Christmas 2020 and the goose ain’t getting fat

Didn’t the year go quickly?

Only a few minutes ago we were asking what the hell this coronavirus was, now we’re only too aware of what it means to all of us. I’m trying to marshall my thoughts about the year just gone.

The New Year started quietly, as usual these days, another year another ho hum, but since they start to creep up very quickly, it gets worrying that I’m not (cliche ahead beware) getting any younger. I had started going to O2 touch rugby the previous September and as the oldest one there the youngsters treated me like an old man, which I am NOT by the way, but it was nice of them all the same. January we had the usual Burns Night at the Tongham Village Hall, always a nice occasion with my friends Jeremy and Carol and other who we know from our 34 years living in the village. Other events that month was attending the nationalisation of our German friend Pitt on the 23rd, who is married to a folk club friend Mary. That was a nice occasion and it was one of our last nights out before the first lock down. I had also had several appointments which I haven’t been to since then, including the Farnham Repair cafe and the Thursday Folk Club. But generally I find January the worst month and want to get through it quickly. February was and is just as bad, the winter doesn’t seem to let up and is probably the worst month of the winter. Oh for those lovely days in Australia when February is a lovely, warm summer month; huh, won’t doing that for some time. It’s strange about this time we really started to hear and take notice about this coronavirus later to be called Covid-19 on account that it was discovered in 2019 in China. We didn’t do much about it then, the government didn’t seem interested, so life carried on as usual. We said goodby to really old RAF friend; the wake was in the RAFA club in Aldershot, and was a good reunion for all the guys he worked with and some I didn’t know but we had the bond of being in the same service.

Now, March was a completely different kettle of fish. I started a cricket umpires course of three weeks, the last one wasn’t completely finished so it was put online and the attendees had to complete it that way. I’ve now got a certificate for the first level of umpiring, hopefully I can carry that on in 2021. On March 9th, I played O2 touch rugby at Farnham for the first time with studded trainers. No, I had never heard of them either, but before just using trainers I was slipping all over the place in the mud. During one of the 6 a side matches I was passed a ball from someone and when I tried to move off with it, my body went one way, but my trainers stayed where the were. I wasn’t used to them staying where they put in the turf, rather than moving about. The consequence was that I fell over and cracked one or two ribs on my lower left side. I stopped and went home; the pain was excruciating. The next day was my birthday and we went to our local pub, 2 minutes walk away with a couple of friends and his birthday was the same as mine, albeit some 5 years later. That was the last time we went to a pub until the late summer between lockdowns. Other events in March were somewhat over shadowed by the announcement of a national lockdown on the 23rd. April was the month I discovered Zoom and started using it to have meetings with my Men’s Shed colleagues and that has carried on since. The rest of April was a bit of a none event including Easter. May was nice and being nearly summer it was lovely to sit in the garden and enjoy long days and sunshine. We were getting deliveries made by two firms and decided after a couple of those that we would rather pick the fresh stuff ourselves and so my wife went out shopping suitable masked and gelled and did the dutiful 2 meter rule in the shops and when out and about. It seems the majority of people stuck to the guidelines and in doing so kept the infection rate in our neck of the woods to a reasonable low level. The same could not be said of the Northern areas of the country, although now that is creeping south with the lastest levels of Tier being announced. Thankfully we are still in Tier 2.

June and July followed pretty much the same pattern, we mostly stayed in the garden and made it look nice and grew vegetables, which came in a fairly steady stream. It was the month of my son-in-laws 40th birthday and his wife organised his and our world-wide family to record Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen using one their backing tracks. My daughter put it all together and synched it all, and it turned to be really good. We learnt the spread of Zoom was going ballistic, everybody was using it including our folk club which got people, including me, to perform songs in front of a camera to a screen full of faces in their screens. It was a bit bizarre but I got used to it. We even had a virtual music festival on Zoom and it worked quite well, the main reason for it was to raise money for a charity, and we did that; more than last year at the live festival. The power of the PC. July was the month my daughter and s-i-l from Australia were due to arrive for three weeks, but of course that was delayed due to flight cancellations, and then finally cancelled all together. They would have been here for s-i-l’s birthday with his UK relatives, but hey ho we’re hoping to get out there next Christmas 2021. It was also my daughters 37th birthday, but since they are in Australia it was only a virtual celebration.August was my wife’s birthday and we managed to get a booking to Wisley RHS garden for an outing, it was great to out to somewhere different. But that was in August, not to worry.

