Wednesday, September 26, 2012

An Interesting Lunch Date


Today was the first day of a new course that our Vicar, James, is running. I've never felt as if I wanted to attend a course at Church before, but I have to admit that James is changing some of my perspectives. Not sure about how they are changing yet, but they are. In general the course takes place on a Monday Evening, but evenings are quite awkward for me at times, so I was happy to take advantage of the chance to run the course on a Wednesday afternoon as well.

So we met up for lunch, five of us in total, plus James. We chatted as we ate, then we talked about our Church. It was a good opportunity to think about our individual place in the family of the Church. I have a bad habit of talking too much, so I tried hard to keep my input to a minimum. I just hope that I didn't talk too much.

That will do for today, busy day, so I shall see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Which brings us to Tuesday!


I was not looking forward to today, not one bit. The visit to the consultant, about ten days ago, turned into an appointment to attend the MRI scanner at Tameside Hospital at 1.30 this afternoon. I got myself quite worked up about this, with a wobbly tummy and all. Then I prayed, and I'm not good at praying, and never feel that it's right to ask for something for yourself, but in this case, I tried and got a lot of peace from it. I've said before that I think of myself as a Christian, even if not a very good one. But I've been told any number ofttimes that none of us is good enough, so maybe I'm no better and no worse than most. Whatever, after that the butterflies calmed down.

Actually it wasn't too bad. I arrived in time for my appointment, and I went into the Scanner on time. It is big and very smoothly plastic. I suppose that the fact that they were scanning my naughty bits worked in my favour, because I went into the Scanner feet first. I'm very grateful for that because if I'd gone in head first I might well have suffered from tunnel syndrome. There is not a lot of room inside that scanner. And it is noisy, I have no idea what makes the noise, I mean most magnets are silent, so I have no idea why it makes so much noise with a sort of high speed boinging.

So, it lasted about a half hour and that was it. I was back home by 2.30. I guess that the scary bi starts now, waiting for the results. I will tell you when I get them, why not. And that will do for today because I don't want to bore you. Hopefully, tomorrow I will have something interesting to talk about.

Monday, September 24, 2012



I'll own up straight away and say that I am writing this not on Monday, but on Wednesday. Missed out on two days for one reason and another, but more of that in Tuesday's post. For now......

It rained heavily on Monday, steady, heavy, miserable rain. The sort of drenching rain that leaves you cold and miserable. Suited my mood o Monday, I have to admit. Went out for my usual walk with Jasper and we got soaked together.

We had a homemade sandwich for lunch, and yes, at the moment I am sticking to the diet, but I will write honestly about it here, in the blog. Did I say that I am following Weight Watchers, well I am. No meetings, just my online planner. We shall see.

In the afternoon my wife and I went shopping to the new shopping area that is growing up, finally, where the knicker factory used to be. It's been a long slog, seeing one thing get slowly converted into another, one firm that started to transform the site went bust in the depression. However, a new developer has taken over and at last we have some new, spectacular shops and things. There is an M&S Simply Food almost ready to open, and Domino's Pizza is already open. Today's visit was far more prosaic, though. I went for a new set of track suit bottoms, without metal zips, that I need for my trip out tomorrow.

More of that tomorrow.

I spent the evening at my Mark Lodge. The Mark is a Masonic Order, often referred to as a Side Degree. The main part of freemasonry is what is called Craft Freemasonry. That is made up of three parts, called Degrees, and you work your way through them one at a time. You can stick at that if you choose, and many Masons do. If you want to take it further, as I did, because I enjoy it so much, you can extend things by joining Side Degrees. The Mark is one of those, based around some aspects of the second degree in the Craft?

On Monday I became Junior Warden of my Mark Lodge, a significant step up the ladder. I shall not say more about it, not because it's secret but because one shouldn't spoil it for people who haven't joined yet. However, let me say that I have been a Mason since 2000, and I have never regretted joining. It has helped me to become more capable as a person.

So we had a good meeting, a lovely meal afterwards, then I helped to wash up the glasses at the bar and home at about ten o'clock. And so to Tuesday.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Colour Me Thin

I ate far too much last evening at Chris & Linda's reception. My problem is that I am greedy and never have had the metabolism to stay thin while eating too much. I got up on Sunday morning and still felt full. Putting on my suit yesterday was uncomfortable, so I think that it is time, more than time, to do something about this.

I weighed myself and, unfortunately, have managed to go back up to 18 stone and 6 pounds, which is gross. That has to mark the start of a period of reviewing my food intake again. I know that I can lose weight, and I have done it before, all too many times. I suffer from the fact that I boomerang back up again. Never mind, I need to make another start.

I shall follow Weight Watchers Pro Points Plan again, but I won't go to meetings. Unfortunately Weight Watchers meetings attract mostly women, the classes are aimed at those they attract, so I don't think they are for me. I pay for the online service that WW do, and my iPad has an app for weight watchers, so I shall be my own club.

I like WW because you really can eat anything that you want, as long as you count the points, and I can do that. I need to up my exercise as well, which is good news for Jasper, and I shall write on here, from time to time, and say how I am doing. I'll also put some information of Facebook. I rather like Facebook because it helps me to keep in touch with some of the people from my life before retirement. I think that I will either get a lot of support or a lot of derision from them, probably the former.

But I can say what I like on here, because nobody at all is reading it.

And one final thing. I have an awful sweet tooth, but I plan to deal with it. I read somewhere, last year, that if you give up sugar, or sweetener, for two weeks, you'll never use it again. Well I stopped adding sugar to anything, years ago, but I use too many sweeteners or too much sugar substitute. So I stopped having sugar, or sweetener, in or on anything. Tea certainly tastes different, but I shall try it for the two weeks, and I'll let you know if it works.

