Saturday, 10 April 2021

Duke of Edinburgh Died Peacefully

 The Queen's husband has died, peacefully in his sleep.  He had a long and full life, just short of a century-long by a couple of months.  Well done, Sir, may you rest in peace.

But WHY was it necessary to have the BBC TV broadcast hours of exactly the same details of his life on BOTH channels?  The ITV also did virtually the same, all day and night.  Why?  He was of the Royal Family, yes, but he wasn't the King.  He was a nice enough fellow and did his job well, generally speaking, but that was about it, in my honest opinion.

I was 17 when King George VI died in 1952.  That radio announcement came as a real shock to me then.  Quite hard to take in on that day. It was almost as though my own father had passed away!  It shook me so badly at the time, having so many memories of the King during the war, the way the family stayed with us during that terrible time.  I was deeply saddened.

Yesterday's news had nothing like the 1952 news.  I suppose we were all expecting it after seeing how ill Prince Philip looked on his final journey home by car a few days ago.  Yes, it's always sad when somebody dies, but at his advanced age it's not unusual.

So, condolences to the Royal Family, especially the Queen, life goes on.  Except for the radio and television people. They grab these "breaking news" announcements and treat them as though the end of the world has come.

Give me strength!

Thursday, 7 January 2021

USA - Ugly States of America

Playing the Trump game has proved the truism that "Power corrupts. Absolute Power corrupts absolutely". 

The destruction, death and flag-waving in Washington yesterday afternoon, January 6th 2021, was reminiscent of the Reichstag fire in the early 1930s. 

 Adolf Hitler was leading the Nazi Party and had recruited a group of thugs (Stormtroopers) and Hitler used the Reichstag fire incident to further his quest for absolute power. Trump has consistently spouted lies to gain and hold power. He incited hordes of his own stormtroopers to trash the Capitol building, praising that mindless rabble and saying how much he loved them - almost as much as he loves himself.

 I hope that the majority of American citizens wake up to the reality that Democracy is on the verge of being crushed into oblivion by devotees of Hitler and similar ilk.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

This Be the Verse by Philip Larkin (read by Larkin)

This is probably one of Philip Larkin's best-known poems. Short and to the point.  He was, in my opinion, one of a kind in the truest sense.  I cannot write poetry but in so many other ways I feel that this man was my inner-self. I am now reading as much as I can about him.  I absolutely love to hear the readings of his poetry and listening to interviews and articles on YouTube about this man.

He declined the invitation to be Poet Laureate. It was too late in his life, he thought he had nothing left in the writing of poetry.  He was up there with the creme-de-la-creme in poetry and will be sadly missed.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Saturday, 29 September 2018

First Kiss,First Love...

I'm learning the foxtrot at Jimmy Quinn's Dance School in, South Croydon. This is supposedly the most difficult of all the ballroom dances; it's definitely the best of the four main dances in my opinion, with the tango a close second. 

Stella and Mavis are already in the hall waiting for the class to begin.  Great evening, becoming wonderful.

The class ends later than usual with Jimmy Quinn and Patricia Teare demonstrating the finer points of the foxtrot. As we leave I latched on to Stella,  walking her home.  Mavis stays with us until we turn off  Brighton Road into Brantwood Road where Mavis smiles goodnight and goes on her way home.

Stella and I stroll arm in arm up Brantwood Road.  She asks: "When is your birthday?"   "19th January" I answer.  She waited, obviously wondering what birthday that would be.  I make the stupid decision to tell a silly white lie. I say I am seventeen and will be 18 in a few months time. Why I did this?  I still really don't know.  I thought that narrowing the age gap by a year or so would somehow be more acceptable to her. Anyway, I could not bring myself to admit I was a mere 16 year old; I simply couldn't do that. 

Stella, who is 22, seemed OK with my answer. I'm happy and relieved.

Arriving at her house, we stand in the porchway, just holding hands, whispering to each other so as not to disturb anybody in the house. And then I kissed her. Properly, this time, full on those lips that I'd longed to kiss ever since we first danced. Stella melts in my arms. I kiss her again ... and again. I'm now  in love for the very first time.

