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
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.
There are those that say never look back what is past is the past but there are an equally vociferous segment think that history plays a big part in our lives. At the moment whilst writing this I have You Tube in the background playing stuff from the 50’s/60’s when I was growing up as a child with the influence of the American music scene and the emergence of the British response. So I have such a rich vein of memories to fall back on and that I admit I will not let go but why should I? I have arranged a number of school reunions and to date I think I can say they have been successful as many have asked since when am I doing another one. School friends of half a century ago get together and exchange chat and want to come back for more, makes me think that the those who think the past is the past are missing something.
Of course not everyone has a great story to tell, there is tragedy there is hardship as much as there is success but overall the feeling in these reunions is that of old friends getting together to have a chat and a laugh and I’m proud to have organised such events. But as with time there is death and we have lost some former classmates and some of the teachers, who incidentally enjoyed this get together as much as us former pupils did so these days such events tend to be depleted somewhat but none the less the overall feeling is of comradeship. I am going to include a couple of pictures and I’m sorry for all those in the pictures if they would rather I not but hey 50 years later many of us met up again and had a great time, and no I’m not going to supply the details to the pictures lol,
For those of you who are not familiar with the European and indeed World Wide game we call football, or to the USA, soccer, its a sport whose popularity increases by the year and has developed an importance to the British nation that is phenomenal. Fueled by money from a satellite TV company the rewards for the clubs in the top tier are huge, both for the players and the clubs. And so most clubs aspire to take part in this league both for the money and the prestige and only a few famous and wealthy clubs tend to be consistent enough to stay in the top flight year after year.
Well the team from my area of England, Yorkshire, are known as the Tigers, because they play in black and amber shirts, sometimes with stripes, but they are otherwise known as Hull City. Now Hull City have languished in the 2nd tier of the football hierarchy since being demoted from the Premiership a few years ago and consequently nearly going bankrupt and out of business due to bad judgements of the previous management. Mediocre players on inflated contracts cost the club a fortune in transfer fees and salaries, so when after a couple of years in the top league things went pear shaped the club was in trouble, big time.
Millions of pounds were squandered and all attempts to remedy the situation failed and bankruptcy loomed. Then a local businessman Assem Allam stepped in and took over and guaranteed Hull City’s debts with multi million pound loans but then did something that didn’t please the supporters. The manager at that point, Nick Barmby, was a local lad made good, he had played for the team previously and this was his first chance at football management. He was sacked, results had been poor overall but he was popular with the fans but he still went.
The Hull City faithful were outraged but the businessmen carried on quietly, appointing a well known manager and former player from Manchester United Steve Bruce to take over whilst Mr Allam continued to make the club a viable business. And on Saturday 4th May 2013 Hull City, after a monumental season and indeed last day of the season miracle, are heading back to the top tier the Premier League. Now unless you are wrapped up in all this football thing its hard to put across how important this is for the area of Hull. The TV exposure alone, usually confined to the top places will now include the Tigers in their reports and of course that could be good or bad but the potential exposure benefits could be huge.
Unless your team is in the Premiership you hardly every get a mention on TV, newspapers or the internet even but now Hull City will come under the spotlight like never before as most of those media pundits are predicting that Hull will go straight back down again at the end of the next season. They may be right but at least this time there won’t be the money problems that nearly drove the club out of business the last time, for the rewards of this league are huge, even after relegation, but at least this time there are proper businessmen to manage things properly.
Well done Hull City on gaining promotion and nearly causing a few heart attacks in the process, lets hope that this stay in the Premiership is long lasting and that a solid foundation can be built for the future of the club at the top level. As the Owner Mr Allam has indicated progress to European competitions, and the extra revenue and exposure, is not out of the question, for a club near extinct not so long ago that is truly amazing.
There is also the hope that this media exposure could result in much needed investment in the Hull area, jobs are much needed so any spin off’s from the footballs teams success would be most welcome. Visiting fans spend money so local shops should benefit as hopefully the local hotels and bars, its an all round win win in the right circumstances it just needs careful handling along the way by people in power, both at the club and the politicians in power.
I have always liked technology and up to a point considered myself something of a geek, compared to my like minded friends. Remember VHS & Betamax, well I understood the basics, Betamax was better quality but VHS was more popular so the rest, as they say is history. Then it moved on apace and as always America was at the forefront, except for things like mobile/cell phones and satellite TV. In every other aspect America lead the way but then a funny thing happened.
