Transport History

29 January 2021

I have already mentioned in an earlier post the black 1937 Ford Eight that my dear Dad had. But that, in time, had to be changed and Dad got a green Ford Popular. It wasn’t new, but it was fine for us. Then a policeman that we knew saw it and asked Dad about it, as this same policeman had just got a brand new car and the registration number of his new car wasn’t too far different from Dad’s Ford Popular. It seems Dad’s had been re-registered, for some reason! Anyway, we kept that but then a while later Dad saw a Ford Anglia, it was a really lovely turquoise blue with a bright white roof. This made it a deluxe model and it was a special, as it‘d had a bigger engine put in (technically, it was a 1340cc Consul Classic engine with a 3-bearing crankshaft) along with anti-roll bars on the back. Sadly the original owner’s son, who had wanted to use this special car for racing, was killed in an accident so the owner sold the car. Up to now my Dad had been used to a car with only three forward gears and this one had four, so getting it into reverse took some working out but we managed it! This car went well, but a while later the 1340cc engine needed replacing, so an exchange engine was organised. Ford did exchange engines, so Dad asked to have the Anglia Super, 1200cc engine fitted. But Ford only did exchange engine upgrades, so Dad had to have a 1500cc Cortina engine (which had a 5-bearing crankshaft) fitted! This made it very much a GT version. But after a while my Mum’s back was starting to become a bit painful due to a bad war injury, so Dad sold the Ford Anglia and got a green Austin 1100. Whilst we were on holiday down in North Devon, this 1100 needed a bit of repair so to help the garage owner, I and my Dad sold petrol etc there at the garage whilst the garage owner fixed the car!

Then a few years later Dad retired from teaching and bought a brand new car, an Austin 1300. It was a really bright yellow colour and when we took ourselves down for a holiday in North Devon, we called in for petrol and the same garage owner took one look and burst out laughing, saying “Who spilt the mustard pot, then?”. We all had a laugh at that. Years passed and I got through my driving test. I was now allowed to drive Dad’s car, I would take Mum out sometimes to her Mother’s Union meetings. Only once did Dad let me drive his car with him in it, after a box of matches exploded in his hand and burnt his fingers just as we were going to an important event. But Dad wasn’t a good passenger in his own car, nor was he too keen on my style of driving, but it was the way I’d been taught. So as I slowed the car down, gently bringing the car to a stop, Dad said “Are you going to stop, or not???”

After a while I was able to get my own car. It was a Ford Anglia, in not too bad a state but the nearside front wing sadly needed a bit of repair, so with a bit of help from a neighbour we patched it up with some chicken wire and filler until I could afford a new wing. I’m not so sure if we could get away with that now! The new wing was fitted as soon as possible and a while afterwards I drove down to London to visit friends of our family. But it was upsetting when, whilst changing lanes around Hyde Park Corner, a car in another lane tried to push me out of the way. Our cars even collided, but it was only a minor scrape, so why did it have to be the new wing that been scraped! The other car didn’t stop. When I then arrived at our friends house, he simply shrugged his shoulders, it was common down there. He then showed me how to remove the scrape and polish it out. Not a single mark showed! 

My next car was a decent-looking Austin 1100, but one day my eldest brother was visiting, he looked at it and showed me how badly rusted the rear sub-frame was. It seemed that it had not been a good buy, so I said just that to it – goodbye! Then a local car dealer saw me looking round and tried to sell me a particular car, but I’d spotted one which was right at the back of all the rows of cars they had for sale. It took some work to get at it, but I then drove it, I had a friend who worked in a garage check it over and I agreed to buy this car, a blue Ford Capri 1600. I liked that car, it was lovely. However, as I have mentioned briefly in another post, a while later I had an accident in that and sadly it was not at all possible to repair it. I’d had a busy week away working, I was tired, I was less than two miles from my flat and I made a mistake. These things happen.

I needed another car, so I went back to the same garage I’d bought the Capri. I saw the same salesman who was really, genuinely delighted to see me. Others had seen my old damaged Capri and remembered me, so they had told the salesman! He was glad to know that I was all right. I bought a maroon Ford Escort from them and it served me well for a few years, taking me to Leek up in Staffordshire one February, where it sat for a week, not being touched, almost covered in snow whilst I worked at a BT mobile exhibition! We didn’t do much trade that week. Then I returned to the car, scraped the ice and snow off the windows and was really delighted when it started on the first turn of the key. My next purchase was a bright yellow Ford Fiesta, same garage, same salesman, same excellent trade-in and everyone was happy. 

