Happy New (hopefully) Year?

Here we are on the cusp of ‘getting rid’ of 2020, as if there is something about the old year that can be banished by the introduction of a new one. The date is arbitrary anyway decided long ago by past civilisations who wanted to split the passing of time into years, based on various calendars created by Caesar and the Romans who found that it had drifted by 10 days at one stage. Anyway if you want to look it up, search Wikipedia. The point is the term New Year is a movable feast around the world because of the time zones and the way peoples of the world perceive it. It’s as good a celebration as any I suppose to mark the end of one era and the start of another.

Having said all that, 2021 will probably be just as disruptive and contagious as 2020, but at least we’ve got (now) two vaccines to administer, one that has to be kept at -70°C until the point of use and the other is kept at a more useful temperature. Both are purported to be up to 90% effective given two doses which is better than the flu jab which is only about 55% effective. It remains to be seen whether we will all need a booster inoculation every year like the flu jab. Hopefully I’ll get mine sometime this year, but it’s not going to make me footloose and fancy free until the whole country is done. Not much chance that we will all be back to normal any time soon though, because of the covidiots who say there is no virus and don’t believe in all the precautions, are the ones that have spreading it most, while the rest of us good citizens have stayed in and done as we are told. Basically 90% of the population have been doing that, and the others are doing what the hell they like and spreading it around.

So, I’ve done my 2020 year and what happened, how about predictions for the coming year and what the effect will be? I think there will be a mass inoculation programme which will get everyone vaccinated (or at least those who want it) by the end of the year, but there will probably be more strains of the Coronavirus that will manifest themselves over the year. We are assured that science is on this and with minor tweaking, any inoculation will cover the different strains. We’ll see, in the meantime the economy will recover, despite the best efforts of the EU to drag us down to their level and bleed us dry. I reckon that other countries in the EU will start to consider their position. Angela Merkel has entered her last year in office and it depends on September 2021s election whether she stays in power, I think she will hold on, but there will be factions within the Bundestag who will want to see her gone, despite her increase in popularity during the pandemic. If she falls, some of the EU will also fall, although the two strongest countries in it, France and Germany don’t seem to be in any hurry that they should leave as well. Belgium is the country to watch, the European Commission and the Council of Ministers is in Brussels and Strasbourg so the country has a big sway in the way the EU is run, and of course they were one of the first countries to start the EU after the war, so they are obviously keen to keep it going. Belgium exports 300 billion Euros fo products, mainly to Germany and France so they have a vested interest in securing the EU’s economy. With the UK leaving the EU in a few days time, it’s too early to see what impact it will have on the UK, I don’t take any notice of the scare tactics used by the red tops and even the ‘broadsheets’ (yes I know they’re not ‘broad’ any more, but their views remain), any more, I’m sure they would like to run the country and if course they could do it better, not.

Hopefully sport will come back into the picture. I miss being able to go and see my local rugby club Farnham play in the London SW Div 2. They won the tier 5 Challenge cup at Twickenham 4 years ago. It was where Jonny Wilkinson started his career and it is a fantastic club. Watching the premier clubs on Channel 5 doesn’t quite cut it for me, although watching the Autumn Nations Cup was great. Cricket will also hopefully be back at the Ageas Rose Bowl in Southampton in the summer, I was there in 2019 for the Cricket World Cup and had a great time. I’ve been very lucky, I did the 2012 Olympics as a volunteer, the Rugby World Cup in 2015 as a volunteer as well as the cricket. I’ll be looking for the next world event to take place in the UK and hopefully get a place in that as well. I was once an active participant in sport but now due to increasing age and aches I find that it’s not so easy. Still, I’ll have a go at O2 Touch Rugby again when we’re able. I’m not (as my reader will know) a fan of football although I was in my youth, when players wore proper leather boots and had centre partings and were paid 3/6d a week. Football nowadays is all about the money and wasn’t the game found wanting when the chips were down this year? You notice not many players offered to drop their salaries even though the clubs weren’t getting any gate receipts and were playing in empty stadia? Yes I know the rugby professionals were playing in front of empty crowds as well, but they are paid a fraction of what your average pro football gets. Golf was back and will continue, the Australian Tennis Grand Slam has been pushed back and I suspect that a lot of other sports will delay their starting dates as well.