Stella is thus my first love.  First love never fades. Other loves may come along but the first is so strong in one's heart and mind as to be indestructible, unforgettable.  I'm sure it is the same with millions of others.

This evening was the start of something new and bewitching for me. Stella responded in much the same way.   Fearful of rejection when I first kissed her but that fear was unfounded. This evening would also be one of many where I linger too long with my first love; far too long ...  I miss the last bus home. 

Walking home, late at night, was something I got used to. It is a long way back to my home in Thornton Heath from South Croydon! I  trek along the Brighton Road, past the Red Deer pub, then further past The Swan and SugarLoaf pub, along South End and into North End and the Croydon High Street. On and on, passing Kennards on my left, Grants and Allders on the right, then the Eros and Odeon cinemas and across Station Road, past West Croydon Railway Station with The Fox and Hounds pub opposite. Pressing on, past Croydon General Hospital with The Co-op stores and West Croydon Methodist Church on the other side of the London Road. Soon I'd be passing Nova Road and my old Hathaway Road, with the Savoy Cinema opposite. Across St.James's Road and past the Star Pub and the the Rising Moon.  The road seems endless - but I am walking on air, not minding at all.  Today, all those landmarks are gone! 

Passing Mayday Road knowing I'll reach Thornton Heath Pond, which, in those 1951 days, was like an oasis. Why an oasis? ... Because  old Joe's tea and sandwich stall at the Pond is waiting to greet me!

Joe, and one assistant,  opens this stall late in the evenings. I don't know if he ever opens during the day as the only time I sample his offerings is after midnight!  Joe was an old salt, a sailor of many years, who now serves tea and his speciality sausage sandwiches. This is all I ever buy from Joe's stall and both items were perfect. Strong tea is served in a half-pint mug and the sandwich is white bread with a fried sausage-meat and brown sauce filling. Hot and delicious, just what this young late-night traveller needs to spur him on to the last leg of his homeward journey.  Joe's little establishment was always busy whenever I arrived there.   His service was excellent; he must have been one of the first "fast food" outlets in those days. A big burly character, very friendly and efficient. A popular watering hole, probably long gone, possibly a casualty of Health and Safety rules!

After ten or fifteen minutes enjoying Joe's wares I would continue on the last lap of my journey home. I don't really know how many miles I walked back home but I guess it would be something around 6 or 7 miles. But I don't regret one yard of it.  When the heart and mind is so light and carefree we are strong and invincible ... IMHO of course. 

Saturday, 23 June 2018

An Old Favourite - More Meaningful as Time Flies By.

Let's know what you think.

If anything...

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

My First Overseas Posting

January 1954.
I had requested an overseas posting, stating a preference for Hong Kong or other far-flung areas.
The request was granted: GERMANY.
A tad disappointing - but at least it was to a foreign shore.
The "cold war" with Russia was still on. I would be 'on active service' as the RAF mentioned in my travel instructions, sailing on a noisy and very cramped troopship, sailing from Harwich to the Hook of Holland.  I was quite excited.
After the North Sea crossing, I travelled by train, through Holland and into a place in Germany, the name of which is long forgotten.  A transit camp, in an old castle, a Schloss, where I stayed overnight.
Next morning I received my travel papers to RAF Hospital Wegberg.  A brand spanking new building opened a few months earlier, not far from the town of Moenchengladbach. 
Here's my new home for a year or more.

Monday, 11 September 2017

A Look Back in Pleasure and Friendship

I spend time thinking of all those I've known and loved, many of whom are long departed from this increasingly hazardous world of ours.

Sometimes I look back at some of my earlier posts and it's good to be able to remind myself of a few things about 'old friends'.

A chap called Alan Parkes was a man I read about in "The Times" Diary column some years ago. He and I met after I wrote to him via the article in the newspaper above.

Here's the link to the post in question:

Hope it works OK.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Lara Fabian - Singer Most Wonderful

This lady is one of my absolute favourites. She's stunning.