By now a bit of promotion came my way, so I bought a bungalow. Shortly after moving in to the property, I was told that my promotion was not to be confirmed and I was demoted. It wasn’t my fault, I was doing an excellent job, it was for ‘operational reasons’. So I had to sell the car as I wanted to keep that bungalow. Then a friend of ours, a local vicar, suggested I buy a small motor bike, a Yamaha T80. It was only 80ccc, but my dear mother was not at all happy about me riding a motor bike! A good friend who was a very skilled bike rider and had his own Kawasaki 650 taught me excellent road craft skills. But I am sure you can imagine my mother’s delight when, a couple of years later, one of my brothers told me about a car he’d seen that I could afford! It was a black Austin Mini 850, it was a good car and I did a great many happy miles in that, especially as promotion moved me over to Leicester. But I literally wore that car out, so when I saw an advert from a Fiat dealer I went over to see what they had and after bit of discussion I drove away with a bright red Fiat Panda. This was a brand new car, I think the dealer had to sell a certain number of Fiat cars by a certain date! That car I really did wear out, I did over 100,000 miles in it!

 So I had to sell the Fiat and change to a different vehicle. I had rather liked Land Rover, so I bought a blue Series 3. I had it checked over before purchasing it, but the problems weren’t obvious as they were with the engine. That took a bit of fixing, including taking the garage owner to court, but it was all sorted out. Then, a few years later, when my eldest brother was closing his business, I bought his green Land Rover 90. My old Series 3 went abroad, I think to work on a farm in Spain! I kept the 90 for a while, then managed to get a blue Land Rover Discovery. Now that was not like any other Land Rover, it was really comfortable, with a heater that worked, I was absolutely delighted with that. 

 But sadly after a number of years my health deteriorated and I could not risk causing harm to anyone else or myself through my driving. So that had to stop. I surrendered my licence for medical reasons. Thus ended my driving career, forty-seven years after passing my driving test. However, I now qualified for a bus pass, this meant that I got free local bus travel as well as free train travel within a certain area! But at the moment, Covid and my health has put a stop to travelling. In a while things will improve, I have no doubt of that.

To finish this week, a bit of history.

On the arrival in Crete of Theseus, King Minos’ daughter Ariadne fell in love with him and, on the advice of Daedalus, gave him a ball of thread (known as a clew), so he could find his way out of the Labyrinth. I am sure we can imagine Ariadne’s parting words…
“Don’t worry, Theseus, it’s only a Labyrinth – what can possibly go wrong!”

Don’t worry, Theseus…

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One Day At A Time

22 January 2021

As I wrote the words for the above title, I was reminded of a lovely hymn I used to sing in the various choirs I have had the privilege of being in. I have said before that my asthma wasn’t spotted any earlier than it was, because I was singing so much and exercising my lungs. So it was a good while after I stopped singing, due to work and other things, that I had a major asthma attack. I was also living to work, rather than working to live. It is so easily done. A big surprise was the epilepsy, but that, thankfully, was kept under good control for many years with the necessary medication. Then came the heart attack, when I was just fifty-seven. No warning, it simply happened! After a while the tablets to control my epilepsy had to be changed, but the new ones work well. But in all of these events, all these changes, I was still spending much time around a mix of people. 

There have been quite a few changes in my life over the years and I have tried – no, I have had – to accept that change is a part of my everyday life. It can happen with or without due warning. A car that I really liked was damaged in an accident but I was unharmed, just a bit shaken up. It resulted in me getting a better car afterwards!  A change of job was forced upon myself and others but it created further opportunities for me that gave me much greater experience and, years later, enabled me to start and run my very own business. I have tried my best to see change as a bit of an opportunity to perhaps learn new things, meet new people and see new places. So I try, as best I can, to take a positive view on whatever change does and will occur. Right now I am having to live one day at a time, to take one step at a time – literally. It could be a whole lot worse. I am in this Care Home at the moment, being well looked after and as I write this, an inmate in a room near me is so consumed by dementia that they don’t always know where or perhaps even who they are. They call out for help, and yet there seems to be nothing wrong. When a Carer then comes to sit and talk with them, they do not want to be left on their own and it takes only a short while after the Carer goes before the same inmate calls out yet again. As a result I am learning to be even more thankful that despite my physical disabilities, I am capable of writing these words. There are many who cannot do so.

