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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
A different angle to give an idea of the mass of the subject.
There are various historical documents on display in the History Museum
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?
I am of the older generation, that is, in my 60’s the age group that are thought of as being a bit, shall we say, computer illiterate in today’s world. Well in my case that is not the point, although for many, including my wife that is so in fact she won’t even contemplate touching a keyboard believe me I had tried to coax her. But a lot of this phobia of computers in older people is that they are used to old ways, old ways that worked that is, we have one friend who makes a cheque out regularly to herself to put money from one bank account to another, her mobile, the flip up kind, is more often turned off than on and she is fine with this. But she is not alone in fact when I think about it none of my older friends contemplate today’s computer centric world and the likes of Facebook are just something youngsters play with. But not all older people fall into that category but the older the person the more resistant to computer technology they seem to be.
My own experience stems from my love of gadgets, anything electrical that was new to the market, the early 386 computers with dot matrix printers, the Philip G7000 (Odyssey in the US I believe) games console when everyone else was buying Atari. Digital watches where you had to push a button just to see the display time I was fascinated by the silicon chip in whatever gadget it was placed in. I read stuff in libraries, I didn’t have to pay out a fortune for magazines for a start, and learned about Zilog and Intel not that understood a lot of it, the diagrams of semiconductors were for people with university degrees not someone who built houses for a living but it still fascinated me. And so it continued through the late 80’s, into the 1990’s until this present day and I still read a lot of technical stuff that is over my head but even I have a problem now. Technology is moving so fast it is getting too complicated for me to understand some of the basics of computer technology and I’m not sure I like the direction it is going in.
Sure I used the fruits of the technology, for a start my internet connection is broadband and I have nearly, only nearly, forgotten the nightmares of the dial up modem I used to have where if I was downloading an update for some software or other it only took a telephone call from one of my wife’s friends, which was on the same phone line, to cut me off and a whole download was just about useless, so any serious stuff had to be done after midnight, and You Tube, gimme a break, I couldn’t watch any music video’s without buffering but hey ho. But still the fascination and it still continues to this day but it’s gone in odd direction, gaming is huge but after the initial Philps games machine it never caught on with me, photography has and I saved up for a decent camera after buying at the cheaper end of the spectrum. I tried Fuji the Canon and I can’t fault them the last camera I bought, from E-Bay, was a Canon 350d and now look, you can carry a mobile phone, take a rain check here, your very own phone box in your pocket?
Yes today you can do practically everything, and possibly even more than on my old 386 computer and do it better. You can take better pictures than on my early Fuji camera and not only that send them to anyone on the planet more or less. What you can’t do on your phone these days isn’t worth mentioning and that includes shopping online, banking online, paying with stuff just by waving your phone in front of yet another gadget (a payment terminal usually). But along with this new way of doing things there is a new way for criminal to carry on doing their deeds only these days it all electronic and sometimes you don’t even know it’s been done to you until you look at your bank statements. And now electronics are moving into the home in a big way, seen todays modern TV’s for instance? Amazon have a gadget like a loudspeaker only it has ears, you talk to it and it does your bidding, like phones you talk to them as well and lets not forget robots, they are coming.
Well in fact they have been here for years you only have to look at car assembly plants to see that many repetitive jobs formerly done by humans are now down effortlessly by robots. But robots of another kind, although the don’t move, have been a fact of life for a long long time and even older people have come to accept them, cash machines. At one time the only way to get your money out of the bank was during their opening hours where you queued to see a cashier behind a screen and handed over your passbook. Now if you run short of money you simply slip in your bank card, debit card or whatever and get what you want, with a printed receipt and at any time of day or night. What no one really bothers about anymore is all this stuff is all handled behind the scene’s by computers, albeit clever computers. So what else? Well that’s for another day.
I read a lot of technical stuff about computers, mobile (cell) phones and other gadgets, no I’m not a nerd or technical buff but I do like to read what is happening in these worlds. I read a lot of forums for these gadgets and like a lot of forums what starts off as a genial exchange of thoughts and ideas soon turns into a slanging match free for all. Peoples preferences for a certain type of manufacturer be it Microsoft, Apple, Google, Samsung whatever, starts to exert itself and so any meaningful chat becomes a hopeless cause. Then you get those who are technically more advanced, or appear to be so, than us ‘common’ folk telling us in great details why this phone is better than that phone and how this software is better than another one, and so it goes on.
But one of the overiding factors for me on these forums is how many people buy the latest, phone, tablet, and other stuff from whatever manufacturer when there is obviously nothing wrong with their previous gadget. And I don’t mean stuff costing very little, it is usually the high end stuff costing hundreds of pounds, dollars, euros ect which people pay out everytime a new version of their favourite toy comes along. On one occasion one person had boasted that he had 4 phones from a particular manufacture only to say that he had ordered yet another phone because it was the latest version coming out soon and this version cost around £600, what ??? I can’t help but think that the world has gone a bit haywire, or should I say some inhabitants of this planet have gone haywire as this scenario of buying the latest toy when there is nothing wrong with the previous toy is very common and widespread.