So here I am, one day in to he new regime, I really will try. Wish me luck.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Wedding Day


I have no intention of writing much this evening, it is now not far off midnight and I am going to bed. However, I promised t write every day, and so I shall. Chris & Linda's wedding was wonderful. Chadderton Town Hall turned out to be an excellent venue and the service was delightful. This evening we had a wonderful reception in the Banqueting Suite of the Masonic Hall. A lovely evening with good food and brilliant company. Most of the members of the Lodge were there and it went very well indeed. But it is late and we shall leave it there! Good Night, if there is anyone actually reading this, which I doubt, because there are no comments.

Friday, September 21, 2012

In Search of Chadderton

Tomorrow, we are going to the wedding of Chris and Linda, which will be taking place at the Registry Office at Chadderton Town Hall. I think that Chis and Linda have been living together for something like 27 years, so I guess they have had enough time to decide if they can get along together. Never mind, as a committed Christian, and I am, I think that they are doing exactly the right thing and I am only too happy to be supporting them. For some unknown reason, Chris asked me to be his best man, but I'm really not at all sure why. Not that it matters, it is his choice!

So the day started with a rainy morning walk with Jasper. I should say that he enjoyed today's walk more than me. We took two tennis balls and a ball thrower and walked along the path through the woods with me throwing one ball after the other, and Jasper hunting them down. The result of this is that Jasper arrives home looking like a walking mud ball, that leads to a shower under the garden hose which itself leads to me being showered by Jasper shaking. He does enjoy his walks.

Then we went is search of Chadderton. Daft really, because all that you do is to drive down to Ashton, drive up to Oldham and turn leftist. The town Hall is about 200 yards down from the roundabout. Too easy.

In the evening we had a practice meeting for my Mark Lodge. The Mark Degree is a lovely little order, one of the Masonic Orders that we refer to as Side Degrees, I guess because they stand to the side of the three main degrees of Craft Masonry. My Mark Lodge meets in Glossop and comes under the Province of Derbyshire. I really consider myself as belonging to the Masonic Province of East Lancashire, but I love going to my little Mark Lodge. I think that there are about 18 active members of our Lodge, which is getting to be a little on the low side, but we battle on. We could do with a few more members really, but it just isn't happening at the moment. On Monday we will hold our Installation Meeting when our new WM takes the chair. I will take the Junior Warden's chair which means that I will become WM in three years, if God preserves us all.

And soto bed. Chris and Linda's wedding tomorrow. That is really something to look forward to. Sweet Dreams, one and all.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rainy Days and Thursdays

Some days it's easy to think about what to say here, and others it's not. My resolution was to write something every day and so far I have kept up with that, so this is my 20th successive blog, but I might have to amend that promise in October, we'll see. Nothing much to say today. Jasper and I had a gentle walk through our woods, and we kept dry most of the way, with only one brief sharp shower towards he end. Jasper had a very brief chase with Molly the Spaniel, though it is daft to pretend that he considers her a friend. But then I am daft when it comes to my dog.

I'm in the middle of writing my Newsletter at the moment. I produce a Newsletter for the Freemasons in our District, that being Ashton & Mossley. I also keep our District News Page up to date on the Provincial Website. You are welcome to look at it, it isn't a secret, if you want to by clicking here. Just don't expect toreador any secret words, 'cos there aren't any.

So I was supposed to be writing my newsletter, but spent the afternoon playing games, reading and generally wasting time. However, I did finish the first draft of the newsletter in the evening when my wife was out at her Trefoil Guild. So it has gone off by Internet for approval.

And today's title? Well, it has been another very wet, cold and rather unpleasant day, weather wise. Looks rather as if Autumn has set in. Pretty miserable year, this year, so far, in terms of weather, but we aren't done yet.

A demain, faites des beaux reves.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Padding About In Bare Feet


I finally bought an iPad around about the 1st of June. My dear wife and I had agreed some time before that I could buy an iPad when I had lost 2 stone in weight. I'm not just a grumpy old devil, I'm a fat, grumpy old git. However, back to the narrative. Then Pat, who had been thinking about a birthday present for some time, decided that she wanted a new laptop, so we went to our favourite store. The very nice man at John Lewis' Emporium showed us several, and we settled on a nice Tosh that neatly balanced power, processor and gigabytes, though I suspect we bought it just as much because it was a nice colour. (Did I mention fat, grumpy, old, sexist git?). Then my beloved, love of my life, my perfect woman, said, "We'll, I suppose you'd better get that iPad you want, while we're here." Did I tell you how much I love my wife?

I fell in love with my iPad straight away. It's simply the easy way that it does anything you throw at it. The only problem that I have with it is that once outside the house it loses some of it's usefulness, because I chose to buy the WiFi model, but I don't regret the choice. After three months I have set it up with a series of apps that are happy to work offline, so I do all my synching at home, but use the iPad wherever I am. And the quality of the screen. Whatever you hear about the retina display, it's true. I'm sitting here, writing on the screen with one finger, with the iPad balanced on the chair arm, half watching the news and blogging.

I heard about the forthcoming upgrade to iOS 6 several weeks ago, then I heard the date September 19th, but I waited, not really knowing what to expect. I have never been an Apple user. I started with a ZX Spectrum, then I got a BBC B, then an Archimedes. That was probably the best, fastest, most powerful, easiest to use, computer that I have ever, or will ever own. Unfortunately it was not mainstream. The software was difficult to get and expensive, and Acorn just failed to survive, but what a pity. The Acorn Archimedes should have been the computer that dominated the world, not the ever crashing peecee. The last time Microsoft upgraded the OS on my Peecee it cost an arm and a leg to buy the upgrade, so I was astonished to find that the upgrade to iOS 6 was free and delivered wirelessly.