We know that quite a few folk will not accept change, but like it or not, it does happen. As babies and then children, we are for the most part surrounded by others. We are usually guided and guarded by them and we learn. We learn to be on our own, but we know that usually another is nearby. As we grow older, some prefer their own company, whilst others crave company. As children we have toys, pets, we learn to care for them as our parents and grandparents have done for us. It isn’t always an ideal life, sadly some are taken advantage of, which is wrong. Then the natural order of things is for many, but not all, to meet a partner, get married and have children of their own. I was the youngest of three boys and after a time I too was married for a time, but we had no offspring. I was also very busy at work. It meant that for so many years I was with or around a mix of people. Then things changed.

We all go through ‘dark’ times, when just about everything is seemingly all against us. I am reminded of words I sang so very many times in church, these being  ‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil’. Words taken from Psalm 23. What with work and hobbies, in the past I was usually out and about. I like my own company, but I am not like a good friend of mine who seems to like living on his own, largely in isolation. So it was that about eighteen months ago, when I simply had to keep going to the doctors to get treatment (sometimes twice a week) it meant I wasn’t seeing others. Perhaps I was even feeling a bit sorry for myself as the pain in my legs was bad and I wasn’t sleeping well at all. This meant that by late 2019/early 2020 I was not going anywhere else, I was isolating myself and, sad to say, not letting others know how I was feeling. That was a mistake. I deeply regret that now, I really do.

In March 2020 I was taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary. I have absolutely no memory of my being taken there or the first few days afterwards, but I was then aware of being transferred over to the General. It took a while for me to fully regain my senses. I was moved to one or two Care Homes, it took absolutely ages for me to be declared clear of the Covid-19 that I had caught whilst still in hospital, but in all these hospitals and Care Homes I was interacting with other people. That was the key. We are social animals, like it or not, but we are. I have now seen some film shown on YouTube where elephants greet one another and when another elephant joins them, they are all delighted! So it is with humble thanks that I sit here in this Care Home, where I now interact with others.

Surviving these lockdowns is not easy for any of us, they are putting people on edge over what might have at one time been insignificant things. Even the use of the word ‘jab’ has been scorned by some as apparently it upsets a few folk. We are given the choice as to whether we agree or not to have these latest Covid vaccinations. The last time I looked, the former president of the United States was still in denial over who won the election in November last year. At the moment, holidays have been cancelled or at the very least postponed, families are not visiting their loved ones, it really is a very trying time. So what we must surely do is continue to learn from the past, to live in the present and to look to the future with a smile. Our parents as well as our grandparents survived two World Wars, who knows what will occur in years to come. It is perhaps better that we cannot know. For now, we must be sensible, we must look after ourselves and others as best we can.  

This week, a magic number. There are those who can explain this, but for now, this is, to me, amusing. The number is:

If we add the individual numbers together, the answer is 27. Add these two numbers together and the answer is 9.

Multiply 142857 by any number from two to six and the answer will be an anagram of 142857.

Multiply 142857 by seven and the answer is 999999. Keep adding these nines together and you ultimately end up with 9.

Multiply 142857 by eight and the answer is 1142856. Add all these individual numbers together and the answer is 27. Add these together…

Now multiply 142857 by nine… you get 1285713. Adding the numbers gives us the same result and by simply adding the last two digits together (1+3) you get 128574, which is another anagram of 142857… 

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Holiday Memories

15 January 2021

With Dad being a teacher and me still at school, holidays were at or around the same time each year. I was able to go to Belgium a couple of times on school trips, one year I managed to meet up with an uncle of mine and his wife, they lived in Antwerp. Another time I got to see the Atomium, which is near Brussels. I was probably told much of its history when I visited the place all those years ago, but after a bit of recent research, I re-learned that this Atomium was originally constructed for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, Expo 58. It is three hundred and thirty-five feet tall, it consists of nine stainless steel clad spheres which are each sixty feet in diameter and they are all connected, so that the whole structure forms the shape of a cell of an iron (ferrite) crystal, magnified a massive one hundred and sixty-five billion times! Tubes which are ten feet in diameter connect the spheres along the twelve edges of the cube and all eight vertices to the centre. They enclose stairs, escalators and an elevator (in the central, vertical tube) enabling access to the five habitable spheres which contain exhibit halls and other public spaces. The top sphere includes a restaurant which has a panoramic view of Brussels.

