Queen Elizabeth II. Requiem in Pacem.

As you might expect, my weekly blog is a much shorter one than usual. On September 8, 2022 Buckingham Palace announced that the longest-reigning monarch in British history, Queen Elizabeth II, sadly died. After serving as the head of our royal family for 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II passed away peacefully at Balmoral Castle, her estate in the Scottish Highlands, with her family by her side. Upon her death, her eldest son and heir apparent, Prince Charles, immediately ascended as the King of the United Kingdom and took the name King Charles III.

Queen Elizabeth’s body remained in Scotland for a time, when senior royals were able to pay their own moving tribute, standing guard around the coffin for a while – a tradition known as the Vigil of the Princes. The coffin was then returned to England to lie in state for a few days in Westminster Hall. This has allowed for a period of mourning, during which time the public are able to visit, walking slowly by and paying their respects as the coffin lies on a raised platform known as a catafalque.

The Queen’s state funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey on Monday, 19th September, after which the Queen’s coffin will be taken to Windsor for a committal and she will be buried at St. George’s Chapel, next to her husband, Prince Philip, in an annex to the main chapel where her mother and father were buried, along with the ashes of her sister, Princess Margaret.

St. George’s Chapel was chosen in the 19th century as the burial place for the royal family and various members of the family, including Henry VIII, Charles I, George V, and George VI have since been buried throughout the chapel.

St George’s Chapel.
Photo: WPA Pool/Getty Images.

Built in the Perpendicular Gothic style, St. George’s Chapel is frequently cited as one of the best examples of the 14th-century aesthetic. True to the era, the stunning structure features four-centred pointed arches, fan vaulting, and ornate, intricate detailing. Construction started under Edward IV in 1475 and was completed in 1528 by Henry VIII. It was built in two stages, starting with the choir and its aisles in 1483, with the nave constructed later in 1496. In accordance with the British monarchy, the chapel’s interiors commemorate key figures and moments throughout both royal history and that of the chapel.

Her Royal Majesty is the only British head of state most of us have ever known and she has been a constant in the lives of her people. May she rest in peace and may her family, along with all who knew or knew of her, be comforted by the memories we each of us have over her long life.

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Prehistoric Britain

This Earth has existed for a very long time. Compared to its life, humans have been here relatively recently. Some may say we have been slow in our development but to me that isn’t so, if we consider that just in what we now call Great Britain, several species of humans have intermittently occupied the area for almost a million years. The earliest evidence of human occupation around 900,000 years ago is at Happisburgh on the Norfolk coast, with stone tools and footprints found. The oldest human fossils, around 500,000 years old, are of the species Homo heidelbergensis at Boxgrove in Sussex. Until that time, Britain had been permanently connected to the Continent by a chalk ridge between South East England and northern France called the Weald-Artois Anticline, but during the Anglian Glaciation around 425,000 years ago a tremendous flood broke through the ridge and Britain became an island when sea levels rose during the following Hoxnian interglacial period. Fossils of very early Neanderthals dating to around 400,000 years ago have been found at Swanscombe in Kent and of classic Neanderthals about 225,000 years old at Pontnewydd in Wales. Britain was unoccupied by humans between 180,000 and 60,000 years ago, then Neanderthals returned. By 40,000 years ago they had become extinct and modern humans had reached Britain. But even their occupations were brief and intermittent due to a climate which swung between low temperatures with a tundra habitat and severe ice ages which made Britain uninhabitable for long periods. The last of these, known as the Younger Dryas, ended around 11,700 years ago, and since then Britain has been continuously occupied. It had been claimed by academics that a post-glacial land bridge existed between Britain and Ireland, however this conjecture began to be refuted by a consensus within the academic community starting in 1983 and since 2006 the idea of such a land bridge has been conclusively disproven, based upon marine geological evidence. It is now concluded that an ice bridge existed between Britain and Ireland up until 16,000 years ago, but this had melted by around 14,000 years ago. Britain was at this time still joined to the Continent by a land bridge known as ‘Doggerland’, but due to rising sea levels this causeway of dry land would have become a series of estuaries, inlets and islands by 7000BC and by 6200BC it would have become completely submerged. So Doggerland was an area of land now submerged beneath the North Sea that connected the British Isles to continental Europe, but it was flooded by rising sea levels around 6500–6200BC and the flooded land is known as the Dogger Littoral. Geological surveys have suggested that it stretched from what is now the east coast of Great Britain to what are now the Netherlands, the western coast of Germany and the Danish peninsula of Jutland. It was probably a rich habitat with human habitation in the Mesolithic period, although rising sea levels gradually reduced it to low-lying islands before its final submergence, possibly following a tsunami caused by the ‘Storegga Slides’. These three Storegga Slides (Norwegian ‘Storeggaraset’) are amongst the largest known submarine landslides and they occurred at the edge of Norway’s continental shelf in the Norwegian Sea approximately 6225–6170BC. The collapse involved an estimated 290km (180 mile) length of coastal shelf, with a total volume of 3,500km3 (840 cubic miles) of debris, which caused a tsunami in the North Atlantic Ocean. Doggerland was named after the Dogger Bank, which in turn was named after 17th-century Dutch fishing boats called ‘doggers’.