So I spent the day waiting for it to happen. In the end I remembered that Apple are based in California, and Wednesday 19th September would probably start later over there. And then it just happened. Just before tea time a neat little message said that there was an upgrade available, and would I like to install it. I said that would be a nice idea and it asked me, oh so politely, if would like to plug in the electrical power lead, "to save the battery." How very thoughtful! In the end I put it on the shelf by my router because it kept losing the wifi signal sitting in the lounge.

When I upgraded my Peecee from Vista to Windows 7 I ended up doing the upgrade 3 times because it kept losing important bits of code, and that was upgrading from a CD. The iOS 6 upgraded just seems to have worked. So far, I haven't really spotted the difference. I now have something called Siri which, so far, keeps telling me that it doesn't know what I'm asking for, but that's probably because it's struggling with a Northerner. I'll let you know how I get on with that. I also noticed that Apple are clearly breaking their links with Google. The Maps app used to be a version of Google maps, but now it is running a version of Tom Tom, oh well! I also noticed that Yahoo has got a toe in the door somewhere, but we'll see how that develops. And now there is a very pretty clock app.

But it hasn't really changed the way that I use this wonderful gadget! That will do for now. See you tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Policing the people.

In a report on the BBC this evening, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police was reported to be an adherent of the belief that policing only really works because the police are ordinary people. We are the Police and the Police are us.

Hopefully we will never have an armed Police Force in Britain. The cost of that is that today two young, unarmed, women were brutally murdered by some thuggish animal who ought to be put down like a mad dog. I suppose that the wonder of it is that individuals are still willing to join the police force and work for the good of the community on that basis.

In 1829 Sir Robert Peel, the father of modern policing, said "The police seek and preserve public favor, not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to the law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws; by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of society without regard to their race or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humor; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life." Nobody ever gets everything right, and the Police Service have got several of these points wrong over the years, but that last sentence strikes a cord tonight.

Fiona Bone & Nicola Hughes.

May you rest in peace and rise in glory.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Ebacc Gumm

I guess that today's news, especially for an ex teacher, like me, was the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, announcing that the GCSES was dead, but not yet buried. It will be replaced in 2015, by an exam to be called the English Baccalaureate. Interestingly, this English Baccalaureate will have pretty much nothing in common with anybody else's Baccalaureate.

At the moment they don't even know what they will call it. It might be the eBacc, or the EBacc, or even the EBC. On this point I found the following quite fun, so I have stolen it off the BBC News website. This is not plagiarism, because I'm not pretending that it's mine.

"It could be the Ebacc for short, or even English Bac. One might try E Bac, or E-Bac if hyphenation is your thing. Those on Twitter have been exploring the possibilities since the Education Secretary Michael Gove announced the changes. The EBacc - "has a faint air of Yorkshire about it," says one Twitter user. Another of the Twitterati said it "Sounds like a hospital-acquired infection," while another asks: "How do you pronounce EBacc, is it like Ewok? If so I like them a bit more." In the same vein, one comment said "Glad I don't have to do this Ebacc thing, reminds me of chewbacca!"

This is me again, not the BBC, just so you know. I grew up with the GCE. Not long before I was at school they had something called the School Certificate. I don't know anything about it,so I will not explain what it was, because I don't know.

I liked the GCE when I was doing it. Mr Secretary Gove seems to think that the GCE was more rigorous and more honest than the GCSE, which just goes to show how little he knows about anything. Every year that I taught GCE History I could tell you what questions were coming up, and I was right at least 90% of the time. I could tell the girls whatnot revise, and they never needed to revise everything that we had done. That was never true with the GCSE where I was never able to predict what was coming up

Mind you, Mr Secretary Gove doesn't agree and he must know everything.

Where the GCE was bad was when it came to pupils who found it difficult to write descriptive, or discursive, essays. But that was only ever 60% of the students. Of course we had the CSE, but why should the kids be treated like second class students at the age of 14. No, the GCSE was a lot fairer for most pupils, and I think it was a fair exam. What was wrong was not the exam, it was the politicians mucking around with the grade boundaries. Sorry, politicians would never do that would they? Of course not, it was OFQUAL who fiddled the grade boundaries. But who told OFQUAL what to do.


The worst thing that happened to schools was that education became a political football. If only we could have kept it to ourselves and let the politicians screw up everything else. They're very good at that!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Night on the Telly

Short post on here this evening, I've been astonishingly lazy today. Church this morning, back home for a late lunch, take Jasper for his ordinary walk, back home and spent the rest of the afternoon playing a silly game, "Bastion" on the pad sitting in the Conservatory and then an evening watching the telly.

I really enjoyed a programme called, "Fake or Fortune" which is fronted by a reporter / presenter called Fiona Bruce. It looks at pieces of art whose provenance is questionable. They then try to prove, using the latest forensic techniques, whether the painting in question is a real work of art, or a fake. Tonight, they were looking at a small painting called "The Blue Dancer" which, it was claimed, was by Edgar Degas.

A fascinating programme proved, step by step, that the painting was quite genuine. They followed the line of provenance, step by step, from Degas original sale, through to the German family that owned it until 1945 and finally on to the English family who own it today. The programme ended with the receipt of the letter from the French company who publish the definitive list of Degas' work. It was their acceptance that this was a legitimate Degas that made all the difference.