Time passed and by now I was at work with British Telecom, so I wasn’t having as many holidays, certainly not abroad. But a while later my parents, who were both now retired, went on holiday to Guernsey. The following year I went to the same place, staying in the same hotel that my parents had been to. It was just for a week, but I went on bus tours around the island as well as a boat trip to Sark. I also drank the local beer! One night the hotel owner, who also served behind the bar, advised me to stay sitting at the bar because a group of actors from the nearby theatre would be in quite soon. They arrived and promptly bought everyone drinks! It was strong beer and I ended up almost crawling up the stairs to my room! A couple of years later I went to Jersey for a week, all pleasant and friendly but I preferred my trip to Guernsey. Then it went quiet for me, holidays were spent at home for a while, I’m still not too sure why, but finance may have had its part to play in it! Then things all changed at work, I moved over to Leicester, I met and married Kate and we went down to Portugal a few times. We even spent our honeymoon there. But a while later we divorced and I’ve not been back since. Mixed memories, perhaps. Anyway, one year I drove over to Wales and had a lovely holiday touring round. Another year I did a tour of the Lake District and saw some amazing views. But all around  there the weather could be changeable, in fact it could be sunshine in one valley and raining in the next. One time it just pelted down and I just had to stop the car as visibility was so bad! 

But I had never been to America, so I decided to visit there. I called in to my local travel agent and booked myself a week in Philadelphia. I didn’t want New York, I felt it wouldn’t be for me and anyway, I had a friend living in Philadelphia. So I went and had a good time, I was very well treated. I met with my friend, she was delighted to see me. The hotel staff though were surprised at how relatively little I wanted to eat. They were wanting me to have absolutely loads of food, but I didn’t. I had all I wanted. A couple of years later I went again, this time I had a week in Washington DC, then a further week in Orlando, Florida. Whilst in Washington I had a guided tour around the White House, as well as a few other places. Then in Florida I went to the Space Centre and met one of the astronauts. I also got to see one of the launch pads. This was something I’d only ever seen on television, but now I was actually there. The other place I wanted to see was Disney World and so I did. In fact I went a few times, so I could see some of the different parks. It was lovely. I went on a ’Star Wars’ ride, it was as if I was Luke Skywalker, where I was destroying the Death Star – all very clever! It meant that I returned home with some great memories.

A few years later I saw an advertisement for The Cruise Show at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, where I could look around at what was on offer. I went, I liked what I saw and to this day I don’t know what made me try it but I booked myself onto a four-day ‘taster’ cruise by P&O on the cruise ship Arcadia. The itinerary was simple, to go from Southampton, over to Dunkirk, then along to Le Havre and return to Southampton. So off I went. I found life on board this cruise ship was relaxing as well as enjoyable. A mix of shops were there, they had a whole range of eating options, it really was a floating hotel. However, I found that the weather in the English Channel was not good. Not good at all. In fact the captain had to forego docking at Dunkirk because, as he put it, ‘we might get in, but the weather is so bad we might not get out for a day or two’. This meant that we were simply trundling up and down the English Channel in a force nine gale for a day and a night. Not everyone enjoyed it, but I did. My mother’s father had been at sea for much of his life, either the royal or merchant navy, so it has been said maybe I have at least some sea salt in my veins! I found that whenever the Arcadia turned during the night it rocked a little, but the rocking motion sent me back to sleep! As a result of that, I booked myself on a world cruise lasting one hundred days, which was starting early the following year. It meant that I would be celebrating my sixtieth birthday in Honolulu. Perhaps the hardest part was telling my dear Mum that I would be away for so long and why, as she and I were used to chatting regularly, once a week at least. So I sent her a copy of my itinerary and I learned later that she got to tell the other inmates in the Care Home she was in where I was each day. It gave them all something to talk about together. 

This cruise was organised in a clever way. Some places we stopped at for just a day to see the sights, in others for two days. We went to a few places in South America, across to Australia and down to New Zealand, visiting a few islands on the way. Then back up to Hawaii, on to San Francisco, going a bit further down and through the Panama canal. After stopping off at Curaçao and then Barbados, Ponta Delgada was the final stop before Southampton. Altogether we stopped at thirty-two different places and I crossed the International Dateline twice! Whilst at sea there was as much or as little to do as each person wanted. Shows were put on each night, the entertainment was excellent, I joined a choir and sang in it for a while. Naturally I took loads of photographs! There was a mix of both couples and singles on board, I joined the ‘singles’ group and made a few friends. I still keep in touch with one or two of them. Also a ‘computer help’ group was started and my knowledge was very useful as I knew about both Windows and Apple computers. But I did try to remember that I was actually on holiday, not at work! It was a good holiday, I’m glad to have done it. The idea was to do things whilst I could. I hoped to have memories to look back on in later years, rather than be thinking ‘I wish I’d done that’.