A map showing hypothetical extent of Doggerland (c. 10,000BC), which connected Great Britain and continental Europe.

The archaeological potential of the area was first identified in the early 20th century, and interest intensified in 1931 when a fishing trawler operating east of the Wash dragged up a barbed antler point that was subsequently dated to a time when the area was tundra. Vessels have since dragged up remains of mammoths, lions and other animals as well as a few prehistoric tools and weapons. As of 2020, international teams are continuing a two-year investigation into the submerged landscape of Doggerland using new and traditional archaeo-geophysical techniques, computer simulation and molecular biology. Evidence gathered allows study of past environments, ecological change and human transition from hunter-gatherer to farming communities.

Located at the fringes of Europe, Britain received European technological and cultural developments much later than Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region did during prehistory. By around 4000 BC, the island was populated by people with a Neolithic culture. This population had significant ancestry from the earliest farming communities in Anatolia, thus indicating that a major migration accompanied farming. The area is perhaps better known as Asia Minor, it being a large peninsula in Western Asia and the western-most protrusion of the Asian continent which now constitutes the major part of modern-day Turkey. The region is bounded by the Turkish Straits to the northwest, the Black Sea to the north, the Armenian Highlands to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Aegean Sea to the west. The Sea of Marmara forms a connection between the Black and Aegean seas through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits and separating Anatolia from Thrace on the Balkan peninsula of South-east Europe. But the beginning of the Bronze Age was marked by an even greater population turnover, this time displacing more than 90% of Britain’s Neolithic ancestry in the process. This is documented by recent ancient DNA studies which demonstrate that the immigrants had large amounts of Bronze-Age Eurasian Steppe ancestry associated with the spread of Indo-European languages. No written language of the pre-Roman inhabitants of Britain is known, so therefore the history, culture and way of life of pre-Roman Britain are known mainly through archaeological finds. This evidence demonstrates that ancient Britons were involved in extensive maritime trade and cultural links with the rest of Europe from the Neolithic period onwards, especially by exporting tin that was in abundant supply. Although the main evidence for the period is archaeological, available genetic evidence is increasing, and views of British prehistory are evolving accordingly. Julius Caesar’s first invasion of Britain in 55 BC is regarded as the start of recorded ‘protohistory’, a period between prehistory and history during which a culture or civilisation has not yet developed writing, but other cultures have already noted the existence of those pre-literate groups in their own writings.

Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) Britain is the period of the earliest known occupation of Britain by humans. This huge period saw many changes in the environment, encompassing several glacial and interglacial episodes greatly affecting human settlement in the region. Providing dating for this distant period is difficult and contentious, as the inhabitants of the region at this time were bands of hunter-gatherers who roamed Northern Europe following herds of animals, or who supported themselves by fishing.

Boxgrove hand-axes at the British Museum.

There is evidence from bones and flint tools found in coastal deposits near Happisburgh in Norfolk and Pakefield in lSuffolk that a species of ‘Homo’ was present in what is now Britain at least 814,000 years ago. At this time, Southern and Eastern Britain were linked to continental Europe by a wide land bridge known as Doggerland, allowing humans to move freely. The species itself lived before the ancestors of Neanderthals split from the ancestors of ‘Homo sapiens’ 600,000 years ago. The current position of the English Channel was a large river flowing westwards and fed by tributaries that later became the Thames in England and the Seine in France. Reconstructing this ancient environment has provided clues to the route first visitors took to arrive at what was then a peninsula of the Eurasian continent. Archaeologists have found a string of early sites located close to the route of a now lost watercourse named the Bytham River which was one of the great Pleistocene rivers of central and eastern England until it was destroyed by the advancing ice sheets of the Anglian Glaciation around 450,000 years ago. It is named after Castle Bytham in Lincolnshire and its catchment area included Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Derbyshire. It flowed eastward across East Anglia to the North Sea. This indicates that it was exploited as the earliest route west into Britain. Sites such as Boxgrove in Sussex illustrate the later arrival in the archaeological record of an archaic species called Homo heidelbergensis around 500,000 years ago and these early peoples made flint tools such as hand axes and hunted the large native mammals of the period. One hypothesis is that they would drive the large creatures like elephant, rhinoceros and hippopotamus over the tops of cliffs or into bogs, in order to kill them more easily. However, the extreme cold of the following Anglian Stage which started about 478,000 years ago and ended about 424,000 years ago is likely to have driven humans out of Britain altogether and the region does not appear to have been occupied again until the ice receded during the Hoxnian Stage. This warmer time period lasted from around 424,000 until 374,000 years ago and saw the flint tool industry develop at sites such as Swanscombe in Kent. Britain was populated only intermittently, and even during periods of occupation may have reproduced below replacement level and needed immigration from elsewhere to maintain numbers. According to some historians, around this time Britain and much of Northern Europe seems to have had a long record of abandonment and colonisation as well as a very short record of residency. This period also saw other flint tools introduced, possibly by humans arriving from Africa. However, finds from Swanscombe and Botany Pit in Purfleet support Levallois technology being a European rather than African introduction. The more advanced flint technology permitted more efficient hunting and therefore made Britain a more worthwhile place to remain until the following period of cooling known as the Wolstonian Stage, 352,000–130,000 years ago. From then to around 60,000 years ago there is no evidence of human occupation in Britain, probably due to inhospitable cold in some periods, Britain being cut off as an island in others, and the neighbouring areas of north-west Europe being unoccupied at times when Britain was both accessible and hospitable. There was then only limited Neanderthal occupation of Britain between about 60,000 and 42,000 years ago. Britain had its own unique variety of late Neanderthal hand-axe, so seasonal migration between Britain and the continent is unlikely, but the main occupation may have been in the now submerged area of Doggerland, with summer migrations to Britain in warmer periods. The earliest evidence for modern humans in North West Europe is a jawbone discovered in England at Kents Cavern in 1927, which was re-dated in 2011 to between 41,000 and 44,000 years old. The most famous example from this period is the burial of the ‘Red Lady of Paviland’ (actually now known to be a man) in modern-day coastal South Wales, which was dated in 2009 to be 33,000 years old. The distribution of finds shows that humans in this period preferred the uplands of Wales and northern and western England to the flatter areas of eastern England. Their stone tools are similar to those of the same age found in Belgium and far north-east France, and very different from those in north-west France. At the time when Britain was not an island, hunter gatherers may have followed migrating herds of reindeer from Belgium and north-east France across the giant Channel River, but the climatic deterioration which culminated in the Last Glacial Maximum, between about 26,500 and 19,000 years ago, drove humans out of Britain and there is no evidence of occupation for many years afterwards. Various finds in sites such as Cathole Cave in Swansea county, Creswell Crags on the border between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and Gough’s Cave in Somerset provide evidence suggesting that humans returned to Britain towards the end of this ice age during a warm period from 14,700 to 12,900 years ago although further extremes of cold right before the final thaw may have caused them to leave again and then return repeatedly. The environment during this ice age period would have been largely treeless tundra, eventually replaced by a gradually warmer climate, perhaps reaching 17 degrees Celsius (62.6 Fahrenheit in summer, encouraging the expansion of birch trees as well as shrub and grasses. The first distinct culture of the Upper Palaeolithic in Britain is what archaeologists call the Creswellian industry, with leaf-shaped points probably used as arrowheads. It produced more refined flint tools but also made use of bone, antler, shell, amber, animal teeth, and mammoth ivory. These were fashioned into tools but also jewellery and rods of uncertain purpose. Flint seems to have been brought into areas with limited local resources and the stone tools found in the caves of Devon, such as Kent’s Cavern, seem to have been sourced from Salisbury Plain, 100 miles (161km) east. This is interpreted as meaning that the early inhabitants of Britain were highly mobile, roaming over wide distances and carrying ‘toolkits’ of flint blades with them rather than heavy, unworked flint nodules, or otherwise improvising tools extemporaneously. The possibility that groups also travelled to meet and exchange goods or sent out dedicated expeditions to source flint has also been suggested. Between about 12,890 and 11,650 years ago, Britain returned to glacial conditions and may have been unoccupied for periods of time.