But it is not only high cost gadgets that get discarded with ease it seems, on a slightly different take on this throwaway life it seems that tons of perfectly good food is thrown away every year because it is rejected by our supermarkets in the UK stating that it is the wrong size or shape. The mere thought of all this food that has been planted and grown then harvested only to be thrown away is appalling, I’m not sure if it happends in other countries but for it to happen anywhere is a travesty. And I also read that people now buy clothes after they have worn a certain garment a few times then throw it away, again like phones, not stuff from the cheaper end of the market but classy stuff. Is there no end to this madness?
Its been a funny kind of day, I don’t know if you people have the same thing a kind of nostalgic time when you hear a song or something triggers off days gone by. It may be a friend, relative or someone from your past but something clicks inside your head and memories come flooding back. Well in my case it was the death of yet another pop star from my early years when things seemed so much better, probably because I was younger, but none the less it got me thinking, do I fit into today? Now the pop star was not a mega blockbusting star and in fact some of you may never have heard of him, his name was Alvin Stardust, who was originally known as Shane Fenton but whose real name was Bernard Jewry and he sang a kind of what was called bubblegum pop in those days, just sing a long type of stuff, easy listening and easy going and the one I particularly like was a song called I Feel Like Buddy Holly.
The lyrics are very clever and whilst relaxing listening to this song over and over I was transported back to the time when this song was in the charts and it occurred to me that I loved those days. The music the buzz the clothes, an atmosphere of a life worth living but of course it was not all roses, there was death and mayhem around the world but closer to home things were manageable, you bills, mortgage and other stuff were never neglected, well ours were not, and although money wasn’t plentiful we got by. But I look at today and I don’t have that buzz, life has a lot of advantages in the technological sense, the internet for a start that enables me to write this. I’m still married to the same girl and somehow we still have that spark but so much of what I was use to has gone, not least friends and relatives.
I remember that once I wrote a piece about life resembling a jigsaw and not knowing where it was I just typed Jigsaw in my search box and this is what I found. Bear in mind the dates when this was written and I haven’t updated anything since but the outline of the whole thing still remains true.
John Entwistle, bass guitarist of pop group The Who, died on Friday 28th June 2002, just another pop star of the sixties passed into history. No scandal, no drink and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, well not this time anyway, well maybe not. What really is the matter this time is my jigsaw. The pieces are getting lost at such an alarming rate that the picture is becoming unrecognisable What am babbling on about you are saying, and the answer is this. Life.
I likened my life to a jigsaw that at one time was totally complete. The pieces consisted of Mam, Dad, Brother, Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles, Cousins, Friends, and an assortment of hero’s and heroines, and of course girlfriends, the jigsaw was truly huge, but all the pieces were intact. Then I lost a piece, my Granddad actually, the first time I was old enough to understand death, but other than that the fact was that my jigsaw would always have a piece lost no matter how hard I looked for it. I was 14 or 15.
After that the jigsaw stayed complete, minus one piece, until a few years later when piece’s started disappearing on a regular basis and there was nothing I could do about it no matter how much I looked after my jigsaw. Then the day when I lost one of the most important pieces, I could barely look at my jigsaw. My Father had died. Death does rather make you look at your own life but what it doesn’t make you understand is the total indiscrimination of death. Death has no respect for age, or my jigsaw, as pieces I never expected to loose during my lifetime disappeared overnight.
After my Father passed away it was downhill all the way after that. Mother, Aunties, Uncles, In-Laws, nieces, and even some cousins went missing from my jigsaw. Some had reached a fine old age, many unfortunately did not, in fact they reached hardly any age at all in relation to my own. Then I found out about a couple of old schoolmates, the same age as me, but no more. My jigsaw of life was in a sorry state. And so back to John Entwistle, where does he fit in the scheme of things. Well he is another piece of my jigsaw of life that is forever lost and cannot be replaced along with the likes of John Lennon, George Harrison, and other personalities who helped complete my growing up and therefore complete my jigsaw.
There are literally hundreds of people who helped my jigsaw of life become complete over the years, now, sadly, a lot of these people are passing away and so my jigsaw is taking the appearance of more holes than pieces. It’s time to put the remaining pieces of the jigsaw away and keep them in a safe place it’s just too fragile to be messing about with.