In many ways I was remembering my dear Mum who, after Dad had passed away, started going on holidays. She visited relatives in South Africa, then one year she announced that she was going on holiday to Switzerland. So I asked her ‘why there’ and she promptly replied, “Your Dad promised he would take me there but he never managed to, so I’m going myself”. Then Mum found a lovely place in southern Spain. I went with her one year, it was lovely, we had time together but it was the last holiday she had before passing away a few years later at the grand age of ninety-five. I have no idea what other holidays are in store for me yet, we shall see what occurs!

We are slowly settling in to this new year, so having said about my cruise…

At one time, old warships were armed with cannons. To keep a good supply of iron cannon balls near each cannon, the balls were stored on a square based metal plate which was located next to each cannon. Each plate had 16 circular indentations for the balls to rest in, then more balls were stacked on top of each other in a 16, 9, 4, 1 pyramid format, meaning that thirty cannon balls could all be stacked together by each cannon.  The metal base plate was was called a ‘monkey’. It was found that if the plate was made of iron, then the cannon balls could rust onto it, so the solution was to make the plate out of brass. Except that when temperatures drop, brass will contract faster and greater than iron. This meant that if the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannon balls would drop off the monkey.

Which meant it was, quite literally, “Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey”.

Communication Update

08 January 2021

A number of years ago now, additions to my family arrived in the form of twin girls to one of my elder brothers and his wife. It was noticed that the twins were soon talking to each other in a language all of their own. Later they began to learn English and their private language stopped, but I believe this is not uncommon, this ‘private’ language. Whilst looking through YouTube, I then watched a short item about a child who was deaf but went with his older sisters to a local store so they could see Father Christmas. This young child at first took no interest in seeing him, but then, on learning that the child was deaf and just learning to use sign language, Father Christmas motioned to him and began signing to the youngster. It was clear that the young child was really pleased at this, as was his mother.  

Across this world a whole range of ways to communicate have sprung up over many years. From simple animal noises to symbols like Egyptian hieroglyphs, there are so many different forms. Not all are written in a left-to-right way as many of us are used to either. We all know of other physical ways, such as the smoke signals by American Indians, whilst on ships there are flags as well as the lights which use Morse code. We have since progressed with technology, having developed the radio telegraph. I myself lived for a few years opposite the local telephone exchange, little did I realise that years later I would be working for that telephone company! Once in their employ I learned about the telephone network, the bare basics of how it all worked, I even knew the locations for many of the one hundred and twenty-six exchanges that there were in the Peterborough Telephone Area! To aid my career, in order to learn more about the business as a whole I was moved around a few times to different departments. As a result I learned about their billing system, how operator-controlled calls were charged for, I got to help compile as well as ‘proof-read’ telephone directories. That was a task! Though it helped me a great deal, as nowadays I can often recognise spelling or grammatical errors quite quickly and I have been asked to proof-read items before they are sent to print because I can spot errors. Then Sales work gave me more self-confidence, which I did need. But there was a great deal more for me to learn. Computers, for one thing! I found I really enjoyed how they worked, logically. I gained more skills – for a start I learned how to type one-handed. We were now communicating more and in new computer languages. At first there was talk of reducing the amount of paperwork we would be generating by using computers, but I think they probably created and still do create a bit more. But in every change, it was all about forms of communication that we now tend to rather take for granted.