Kent’s Cavern, Devon.

The Younger Dryas was followed by the Holocene, which began around 9,700 BC and continues to the present. There was then limited occupation by some hunter gatherers, but this came to an end when there was a final downturn in temperature which lasted from around 9400BC to 9200BC. Mesolithic people occupied Britain by around 9000BC and it has been occupied ever since. By 8000BC temperatures were higher than today, and birch woodlands spread rapidly, but there was a cold spell around 6200BC which lasted about 150 years. The plains of Doggerland were thought to have finally been submerged around 6500BC to 6000BC, but recent evidence suggests that the bridge may have lasted until between 5800BC and 5400BC, and possibly as late as 3800BC. The warmer climate changed the arctic environment to one of pine, birch and alder forest, but this less open landscape was less conducive to the large herds of reindeer and the wild horses that had previously sustained humans. Those animals were replaced in people’s diets by pig and less social animals such as elk, red deer, roe deer, wild boar and aurochs (wild cattle), which would have required different hunting techniques. Tools changed to incorporate barbs which could snag the flesh of an animal, making it harder for it to escape alive. Tiny microliths were developed for hafting onto harpoons and spears. Woodworking tools such as adzes appear in the archaeological record, although some flint blade types remained similar to their Palaeolithic predecessors. The dog was domesticated because of its benefits during hunting, and the wetland environments created by the warmer weather would have been a rich source of fish and game. Wheat of a variety grown in the Middle East was present on the Isle of Wight at the Bouldnor Cliff Mesolithic Village dating from about 6000BC. It is likely that these environmental changes were accompanied by social changes, with humans spreading and reaching the far north of Scotland during this period. Excavations at Howick in Northumberland have uncovered evidence of a large circular building dating to c. 7600BC which is interpreted as a dwelling. A further example has also been identified at Deepcar in Sheffield, and a building dating to c. 8500BC was discovered at a Mesolithic site in North Yorkshire. So the older view of Mesolithic Britons as nomadic is now being replaced with a more complex picture of seasonal occupation or, in some cases, permanent occupation. Travel distances seem to have become shorter, typically with movement between high and low ground. Though the Mesolithic environment was bounteous, the rising population and the ancient Britons’ success in exploiting it eventually led to local exhaustion of many natural resources. The remains of a Mesolithic elk found caught in a bog at Poulton-le-Fylde in Lancashire show that it had been wounded by hunters and escaped on three occasions, indicating hunting during the Mesolithic. A few Neolithic monuments overlie Mesolithic sites but little continuity can be demonstrated. Farming of crops and domestic animals was adopted in Britain around 4500 BC, at least partly because of the need for reliable food sources. The climate had been warming since the later Mesolithic and continued to improve, replacing the earlier pine forests with woodland. We were settling down and planned to stay!

