Carole King.

Carole King.

Lets get something straight, straight away, I do know about Carole King, I have known about her since It Might As Rain Until September, and that’s the problem. I knew about her but not her influence in the musical landscape at the time or actually wrote the song. I danced to her music, sang her words, and it has to be said here, a lot of Gerry Goffin’s stuff, but never knew the source of such material. Hell they were great songs to do your stuff in the 1960’s and I did a lot of that being 12/13 years old. But at the grand old age of blub blub blub, I went to see the Carole King musical at my local theatre, Hull New Theatre, I sat in my seat and never moved as song after song was performed and I though, jeepers. The story unfolded, and here we had a 16/17-year-old writing about, what may have been a one night stand, but was something more than that. But it took me all of 50 years or more to realise the significance so the girl and her perception of the time.

I danced and sang to so many records in those days at the local dance hall, Locarno/Mecca, that along with all the explosion of the British scene, was part and parcel of the times. And boy what times, like the music I was listening and singing too I just did not realise the background to it all. Lennon/McCartney were my drug, still are, but all the other artists that I listened too were singing Goffin/King compositions and I never knew. I am not going to write them down as they have now been well document over the years. It Might As Well Rain Until September, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, Take Good Care Of My Baby, were as much a fave to me as Please Please Me, Satisfaction, Little Children and others, you will know what I am talking about if you are of that age group. If not Google it and see what you missed, not your fault I know, but a shame all the same.

Carole King was mainly anonymous, Lennon/McCartney and others were not, and that was the problem, it took me many years, and much shame, to realise what this woman went through to write down the angst in her life. And having seen the show once I immediately enquired at the main theatre desk and found that there was a seat, one seat, available for the next, and last night’s performance. I chat with my wife and she said, of course you can go, I will have the sofa and TV to myself, sorted. So I went the next night, I could have gone every night for the next month and still wanted more. The acting, singing the whole show was just too good to put in words that give it justice, yeah, magnificent, wonderful and indeed, beautiful, but nothing, and I mean nothing projects the pure joy I felt sat there listening to my youth all over again. Then realising that this girl of such tender years wrote stuff that, at the time, reflected my emotions as girls came and went out of my life.

But I will finish on a sad note, not a musical one, and I have to say I have scoured the internet, but I cannot get a DVD of the show, DVD you say, yes still in this day and age. For goodness sake my wife and I went to Las Vegas and whilst there went to see Celine Dion in her show, A New Day, which by the way was another show that knocked me out. And straight afterwards I bought the DVD, which, I think I may have worn out, if that is possible. So why?, why?, can’t I get a DVD of Beautiful the story of Carole King’s life, I am dismayed to say the least. I still have the memory, though I wished that it could be refreshed now and again with a DVD. And I have to say here, an official version not some dodgy stuff, but that is just me.

As I write all this I am listening to a complementation of her songs, with collaboration of course and I am just in a world of my own as I am transported back to, and I’m not ashamed to admit, my teenage years of many years ago. In fact on her favourite songs of mine, sang in the UK by Dusty Springfield, which I remember, but not the write/writers of the song, Going Back. It reflects how I feel at times in this world of ours today, Phil Collins had mad a version that I love listening to as well. And a version of Crying In The Rain by A-Ha just has me having it on a loop, and it just goes on with Carole’s songs. And I finish whilst I am listening to a song that immediately has me dancing with a girl, on a dance floor in a ballroom, in the City Of Hull, UK, at 13 years of age and singing it to her. Did she still love me tomorrow, goodness knows LOL.

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I’m a bit worried, about me.

Am I ‘retro’? Old fashioned? An old man searching for his past? or whatever other euphemism is banded about these days? I am going backwards, in certain respects, and it goes like this, I read paperbacks, yes books, I usually buy them from charity shops that adorn many towns and cities around the UK. I have started writing on paper and not my wordprocessor not only that I write with a fountain pen not a ball point, ink in cartridges maybe but proper ink, and I find all this exciting (a bore am I not?). I make a mistake writing I simply cross out a word and write the right one above it, simples, I haven’t totally given up technology, for reading I also have a Kindle, some books I can’t seem to find in charity shops are available for 99p from Amazon.

Any calculations that I need to do I can still do in my head, thankfully, maths I have always like, not a genius by any means but competent. But I have struggled without a spell check I do admit that but at the same time realised how lazy I had become with my mother language. So I have a dictionary, no a whopping dictionary, to check my spelling as a lot of spellchecking is suited towards the Amercian English and there are subtle differences. I have a driving licence but no car, I do a lot of travelling by bus and know some bus timetables pretty well now. I can tailor my journey beforehand so that I am not hanging around bus stations or stops for too long, the breakdown of buses is the main cause of frustration, but that is not avoidable at times.