And then, at nine o'clock, the return off "Downton Abbey". Back for it's third series it has now entered the 1920's. This time we have the added bonus of Shirley MacLaine in the production. I have loved her ever since Sweet Charity.

Oh, I know it isn't high art, and the cognoscenti will turn up their noses and pop down to the Royal Opera House for a spot of "Don Juan" sung entirely in Spanish. But opera bores me to death. I find I'm just not interested in listening to it, not at all. But I do like a good costume drama, and like 9 million other Brits, I love Downton Abbey. I bet the Royal Opera House would say thank you very much for those numbers.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Whispers Underground



I bet you can't tell that I stole the book cover picture off the Amazon site, can you?

Thank to my wonderful Kindle I always have several books to read, these days, but that doesn't stop me looking around for something new to read. Not that long ago these urges would have forced me to go to Stockport where there used to be a Borders Bookstore. I truly loved that place, it was light and airy and you could browse your books over a cup of coffee. I was immensely sad when it closed, but I guess it was the growing strength of Amazon that killed it. These days I can sit in my favourite armchair, with my cup of tea to hand, and browse the utterly immense Amazon Bookstore on my iPad. Bliss.

Just before we travelled to Gagny towards the end of June I happened upon a book called "The Rivers of London" by Ben Aaronovitch. I have a feeling that this particular book is called "Midnight Riot" in the States, but never mind. I found myself captivated by a comment that I read that said something like, "Imagine what would happen if Harry Potter grew up and became a policeman." That was enough to get me to buy the book, but it is a hopelessly inaccurate description of what is a brilliant book.

I read that book in three days, which is unbelievable for me in these days, and especially when I was on holiday. I don't think I have read any of Ben Aaronovitch's stuff before, but he writes scripts for Doctor Who among other things. The book is about Peter Grant, a black police constable in London, who discovers that he has magical talents. However, don't expect wands and spells, as he is still learning and after three books, he still isn't that good, but he is getting better. In the first book we meet a very unusual murderer and the daughter's of the River Thames. But you need to read this book.

Today I finished the third book, "Whispers Underground" which has quite a lot to do with the Tube and the Sewers. No, I didn't lose interest, i've been reading other books as well. These books are, to my mind, exceedingly well written. They are easy to read, pull you along with the story and they are ever so witty. The one liners keep coming and leave you chuckling away as you read.

If this sounds as if you might like it, but you don't like the idea of Harry Potter for adults, don't worry. The stories are more about policing than magic, but the characters really are magic enough to keep you enthralled. If you don't find yourself, like me, desperate for the next visit to the "Folly" I will be very surprised.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge

I found this picture on Google Images and thought I'd use it because it shows Kate wearing a mac. Yes, it's really Saturday morning and I'm feeling inclined to be grumpy again. So let me start by putting my cards firmly on the table. I am utterly opposed to some grimy little filthy toe rag of a "photographer" making a hell of a lot of money by invading William & Kate's privacy in order to make a great deal of money by selling them to one of Berlusconi's rags. Yes, I am undoubtedly a monarchist. Even in the 21st century I think that it is an excellent system of government. And finally, no I am not a fan of the late, and to me unlamented, Diana, Princess of Wales.

Firstly, I believe that we are all entitled to privacy. If we want to frolic naked in our own home, or garden, behind our own walls, or in a place that we have gone on holiday, such as a hotel room, or a villa that belongs to a family member, or even one we have rented, then it is nobody else's business. It was a gross violation of that freedom of privacy for some little toe rag to take photographs of Prince Harry in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. It is also an invasion of the freedom of privacy for this current "paparazzi" to take photographs of Kate while staying at a private villa in Provence. So the editor of the "magazine" claims that she was in full view of a public road. Only if you consider that "full view" means climbing a tree and using a camera lens big enough to take close up photographs from more than a mile away. This is truly grotesque!

So is it right for someone to go around with their normal camera, taking photographs of any ordinary person over their garden fence, or even through their windows.

The editor of the French rag that published the pictures seemed to think it was perfectly okay. My personal feeling is that the editor of the rag should be held personally responsible, and personally liable. As to the photographer, I'd be tempted to string him up! But I would certainly strip him/her naked and publish pictures, and still take all of their ill gotten gains away.

As to that declaration that I'm a monarchist, well I have always seen the best justification for a constitutional monarchy in a very few words. I'd much rather see even Charles on the throne than have to live under a President Thatcher or President Blair. God preserve us from that.


Thursday, September 13, 2012


Today I had to go to hospital to have a chat with one of the Urology Consultants. I first had a PSA blood test done about seven years ago and was told, at the time, that the result of something like 10.5 was high. But at that time, trying to get to grips with what PSA test result numbers mean seems to be like knitting fog. I asked the consultant at the time what the 10.5 related to, what was the maximum and the minimum, but I was told that they really had no idea.

I've heard of cases where somebody with a PSA of 5 has had Prostate Cancer, and I know of somebody who had a PSA over 30 and didn't. But I guess I'm like most people, the very talk of Cancer scares me witless.

I had two TRUS biopsies seven years ago and was told then that I needed two because one biopsy was 98% accurate, but two were 99%. So I had two at the time, and both proved negative, which is good news. By the way, I'm not going to write about the biopsies, but they really are quite unpleasant.