September was the end of summer effectively and we managed to get outings to Brooklands motor museum and a our previous neighbours for an outside BBQ, we returned the compliment and they came to us, all within the rules/guidelines. The first lockdown ended and we all thought we would be let out of school, but it was not to be; certain areas of the country increased the number of Covid infections, and it was a certainty that more restrictions would be imposed. October was similar in that we were still mostly stuck indoors except for walks outside and in parks and gardens. All through the lockdown our elder daughter who lives close was in our ‘bubble’ so we were able to see her regularly, and visit each others houses. Of course our neighbours were close and we could still wave and say hello to them, but every summer we have a BBQ in the close and have music, food, dancing and chatting, all great fun. This year was not to be so we just had to save it all up for next year. November was good for me because there was international rugby to TV, the Nations Cup with the 6 nations teams and a few others. England won the final, which made up for losing the world cup final a year ago.

I, along with about 100 of my fellow Harrier guys missed out on our annual march round the Cenotaph for Remembrance Day. We have doing this for the last four years and its always a great get together with my friends who all worked on the famous Harrier jump jet now sadly out of service. Of course the main reason is to remember those who fell in any war. So November came and went and we’re into December. Well the only thing you can say about this month is that it’s a precursor to Christmas, and here we are. We’re in Tier 2 so we stay pretty much the same, I feel sorry for those that have gone up to Tier 3, thats back to the old days of the first lockdown. But we have the vaccination coming along and hopefully we should all get it eventually. Not that I’m totally convinced that its going to be the final solution, especially as we’ve all got to have two jabs to make it effective. During this month I’ve been involved with getting out local Men’s Shed moving from our old location to the new one. It involves building internal walls in a large warehouse and we have received a grant from the local council to set it up. In the New Year we shall really start getting on with it. With Christmas a week away it’s going to be different for a lot of people but for us it’s pretty much as its been for the last 4 years. So we’ll celebrate Christmas with our UK daughter and wait out the end of the year. Hopefully 2021 will be a slight better than this year, but we can hope only hope. It’s a big birthday for me in March, so I hope all restrictions are lifted by then and I can celebrate properly.

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Funny ain’t it (not peculiar)

Trump gets Covid-19, three days later he’s cured. It’s the best Covid-19 anyone could have, I’ve been the best patient, I’ve gotten (horrible American slang word) over it quickly. I am invincible! The man’s an absolute horror, the trouble is so many of the red-necked, sh*t-kicking, mid-westerners love him so much they’ll vote for anyway. He appeals to them, God knows why. When the election starts in a few days time, he’ll no doubt be there crowing as usual. But we see all this from a UK perspective, what about the view of people who live there. I have two British friends who live in Houston, Tx and Pensacola, Fl and they have lived there long enough to know their a**e from their elbow. And to a man they say Trump is an idiot and appeals to lowest common denominator, that is as I describe above. So he will probably win because a great deal of the mid westerners believe what he says and loves him to death. But, if the last election is anything to go by, it will be a close run thing; in fact the USA has a history of bad election results, i.e. not called correctly. Ask D W Bush who scraped in. Anyway if Trump gets in it’s bad news for the UK, because he will try to ‘buy’ the NHS. It’s a cash cow to him and we would be the donkeys who would pay up to service his greed. The NHS as we know it will disappear and we will have a similar health system to the US: if you can afford to pay for health care, you can afford to be ill, if not you can’t, it’s a stark as that. My friend in Houston has had to pay out horrendous medical bills and he is fully covered by insurance, but it’s still not enough; his credit card has taken a hit, from which recovery will take a long time, notwithstanding his illness. But we have enough problems with the NHS here. The current ‘wave’ of Covid infections is likely to increase before it subsides, and it’s all to do with those idiots who were dancing in the streets the other night in Liverpool. That just shows how inconsiderate people are, they don’t care so long as they have their fun, everyone else can go to hell. It’s people like that probably caused the first wave and they might not have been affected then. So now we have a 2nd lockdown caused mainly by Northerners and we’ve all got to suffer. Great, and thanks The North. I’ll just carry out staying in, masking up, gelling and washing hands just like I’ve been doing for the past 8 months. I haven’t been out socialising, mixing, hugging strangers or whatever, yet I feel like I’M being punished. Fair it aint.
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(Covid-19 secure) My take on the pandemic.