I read books to my younger grandchildren but their attention span seems to be deficient so a bit of a failure on that point, the technology still rules. And believe it or not, decades after the UK changed to the decimal currency I still transfer back to their pounds/shilling and pence equivalents. For those who are not familiar with our pre-decimal coinage, it went something like this. ,

£1 = 240 (old) pennies

Today £1 = 100 new pence

1 shilling = 12 (old) pennies

The equivalent today is a 5 new pence coin

2 shillings = 24 (old) pennies

The equivalent today is a 10 new pence coin

And so it goes on: A 50pm coin replaced an old 10 shilling note, a half crown coin is now

12 and a half new pence, only the half new pence coin has been scrapped. So instead of things being based on 12, money, like most of the world is based on 10, but try and stop me reverting back. A bus journey that costs 1 shilling years ago (5 new pence) now costs around £2.50 so I can see in an instance inflation in action, or in some cases greed in price rises. As I have said, I’m a bit worried, about me, I shouldn’t revert back, well not as far as prices are concerned.

Travel from then until now.

When young, back in the 1950’s/60’s travel was something of a luxury, our summer holiday/vacation was a train/bus ride to visit relatives in a town about 70 miles away. But this was, for me at least, a whole new world, from my city life I was thrust into the country in a town called Otley. Open fields, small streams (Beck), and boys and girls who spoke English but not how I knew it, to be fair they needed a translator for my twang. But for 2 weeks my cousin and I, Elaine, sadly no longer with us, would roam the fields for hours on end, set off in the morning and return later afternoon/early evening. We climbed trees, splashed through streams and seemed to travel the end of the earth without a care in the world, and we were on just reaching double number ages. Elaine was a tomboy of the first degree, we didn’t have any trees from where I came from only lamposts so climbing a tree was a new adventure

Elaine showed me how, yes she fell out of a couple, rubbed her scratched knee and off we went again. All was well until we got back to her mother’s, my aunt’s, house then the Inquisition. We couldn’t answer questions like where have you been? We had been in fields that seemed go on forever, where’s the mud come from? erm the streams, look at those knees those muddy clothes. Now, this may be controversial but up to this point but Elaine and I used to get bathed together but now at around the age of 8 or 9 that was no longer thought prudent. So after we had both spruced up we would be off again, to those fields,  with warnings of dire retribution if we defied instructions not too. Well, that was a millennium ago but I have been revisiting another place of holiday pleasure in my formative years, Scarborough.

It’s an east coast holiday/vacation destination still popular today but has struggled with the rise of world wide travel, and it shows. I don’t often visit Scarborough now, its like other east coast resorts, Withernsea, Hornsea, Bridlington, Filey, and even Whitby, it’s just somewhere I don’t visit anymore although they all have their stalwarts. But visit I did this past weekend and even though the weather was kind the passing years have not been. I have no reason to visit again, there is even a motorcycle race track of world renown, Olivers Mount, where I last saw the legendary Barry Sheene race, but those days are long gone and so for me has the magic of such places.

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I’m wondering again.

Ok what now? I have touched on certain subjects of which I know just a little about, I’m not expert in anything but I do, like most people have opinions. Now I don’t know the ages of the people who post on WordPress but sometimes I do pick up the thoughts of people younger than myself, a lot younger, and take it onboard. But there is a problem, their opinions relate to the today scenario and don’t seem to have any comparison of years gone by. In fact I may go as so far to say that us older generation, despite our experience, are discarded, we are of no relevance. I could go on to say, errm who invented this thing called a computer? in whatever shape or form today, errm who invented the internet? But I know that they would shrug, it was Steve Jobs or whatever, so you have lost them, they think that and so its true, to them that is. But I have tried, and failed, to tell my grandchildren that there is an alternative to all this Google, Apple, Microsoft, but as I say I’ve failed.

Library? Are you mad? Just meet your friends? Are you mad? Send a letter, you know actually have a pen and paper and write, mad again? And so it goes on, now I’m old, well not so much that Claudius was ruler but some think that way, but still. And it is despairing to be thought of as such, this ramble is hard to take in unless you have older siblings, older siblings of siblings and I have to say that I am losing touch with what is happening even in their lives. Myspace? Give me a break, Snapchat, What’s App, Facebook, that, currently although I have a disclaimer here that there maybe something else that I don’t know about, which is more than likely. I do take advantage of these modern meeting places, although I am a novice of the first degree, Facebook is the only place that I can see up to date photos of my grandchildren, and so it goes on. But hey what is wrong with a library?