Since then I've had PSA tests every six months and the results have continued to go up, little by little. There have been ups and downs, but on the whole more up than downs. Sprinkled in between have been a number of "digital" exams, and in this case digital has nothing to do with computers or sound recording. By last April the number had gone up to 13 and my Doctor decided it was time to see the specialists again. So I had yet another TRUS biopsy in May and another worrying wait for the results, which again turned out to be negative. But this time they didn't discharge me back to the Doctor. This time it was "Wait for four months and then come back for a chat." Today was the chat!

Now I've got to have an MRI scan at some point in the near future. I asked the Consultant why, and basically it is because they want to try to find out why my PSA results are still too high. Another PSA test last week came out at 12, which is down, but not far enough down. Then there was talk of a new procedure called a template biopsy, though I'm far from clear what that is, but anyway that would depend on the results of the MRI, so it may never happen. The thing is, I seems that I am too young at 61 to be left alone with mY PSA results, I guess it's nice to be too young again,at least for something.

I know, I know, it's better to know if there is something wrong, so it can be treated. And anyway, having a test done does not mean that the test will find anything. No test can find something if there is nothing to find. But I'm a man for heaven's sake, and I'd really rather not have to have the test done.

And there you are. I'm very sorry to have bored you with this, but I guess I needed to talk it through for myself, and since I'm convinced that nobody reads this blog, it's like talking to myself. I'll see you tomorrow, assuming that we are spared! God bless.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Playing Catch Up

Okay, I really did miss yesterday, Wednesday 12th though this post says it was done then. Yesterday was a busy day and I was out all through the afternoon and evening. I didn't actually end up getting home until 9.30, with a box full of pizza. By the time I'd eaten that, had a drink and watched a programme about multi faith funerals, I was good for nothing but bed. Mind you, the Pizza turned out to be a mistake because I suffered for it. Indigestion at 2am is no joke. Yes, I had some good antacid tablets in the bedside cabinet, and they took the heat out of the indigestion straight away, they still leave you feeling a bit odd at 2am. I didn't get back to sleep till 4, but at least I am no longer required to get up as early as I once was. So I go some decent sleep before the night was over.

The big news yesterday was about the results of the Bishop of Liverpool and his team's report on the Hillsborough disaster. I still remember, in great detail, what I knew of the events of that day. I was at home on my own, my wife having gone to see her Dad in Liverpool. It was one of those days, rather like 9/11 when news trickles in over an extended period of time. At the time I was appalled at the dreadful loss of life, and the conditions in which the 96 died. Hearing, In yesterday's report, that half of those who died were still capable of being saved some time after the initial report said they were dead makes those events even worse.

To discover now that the reports of the police colluding to hide the truth, and engineering a situation that attempted to make them seem good, makes things all the worse. And I know that there are still people out there who still lay the blame on Liverpool fans, despite yesterday's report, makes me wonder about the nature of some people's way of thinking.

I was happy to see that the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire believes that it is necessary, now, to proceed to the prosecution of some of those involved. That is the right thing to do. I should also say that I really agree with those who have said that the Sun Newspaper's apology for it's story, all those years ago, about all of the blame falling on the shoulders of the Liverpool fans, really is too little, too late.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Bad Day

It's only a bad day in the sense that I just cannot think of anything to write about today. It's too obvious in a sense to write about September 11th, which has already become an iconic date. Yes, I do remember where I was when I heard about the events of that day. I had come out of work early because of a dental emergency, and I was sitting in the Dentist's chair, with the radio on when the news began to break. I went home, turned the TV on and watched those pictures coming in, of the planes hitting the towers. Of the towers falling. Sometimes, there are no words ........

But today was a bit of a nothing day. I walked Jasper in the rain and we got wet. I came home, had lunch and did some work on a Newsletter I produce.

So, in order to raise the tone a little, here's a nice picture.

The picture is taken from the Guardian's wonderful Eyewitness series. This picture shows Beth Tweddell, the Olympic Bronze Medal gymnast, who has now "retired". Since she no longer needs to worry so much about injuring herself in the gym, she decided to do something for fun. Me, I would have gone for a walk in the country.

Ah well.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Blackpool Bubbles and London Volunteers

I've just been watching a programme on the Babble Box concerning the work of the Emergency Services in Blackpool. The whole programme seems to have been concerned with the effects of drug taking on the population of Blackpool. This was definitely not about gangs of young people going to Blackpool at the weekend to get bladdered, it was about the residents and their drug habits.

One young bloke admitted to taking 80 Vallium in one session. Having destroyed his flat and threatened his landlord he was arrested. Locked in a cell he urinated on the floor, despite there being a toilet in the cell. Heathen trampled his blanked into the urine. In the morning, wrapped in the blanket, he couldn't account for what he'd done, couldn't even remember it.

They also referred to a new drug that is increasingly popular in Blackpool, called Bubble. ( Apparently the same substance is called Meeow Meeow in Cumbria (I'm surprised it's not called Baa Baa )) this substance is actually Baby Bio, a plant food, that you can buy in a Garden Centre. It makes me wonder who first tried drinking plant food and decided you could get high on it.

What sort of society are we living in when the Police are spending so much of their time dealing with idiotic young people who are off their heads on a range of substances from Vallium to Baby Bio.

It leaves me feeling increasingly concerned about my safety in a world such as this. I can certainly foresee a time when I won't be able to leave my house after dark. That is a truly scarey prospect.

Then, on the other hand we have spent the afternoon watching pictures from the celebrations in London. All the pictures of young volunteers who have enjoyed a month as Games Makers for the Olympics & Paralympics. I know which of these two groups of young people I would rather see inheriting the earth. Mind you, I cannot really see anyone who thinks of Baby Bio as a fun substance to drink living long enough to inherit anything.