Talented is not quite strong enough to describe her. She speaks quite a few languages, performs with such deep emotion it makes me well up as I watch and listen to her.

This song, Je suis Malade, needs no sub-titles to understand how bad she feels about what she's going through.  I think it's truly fantastic the way she puts everything, every ounce of feeling, into her rendition.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Thieving Scumbags of Grimsby

Above snapshot is of our tiny front garden, after I had spent nigh on a grand having all the grotty weedy grass dug out and replaced by plastic stuff.

At my age I was fed up with trying to make the REAL grass look like grass, so I decided to make my gardening less strenuous.

We were pleased with the result. The two chaps who did the job were excellent. Well pleased and grateful for their good workmanship.

A couple of nights ago we discovered that some junkie bastards had paid us a visit during the night and stolen the right-hand piece of astro turf. They seem to have made a start on the other side but were either disturbed or too weak to lift it. It was ripped up at one corner and they gave up.

When notifying our brave boys in blue on the 101 phone line (999 being for emergency only) the person taking my call said something to the effect that "Oh, never heard of anything like this before! Yes, hanging baskets and plant pots, but a lawn ... never!"

Seemed like a bit of a joke to the police but they made a note, said to hang on a mo while I get you a crime reference (AC2256552/2017) and that was it.
Didn't expect any more. Just another statistic for their growing list of minor crimes in Grimsby.

Oh well, not to worry. Worse things happen at sea, etcetera ... 

Wonder if the low-life scum will try to finish their nefarious night-time job some time soon? I am getting CCTV installed and hope I can get these bastards on camera. Not that the law will do much other than slap them on the wrist ... ooh no! They mustn't touch them or the do-gooders will be up in arms.

Happy Days. Below, grass-less part.

Image may contain: plant and outdoor

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Long Ago and Far Away

As this 'festive' season approaches, far too soon, I am frequently harking back to those days when love and excitement made life so precious.

I have so many memories and yet so few that are glued to my memory bank as strongly as music, dancing, and romance. 

My first girl-friend is still ever-present in my mind, even though she no longer lives in this world. Her name was Stella.  

Stella and I became very close. We danced together, went on long country walks on unforgettable Summer afternoons. Went to many cinema shows and, most of all, spent rapturous hours saying 'goodnight' as the witching hour quietly melted into the next day.  Then a very long walk home, for me!

She was twenty-two-and-a-half years old; I was a little over 16.  New Year's Day 1952 was our last day together.  Next day I wrote a 'Dear Stella' confessing that I'd lied about my age and I could not see her again. A cowardly act on my part, one which has never left my heart and mind.

This song is one of my eternal favourites. It is by a crooner called Dick Haymes, exquisitely performed and perfectly backed up by a superb band. The tempo is perfect for a slow foxtrot, my favourite dance of all.  

Friday, 7 October 2016

Stitched Up Eyes

I'm worried.  It's Clare, my artistic and hardworking young daughter. She has had major eye surgery on her left eye and minor surgery on her right eye, just over a week or so ago. 

She had to go to Sheffield hospital for this operation as our more local hospitals don't cater for detached retina jobs apparently. Blindness is guaranteed if this type of eye problem is not speedily dealt with.

Thankfully Clare still has fair to middling vision in her right eye but not much in her left eye which, apart from the retina being detached in two areas, a 'hole' was  discovered. This hole needed to be dealt with too.

Pat and I have been with Clare each day in her house, trying to keep her mind off her worrying thoughts and to take her some lunch. I am so glad we are now nearby and not in Scotland!

Yesterday when we arrived at Clare's place she was looking unhappier than ever.  She's suffering from a scratchy left eye as a piece of one of the tiny stitches is protruding and I'm as scared as Clare.  Sheffield hospital is contacted by 'phone. Go to A&E, the say; the stitch may need to come out.  I take her to Grimsby hospital and check into A&E. We wait and within fifteen minutes explain the problem. The nurse contacts the eye clinic and half an hour later Clare is examined by the ophthalmologist. He assures us that there is no need for any action on his part and that Clare should see the surgeon in Sheffield on Monday.  I am relieved and Clare is now happier than earlier. It is not a solution to the pricky-scratchy stitch discomfort but Clare will soldier on until Monday morning when hubby Andy will drive her to see the surgeon in Sheffield hospital.  