School and the aftermaths.

I have come to believe that many people just did not like school, and here I must point out that I don’t mean the school of today but schools of my childhood in the 1960’s. However, the aspect of this tome may apply even today and that aspect is friendships at school and thereafter. I left school in 1965 when the world of work beckoned and off I went to face life ahead, totally unprepared as I now know. Yes, I had money, not much but still my own, well after I had paid for my keep after it being free up to that point, and I’m ashamed to admit I was reluctant to hand over a share of my meagre wages for such trivial things as food and lodgings. Because in truth that what I was becoming, a lodger, no sooner had I got home from work then it was washed changed, all clothes laundered by magic it seems, and out I went. I had friends to meet a life to lead and being a teenager in the 1960’s was indeed a heady experience, and as I found out, it had to be paid for, not always in money terms either.

Most of my friends were from school in those days but slowly, and ever so obviously, we kind of started to go our separate ways, some partings were for legitimate reasons. One of my mates emigrated, with his family of course, to Canada, others were not a so obvious parting of the ways but it usually meant a girl had appeared on the scene, who may or may not have been at the same school as us. But split up we did and the reasons were not rocket science, we were growing up and our tastes, in most thing, including friends, changed. We had visions of being the next Beatles or Stones or whoever,  having bought guitars and taken lessons together, we practised where we could and as often as we could. But the day, and the realisation that we would not be the next supergroup, dawned, and the once happy band of school leavers, left each other. As for me, I travelled the country following my local football (soccer to any USA readers) team and I did it by what seems now to be a quaint, and forgotten past time, hitch hiking.

Bear in mind I was 15 travelling the length and breadth of the country, and miraculously enough reaching my destinations, getting home after the game was a different matter. But then the opposite sex came into the equation as I used to go dancing at the local dance hall and I suppose, inevitably although not guaranteed, I met someone ‘special’. Well, they were all ‘special’ for a while but this one particular girl knocked me off my perch for a long time, in short, I was besotted. Just one of my former school friends was still around but he had grand plans to work abroad, which he did, so then there was one, me. I passed into my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, occasionally meeting one or two of my old school buddies, both of us older and wiser, well maybe not the wiser part. And over time an idea came to me to get us all together for ‘one last time’ so to speak. So, this idea became an obsession as I tried to track down as many old school friends as possible, bit difficult with the girls as most of them had married and so different names, and no Facebook or whatever. But I did well, with help from some of those old schoolmates I may hasten to add, around 50 of us in total including our old teachers, some in their 70’s and 80’s, got together in an upstairs room of a pub, it helped that my son was manager of that pub at the time.

From that initial meeting we did it again, and yet again and I was prepared to do a 4th reunion until I was struck down by illness and the impetuous was lost. But 50 years after leaving that school in Hull I have been on the phone with an old schoolmate I haven’t seen since then and I loved it. In fact, I now realise that I loved school much more than I ever knew I did, the lads and lasses I had argued with, fell out with, now seem as pleased to see me as I do them. Sadly one or two of those teachers who met up have passed away but what saddens me, even more, is the fact that some of those lads and lasses in my class have also passed away. I came across this information trying to track people down for the 1st reunion and since then 1 or 2 more have passed on, what? Yes it pulled me up big time, I sat reflecting on life for a long time, I recalled, like having an old video tape playing in your head, of us kids in the playground, of taking a fancy to a certain girl and then suddenly come across the information that she has died. Yes I know, Death and Taxes someone once said but these ‘kids’ were the same class, the same year, hell the same era as me, but no more. And so now when I meet up with who is left, and the number is dwindling, I find these people precious, despite any misgivings, we may have had many years ago. They are my link to my lingering memories of an era I hold dear to my heart. I may even try and get those of us who are left together again for ‘one more time’, as time itself is becoming very limited.

A thanks.

I thank everyone who has bothered to look at what I have written, it is an honour to know that what I have to say is what some people like to read. I will try and get around to as many of your own blogs a possible as I know the importance of visitors to your blog, thank you all once again.

Christmas 2016, still Christmas but a different kind of Christmas.