Sleep well!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Olympic Summer

As I think I've said before, I guess that I fit well into the class of people who have come to be called "Grumpy Old Men". Especially first thing in the morning I can be a real pleasure to know. On top of that, I'm a confirmed Northerner. I'm not sure that word really means anything unless you are a Brit, though I rather suspect that most countries use a similar sobriquet to identify the fact that most countries have a region that sees itself as being ignored by those who live in the more prosperous, governing region. For me that has always meant that I have something of a disregard for London, the Home Counties and the South in general. Nor am I alone in this feeling.

So it's not surprising that at the start of the year I was not looking forward to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. I guess I saw them as being "London's Games". I guess that there was more than a little pique at the feeling, widely held around the Manchester Area that we were blocked from bidding for the Olympics following our very successful Commonwealth Games. There was no support at all from the Government for a Manchester bid.

I cannot be certain how or why that attitude changed. It started, without doubt, during the Olympic Torch Relay that wound its way round and round the whole country. I didn't even go to see the relay, though it came very close to where I'm sitting now. However, watching the crowds who came out to support the relay, I found my attitude changing.

But it was the Games themselves, the effort put into everything by both ablebodied and disabled athletes that has really changed my attitude. The unbelievable success by both teams touches me on my pride button. I could never have done what any of these athletes have done. The number of times that I have found myself with tears in my eyes watching Mo Farrar win the 5000 metres, or Sarah Storey winning her 4th Gold Medal. I could list moment after moment like that. It's not pride for me, it's pride for my country. It sort of makes me think about Britain.

I know we used to have an empire, but that is long, long gone. Geographically we are a small and rather insignificant group of islands off the north west corner of Europe. In land area, and population, we shrink into insignificance compared to Germany & France, never mind the giant countries like China, the USA, India &c, &c. But look at the medal tables for both sets of games and you realise that Britain, as a country, is still punching well above our weight.

Little things have made a significant difference for me. I think that the Post Office painting a postbox gold in the home town of every gold medal winner was inspired and has played its part in tying the country together. Admittedly, there is no gold postbox in Glossopdale, but you cannot have everything. I just want to finish tonight by quoting Sir Stephen Hawking who said, at the opening of the Paralympics, "Look at the stars and not at your feet."

Good night and God Bless!


Saturday Night & Sunday Morning

I'll start with an acknowledgement. Despite the fact that the date at the head of this blog post says Saturday, it is, in fact, Sunday. This is actually the first occasion when I have missed the new concept of the daily post. Mind you, since I have no evidence to suggest that anyone at all is reading these posts, what the eye don't see the heart won't grieve about. I must admit that the imbibing of a bottle of Mr Magners' finest Irish Pear Cider did not help in the purpose of keeping up to date with the daily blog. Mind you, it did taste awfully good!

Another interesting fact is that I am sitting in Church writing my blog. My dear wife has just expressed surprise that I am sitting in the Church pew with my iPad on my knee. However, since we got to Church an hour before the service begins, I thought that I might as well do something with the time. However, if the blog stops abruptly, and never restart, you can take it as a sign that almighty God objected in a far more permanent way. Okay so far. However, since I have a firm belief that my God is a loving and forgiving God, I think that I will be okay.

All of this has become possible thanks to the purchase of the iPad. My dear wife repeatedly tells me that I now live with it attached,as with glue, to my right hand. The iPad on its own, though, is not sufficient. I only bought the WiFi version, because the 4G model, it appears, does not work in the UK. Mind you, I'm perfectly happy with the WiFi, though it does mean that I cannot write the Blog online, sitting here in Church.

That's where Blogsy comes in. No matter whether you have ever been tempted by an iAnything, or not, you will have heard the phrase "There's an App for it." Blogsy is the App for writing my Blog. It isn't the only App for writing Blogs, but it's the one that I have found, and I am very happy with it. Tell you what, I think it is a lot better for writing my Blog than Google's Blogger. The only thing it doesn't do is to think up the content, and that is the hardest part.

Only one thing left to try is to take a photo with the built in camera, and add it to the Blog. Well, I got it, but I couldn't get it below the last sentence.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Heritage Open Day

Today was one of three Heritage Open Days here in the UK. Basically this is a weekend when all sorts of Heritage buildings that might not normally be open to the public, are. Once upon a time, Churches were always open, but that was in the days when people who steal things to sell for money did not steal from churches. These days they do and, as a result, churches like ours are locked up. Isn't that a great shame.

Our Church is open for three days, and people from the congregation take it in turns to be stewards. It was my turn today, from 12 noon till 1 pm. We had music and heritage films playing, but there were only two visitors during the hour. I made them a cup of coffee and had a chat with them. Two nice blokes.

Then I went home.

But I actually enjoyed my hour no end. So here is a picture of Sir Reginald Bretland. He lives in his cold stone form in the choir vestry that was once a chapel. He reclines in his stone coat on a stone pillow that looks anything but comfortable. I can't tell you much because his epigram is in Latin, but I'm sure he was a nice bloke.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

A visit to the Dentist

I went to the dentist for my six month checkup on Monday. I don't need to go to the Dentist to know that my teeth are a mess. I sometimes look at people on the TV and am awe struck by the quality of their teeth. My teeth are probably the product of growing up in the 1950's, but I'm stuck with what is left of them. The left half of my top set of teeth have already gone and been replaced by plastic teeth that are, to be honest, perfectly horrible. However, the NHS, which is an admirable service on the whole, is rubbish when it comes to teeth. If your hip fails you, the NHS will give you a new hip at enormous expense, but if your teeth fail you .... My Dentist suggested that I consider implants, at £2,000.00 per tooth! For the love of God, I'm a retired teacher, not Richard Branson.