Every time I arrive to be with Clare her two big doggies, Bob and Molly, go wild with delight as I walk in. Molly has her squeaky pink toy in her jaws and is impatient for me to try to grab it from her.  Bob is bustling her away from me and strives  to get to me, tail swinging wildly and madly. These big babies are wonderfully welcoming and just want to play. It's lovely to see them each time I go there. The photo below was today, Friday 7th Oct, Molly has bagged a space close to me and Bob is patiently waiting for his turn!  I just love 'em both so much.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Holiday Nightmare for Granddaughter

My granddaughter, Sarah-Sophia, now lives in Mauritius with her husband Biljan, a barrister. They met during Sarah-Sophia's uni years at Cambridge and after their wedding in Manchester a year or so ago they left to live in Biljan's birthplace, the island of Mauritius.

They recently had a short holiday in Colombia but the homecoming was a real "Tales of the Unexpected". Here is her account of what went on.

Moral: Holidays can damage your sanity!

Friday, 22 April 2016

Europe - In or Out?

The USA is having a big vote soon, the Brits are also soon to have one: European referendum. 

Each is an important vote. The US Presidential is important because some of the candidates seem, to me, to be uniquely 'odd' - no names, no pack-drill, eh Donald?

The UK's vote to stay in or leave the EU is a tricky one too.

Do we continue to be governed by Brussels or revert to the British Parliament? 

Lots of scare-mongering as to what will be the outcome if we depart the EU, including advice from Mr. Obama and many others.  

I admit that I'm unsure of which way to jump. I detest the interference from the EU when they over-rule some of the British legal decisions and wish they'd keep their noses OUT.  I also think that the vast majority of Brits think the same, but is that a good enough reason to exit?  Probably not. 

Then there's the continuing expansion of the EU.  It started with about seven member states.  General de Gaulle always objected to Britain's entry but he's long gone. Now it's 28 members and the prospect of Turkey joining!

All with unlimited entry to the UK.  Yoiks!

I think I'll decide soon: probably LEAVE EU.

OK, I've decided.  Voting to say LEAVE.

Thank you for helping me decide. Thanks!

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Books Wot I'm Trying to Read

​​My poor old minces aint wot they used t' be, even wiv me new bins to 'elp me out. You may not understand as my vernacular is of the ducking and diving south London  genre.
'Minces = mince pies = eyes. Bins=short for binoculars=glasses. 
Recently finished "A Staffordshire Lad" written by Harry Titley. I bought this because of his RAF spell at West Kirby and in Germany. He is a year or so younger than I but his journey in the 1950s was almost identical to mine.  Remarkably similar, except he makes no mention of any girlfriend(s) during this time.  He must have started down Lover's Lane after demob as he is now married and has a family. Perhaps I'll buy his newer book "A Staffordshire Man" as I'm fairly certain that his post-RAF story will tell of his meeting his wife and other adventures.

Now reading a small book by Joyce Grenfell: "George: Don't do that!" which is part of one of her marvellous monologues.  I have always had the greatest respect for Joyce and still do.  I read her book about her travels all over the middle east and Europe during WW2, entertaining the troops along with her pianist friend Viola Tunnard. They were so courageous and dedicated; the men at the battle-fronts really adored Joyce and her friend.  She came from a well-to-do family; one relative, an aunt I think, was Nancy (Lady Astor) and Joyce's background resonates in her voice pattern. But she was so down-to-earth in all I've seen, heard and read about her.  This little book is quite charming, and typical.

She wrote this funeral poem, so very 'Joyce' in my opinion.

