Is it me?

Not sure what is going on, but I have concluded that this is just a particular thing with me and I don’t why, what’s more I don’t want to change. Well it’s a bit late in life for that, late 60’s sounds fine, well not really but it will have to do. So, what is it? Well its my whole outlook, attitude if you like, to life but not future life more of my past life and not just mine, and to things that are going on around me that have been going on around me for all the time I’ve been here. That’s the trouble, I’ve never noticed before, well I have been too interested in other things, namely those guys kicking a bag of wind about on Boothferry Park for a start. Now there’s an understatement, I lived at Boothferry Park, I would have lived inside of it if they had let me, but I think I bordered on that edge called being a nuisance. Watched them train, watched them train at both Boothferry Park and the Cricket Circle on Anlaby Road, collected autographs, many times over and actually got to know a couple of players personally. One, the captain, Jock Davidson was a gentleman of the highest degree the way he put up with me pestering him to bring me back some football programmes from the many places Hull City played in, this is the UK by the way so football = soccer in other places.

When I was young, yes well, a few years ago, I couldn’t go to away matches due to 2 big drawbacks, I was too young and I had no money, well let’s say tuppence wouldn’t have got you far, only to Billy Bly’s sweet shop on the way home, liquorice sticks were a penny. Two sticks and I would be blathered in the black stuff from the liquorice all over my face, mam would not be pleased. But Jock, R.I.P. was a guy who I seemed to take to, I had a stiff neck looking up to him, well I had to look up to most people being a short arse. But football, yes football, whereas at one time I couldn’t get enough, these days I couldn’t care less, the World Cup is coming up, Russia they say, really how nice for you. Will I watch it, well if I watch any football with the same enthusiasm as I watch tele in general the answer will be, not much if at all. And what has brought me to this state of affairs? Age I would say and to put it simply and bluntly if you like, the sad reflection that I don’t have much time left to take it all in.

Take what in you say, well life in general, the seasons, architecture, the old kind, what is left of it in Hull and East Yorkshire. Churches are amazing and no I’m not going to go all religious, but to think that these colossus’s were built hundreds of years ago with no mechanical means to aid constructions, you tend to take on board the hard, no very hard, labour that must have been put things into these places. But there is another, not so nice side to this, these building, and some of them are beyond beautiful, must have taken a lot of money to be built in the first place. Blimey the peasants of the day could hardly feed themselves and here are the Church building monuments for prayer. Unfair? Maybe, but it has crossed my mind when coming across the more celebrity status buildings such as Cathedrals. The ultimate Catholic one I should think will be The Vatican, now it isn’t just awesome, there isn’t a word to describe the jaw dropping as I looked around at the paintings alone, then the architecture. I don’t know of a word to describe the place, beautiful? Oh it’s certainly that but no that is not enough, nowhere near enough and that goes for many of the more prestigious Churches, but I still admire them. But that is just one type of building there are some more modest buildings that have been around longer than me, but I just haven’t noticed, now I do. I notice fields, I notice clouds, and I notice sunrises and sunsets, now they are something else. The universe, we are suspended in mid-air, well there is no air at all, but its like we are held by an elastic band as earth travels around the sun each year. Then it also spins itself, hence your night and day, on a clear night you see diamonds twinkling in the sky, not real diamonds but the light you see could have come from something that has taken that light 300 years of more to reach you. And maybe this fact alone is what I am getting at all along.

The everyday things that happen and have been happening day in day out, not the headline grabbing stuff, the stuff that is just there like the tide. The water of the River Humber covers a vast area of mud, then due to some magic of the Moon the water recedes to uncover that mud, yes the water flows backwards and forwards like on its own, but it doesn’t. The Moon’s gravity does it, the same as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, it always has done but it still produces some awesome sights at various times. Like those stars whose light gets to us after an age, the sun bobs up and down over our sky with, thankfully, relentless regularity. And its these things that hold my attention, tele just doesn’t do it for me these days but listening to music does, well whilst I can as my hearing, never that good to begin with is now even less good. And that is something else, most lucky people, and they don’t know how lucky they are, get up in a morning have a fart and a yawn and off they go again for another day.