After the last quick go with using Word’s Blogpost feature, I thought I would return to the meat of the blog and that is my view on the world. Actually going back to Word, it is a lot easier this medium to write a blog than it is on the WordPress site which is the host for the blog.

The world is going to hell in a handcart with the latest Covid-19 announcements, so how the hell did it come to this? Cast your mind back to the beginning of the year, before we first knew (although half the rest of the world did) about Covid -19, the Cov2 Coronavirus. Life was very different then, we were pretty free to do what we wanted within the law, and we were bracing ourselves for the end of Brexit. There wasn’t much else going on in that post-Christmas period and we were trying to keep warm and wish for spring to arrive as early as possible. Then the news hid the streets that a new highly infectious virus had been released from a laboratory in Wuhan, China or from infected meat in a Chinese market or from an infected animal called the pangolin, which nobody had heard of. Whatever the cause of the virus to be distributed, most of the populations of Wuhan and China in the widest sense were responsible for the virus to be spread, but how?

The Chinese government kept the virus pretty quiet at first, and then realized that it could not be contained and eventually announced the existence of Covid-19 to the world, but by then of course it was too late, the genie was out of the bottle. But, the question has to be asked, how did the virus travel so far so quickly, and to the furthest corner of the world in a very short period. Now, I’m not here to apportion blame, but the Chinese authorities must be culpable for their tardiness in reporting the existence of Covid-19 to the world, and this contributed to the spread of the disease and the resulting pandemic that it has caused. Over a million infections and hundreds of thousands of deaths later, what have we heard from China’s contrition on their part in the disaster? Nothing, not a thing. We’ve been left (like they have) to look after the whole debacle ourselves. The whole pandemic has caused not only all the deaths and illness, but has cost economies trillions of £ and $ in lost revenue and income. The overall effect will be to change the world and it will never be the same. So was this a conspiracy? Were the Chinese (and I mean government not the people) complicit in allowing the situation to get this bad? Was the whole reason world domination? Did they want to take over every aspect of our lives? They might have a battle for that with the Moslem community who want to do the same by religious means not economic. China supply everything, indeed they are the only suppliers in the majority of cases. Let’s examine one small example: electronic components used in just about everything that uses electricity in any form are just about exclusively manufactured in China, whereas the UK and Germany were major manufacturers of resistors, capacitors, relays, switches and the like. Not any more, to be fair the copied components from China are of fairly good quality, but it doesn’t allow anyone else to get set up to produce these items without huge cost and prices that could rival Chinese prices. That’s just one small corner of what is produced almost exclusively in China, try and find them from elsewhere,

So, back to the pandemic, six months on from when we first learned about the ‘Lockdown’ a new word in the modern lexicon, and we’re still feeling the effects of it now, and will continue to do so for perhaps years to come. It has been suggested that the effects of Covid-19 could last well after the virus has left the body. Think of chicken pox, which is mainly a childhood disease and one which parents would try to get their child infected so that it’s ‘out of the way’, implying that it’s just something that children should get to ensure that they get it at the parents convenience. But, later in life the dormant virus can turn into shingles which is not something adults warm to, it’s horrible. So, who knows what the long term effects will be of this insidious disease? The same can be applied to o HIV, flu, polio, Ebola, measles, meningitis and CMV, which is closely related to chickenpox. So, this isn’t just going to ‘go away’ as some of the MSM (main stream media) would have us believe. So with the collapse of the Wests’ economy, the sole supplier of many articles, the spreading of a killer virus, and the continuing spat with the USA, what else have China got to offer? Oh, that is besides the world’s largest population and rising and the aggressive harassment of its nearest neighbours. Discuss.