This week…picture the scene.
Some years ago I was in a shop in Peterborough, standing at a counter with my arms at my side. As I looked at a few items, I felt a little hand creep into mine. I’ve never had any children of my own, so I slowly looked down. I saw a young child look up at me and realise they’d got hold of the wrong person! The child’s mum and dad were standing nearby, chuckling and the dad called to the child who let go of me and ran over to their dad, who was wearing the same style and colour coat that I was. They’ll tell that tale in years to come, I’m sure!

But I end on a sad note, the passing away yesterday of Queen Elizabeth II. She gave us her whole life, may she now rest in peace with her beloved Philip. R.i.P.

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The Need For Change

I have said in a previous blog post that although I was born in London, we as a family moved to a town where Dad had managed to get a job as a teacher. Over the years we lived in the town he was also involved with various things there, he was scoutmaster for the local troop and was actively involved at our local church, which was St. Mary’s.

St. Mary’s church, Whittlesey.

For a while we lived near to the church and apparently I was a little scared of the sound of the church bells, but I was very young at the time. Then I learned that Dad was a bellringer and as soon as I knew my Dad was helping to make the noise of the bells, I was happy. Dad sang in the choir and later he was choirmaster. He was also deputy organist and one of two churchwardens, one being the People’s warden and the other the Church warden, each with their own responsibilities. In addition, for a few years he was treasurer on the local Parochial Church Council (PCC) but as with so many of these volunteer organisations it seems that only a limited number of people ever want to get involved. So it was that after a number of years Dad decided enough was enough and someone else should take on the role of treasurer. I do think the old adage of ‘One volunteer is worth ten pressed men’ held true in this case! But in time, perhaps Dad felt he was being taken advantage of, also he wasn’t getting any younger in terms of job promotion. Apart from that, Mum and I were now working, not in the town but in the city a few miles away. So it was that one year Dad told everyone at the PCC’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) that he would be standing down the following year as treasurer and they now had twelve months to get a replacement who he would be more than happy to train as much as might be required, ready for handing over the books. Sadly however, despite him regularly reminding them and urging them to recruit a replacement in time for the next AGM, nobody did a single thing about it. So, true to his word, at that next AGM Dad brought all the books etc along and left them on the table. Despite protestations from other council members, even a plea from the vicar, my Dad stood firm. He had made it abundantly clear several times during that year what would happen and they were therefore left to resolve the problem of a new treasurer on their own. But it was no small effort for Dad to stand up to the rest of those PCC members. I have an idea that Dad had also set his eyes on getting more experience in a teaching job elsewhere, which later he did. We moved a few miles to the edge of the city and a bit later Dad got a job as deputy head at a school fairly near to where we were now living. He stayed there until he retired and he was due to finish in the December, but was able to stay on an extra term until the end of the school year, so the children didn’t get a different teacher for that one term. In my view it was the proper way of managing the changes the children would have in the following school year.

‘Park Inn by Radisson’ hotel, Peterborough.
Formerly Telephone House.