I very much doubt as to whether these normal everyday people take the slightest interest in other people who just cannot do that. The person who gets up and farts but can’t hear it, smell it perhaps, yes perhaps, but the same people who can’t hear a thing, that is there normal day. And yet again ‘normal’ people may rub the sleep out of their eye and just carry on, blind people can’t do that, the first they have to do is get their bearings before they can do a thing. And its that also that gets to me now, the unfairness of things in life, which you won’t know about unless you cross that barrier, due to whatever reason, accident, illness, that means instead of being a ‘normal’ person, you are disabled in some way. I don’t just mean wearing glasses, they are common, but did you know that one certain insurance company has hearing aids down as an extra cover item? Even National Health ones, I was staggered, I asked the guy on the phone if the same condition applied to wearers of spectacles, he just replied that he didn’t make the rules he just has to implement them, fair comment. There are those that run for miles and those that can’t walk at all, or with great difficulty, there are those who are professors and other high calibre intelligent people and those that can’t even write properly or add up. But the main thing about this new/old me is that I am more and more and more interested about my immediate past, and those connected to it. School years mainly and here we have a friend and foe in the form of Facebook, like the internet, its so entangled in life in general for so many people that if it suddenly was no more there would be mass hysteria. The internet is superb and invasive, it is driving change whether we want it or not and often into areas that are not pretty to see. The High St, it has always been the focal point for masses of people to do their shopping, you would meet someone and spend twice as much time gabbing as you did shopping.

You would meet up ‘in town’ listen to some records in a shop booth and maybe even buy one, record that is not a booth, not likely though, a cup of coffee, yes that exotic alternative to tea, in a café, and if it was really cool it would have music on. The main social whirl was centred on the High St, now look. First it was that import from America, the Shopping Maaaaaaaaaaall, and now it’s the internet, the High Street is in retreat and so are the usual social functions of the day. Dance Halls have gone but massive festivals are here, pubs are closing but booze is available nearly everywhere, and to nearly everyone it seems. And if you wish you can get your music and booze without moving a muscle, well perhaps a finger or two. And it’s the vanishing of all that I knew that I’m eager to get back again, not physically no, it would be nice yes but what I like is people memories of such things that I remember, as it is all vanishing for them as well.

But here is another conundrum, a lot of people from my past are, how do I say it, passed away is a subtle way, not so nice is dead. And that is another feature of life at my stage, if you do happen to meet people from a bygone age its guaranteed that the death of a former acquaintance will be mentioned. So what’s all this rambling amount to? I don’t watch much tele, but I spend more time at the library or, in my case, the Hull History Centre, I Google, or Bing if you like, and most of it is history related. I have lived in the Hull area all my nearly 70 years or so and I’m still reading about historical stuff that I never knew. And it gets worse, my City, County, and Country I am ignorant about a lot of it and that is at the root of what I am rambling about. It’s what I’m saying that is it just me that this, awakening if you like, about local stuff, everyday things that are now wonderous to me, and possibly mundane to most other people, or do others around the same age feel the same. I listen, whilst I can, to music I first became acquainted with 60 years ago, and I still love it, but I am interested in the lyrics and the song writers. It is with this in mind that I went to see a show at our local theatre, The Hull New Theatre, the show was called Beautiful. It was a story based on the life, and song writing of one Carole King and her then husband Gerry Goffin. I used to dance with the girls on a Saturday morning at the local dance hall at about 13/14 years old singing along to a female girl group called The Shirelles singing Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. Later I found out that Carole King wrote it, well she wrote it along with Gerry Goffin. But what I didn’t realise, until that show, was that she was just 17 and was bearing the first of her children with Gerry. Here were 2 kids, yes basically still kids although Gerry was 21 then, and they wrote a No1 hit, but not only that they continued writing many memorable songs that I also sang along to but just never knew they were the composers. Up On The Roof, Crying In The Rain, Pleasant Valley Sunday, all came from the pen of Carole King and her collaborators.

The other song that is just about equal to Carole’s song was written but a 22-year-old John Lennon, In My Life, and is my favourite Beatles song, the perception of both songs is just mind boggling to me. The lyrics of both songs mean much more to me now than ever they did, and especially at the time when they were recorded. But this is only one element in my thirst for knowledge that I have failed to take in for most of my life, but in defense I have to say that, although my overall time is running out I do have a bit more time to myself to pursue such things. Growing up, working, getting married, paying the bills, bringing up kids, left me precious little time for myself, it’s not an excuse, it’s a fact. So, I hope to be able to do something about it, and that folks is the end of this ramble, if it makes sense then fine, if not, then it must be like my old school reports, Can Do Better Must Try Harder. Mmmmmmm.

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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.

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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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?

 

Oldies.

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.