The pandemic meanwhile lumbers on, with the government changing its way more times than Boris Johnson changes his partner. The public are now so confused about what is allowed, and what is not, that it’s no wonder certain sections of the community choose to ignore all government edicts and do what the hell they like anyway. The threat of a £100 fine for breaking the Covid rules is probably not a deterrent to not gathering in groups of six more, thereby increasing the likelihood of more infections being spread around and continuing to be around for many years. Meanwhile law abiding and careful citizens stay in as much as possible, wear masks, and use gel all the time when shopping or out and about and meeting anyone at their door. The winter and Christmas approaches so who knows what it is going to be like in the depths of winter. The other thing that must happen is to get the country back to work, except the retired (hooray!), and the unable, so that the country can recover its economy. The furlough scheme is due to end soon, which will it is felt, will cause huge unemployment as the companies have to then pay their employees all their salary, instead of the government picking up some of the tab. Cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth as jobs become scarce and the unemployment rate hits the roof. It’s going to get bloody and the worse is yet to come.

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First Blog in this medium

I wanted to test this new system I’ve found in Word which enables you post a blog from Word. So this is my first attempt, hope it works.

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Summers a’coming in!

Well thought I’d better get something down before I catch Covid-19 or Coronavirus.

I’m being serious; I’m nearly in the ’70 and over’ bracket and I have ‘underlying health issues’. But enough about my health, I’m staying in (9 weeks and counting) and going out for a walk, although not every day, sadly. I went to a Wilkinson’s shop today because I was running out of toiletries and they sell all I need at a reasonable price. It was my first foray into a large shop (I’ve been to the local farm shop) and I was pleasantly surprised by the orderliness of the queuing system outside the shop. Everybody respectively kept their distance, although the markings on the floor helped, and the guy on the door was friendly and helpful. In I went and there were about 10 customers in the shop, again keeping the right protocol about staying away from each other. I also managed to buy everything I wanted, then I was going to go into Lidl to get some other stuff but the queue to get in there was far too long so I didn’t bother and came home. They say systems will start to appear after 5 days so I’ll wait that out to see what happens, although I did wear a mask and gelled my hands all the time.

Its actually not much different to our normal life with the lockdown, we didn’t go out at night a lot anyway and we were mostly at home during the day. The things we miss are the social side and connection with our daughter Charlotte who lives 10 miles away. But that’s the same as everyone, so no piling on the agony from me. I respect that the gov’ment are trying to do their best for all us, so I hope they are not too liberal with any relaxing of the lockdown rules. Actually even now just 9 weeks into it, I’m not sure how we’re all going to react to being released from isolation. Life is not going to go back to normal that’s for sure, whatever normal was. It’ll be a gradual thing, but I doubt it will like it was before. All those conspiracy theorists who say it’s a world plot to reduce the population and pollution are wide of the mark I feel, nobody would try to implement such a haphazard event. It is what it is,and I have complete faith in whoever is trying to develop a vaccine for this virus, it is after all what they do all the time. Not that us oldies will get the vaccine in a hurry, the younger fitter will be first in the queue. Talking if which I read today that there was a 35-40 car queue to get into a newly reopened KFC today as soon as it opened. That’s very sad a) to queue for so long to get a reconstituted meat product in a dubious bun with dried preserved additives and b) surely people aren’t that fed up with getting their own food at home. The same happened with a Costa coffee shop, inordinate queues to get a cup of hot water with some ground flavour in it. The mind boggles has the population got so ingrained in doing these things that they have to start doing it again as soon as is humanly possible. Like many of my generation, a McDonald’s or a KFC was a once a month treat maybe, having said that I haven’t had either for probably 20 years or more. But the world rolls on, people are sick in hospital with this dreadful virus, and the NHS are working flat out to try and ‘flatten the curve’. I hope they succeed, but I feel the battle will go on for many years yet. I’m just wondering what the third thing will be. Well, we’ve had Brexit and Covid, both have put the gov’ment under extreme pressure, what’s the next thing; a meteorite in danger of hitting earth? These things are monitored closely by the many agencies around the world, but can any them do anything about it if we were in the path of catastrophe? I’m afraid Bruce Willis isn’t available to do it this time. Will the world’s powers get together and try to work out what to do collectively? Or will they work independently, as they seem to have done with Covid, and come up with myriad solutions none of which are compatible with each other? Whatever happens and what plans are made a meteorite strike will probably end the world, like one probably did for the dinosaurs, although of course the world remained intact. Who’s to know; no-one.