For as long as I can remember the Christmas in the UK ritual has rarely altered, when a child it would be my family, mum, dad and brother, who used to tramp around to all of our relatives, in the snow in those day and walking all the way, no car. Aunties, uncles, grandparents, there were all visited where we were fed and watered and presents were exchanged, then lugged all the way home. Very rarely the family used to come to us so that we could stay at home by the fire, but not very often, but as I grew up we didn’t do the visiting so much, I had my mates to hang around with. So the sitting in front of the TV watching stuff I normally wouldn’t have had time for was a thing of the past and when in my teens presents were not exchanged as such as those presents became gifts of money instead. This enabled me to spend it something I actually wanted not something I had unwrapped, then feigned delight or pleasure at some useless object, which sometimes was a former present given to the person how now passed it on to me.

Then my own family came along, a boy and a girl, but still the visiting continued but not all one way this time. But the ritual more or less stayed the same, visiting, watered, fed, then lug the presents back home, until 2016 that is. My own children were grown up with families of their own and I announced that I had booked 10 days away, including Christmas Day and Boxing Day (a UK peculiarity) so all the present giving, visiting would be done over a couple of days before we went. We arrived in Spain in a monsoon, it had been like it the day before we arrived and was still like the day after we arrived and it wasn’t like Christmas at all. But after the rain the sun, blue skies and sunshine and a Christmas that seemed very low-key by UK standards. So come Christmas day and the sun shone, and it was in the 20 degrees centigrade area, was this real? Just to visualise Christmas for us this year her are some pictures.

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Now for those of you not used to the UK I have to explain that at this time of the year it is usually big coats, woolly hats, scarfs, gloves, and if you are walking about, an umberella is a must. For us, both my wife and I in our late 60’s, this was a revelation. But why wait this long you say, well all sort of reasons, none that I can argue with, our kids, our ageing parents, then our kids kids and it just never happened. Some of you will recognise this resort as being on Spain’s Costa Blanca, Benidorm, a haven for the British, and other nationalities. I have know people come here for 6 weeks at a time, and now I know why, but the Spanish have a different kind of Christmas and it’s not like the Brits at all, in fact I think theirs is around January 6th. Yes we have waited a long time, but it was worth it and no more excuses for not going, our families are grown up with their own families now so our ritual has come to a close. It was strange, no getting away from it, but our 10 days on the Spanish Costa’s went by far too quickly. We have been to Benidorm now in every month of the year and apart from the summer months, where the heat can be oppressive at times, we have experienced wind, rain, sun, but not snow, we have spent days sheltering from the weather and even more days basking in the weather, but this Christmas was both different and special.

Hull – City Of Culture 2017 (2)

Running on from the previous page there is much more and there is some reference to one of the major industries of Hull, and the many tradigies from that industry of deep sea fishing. Many men were lost but now it is another historical subject and there are those who will never forget the sacrifices of these brave men just for people to have their fish and chips.

But things are taking shape and there are alsorts of things in the pipeline for many shows, and displays throughout the year but here is just the start still only a couple of weeks into the year.

Hull – City Of Culture 2017

Hull – City Of Culture 2017

Hull – City Of Culture 2017

Am I proud? You bet, there are art displays in the Ferens Art Gallery and works by Leonard Da Vinci and others in the University Of Hull buildings and most of this stuff is available to see free. I also have to mention that over £20 million of refurbishments in the city centre has taken place and although as of this moment in time is not complete it’s nearly there. After years of neglect by those with the power to do improvements, maybe, just maybe, Hull maybe cool or whatever the term is these days, and all the laughing remarks of the past may be able to be put behind us. It’s a big maybe, but we have a chance and the more people who visit and actually take a look instead of just taking for granted what has been written in the past maybe in for quite a surprise. Hull City Of Culture? Laugh no more.

Hull – City Of Culture 2017

You may have heard of a city in the North of England in the UK, or, more than likely, you will have not, that is called Hull, or to be precise, and probably upper class about it, Kingston Upon Hull. No really that is its true name, confimed upon it by a King of long ago but very rarely used by its inhabitants as Hull seem’s sufficient. Or ‘Ull’ as it sounds from the locals as for some obscure reason we don’t pronounce the ‘H’ very well, but it is usually some perverse reason, amongst others, that Hull has had a bad press for many a year. This range from some toff from London visiting for about a week and declaring it the worst place to live, or crap town of the year something banal like that, and it has been going on for years. But 20 17 is here and 3 years ago, against multiple odds, Hull was chosen as the UK City Of Culture, (laugh, laugh, snigger, snigger, from those cretins of the press who have done their worst to pull anything to do with Hull down the gutter level.)

