska, Norway, Finland, Sweden, have proper harsh winters year after year and seem so much better at functioning than us Brits.

So I’m hoping I can be a little better prepared, well I’ve bought some insulation at least, and I have a snow scoop, but at the moment no salt, the stores ran out of that last year, so no salt for your food but plenty for the driveways it seems. At work we have grit, so hopefully we are, shall we say, partly prepared, oh and by the way tomorrow the forecast is for 22 degrees Celsius but I will keep a watch for that icy blast, which reminds me where’s my hat, gloves and scarf?  

Onward yet again …… the World is our oyster.

So as I mentioned in my last post Benidorm has been a place to visit as often as we could but it didn’t preclude other destinations and most of those happened to be in Spain. We ventured further south to the resort of Torremolinos and although similar it was different. The prom was like Benidorm but stretched far further in fact you could walk to the next resort of Benalmadena and further if you so wish.

But also from Torremolinos there were many more places to see and one of those places is Marbella. This is a resort known for the clientèle it attracts, the rich, you only have to visit the marina to find out what a different world those with money live in. Yachts that are like mini ocean liners, Rolls Royce’s as common as taxis but many day to day people just strolling around amongst the wealthy taking in the ambiance and admiring things that they will never own.

But beyond this affluence is a small part of the former British Empire yet still in Spain, Gibraltar. You cross the border and are confronted by police looking very similar to any you see in the UK, all rather odd. You venture further and British pubs, shops, many high street retailers have branches in Gibraltar, and all on the Spanish mainland. Cruise liners are docked in the harbour and one of the most precarious airports I have ever seen where planes fly over the sea and land on an airstrip adjacent to the harbour. Not only that but the runway crosses a busy main road as well.

But we didn’t go all the way to Spain to see a version of the UK, so although it was a pleasant day out we wanted to get back to Spain itself. And one of the most beautiful places we have yet seen in Spain is the city of Valencia. The architecture is just mind-blowing but the place is horrendously busy with traffic whizzing about all around you, but that can be said about most cities these days as the car has taken over. Cafe culture is at its best in Spain, like a lot of European countries, the weather encourages outside eating and drinking and therefore things are more relaxed.

In the UK it’s not so refined so pubs and clubs are still the main source of drinking and all the trouble associated with it, Europe seem to be a bit more laid back but is not without their alcoholic problems.
But Spain has islands as well, quite a few in fact, the Canaries, Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza, to name a few and couple of these we have visited as well. As much as they are part of Spain they also like to be independent as well, having pride in their locality. 


We have visited 2 of their islands, Majorca, or Mallorca as I believe it’s called, and Ibiza, pronounced (hope I’ve got this right) Ibiza, forgive me if I am wrong. Both have their charm and for some people that charm outweighs any advantages the Spanish mainland has to offer so got to the islands year after year, bit like Greece in a way with her islands. But that’s another story.

 

The phone hacking scandal …….. continued …… yet again.

I have touched on this subject a few times as it’s a story I have followed with incredulity. A quick re-cap, a newspaper, News of the World, belonging to Rupert Murdoch’s empire News International had people employed who hack, break into, people’s mobile/cell phones and look at what messages etc are there.

Celebrities have been complaining their phones have been hacked and to be honest no one took any notice, celebrities being exactly that, celebrities. Then it all changed as stories leaked out that this hacking was more widespread than at first known and now it was MP’s and other civic dignitaries who felt their privacy had been impinged.

But the tipping point came when someone, I’ve not been able to establish exactly who as yet, hacked into the phone of a 13 year old schoolgirl called Milly Dowler. She had been reported missing, and devastatingly, was found murdered some weeks later, and yet this as yet unknown person, working for the News of the World hacked into her phone to read, and then delete her personal messages even as she lay dead or dying.


Not only that but the phones of relatives of serving military personnel who had died in action had also been hacked by the very same newspaper, and victims of the 7/7 terrorist attack also suffered the same fate, and after those three incidences the sh*t really hit the fan. The repercussions went right to the top in the UK, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks the two highest ranking directors, but didn’t stop there. As the situation worsened THE boss flew to London to sort things out, Rupert Murdoch.


From then on things went in a tailspin, arrests were made, many top people resigned their posts, including Sir Paul Stephenson, the police commissioner, and the News of the World was shut down after over 100 years in circulation and being one of the biggest selling Sunday papers in the UK. And now another twist in this story and one that shows how affected Rupert Murdoch must be at all of this going on in his organisation.


He had personally visited the family of the Milly Dowler and spent an afternoon with them, and now it has been announced that without any apparent prompting Rupert Murdoch has authorised the payment of £2,000,000 to the Dowler family and another £1,000,000 to a charity. This will no doubt be followed by legal claims from other people who have had their phones hacked and feel they are entitled to an enhanced level of compensation. Where or when this story will come to a close is any ones guess, but I just wonder if the person who actually hacked the phones will be brought to justice for these heinous acts.