On to other things: The weather has been most unseasonal, I expect that will change come the summer and we’ll be in the usual state of cooler summers. Actually the last few summers have been quite warm so maybe the trend is reversing. If this lockdown last until then, it’s going to be pretty bad for people who want to get out and about.

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Spring is sprung…

Well after another hiatus of not writing since February, I thought I’d better get my thoughts down again. 

Quite a bit has happened, so here’s the highlights; my birthday was 10th March and I move nearer to the life span of man as indicated in the Bible. It was lovely day being taken to what I thought was going to be a local hotel for a meal but instead we went passed that and it became a mystery tour. We ended up at the Pennyhill Park hotel and leisure centre in Bagshot, a favourite haunt of the England Rugby 🏉 Union team. The previous day I had got tickets for the 6 Nations match against Italy at Twickenham, and took a friend to share the fairly easy victory against the weakest team in the competition. It was all to no avail, Wales won their match and the Grand Slam, oh well, there’s always next year, but first there’s the World Cup in Japan in October. Pennyhill Park was great, they have an all you can eat buffet on a Sunday lunchtime, and it is lovely, a real blowout with everything you can think of to eat. An added bonus was a three piece jazz band playing ng standards, and then moving from table to table to play birthday greetings or whatever to indivuduals. A super experience.

The rest of the month was the usual round of hospital appointments, blood tests and so on. All routine, just ongoing stuff you have to live with at a certain age, or maybe not. Some people are very lucky when it comes to health, not having any problems at all and then pegging out at the end. Others have innumerable problems and others like me have long term or chronic illnesses which will never get better but will also not kill you early. I’m glad my conditions are controllable and medicated, so I’m not worried particularly about my health, it’s all under control. I find though that looking after yourself has got to be self serving and you must be selfish about it. Only you know what is wrong with you, and only you can do something about it. The trouble with some people, particularly men is that they think they are omnipotent, and don’t ever feel ill or need to visit a doctor. The graveyards are full.of men who say, to misquote Spike Milligan, ‘I didn’t know I was ill’. So be warned.

I could mention Brexit; whoever thought that name up should have copyrighted it. However, its now old news, so maybe not worth any conjecture or opinion. On the other hand its going to affect all our lives one way or another, so perhaps a word or two? For what its worth I voted out, not for purely selfish reasons; we weren’t part of the EU once, so why should we carry on? I’m all for going it alone, we have the wherewithall and the determination. This country will survive, we have the resources, and the rest of the world will admire us for it. Subject closed.

In the past and I’ve been a volunteer at the Olympic Games in 2012, the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and this year I’ve been lucky to be accepted for the cricket world cup CWC19, at Southampton ‘s Aegas Bowl. I’m doing 2 matches as a Spectator Services Volunteer, just like I did at the other events, and a Fanzone which I also did at the Rugby World Cup at Wembley stadium. It should be exciting seeing world class cricket and to know I’ve done my bit towards making a success of CWC19. For all three events I’ve been provided with a uniform, including trainers and some have thought I’m a serial.uniform collector, which I’m not having spent half my life in one uniform or another. No, I just like being involved with these major sporting events.

                  The Aegas Bowl Southampton

So aside from a big trip down under later in the year, we have no other holiday booked, though we may travel overseas again this summer; to the Isle of Wight. Not been there before so that should be different, or not. Anyway enough of that nonsense until we meet again, or not.