No matter what language we use, what form of communication, the idea is to transmit information one to another. It does not matter whether it be across to another human, or perhaps to another living creature. Often words as we know them are unnecessary. Just as a gesture, a smile, even simply standing still and showing a calmness can make a real difference. When threatened, we do still have that ‘fight or flee’ instinct, although some creatures I believe will just ‘play dead’. Whatever we do, it is a form of communication. It is simply a language. I understand that whales and other sea creatures use sounds to get their message across to others. As I sit here writing this, I look out of my window and can see a weather vane, which indicates which way the wind is blowing. From that I can deduce what the weather may be like. As many of you know, I have for many years been a fan of the Sci-fi series ’Star Trek” and in their time, many of the gadgets they used seemed incredible, yet I have here a mobile phone which connects me to the internet, it has a built-in camera so I can take photos and share them with friends who are thousands of miles away and who will receive these same pictures just seconds after I have sent them. There are wristwatches that will work as a telephone, they can check our health, for example blood pressure, heart rate, how far we have walked, play recorded music and do so much more. Earlier this week I watched a video that a friend had sent to me of light drones which had been programmed to put on a display for the start of this New Year in Scotland. It really was very good, but it did make me wonder quite what our ancestors might have thought of it, had they seen such a thing so many years ago. An invasion of creatures from Mars? The conspiracy theorists of the day would have had a wonderful time! However, it was still communication and the drones would have been using a language to communicate.

There are now many different computer languages, I have said before how I learned some of them. Right now I am using an Apple computer, but I don’t need to know the language it uses, just be aware of it. The same is true in so many different areas of work, simply an awareness of a specialist language. I became very aware of that after my heart attack in 2010. Whilst I was still in hospital, a doctor and several student doctors surrounded my bed and they began talking about me but not to me, which I wasn’t exactly happy about. I was ignored. They talked in medical terminology about me and my condition, then the doctor looked around and said “Right then – any questions?”. So I spoke up and I asked “Very interesting, but what does all that mean to me please?” The doctor apologised, then said to the student doctors “You must be prepared for patients like Andrew here”. He then explained, in non-medical terms, what had happened to me, what had been found and what treatment I would be receiving, both now and in the future. I thanked him very much. These students were taught. They had to communicate, not just between themselves, but also to communicate in a common language that their patients would and could understand.  

Still, I had to smile a few months later when I saw a consultant. He asked me if there were any others in my family with heart problems. I told him about my mothers’ brothers, who had all passed away through various heart problems at fairly early ages. He then, whilst busily writing a few notes, said “Oh, good…”. I replied “I beg your pardon???” but I did smile. I knew he had his ‘clinical’ mind in gear! He then apologised profusely, but I knew it was useful for him to know such things! Knowing there was such a history in my family was an important fact for him.

A friend of mine is learning Hebrew and I happened to find an item on YouTube comparing that with another language. There seemed to me to be quite a few similarities, so I shared that video with my friend. It amazes me how all of these different languages develop. If you have seen the original film “Stargate” that was released in 1994, you will know what I mean. Right now I am continuing with my learning of basic Spanish, it is slow going but I am still enjoying it. There are some fun things to be found too, like I knew that a sombrero was a Mexican hat. But did you know that the Spanish word for ‘hat’ is ’sombrero’? I do now! As a youngster I did so enjoy ‘Cowboys and Indians’ on television, especially the series with the Lone Ranger, featuring Tonto. Except I found out recently that in Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish, “tonto” translates as “a dumb person”, “moron”, or “fool”. In the Italian version of the tv series the original name is retained, but in the Spanish dubbed version, the character is called “Toro”, the Spanish for “bull”. Apparently the creator of the Lone Ranger series grew up in Michigan, USA and knew members of the local Potawatomi tribe, who told him it meant “wild one” in their language. When he created the Lone Ranger, he gave the name to the Lone Ranger’s sidekick, apparently unaware of its negative connotations. There are times when  communication and language can be troublesome!

To close this week…
I have previously mentioned Star Trek and whilst watching an episode recently I was reminded of a race in that series called the Ferengi. They live by their ‘Rules of Acquisition’, but I will say more on those another time.

I must first stress that the following is all very much science fiction!!!

Star Trek features many different races. One are the Ferengi, whose women are referred to simply as “females”. These females are barred from most aspects of society, such as not being allowed to earn profit or to travel. They are not even allowed to wear clothes and are expected to be undressed at all times. As Quark (a well-known character in one of the Star Trek series) once put it, “Thinking about things is not something either expected or desired by females”.

Neither is having opinions or political views. They are not allowed to have any claim to the estate of a husband should the marriage end, as all females are generally required to sign a waiver of property and profit, giving up any such claim. Laws and traditional social values relegate females to the level of property. These females have no valued role in society, except for the propagation of male heirs. If a female is caught earning profit, she is forced to give back all she has earned and then either sign a confession, admitting the error of her ways, or be sold to indentured servitude if she refuses. Her male relatives then have to make restitution. 