If I Should Go
Often Called - If I Should Die

If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I'm gone speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves that I have known
Weep if you must
Parting is hell
But life goes on
So sing as well.
And I cannot end the Joyce Grenfell mention without offering one of her loveliest and funniest little songs, via Youtube:

I'm also reading "Stand by Your Beds" by David Findlay Clark, again about the 1950s National Service episodes.  The title is, of course, the command that was bellowed out whenever an officer or NCO entered one's billet or tent.  Well known by all conscripts, RAF and Army, although usually pronounced as Stand by YER beds!

Another current book that I'm trying to read is "The Heart Speaks" by Dr. Mimi Guarneri who is an American cardiologist. Subtitled: A Cardiologist Reveals the Secret Language of Healing.  It is very well written and interesting to me because it may help in some way with my own cardio problem.  She recounts how she was on the ward rounds during her training some years ago, led by a silver-haired cardio consultant. He told the group of trainees that his best advice was to listen to the patient. This extract is what is written in her book:

"There's one thing I want to tell you before I leave today, a lesson you won't learn in medical school.  If you let patients speak and tell their story, and you REALLY listen, they'll give you their diagnosis. But if you keep interrupting them and they don't get to tell it, you'll keep ordering tests and lab work and you'll miss the answer that's right there in front of you"

Later she goes on to tell of a young man who had been diagnosed with an incurable problem, Lou Gerhig's disease, which paralysed this chap from the neck down. It is a fatal disease.  Dr. Mimi was simply taking his vital readings and she asked him about his earlier life.  Briefly her story says: He told me that he was fine before his accident.  She was puzzled. There was no mention of any accident in his records. He said he was hit from behind in his car and had to go to A&E and was told he just had a mild whiplash and it would wear off.  A few weeks later he couldn't move. Back in hospital he was diagnosed with this fatal disease!  Dr. Mimi thought his paralysis might be a disc causing the problem but her suggestion to her senior neurologist was dismissed; he refused to order a CT scan.  She then discussed her thoughts with her chief resident.  He listened to her and said he was willing to risk the wrath of the head honcho and carried out a CT scan in the middle of the night. A disc problem was disclosed; a small operation was performed and immediately the patient was cured of this 'incurable' disease.  I hope to come across further heartening passages, no pun intended.

I've two Lancaster bomber heavyweight books to read soon.  Plus a book, fiction, called The Secret of the Old Clock, by Nancy Drew. Never read any of her stuff before but it was said to be quite good by a blogger friend of mine.

My final book-in-waiting is Biggin on the Bump, the WW2 RAF fighter station Biggin Hill in Kent.  One of the most famous Spitfire and Hurricane stations of Battle of Britain fame.  This book is full of superb photographs of many brave men and women, the aircraft and buildings there. 

Happy 2016 to all.


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

My Favourite and Saddest Song

I dunno what's got me so reflective of late. Getting older I guess.

Whilst hopping through Twitter this evening I came across an item asking what was a favourite song of parting.  I had no hesitation in putting my details and choice onto this site.

This song is very old (like me) and tells the story of someone dying in hospital who has written a note to his beloved ... saying that he could not bear to have her with him as he dies.

There are many artistes who have recorded this song but none as well as Matt Monro.

Forgive me for being so ... err sad.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

My Previous Home

Only three years ago we, Pat and I, were living in a stunningly beautiful area of Britain - the Scottish Borders.

We moved to take up a post in Mellerstain House, the home of the 13th Earl of Haddington and his family.

Our home was in the east wing of this stately home, which was built in 1725 by William Adam.  The west wing housed the Earl and family.

The main central house wasn't built until about 40 years later by the son of William Adam, Robert - one of the best architects ever.

    This is the southern aspect of Mellerstain House with the formal gardens in the foreground.

    Here is the Stone Hall, which is the first room that visitors see when they enter the east wing. On the extreme left, through the archway, is a centuries old stone spiral staircase which leads to where our home was. A wonderful and spacious apartment of some ten rooms, two bathrooms and large kitchen. It was just amazing.

    This is the music room, originally the main dining room. During the year there would be some wonderful musical events, followed by a supper in one of the lower rooms.  Classical music given by some truly superb artistes.  I used to love assisting with these evenings, greeting the musicians and singers and the audience. There would be approximately 80 guests at these evenings.