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Blimey has it been that long…

I’ve just looked at my last blog and it was six months ago!

The trouble is other things get in the way, and to be honest I have let writing slide a bit in the last year. For some reason, I haven’t got the incentive and my thought processes have suffered. I recently joined a creative writing group that meets once a month in the local library, so I’m hoping that will rekindle my interest.

So, what’s been happening? Of course, what is on everyone’s lips and plastered across all forms of media is the dreaded Brexit. I’m not here going to extol the virtues or otherwise of whether we should be divorced from Europe or not: that has been covered ad infinitum elsewhere and I don’t think my small voice will make any difference whatsoever. What I will say is though, a referendum was held and more people voted to leave than voted to remain. Democracy should work and respect the result, whatever personal views there are and whichever way people voted.  Personally, I think it will all work out in the end.

We had the usual quiet Christmas and New Year, I think these two events are massively over-rated, they are certainly not celebrated by most for their religious content, and a New Year? So what, they are all pretty much like the previous one with few exceptions, and the fact that people waste brain cells and body parts in trying to get as drunk as possible over the festive period does nothing for me these days. Oh yes, in my youth I liked a drink as much as anyone, but as you get older you find that it a) doesn’t taste as good (losing taste buds?), and b) the effect of drinking is quicker to tell on your body and mind; well it does in my case. I like a glass of wine with dinner or a craft beer, at any other time. My hobby is finding really good tasting craft beers that have been produced by microbreweries and tasting their wares. I always buy by the crate online so I don’t have to go out for it. And to those who might say, hypocrite, you’re still drinking, as an example: my last box of 20 cans/bottles has lasted for 6 weeks and there is still half of them left. Hardly a boozy session drinker! Moderation in all things I say, it makes them taste, feel and be better if you are not at it all the time.

We bought a new car, our second new car since 2015 and only our third since we’ve been married. The last new car we bought was in Germany, and that was in 1978! We ummed and ahhed about what new car to get; there were several factors at play. We decided that the new car was going to be ‘for life’, in other words, we were not going to be looking to get another new car, either ever, or at least until we move into an old folks home (joking!). The new car market is full of choices, more so than ever before: diesel, petrol, electric, hybrid, a myriad of different styles and power plant.  We carefully considered electric, but reasoned that the electricity has to come from somewhere and that still burns fossil fuels to produce the power. Diesel and petrol come from fossil fuels as well, so what is the balance between the two? On reflection, we went for a petrol car because hybrid and pure electric are so expensive, the batteries have to be replaced, they cost a huge amount and are an environmental nightmare to dispose of them. Anyway, we chose a Suzuki again, same make as the last new car but up a grade to a mini SUV, from a small four-door saloon. The difference is that the engine is so small; compared to the old model which was a 1.6 ltr, our new car is a 1.0 ltr, to be precise it’s 998cc! And only three cylinders to boot. I thought, how could such a small engine be powerful enough? Sorry if I’m getting technical but it produces 105 bhp and does 0-60 in 11.5 seconds. Which is not too shabby, but coupled with average fuel consumption of 48.5mpg, it ticks all the boxes, and it’s an automatic 6 speed. And being tall and larger than the average, we find it much easier to get into and out of. Add the colour, turquoise, and altogether it’s a great package. It should last us 10 years, God willing that he keeps us the right side of the grass. so far it’s been a delight to drive. For those who want to look it up, it’s a Suzuki Vitara    SZ-T Automatic.