The above image is of the present Park Inn by Radisson hotel, with its entrance in Wentworth Street, Peterborough but it was originally built as Telephone House, with the the main entrance in Trinity Street. The original building was four and a half storeys high when I started work there in 1969, but it had one and a half floors added to it a few years later. The council then built Bourges Boulevard and part of that new road went straight across Trinity Street, cutting that old road in two. Quite why an underpass couldn’t have been built there I have no idea. At the time I started work, the site was also used by the Post Office as part of their sorting and delivery work but when separation came and Post Office Telephones became British Telecom, the postal side left. But then a little while later a major extension to the telephone exchange was built on the site and the exchange was joined to Telephone House. It must have caused the architects some work, as the two buildings had different levels and it meant quite a few different sets of stairs! But building Bourges Boulevard, putting an extension onto Telephone House and constructing a full extension to the existing telephone exchange were not the only major changes to Peterborough. It had been designated a ‘new town’ in 1967 and the Peterborough Development Corporation decided to construct a new, purpose-built shopping centre in the heart of the city. Planning permission was received in the late summer of 1976 and in November the retailer John Lewis Partnership announced that it had agreed to be the anchor shop in the new development. The opening of the store in Peterborough marked the company’s return to the city after an absence of over twenty-five years. Sadly however, John Lewis announced the permanent closure of the store in April 2021, leaving the centre without its main anchor tenant. Today there are still two other anchor tenants such as M&S and the Boots company which are still open, soon there will be a new anchor for the centre and that will be the much anticipated Empire Cinemas which will open as part of the £60million extension to the mall, this will also include a new food court and several new stores, whose names, so far as I know, are yet to be announced.

North Square of Queensgate Shopping centre in July 2017.

In 2011, a £20 million revamp to Queensgate was undertaken, which included the clothing retailer Primark taking over several units and an extension to replace the units taken over. Changes to the large multi-storey car park removed references to local historical figures, these being Edith Cavell, Frank Perkins, Henry Royce and John Clare in favour of a colour-coded system, but I have an idea there were some serious complaints at this because the names were subsequently reinstated and paired with the new colour system. Paten Bridge, which crosses Bourges Boulevard (the A15), links Queensgate to the station quarter, which includes a new full sized Waitrose supermarket with a coffee shop and restaurant, built in 2014 on the site of the former Royal Mail sorting office. In 2018 some areas were re-paved and a number of shop fronts were updated. There has been discussion on covering the entire street with a glass roof, but so far as I know, the plans have not been finalised. In 2015, a detailed planning application for a £30 million enhancement of the centre was submitted to Peterborough City Council as the plan was to create a 77,000 square feet (7,153 square metre) extension in partnership with John Lewis, but which has since permanently closed. The development was to include a restaurant hub and a multi-screen digital cinema. Planning permission was granted and work was scheduled to start in 2019, also tenders for the cinema and the food hall were allocated. In early 2020 McLaren Construction Group landed the contract to build the 77,000 square foot extension, work quickly began on the site compounds which resulted in half of the bus station being closed temporarily and relocated to the Coach Park just behind The Brewery Tap. Before work could fully get underway, due to the Coronavirus pandemic work ground to a halt whilst everyone in the building trade found out where they stood, but after guidelines and measures were put in place work quickly resumed on site with cranes and scaffolding being erected to provide material and personnel access to the roof. In preparation of the extension John Lewis carried out a £21 million refurbishment project on their anchor store in the centre, part of their project involved giving up around 60,000 square feet of retail space to make way for the construction for four new retail units, three of which would have two floors. Next expressed an interest in moving into one of the store which was rumoured to be a 32,000 square foot retail unit directly opposite H&M, however Next closed its Queensgate store in April 2021, and is unlikely to consider a return to the centre. TK Maxx have announced they will be giving up their current store in Bridge Street to move into a vacant unit, on the upper ground floor of the Central Square. It is a forever changing world!