One of the things I miss is going to the cinema. We has a lovely little ‘flea pit’ cinema near us which was a) reasonably cheap) and b) comfortable. I’m hoping that will open soon and I can go and see the latest Bond movie which I always do at the cinema first. Pubs!! I have only been in a pub once this year during the period between lockdowns in our local and had a meal there. Haven’t got round to again since but we will. Our local town Bordon was an army garrison and they have now gone elsewhere so there is major redevelopment going on, with 3300 houses being built, along with a new town centre and new sports facilities and eventually a new hospital. It will take time but in a few years I reckon it will be a great little town, and all the naysayers and critics will have to eat their words. The authorities in charge of the new build have done a good job this year considering the pandemic and a lot of the project were finished in this year including a secondary school, a leisure centre, and future skills centre, an ‘inclosure’ which is a wooded area close to the town with an education centre and a cafe. A bypass was finished in 2019 so altogether the town is getting its act together and will thrive this year.

On a personal level, as I mentioned before, I pass a milestone age in March, and as the old saying goes you’re as young as you feel. Some days I feel like I’m 35 again and others like I’m 105, so it all depends on outlook. I don’t tend to think of death these days, my parents both died in their mid 60s, my brother before he was 60 so I’ve overtaken all them and besides some minor conditions I’m not in bad nick (although the pandemic has made me put on weight). So 2021 is a year when I’m definitely going to lose weight. My wife has just ordered a spin bike which we can set up and use every day whatever the weather. I have missed going out on my bike which I’ve only managed half a dozen times, but I can supplement the spin bike for lost outside bike rides. I DO need to lose weight, when I was 15 I was only two stone lighter than I was a year ago, so I reckon I need to lose 1½ stone, but that may only be a dream. How to do it? Well all the best diet books say cut out carbs, eat less, don’t drink alcohol etc etc. What I want to know is how can those people in the TV programmes (I know) say they’ve stopped eating McDonalds and drinking copious amounts of Coke and lose 6 stone? I have never eaten junk food (takeaways yes but only occasionally), eat wholesome food cooked mainly from scratch, and try not to drink wine every day, and nothing happens. The biggest thing that changes my weight is exercise. It’s very noticable, that when I eat normally and then do exercise (go for a walk, do some weights) my weight drops off dramatically. So, and this is not a New Years resolution, never could keep them anyway, I WILL lose weight this year, promise.

On that note I bid you farewell and see you in 2021.


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What the 2020 has changed?

Over the last 10 months of the Covid crisis, all our lives have changed in one way or another. I thought I would get my thoughts down about what has happened to me over this period. Hopefully it won’t be too boring.

Just before the 23rd March lockdown announcement by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, it was my birthday and I happen to share the date with a very good friend of mine. We agreed to meet up on the day with our wives at a local pub which serves very good food for lunch. That was the last time we went out with anybody for a meal, something we ordinarily do on a regular basis. So that has been missed so much, it’s all very worthy to cook at home all the time but sometimes it gets a bit of a chore. The night after that dinner I went out as usual to my touch rugby session with Farnham Rugby Club and I took along my brand new studded trainers; in ordinary trainers I was sliding all over the place. Anyway I got stuck in the mud during play, fell over and cracked a couple of ribs. I still feel the pain at the site of the fall today, but there was no other damage thank goodness.