Well, slightly nicer weather has sprung onto us, springs not too far away, hopefully. Winters not over yet, we had snow in March last year so we can expect anything yet, but it’s nice to get a bit of sunshine. That’s the thing you could say about the British, we can always discuss the weather; mainly because we have so much of it. Personally, I like the fact that we have definitive seasons, although they are sometimes blurred, 17° C in February, yet some days in June can be as low 13° C. We can always rely on the rain, but again some years that is in short supply. So, does global warming make a difference to our weather? The juries still out I reckon, and I’m not one of those doom-mongers who think the world will in end in 50 years because all the insects will have gone, global warming will make the planet intolerable, the polar ice caps melting will cause flooding and tsunamis, and wars and over-population will leave us all struggling for food. The one thing you can say about the human race is that they are nothing if not resilient. We’ve had ice ages, wars, floods and heatwaves through the centuries, not all caused by global warming, yet the human race seems to bounce back after catastrophes. I take the point that the world’s population is rapidly crowding 7 billion, but we can still manage to feed the majority of its people, there are some who unfortunately can’t due to location, poverty and climate, but given the ingenuity of man I’m sure these problems could be overcome.  I’m not trying to be simplistically naive about the future of the planet, I just know that lots of factors will determine the future of this crowded little rock in the solar system, and I don’t think there’s a great deal most of us can do anything about it. There are scientists, current and future, who will come up with a brilliant way to extend the life of Earth and we will all be grateful; if I’m around to see it.

The rambling must come to a stop sometime, and I suppose now is as good a time as any. We’ve been to see the newest addition to the family, a great-niece, who is absolutely adorable and although only three weeks old, managed to capture our hearts even if she was asleep most of the hours we were there. She charmed us without having to do anything and in the great scheme of things, it’s a life-affirming exposure to a new life that makes you glad to be alive and give you hope for the future. You go girl, we’ll be following your progress all the way. Till next time, bye bye.

©Clive Handy 2019


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Its about time…

I wrote another blog. Its been 6 months since the last one about my birthday so here goes.

A lot has happened to me personally and to my family but I like to listen and observe and not necessarily tell the world about it, like some do. I’m in the middle of writing a novel; an autobiography, some short stories and lots of scribbling of notes, ideas and thoughts. The trouble is I haven’t felt like doing any more to them for ages. It’s not writers block it’s can’t be arsed block. The brain is willing and quite frankly bursting with ideas, it’s the execution that’s at fault. I guess that is something to do with being retired and ‘comfortable’

I’m not trying to be lazy, but when you are that comfortable it seems an effort to do anything that requires brain power. It’s bad enough doing physical stuff, in the garden for example, but the brain uses too much energy. Now you could say ‘lazy bastard’ but that’s not actually the case. Its the old adage that work expands to fill the time available to do it. So not having to cram everything in for the two days of the weekend means I’ve the whole week to do what I want. Of course there’s the daily tasks; eating, drinking, bathroom action, sleeping and slumped in front of the telly trying to stay awake enough to go bed and sleep, again. These tasks take up a good proportion of the day, and eat into leisure time, which is a bind. But, I’ve heard it said many times; I’ve got less life in front of me than I’ve gone through so I’ve got to fill my days with meaningful stuff so I don’t regret anything I didn’t do. Thats cobblers, you can’t spend every day doing something that you should do because you could be dead tomorrow. Daily life has to go on, unless you get into the black science of depression and then you don’t care about anything, least of all yourself. I’ve had many friends, all around my age, who have passed away in the last year or so, some ‘suddenly, others after a protracted illness and that concentrates the mind very well. Naturally there is nothing you can do about either, the first is literally in the laps of the gods, and the second is down to medical science whether you make it not. So I’m slightly philosophical about my eventual demise but I would like to think that I would have had a life well lived. Others may disagree.

So on to the daily ‘grind’, although it’s not. This past summer has shown that good weather and visits from your family certainly make life worthwhile, as does the love of a significant other, as the modern parlance would have it. I prefer the old fashioned wife or husband: girlfriend/boyfriend, fiance, good friend etc.what is a BFF anyway? I don’t get these modern idioms, but then I suppose we had them ‘back in the day’, another hateful expression. I’d prefer, ‘when I was younger’ etc. So my wife of many years makes my life complete. Oh yes we have arguments, and disagreements; I can’t fathom those married couples who have never had a cross word in 30 years of marriage or whatever. It’s inevitable that two people living together will disagree with one another over something, but it depends on who wants to win the argument more is the one who often does, or they make up anyway and all is sweetness and light again. Don’t get me wrong, I hate arguing it makes me feel awful, but it usually ends in a score draw so it’s not all bad.