    Here is a view of the superb library.  This is probably the best room in Mellerstain House. The beautiful plasterwork designed by Robert Adam was inspired by his visits to Europe which depict various historical and mythical themes. A truly amazing room.

    South of the house is a large lake, home to two lovely swans who give birth to a family of cygnets annually. As and when these baby swans grow large enough they leave their Mellerstain lake home and leave Mum and Dad swan to enjoy their peaceful existence.  Hence the term 'empty nesters'

    We left this idyllic part of the Borders in September 2012 to be closer to our daughter Clare and our two grandchildren. It was lovely to be able to see them more often without the long and tiring drive south each time.  But it was so very sad to leave Mellerstain and all those we had come to know and love. In this parting photograph Pat and I are seated in the front. To the right of Pat is Isobel, youngest daughter of Lord and Lady Haddington. We first met Isobel when she was five years young. Just behind me is the lovely Countess Jane Haddington and behind her is Lord John Haddington, the 13th earl. Beside John Haddington are the housekeepers and, on the right, Gordon, the gardener; he does a remarkable job in tending these award-winning gardens.
    I am in a reminiscent mood, hence this posting.  We shall, one day, return to Mellerstain for a nostalgic visit.  May have to go by train or plane.  The long drive may be a tad too much for this aging old couple.  We do miss this lovely place. We really do.
    All the photographs are courtesy of Mellerstain House of course.

    Wednesday, 9 September 2015

    Gardeners Question Time???

    Hello there, if you ARE there.

    As you may or may not know I am the supreme Champion of Gardening Club International, but even we experts are, now and then, seeking help and advice.

    OK ... can ANYBODY tell me what these are?

    Yes, I know they're some sort of FLOWER.  Why wouldn't I, the Champion, know this ... err, well, maybe, perhaps, or possibly I might be embellishing the truth to say that I'm the Champion.  In fact it would be more truthful to say I'm NOT really the Champion, of anything.

    So, ignore the dahlias and concentrate on the clump of greenery with quite a few little white and pinkish flowers. Any ideas?

    When I first saw the green leaves popping up all over the place I thought it was the dreaded GROUND ELDER.  But though I pulled a good few of these 'weeds' out I left some to develop as I am NOT a champion gardener at all.  And it seems I was right to leave some in.  Other greenery turns out to be what I call the Chinese Lantern flowers, which I quite like, so they can stay. But the much taller greenery and its small blooms are a mystery to me. 

    I quite like them.  They will remain in place.  What might they be, that's the question.  Aye, there's the rub, I've no blooming idea!


    Monday, 7 September 2015

    Emotional Memorial Day at Wickenby

    Sunday, 6th September 2015.  A beautiful sunny day. Perfect for a day of remembrance at Wickenby Airfield in Lincolnshire.

    Lincolnshire: Bomber county during WW2.  Bomber Command created RAF aerodromes in this historic county of England.

    Huge swathes of farmland turned into concrete runways, huts for airmen, control towers, hangars and all the necessities for the RAF to prosecute the war against Hitler, the Nazis and all who aided and abetted that regime in the early 1940s.

    RAF Wickenby, home to No. 12 Squadron and No. 626 Squadron and all who served there during the war.  Average age of the Lancaster bomber crews: 22.   Of all who flew on operations many were injured.  Many died: 1146 was the total death toll.

    Religious belief is not for me.  But I attended this tribute to those gallant young men who never made it back to Wickenby in those dark and dangerous days. 

    It was an emotional time for many, and I was one of them. I listened to Anne Law speaking of a crew who made it through 31 operations but on their 32nd the dice rolled against them. All seven crew members died when a night fighter shot them down.

    After Anne's reading of that one operation and the 'Last Post' was played I know that many a tear fell as that mournful last note faded out.

    I made another very amateur video, drastically cut down to a few minutes of the hour-long memorial service.  After the closing tribute a lone Tiger Moth made a couple of fly-pasts to end a memorable afternoon, the weather adding its own tribute by staying just perfect.