From then I couldn’t do much in the way of physical work because of my injury so I certainly wasn’t able to go to rugby any more, but since that sort of activity was banned anyway it didn’t make much difference. During April, May and June the weather was nice so I spent a lot of time in the garden reading. The past year I think I’ve read 25 novels, more than the previous 10 probably. As an aspiring writer (well trying to be) they say read a lot of fiction and it spurs to write some yourself. I don’t know about that; my writing goes in fits and spurts. At the moment I’m a member of a (virtual) writing group and we used to meet in the local library once a month, but now we’re restricted to Zoom meetings, although we did manage some outdoor meetings in the summer. But even with the encouragement of other members of the group, I still have trouble getting motivated. It’s almost the same with one of my other Zoom groups called Folk0Clock, which is as the name suggests a virtual folk club; whereas we used to meet once a month to sing and play in front of our peers. Strangely though doing it in front of a PC screen with 20 or so other faces peering at you can be a bit off-putting; I prefer my audience to be live. Still, I have written a couple of songs, one about writing a song and the other about different sorts of music and instruments. I do love playing the guitar and singing and it’s nice when you get positive feedback, but to be honest all the feedback is normally positive, it’s the nature of the folk scene. Back to the writing though and I’m in the middle of writing several stories: a crime novel, an autobiography and a wartime story. Plus several other short stories; I started writing when I was about 10 I think.

The rest of the summer was spent variously sitting in the garden, not going out and trying to keep occupied and I must say that I think we achieved those goals pretty much. When we were able to go out, even to do a shop, we did, but back in those days (only 6 months ago!) it wasn’t so frowned upon as now when there is definitely a stigma about not going out, staying in, wash your hands, cover your face etc. But there is a small section of the population who don’t believe in any of that and that the virus is a hoax and won’t wear a mask or do all the other things that should keep the virus at bay. So while they’re gallivanting around having a good time and meeting up with all their friends and family, we who are doing the right thing have to sit back and suffer not being able to do such things. I miss simple things, like going to the pub. We did manage it once at our local for a meal, and to be fair to the staff, the layout was conducive to having a safe meal, but we didn’t have a chance to do it again before lockdown II, just when you thought it was safe… Other things I miss is going out to a restaurant. The only one we had was at where we were told it was a ‘fabulous’ steak house where the food was ‘fantastic’ for our wedding anniversary, again within the rules at the time, but it was awful and even after we complained that the steaks we were given were tough, and they agreed, the 2nd steaks weren’t much better. Oh well, we’ll try again when we’re able.

Then of course we come to the autumn, earlier sunsets and longer nights leading up to the usual trimphirate of Halloween, Bonfire night and then Christmas, which all seem to come and go rather quickly. In between all this, we kept in touch we our daughter who lives in Australia via Messenger and Whatsapp and because we are in a ‘bubble’ with our other daughter who lives not far away, she was able to come here for Christmas and we can go to her house. It’s kept us close and that is very important. It would be nice to hug them all at some stage and that will happen later. To be honest the year has gone quickly as usual, despite long periods of not doing a great deal, but luckily all has been peaceful and quiet in the house. I’ve baked bread all year, about once a week, and it has turned out pretty well, at least I haven’t had to throw any away. So here we are post Brexit, post Trump, post vaccination available (haven’t had mine yet though) and the rest of the year is undetermined to say the least. Who could have predicted that in January last we’d be in the state we are in now? I’m not talking about Brexit, that is a whole subject matter on it’s own; but I don’t think the full effect of it will be felt for a little while yet. No it’s the accusured Covid-19. Now Wuhan Province are saying ‘wasn’t us gov, you lot gave it to us’, meaning Italy, the States, the UK, rather than them spreading it around the world from there. I don’t know how they got the nerve to say that, when it clearly started in their fish and pangolin markets. Of course that area is now ‘free’ of Covid and they are ‘practically’ back to normal! Well thanks a bunch for giving this horrible virus and spreading it far and wide, now we have to deal with the consequences. Well, let’s hope the Pfizer and Astra-Zeneca vaccines do their job and kill all strains of the virus, including the Brazil and South Africa varieties. I won’t get mine for a little while: I’m not 70 until March.

So, to the future? We would like to go to Australia to visit our daughter sometime, either this year or next, we have a couple of breaks booked in for this year, suspended from last year so I hope they go to plan. We were due to see Genesis in April but that’s been delayed until October, along with a few other local events that have been pushed back to later in the year. One thing we did get to which wasn’t cancelled was the Kew Gardens night trail on 2nd January. We kept the social distances and enjoyed the show which wasn’t affected by the restrictions. It was great to be out, out; to quote Micky Flanagan. Let’s hope we can do a few more this year and really celebrate life.

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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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