Sitting here on the cusp of autumn, bathed in warm weather, makes me feel totally relaxed, it engenders a wonderful feeling of wholeness, of being at ease with myself, ready to take on whatever is thrown at me, but at this stage in my life, nothing major will be. The biggest challenge I’ve got at the moment is finishing this piece and then painting a retaining wall. Such is life!

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Another Year, another pain….

Yes, it’s that time again when another birthday passes. I’m not going to insult anyone by directly saying what my age is or what year I was born, you’ll have to look at previous blogs for that. Suffice to say I’m nearer to seventy than I was.

Luckily the day itself, 10th March, was lovely with exception of England getting beaten by France. So I watched rugby, had a few beers and enjoyed a curry with family; all pretty normal and unremarkable. I don’t feel any different, like you used to be asked when younger: ‘so how does it feel to be 15/30/45 etc?’ No, you get to a certain point, say over 50 when the years till on and merge into one another. The length of the year seems to be shortening all the time. It’s nearly April yet a few minutes ago it was winter.

“I don’t actually mind winter, getting warm clothing on, brisk winter walks, a wood burning stove and hearty meals like casseroles, roasts etc. If course snow is often part of winter and the other week was the worse snow we’ve had for a long time. So, we hibernated for three days and didn’t leave the house, except to fetch wood to keep the fire going. It was quite cathartic actually, and was not boring, or frustrating or anything like that. Luckily we had enough milk, bread egg so didn’t feel the need to strip the supermarkets shelves bare ‘just in case’.

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2018? Get your wish list in

So another year bites the dust, where did it go? The old cliche about time passing quickly has never been truer the older you get, but 2017 seemed to go quicker than most. In March we went to Australia for three weeks and that doesn’t seem so long ago, and where did the summer go for Christ’s sake?

Still, last year wasn’t a bad one for me, it started getting treatment for prostate cancer and ended with me being signed off for a year having beat it, for now. In between time we did lots of visiting, and besides Australia had a few weekends away. This year we go on a river cruise in France, and are looking for another break probably in the UK. It’s always nice to have a holiday to look forward to. Not that being retired isn’t like being in holiday all the time, well maybe it is but it can be hard work when you’ve got to get out to do normal stuff sometime during the day, when it pleases you. Hey I know I’ve beat this particular drum before, so I won’t mention it again honest.

So what does ’18 promise? Well the Brexit (yawn) negotiations will carry on interminably, and get nowhere meanwhile plunging the country into even more debt. I bet the other EU countries see us as a cash cow now we’ve voted out. I predict the whole thing will be a mess, cabinet posts will resign and there will be a general election, but gawd help us if corbynista takes over and makes an even bigger mess of it. There’ll be tears before bedtime. The winter Olympics take place in South Korea and they’ve invited the North to come down and take part. I hope Kim Yong Il takes it as a gesture of goodwill, they need some in that region. Russia haven’t been invited though, when does winning become everything, not matter what did their athletes are fed? The Commonwealth Games take place in Australia, I’m sure the GB countries will do well. The football world cup is on, and England are in, so it’ll be England 0, anyone else a shed load of goals and a sacked manager. Give me rugby 🏉 any day. The brains who arrange these things forget to check the calendar for Harry’s wedding on May 19th, the same day as the FA cup final. Doh! They tried to justify their cock up by saying the events are not on at the same time. Could be a bit rushed for William though if he’s best man and due to deliver the cup to the winning captain at Wembley. Might have to pass on the best man speech to one of his uncles. There’s not much else major on for the rest of the year, besides the usual top flight events like Wimbledon, the Open etc, and not much else outside sport either.

 Still every year brings its surprises, and this will be no exception. So my predictions for 2018: a senior royal will become ill, North Korea will relax, Cornyn will win a general election, Brexit will be re-referendummed (is there such a word?) and we will vote to remain. IS will be completely defeated but another group will try impose their fanatical ideas on the rest of us. Their will be a strike in the NHS. Just my opinions, give me yours. Anyway that’s enough waffle for now see ya!

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