Well the story goes that Hull was the second most bombed city, after London, during WW 2, and Hull City Council did their best to carry on the destruction after the war, some beautiful buildings disappeared needlessly. But what is done is done so no good harping on about it now we have to work with what we have, and believe it or not we still have some culture left. Much of it is in the hands of the local authorities but wherever it is it now being put on show for the world to see during 2017. Hull have a year to change the preception of the city as a whole and it has got off to a great start with firework displays, light shows, and now a giant wind turbine blade on show in the city centre as a ‘work of art’. Now this is subjective, art always is, but this is no doubt a talking point amongst the many thousands who are turning up feeling proud that the city is, at last, coming out of the shadow of more famous, and more comprehensively financed by central government, better known cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, and of course London.

So what is this work of art that is causing wonder, awe, and mirth in equal doses, its a blade from one of those giant wind farms that are springing up both on land and sea. But the thing is this particular blade is made in Hull by Siemens the giant international German firm that has imvested over £300 million in the area to make these colosal structures. To get an idea of what I mean here is a picture of mine:

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A wind turbine blade made by Siemens in Hull on display for the City Of Culture 2017 celebrations.

A different angle to give an idea of the mass of the subject.

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People are taking pictures in the way people do at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, they stand back and raise their hands to give the impression of holding this thing up instead of a leaning tower.

There are various historical documents on display in the History Museum

A brave new world?

Over the years I have read many hundreds if not thousands of pages on the internet ranging from sport, current affairs, travel, music, photography, and one of my favourites, technology. Now that last subject covers many areas, by that I mean the whole area as to where technology invades, TV, video, computers of course, any area of life where the silicon chip is resident. Now some amazing stuff has come about through this minute invention, and has got small and more powerful over the years. Remember the bricks that were mobile phones in the 80’s? Boom Boxes? Sony Walkman’s, VHS and Betamax video recorders being huge boxes, video cameras you had to lug on your shoulder? The list is endless and now compare todays gadgets where a mobile phone can do just about anything those gadgets mentioned above can do, I welcomed each new innovation, I couldn’t afford to buy many of them but I used to wait, sometimes a couple of years, to buy something that had been superseded yet again in the interim.

I will give you an example, I was buying top end Sony Betamax machines when 90% of the world had switched to VHS, but the Betamax tapes were cheap. I had TV’s the size of a chest of draws when TV’s bigger, thinner and cleverer were now taking over, I’ve caught up by the way. But you get the point of what I am saying, well I hope you do, but now I have read something about technology that makes me wary of the future for our young people but seems to be welcomed with open arms by enthusiast. Well two things actually, A.I. (artificial intelligence), and robots, both make me shudder at the implications of their uses. Of course games enthusiasts are all ready drooling over virtual reality headsets that will be appearing in ever increasing numbers in the not so distant future and I actually know someone who has bought one of these robotic room sweepers. It’s circular I believe and has built in sensors so that it misses the furniture while is sweeps your floors, not sure about corners though.

And this area of technology has barely got started, I think a lot of us will have seen videos or news clips or lines of robots assembling anything from cars to washing machines with a few humans at the end to make the final touches. And if your car goes wrong well plug it into another robot and it will tell you what is wrong although some humans might have to do the fixing, at the moment. And now I read that a bar in Japan will be staffed completely by robots, lady orientated I believe, and Iike I say we are only at the beginning of this new area of technology. I have read about robot doctors doing delicate surgery, better than humans it seems, and Amazon have whole warehouses run by automation more or less and are now experimenting with a new technology gadget for delivering your order, drones. And not only that but the pace is quickening as the rush to cut out the human element with none tiring, none striking, none moody, I suppose until they develop A.I. that makes them act like humans, robotic alternatives. But where does this leave the future for our children, my grandchildren in fact? I have read and read again and I don’t like what I read for I don’t know about the other side of the coin where robots could be used in future conflicts. Futuristic maybe but not something like I used to look forward to with awe, now its more like fear.

There is one area that I forgot to mention and I’m not sure if it’s scary or not, self drive cars, well not just cars but trucks and taxis have been mentioned. Ford and Tesla, and I don’t doubt many others testing the technology but I also read that a truck company, not sure which one, is also testing self drive vehicles, coupled with the news that Uber, the taxi app people, are also supposed to be testing self drive taxis. There is surely no end to this, what next no pilots in the cockpit they already have autopilots so why have pilots at all?