The likes of Commodore, Atari, Radio Shack and T.I. were trailblazers in the early computer craze the UK was quietly having its own revolutions, lead by one Sir Clive Sinclair with his ZX and ZX Spectrum, computers were now in the mainstream, especially when the BBC got involved. And I kept up with it all, although my programming ability only stretched as far as Atari Basic. Things were gathering pace, whereas America had its cable TV with many channels we on this side of the Atlantic had basically 4 channels then satellite appeared.
It had been there for a while but at last it became mainstream and for me especially it was a revolution. I was getting channels from the Continent, Holland, Germany, France, Belgium, and others, not just the normal diet of BBC/ITV, News, music, drama and yes some stuff that was not mainstream, it was an eye opener. I use to go on about this new world out there TV wise but all I got was blank stares, I could watch football/soccer in Germany I could watch pop concerts in Holland it was amazing stuff, but lost on my friends.
And of course the march of technology was gaining pace, mobile/cell phones were available, not the brick like phones of the Wall Street film fame but small enough to fit in a pocket which again was like a breath of fresh air. You didn’t have to look for a phone box just use your own personal phone box, but charges were steep at first. And as we moved on video tape gave way to disc and all the time the computer was evolving. Desktops took off, millions of them were sold we all could surf this WWW look up things, send electronic mail in an instance, get updates, all heady stuff.
But just lately I have regressed, I can’t keep up, the pace is going too fast for me, we now have social networks, where everything is instant, and updated for everyone to see and the young people have took it too their hearts and that is where I have now realized one thing I never thought would happen, I can’t keep up. I still read tech stuff and it begins to frighten me in a way as its took a path I could never imagine. People seem to relish publishing everything about their lives for all to read, although privacy rules are suppose to be in place.
Apps have taken over, the mobile/cell phone is everywhere and a lot more powerful beast to the first one I owned and computers have changed. We are in the era of portable and portable means a phone or pad computer, Wi Fi …….. 3G/4G …. all sorts of stuff that is getting ever more complex and the thing that has really hit home is watching my grandchildren with all this. To me its amazing, to them, who have grown up with all this, it is part of life, they don’t know any difference so all the gadgets that make me stand and stare with awe is just a normal progression to them.
They are 15 and 11 respectively and have a computer, desktop, a laptop, mobile/cellphone, a Kindle/Sony reader, Xbox, Sony Playstation, Nintendo Wii, NDS ( is that right?) flat screen TV’s in their bedrooms a 50inch plasma TV in the main living room with all the satellite channels, their father has a car with TV in the back and a sound system that takes his mobile/cell phone calls without him taking his hand off the steering wheel. And here is the rub, all their friends are the same, its the norm.
I have come across some magazines, newspaper articles dating from the 1970’s/80’s when all this was a brave new, exciting world, but now I’m not sure if its either brave or exciting but more like foolish. We are tracked, we are instant, we are at the mercy of those big corporations who have all this data on us yet allow us to function in today’s world, and it is gather in pace. I have long given up thinking as to where it will all end the kids of today seem happy enough with it all, and they will have to live with it, in the meantime I will put on an old VHS tape on and see what I recorded 20 years ago ….. did we really wear clothes like that LOL.
So I look on YouTube and find music from artist I loved many years ago, I keep up to date with the news, instant if I want, but not to my mobile/cell phone, I just log on when I get home. No pad computer no Android or IPhone, no flat screen TV or computer monitor it can all not pass me by as I know there is not end, by reading the geeky stuff of what is coming along in the future. So get rid of the screens you are use too, you will ‘wear’ your computers, you will be online, always, whether you want to be or not, cars will drive themselves, park themselves and all the time this will be recorded, for whom? I know not and these days I care not.
My wife and I have been on a few weekend trips just lately, no not those trips, coach trips and some of the places we have been are the academic excellence centres of the world, Oxford and Cambridge. Notwithstanding their academic power they also have some beautiful buildings to teach this stuff in, and its that side of the equation that grabs me the most, just as well as for my brainpower they would not just show me the door but would not let me near it 🙂 ……. so here are some pictures First Cambridge, we were there on Saturday 2nd June.
It has to be said also that many of these pictures were taken through gaps in iron gates and fencing as they were not open to the public until later in the day when I would be gone. Some didn’t allow anyone in other than students and their families as exams were taking place, which is fair comment I would say. I could have put a slide show but it doesn’t show the full pictures as I intended and I know I haven’t put comments about which college is which, but I may amend that at a later date, oh and the ducks were friendly as well, as long as you fed them that is 🙂