Back in 1969, when I first joined what was originally Post Office Telephones, later British Telecom (BT), I had been asked if I intended to make BT my career, which I did. I learned that experience in the company was useful for promotion as well as, shall we say a ‘degree of flexibility’. That was certainly true at times, especially as I had started at sixteen, straight from school. I learned much about people and whilst most were kind or at the very least friendly, others were not, in fact one or two were not good people at all in my opinion. It meant having to adapt, also sadly if ‘your face didn’t fit’ as the old saying is, things could be quite difficult. Also the changing attitudes by managers was not easy to accept at times. So when a promotion opportunity came that involved me moving to Leicester, my Dad actually urged me to go, not in an unkind way but because he knew it would be good for me. So I went and it was – good for me, that is. Over the years further changes within the company meant I was working in such places as Nottingham, Birmingham, Sheffield and Manchester. But in time, work finally led me back to Leicester. Back when I was sixteen, I was learning about the offices, telephone exchanges and other buildings that BT used. There was the maintenance and cleaning of them, the household stores required, we also had the local telephone exchange with all the amazing equipment needed, but which still had a very old-style lift with a heavy manual doors. Not like the modern automatic ones of today! There was a large canteen on the third floor. So I got to see all that, also the large room where the ‘100’ and ‘999’ telephone operators worked. Pretty girls, most of them but they were all kept under strict supervision. It was all very different from school! A few years later I was moved into the accounts department, where I saw how the telephone bills were collated and produced, then a few years later I went on to the telephone directory compilation team, manually filling in the cards used by a computer which then collated all of the entries ready for printing the directories. It has all changed now of course. But this was where I got my first introduction to computers, in particular I realised how accurate one has to be when inputting data to them. I had said how I’d wanted BT to be my career and after a year or so I was advised that I’d be moving to the Sales department. I must say at this point that in the other offices I’d worked in, it was, generally, fairly quiet. But in this Sales office, it seemed like everyone was working at three times the speed of any other, folk were multitasking, everything was a blur to begin with. But I soon got used to it. I enjoyed the work, also with each move to a different group or department I was getting more and more experience in the company as a whole. In addition, I became more interested in the deeper world of computers and much of the associated programming which I was doing as a hobby at home! So it was that I got the opportunity to actually do some limited amounts of programming, I was also doing checks on new software prior to it being distributed generally, looking to ensure there were no errors. I did find occasional ones, not many though. This helped when it came to training others in the use of the new software which I and a few others did. What amused me was that a further reorganisation in the company had brought me back to Leicester, where I began training and working with some of the people I had worked with many years before. I was also able to make my mother laugh when I told her of that move as I was teaching people about using computers and she recalled the time when I was just sixteen, still at school and looking for a job, because I had applied for one with an engineering company in Peterborough as a computer operator. I’d been turned down because they said that I had no aptitude for working with computers! Yet here I was, years later teaching computer skills. But things change and BT were cutting back, so when they made me an offer I could not refuse I went. I had been with them thirty-eight years! After some additional teacher training I started my own small business, teaching basic computer skills and photography, as the latter was a hobby I was keen on. I had been used to using ‘film’ cameras, yet here I was now able to take photographs, view them instantly and then use computer software to enhance and crop them before using the Internet to share them with others.

We all go through different changes in our lives, I know that I have had to adapt to the changes around me, though I don’t think my personal outlook on life has altered too much overall. But I have definitely learned a great deal. I have learned that there is a need in adjusting to changes that are around us, but I have been told that I seem to see a silver lining in every cloud. Most of the time I do, but be assured that there have been just a few occasions when I haven’t been happy with how my life has been. It is then that I have found a change to be more than just a good idea, but absolutely necessary. It has meant not seeing some people very often, if at all in some cases and it has meant accepting some changes too, but change is often not simply a good idea, but absolutely necessary.

This week…
“Said Harriet to Ophelia,
I shall draw a sketch of thee!
What kind of pencil shall I use,
2B or not 2B!!!”
~ Spike Milligan