Anyway, I went to the Dentist on Monday to discover that my Dentist is on maternity leave. So,for the time being, she has been replaced by a Locum. No problem with that at all. He checked my teeth, suggested a course of action that my real Dentist had told me was untenable. Suggested that I might like to have my entire set of bottom teeth pulled out and replaced with plastic teeth (I told him that I would consider his suggestion. I didn't tell him that I would consider it for a very long time.)

Then I was told that I would need two appointments to make all the corrections that need to be made. So I made an appointment for today. I arrived ten minutes early, but I had my iPad with me, so I could read my book on Kindle. I was happy. The Lady sitting next to me was much less sanguine, bouncing up and down in her chair. Anyway, we eased past my appointment time and on for another twenty minutes with no sign of movement from the Dentist's consulting room door. It opened twenty minutes after my appointment time to let the patient out. But it wasn't my turn! It was indeed the turn of the bouncing lady sitting next to me. Ah well, another chapter, soon be my turn.

By now we were entering the lunch hour and the waiting room emptied bit by bit. After another twenty minutes had passed, so we are now 40 minutes after my appointment time, there were only three people left in the waiting room. The receptionist addressed one of the ladies who was waiting with me, and said, "Would you like me to see how long he is likely to be?" Interesting, she had to be speaking about my Dentist, because all the Dentists in my practice are female, except the Locum. "No," said the Lady who had been addressed, "I've already waited over an hour, it can't be much longer."

So I asked the receptionist how much over schedule the dentist was running. The receptionist pointed out that there were two patients in front of me, each with twenty minute appointments, and we were already 40 minutes past my appointment time. The patient in the surgery had not yet emerged and she had already been in the surgery for more than twenty minutes of a twenty minute appointment. So it could easily be ....... At that point I suggested that I might let them off my appointment and I would come back for my second appointment next Monday. But you have to be careful, you cannot walk out or they consider that you have missed an appointment, and if you miss appointments you can be removed from the Dentist's list. It isn't easy getting onto an NHS Dentist's list these days! The receptionist thought this was a good idea. She was very sorry, but he had needed to attend to an emergency this morning. (Hmmmmmmm).

The irony is that the walls of the waiting room feature several notices pointing out how many hours of Dentist's time has been wasted in the last month by patients who don't keep their appointments. But not one single notice about the about the patient hours lost by waiting for the dentist!

I am a grumpy old sod, aren't I.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Jasper the Spaniel makes a new friend.

Today was a busy day, but Jasper and I went a walk along the Longdendale Trail. Jasper met a new friend who was every bit as daft as Jasper. They ran around each other, up and down and all over for about an hour. Here is a photograph of Jasper's new friend. He is called Hector and he is an Italian Spinone.

Handsome bugger, isn't he. You can see why Jasper is so taken with him, same taste in mud packs, eh?

Here is a pretty picture of Jasper walking along the path. Notice the dappled sunlight. A truly gorgeous pastoral scene. Mind you, it's probably a good job that I didn't take a photograph a few moments later when Hector the Italian Spinone burst out of the undergrowth on the right and Jasper chased him into the mud filled culvert to the top right of the picture. Within 30 seconds of taking this picture the pair of them looked like mobile mud hounds.

The joys of walking in the countryside. A demain!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sailing down the ...... Canal

I went for a trip on a canal boat today, and enjoyed every minute of it. The boat is called "Community Spirit" and is owned by the East Manchester Community Boat Project". The Boat Project was founded in 1994 and provides days out on the canal network for groups from the Greater Manchester Area. They make no charge for these days out, though they are always grateful to receive donations. The canal boat “Community Spirit” can take up to ten passengers, as well as being equipped to take two wheelchair users. The boat is centrally heated and has a small galley and a toilet with baby changing facilities.

If you haven't worked it out, most of the above was blurb that the Boat Project put out. I ended up going because one of my voluntary jobs is as the Communications Officer for my District, and we are going to provide some financial support for the project. It is a lovely, modern boat, very comfortable and easy to move around in.

We went for a trip from Ashton under Lyne to Hyde. Travelling by road that journey would take about twenty minutes along some pretty cruddy urban roads. On the canal, the journey took an hour each way, and was through lush green countryside, quite the contrast.

It was great, and I enjoyed it enormously. They provided cups of tea and coffee. They even let me steer the boat for a little while, and that was truly scary as the boat is steered with a tiller. That means that in order to change direction you have to push the tiller in the direction opposite to what you expect. You also have to remember to then reverse the direction to straighten it up. Quite, quite counter intuitive, and very scarey when there are ten other people on the boat. So I gave the tiller back to one of the crew as soon as I could.

A superb day, all in all. The weather was nice, started grey and drizzled, but got better and better as the day went on. Nice.

I'll talk to you tomorrow.


Monday, September 3, 2012

The Ragpicker Dreams

Day three of trying to stick to my new Year's Resolution of writing in the Blog every day. It's already getting harder. However, Danielle reminded me that you don't have to write a lot, so let us stick with it.

Today I started with an interesting piece of news, had my breakfast, went to the Dentist. Unfortunately, my dentist has gone on Maternity leave, so there was a locum standing in. At first I thought he might have been Polish, but when I considered his name a little later I decided he might be from Latvia or Lithuania, just because of the oddness of his name. (Only odd to me I must add). Never mind, he is certainly very capable of looking after me and my teeth for the next six months, though I think that I will wait to have any serious treatment till my own Dentist returns. Not that I don't trust the new bloke, but I prefer the dentist I know to the one I don't.