Just like life. But wait a moment I have an update to my jigsaw, well that is being rather bland about it but I have lost more pieces, not only that but one of the biggest pieces of all, my best mate Trev Fall. Along with rock star, Maurice Gibb, this big piece was one of the worst pieces I have lost for many a year and now my jigsaw is in a very sorry state. No matter what I do everytime I take out my jigsaw another piece or two is missing. Buy another? No I can never ever replace the jigsaw of life I once had, even if I had all the money in the world, my jigsaw pieces are lost, forever.
Saturday, 29th June 2002.
Updated 14th January 2003.
I am quite proud of that piece I wrote and I could add a few other pieces that have gone missing since but I’ll leave it as it is. And so to my original headline, I don’t fit in, I’m not keen on the music of today although some of it has merit, I still wear jeans and jumper, not trainers just shoes, I don’t smoke, never have, but my circle of friends and family get ever smaller. The internet is good and bad, good is it allows so much to be available from the keyboard and yet I feel that I am being watched constantly by unknown persons. I read of a world in which natural resources are in the hands of few and not always a friendly few. I risk being hacked, stalked, watched, terrorised, scrutinised, and other stuff and my life laid out in a digital world that I have chosen to inhibit.
But beam me back Scotty to the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s where I met friends from school, I could approach a girl just for a chat and not be regarded as some pervert. There was drugs but I wasn’t interested, peer pressure had no effect on me, like smoking, cool? give me a break. Drink I did try and did come unstuck a few time in other words I was ill, very ill sometimes. But I got fed up of my head being down the toilet and the contents of my inside being transported into the bowl, drink is ok, in moderation. But now? Jeepers I don’t know where to begin, I have football (soccer) on tap, I use to look forward to one game at week that I went too. Music was Top Of The Pops, BBC if you don’t mind and a portable radio where the sound disappeared sometimes.
Records that were as big as dinner plates then saucers and cost nearly as much as I earned now I have a memory stick that holds fiver thousand song, I’ll put that in figures, 5,000 songs. I have a TV with more channels that I know I have and never watch most of them, things were simpler with just 3. And so it goes on, you get the drift, would I like to be young again in this day and age is what I am really trying to say? And the answer is an emphatic NO, but I would be willing to go back and live those times again, just one more time? I Feel Like Buddy Holly cause its raining in my heart. (Lyrics are copyright by the way I believe Mike Batt) I know I would, but would you?
I have always looked at some pictures of sunset and sunrises and thought, ‘I would love to be able to take some pictures likes these’. Crimson skies with fleeting clouds but I’ve always seemed to miss the occasions near to where I live. But just lately the weather has provided some spectacular sunset and due to various things I was just too late to capture any of the beauty. Then yesterday Saturday 18th October 2014 I got my chance, but true to form nearly missed it, not earth shattering stuff but enough to make me fairly pleased that for once the pictures of a beautiful sunset are my own and not someone else’s no doubt that now the weather will change and the opportunity will be lost.
The last picture captures the sun before its decent over the horizon I had to dash to a footbridge nearby to get a picture over the rooftops. There has been other spectacular sunsets during the past few weeks I have just been unable to catch any on picture, now I have but I feel there is still room for improvement.
As we look back through all the years
Through all the laughter all the tears
We’ve had our highs and had our lows
But all the time our love just grows
I can’t explain why it should be
It’s just that you’re a part of me
And when we cuddle up at night
Everything just feels alright
I feel that I could walk on air
Every time when you’re just there
Be it night or be it day
I still feel the same old way
Whenever thing have gone wrong
It doesn’t stay that way for long
Life’s to short to disagree
Want to be as happy as can be
Through all the turmoil all the pain
I’d do it all again and again
Because you’re the one that I adore
The one I want for evermore
Oh silver clouds high in the sky, passing on your way
You do not linger very long, you have no wish to stay
Stretched far into the horizon over land and sea
Some white and light that dance along, some heavy black and mean
But now and then the sun breaks through with piercing shafts of light
And for anyone to notice it’s a truly awesome sight
So bye dear clouds be on your way until you reach your end
For over the horizon some more clouds do descend
A ROUNDABOUT CALLED LIFE.
Though every day is just a star in the galaxy of life
Why do so many days contain so much stress and strife?
A life that changes day by day so much from years gone by
Where nothing stays the same for long I often wonder why
It’s all in the name of progress a bright new world for all
It’s what’s been said for a long long time and it’s no such thing at all
It just means more upheaval more shifting things around
And at the end it looks the same but makes a different sound
No time to stop and wonder no time to stop at all
There’s this and that and other things all waiting for your call
And if at times it’s all too much and life has much despair
Don’t expect any sympathy for nobody will care
We all go rushing forward searching for our Holy Grail
And none of us will admit when life begins to pale
To step back every now and then and have our time and space
To treat life with the respect it needs instead of one long race
Maybe someday we will have the time to slow down and to breathe
To reflect and wonder what at all we really have achieved
Have we made a big stride forward or are things just the same?
All going round in circles and starting once again