This is, of course, thankfully, science fiction!!!

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Happy New Year!

01 January 2021

So it begins again. A Happy New Year to all of you reading this. These past twelve months have contained many changes as well as experiences, some of which I personally do not wish to repeat. We all make mistakes, but as has been said it is not the falling down, it is the getting up again which is most important. I have seen many things that I never thought I would and I am so very thankful and grateful to each and every one who has brought me to how and where I am today. Right from those friends and neighbours who had not seen or heard from me for a while, to the ambulance people who got into my old flat and got me to hospital and to all who cared and still care for and about me. We may choose the wrong road to travel sometimes, but there is usually a way back. The first steps are often the hardest, but they are indeed well worth the effort. My heart is now working as it should, my diet is very much improved and I am happier in myself than I have been for a while. We can often see the right path for others, yet cannot always see a correct one for ourselves!

Despite our individual difficulties, we have I hope tried to make the best of things at this festive time of year. I have had a delightful time, we were looked after especially well on Christmas Day here in this Care Home, we all received a present from them, mine was shower gel and shower soap. Very nice. I also received quite a few cards and a few other presents. At dinner they made sure that the few of us who are vegetarians were catered for, so whilst others had turkey or gammon we had appropriate dishes. It was all tasty food, along with a bit of good company and some rather fun entertainment! There were six inmates to a table and a bottle of non-alcoholic wine was put on each. Though I had to smile when one inmate immediately opened a bottle and proceeded to pour some into a cup. I think he had most of the bottle to himself! That was not a problem for me, as I was happy with the blackcurrant juice. Our Carers wore Santa style hats, two of them danced to some of the music being played, all good fun, but I know a few of the inmates wondered what it was all about. One dear lady was asking why she was there, so I said “I know why – you are here to enjoy a really lovely Christmas dinner.” She accepted that.

A bit later I returned to my room, where I had a siesta. Then I looked online and saw a question asking ‘Why is Boxing Day so called?’ After a bit of research, I learned that Boxing Day seems to have got its name from when Queen Victoria was on the throne in the 1800s and it has nothing to do with the sport of boxing. The name comes from a time when the rich used to box up gifts to give to the poor. The servants would also go home on Boxing Day to give Christmas boxes to their families.

So as I have mentioned before, now is a time for giving to others as well as us being forgiving towards others. A short while ago I read a lovely story and the gist of it was that if someone tries to give you something and you do not accept it, then that thing stays with them. It is the same with insults. By not accepting insults we cannot be hurt by them, as they stay with the sender. So we should not respond in kind when someone makes nasty, unkind or derogatory remarks to us. Do not accept their unkind words and ways. If someone is short or sharp in their words to me, I try to not do the same back to them, even though I might want to. Instead, I respond in a kindly manner. If I behave like them, I am no better than them and it might then lead me to be unkind to others. Which would be wrong. In my view.

A few years ago, whilst driving along a motorway, I was approaching a slip road where a car was going to join the motorway. We’ve all seen it or done it. There you are, on the slip road and you are wanting to join the motorway. You are indicating, looking for a space, but someone who could let you in closes the gap. Now you have to brake and you are now going slower, thus making the task of joining the motorway that little bit harder. All they probably had to do was to think ahead a little more and leave a gap. So I have always tried to think ahead like that. Obviously if it’s not possible, or to do so might cause an accident, then you just have to be safe. But if they’re also looking ahead far enough, they will realise. One time I let a driver in and he raised his hand in a kindly way to thank me. At the next junction, he let another driver in. A kind act ripples on, just like when a pebble is dropped into water.

We cannot know exactly how long these difficult times may last, but as is already being done, kind words and deeds are being done. They too are rippling through our communities. In my case I try to thank the Carers for all they do for me and every other inmate here. I hope the thanks that we give to them might perhaps ripple through to their families and friends, helping us all to cope in these stressful times. I am reminded of wise words told to me some years ago by a man who I have mentioned before, Srinivas Arka. “In this way, we learn from the past, live in the present and look to the future with a smile.”

Finally for this week…
On a well-known quiz show, contestants were asked to identify deserts around the world from a list of names. They were also warned that at least one of the names was incorrect. Some answers were obvious, others less so, but one contestant chose ‘Kanafeh’ as their answer.

However, that proved to be a dessert…

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