I've put a fresh quilt cover and sheets on the bed, re-potted a couple of plants that were beginning to gasp for water, and that's about it. Oh, of course Jasper and I had our constitutional walk, but nothing exceptional I'm afraid. I promised that I would try to write in the blog every day, I didn't promise that I would be interesting.

However, let's just go back to that interesting piece of news. I usually look at Amazon in the morning. I love reading books and the Kindle has opened up a new world of reading pleasure for me, so I check out the 99p book of the day each morning. Today, as usual, it didn't really interest me. But while I was on Amazon I saw that Mark Knopfler had released a new album in the last couple of days. I started listening to Mark Knopfler a number of years ago now. We had gone round to some friend's house for Dinner, We'll call them Anne and Dave, mainly because that is what their names were. (Unfortunately we have drifted out of touch.) During the course of the evening they put on some quiet background music and I found I was hooked by one track. I was already a devotee of Clannad by then and one of my all time favourite tracks is "Harry's Game" from the Television Series that I never watched. But the gentle lilting refrain of that song stays with me. The song I found I was listening to that night at Anne & Dave's was very similar. It was Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits. (Anne also played some Tracy Chapman that evening and I found I was hooked on her as well.)

The next day I went out to buy Brothers in Arms. It was back in the days when buying an Album meant buying a vinyl record. I have to admit that a lot of the songs on that album were not my cup of tea, but it was worth shelling out for the whole LP just to get the one track. Brothers in Arms is, and remains, at the very top of the pieces of music that I can listen to again, and again.

I think that Brothers in Arms was the last Album that Dire Straits put out, but I started at that point buying every Album that Mark Knopfler has published. Again, I don't always enjoy every song on each of his albums, but there is always something that holds my attention. There was Golden Heart and, especially, Sailing to Philadelphia both of which have places in my all time personal top 20 of songs that I love.


So I shall certainly be buying this new album, which is called "Privateering". It may not be for a week or two, and I just might leave it on my WishList for Christmas, but I will get it, and I will enjoy every minute I listen to it.

Faites des beaux reves!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Raggedy Man

Sundays are always a bit different, because going to Church takes up such a chunk of the day that other things move around to fit in. On top of that, I slept really well, not waking up till half past eight. So Jasper the Spaniel got his breakfast, but no walk. That's normal and he can survive that once a week. Church itself was good, and very enjoyable. I have been going to Church all my life and I enjoy the singing, the companionship, the fellowship, but I go to Church because I have that curious thing, faith. Anyway, now is not the time to talk about either my church, or my faith, for now. So you don't need to run away.

I'm a fan of Science Fiction, I have been reading it since I was about 12. Early on my favourite writer was Robert Heinlein, and I think that I have read all of his books. Don't want to talk about favoured writers or favourite stories today, though I will admit that these days I read more fantasy that sf. However, I thought I'd just ruminate for a paragraph about the return of the Doctor. It was hown on the BBC last night, but because we were out at Stuart & Anita's Wedding Reception last night, I had to record it on my Sky+ box. I must talk about Sky and Sky+ some other time.

I started watching the Doctor in the mid 1960's, when it began and the Doctor was played by William Hartnell. I think I have seen just about every episode over the years. There is something else I can talk about another time. However, I have to say that when Matt Smith was announced as the new Doctor, to replace David Tennant, I was disappointed, I just couldn't see him in the role, he just was not the Doctor. How wrong I was. I think he has been excellent, and I have been ever so impressed by the story lines under Stephen Moffatt. I think I am in love with Amy Pond, and I do not look forward to her leaving the show, but we all learn that all good things do, eventually, come to an end.

I won't critique last night's episode, "The Dalek Asylum", I can leave that to so many others. However, I was very impressed by the character of Oswin in the story. I thought, this girl is good, I wond who she is. At he end of the show I checked out the cast list, Oswin was played by Jenna Louise Coleman. Hang on, isn't she the new companion, who is destined to replace Amy Pond this series? So I looked her up on he ubiquitous net. She is!

I read the review on Huffington Post, both the .com and the versions. Both feature excellent reviews by different people. If you want to know what the Huff thinks about he new series of Doctor Who, they both tell you very well. I just think that Doctor Who is in good hand and I rather think it will continue to thrive. I must say that i am happy to see that the new episode has raised more questions than answers.

Bring it on!


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Long time, No see.

I spend far too much time writing apologies on this blog, and it's all my fault. I seem to have this habit of getting stuck into the blog and writing something, religiously, every day, and then running out of puff and letting it slip for months. Okay, in his poem "A Psalm Of Life" that rather forgotten poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, uses the phrase, "let the dead past bury it's dead" and I think that is a good starting point. So a new start today, a new year's resolution, (yes, but it is the new year starting on September 1st), I intend to write something, however small, every day. Let's just see how long it lasts.

I was unimpressed by the following item on his morning's news. "The German manufacturer of the drug thalidomide that caused thousands of babies to suffer congenital birth defects has issued its first ever apology - 50 years after the drug was withdrawn. Gruenenthal Group's chief executive said the company was "very sorry"".

I get quite hot under the collar about apologising for things that happened a long time in the past. The Pope apologising for the actions of the Inquisition in the 16th century seems bizarre to me. We cannot apologise for the actions of our forbears several hundreds of years ago. We did not commit the attrocities involved. But somehow, leaving it 50 years to apologise for Thalidomide is perverse. They knew what they had done quite immediately, but they ignored it, presumably so that they could try to avoid responsibility.

No, I regret to say that I am far from impressed by the actions of Gruenenthal.