Saturday, October 25, 2014
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Back in 1997 I had the chance to take "early retirement" from my job with a suitably enhanced local government pension. I was 58.
It turned out to be a traumatic year - retirement, selling two houses and moving into one with my widowed mother joining us and being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
However, time moved on, as it does if you wait long enough. A major operation in 1998 meant that I am still here in 2014. My mother eventually died in 2001 and I found part-time occupations in 1999 in charge of my local Neighbour Mediation Scheme and also used past qualifications to train novice bus drivers (an unusual combination of talents(?) ).
The Mediation Co-ordinator's job I left in 2002 but a minor stroke in 2013 did not interrupt for long my bus driver work - actual training and presentational lectures to groups - which I have continued busily and happily to date.
However, a recent infection of the middle ear occasionally leaves me with nausea and vomiting. The doc says it will clear up in time, could take a year, but to "be patient".
So I have finally decided to retire (again) at the end of this year when I shall be 76. I could say that I have been involved, as a Road Safety Officer, for over 50 years.
As for things to occupy me then, some of my enjoyments are a trifle curtailed at present. Motor cycling and cycling I need to be careful with since the ear problem can upset my balance. I no longer (at present) have a dog who needs walking and people tend to look askance at solitary males wandering the local woods and fields (a sad comment on these times).
However - time will move on yet again and some of the above will be better able to be enjoyed once more. My old friend, this blog, should come in for more use again, too. I have been most remiss about it recently.
So "hello" again and sorry to have been so long away.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Those of you who were reading this blog back in 2009 will have seen that Rex joined us from a rescue centre after our previous German Shepherd had to be put down.
Now, I am afraid it has been his turn. In March he complained of a back problem, which was cured by anti inflammatory pills from the vet. However, this returned recently. Then, last week, his back legs gave way and he could no longer walk - just pulling himself along with the front legs.
The vet diagnosed degenerative myelopathy, akin to MS in humans. It is incurable, so I had his life ended there and then. He was only 8 years old.
We have had dogs in our lives since 1960, but I wonder if we shall ever get another. At my age (75) would it be fair on a dog to gain and then lose a master after a comparatively short time?
Answers on a postcard (as they say) please.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop -- only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
This poem, by Edward Thomas, holds for me that moment during a busy, noisy journey when everything stops for a moment and one is a traveller in an unfamiliar place. Indeed, it has an essential sense of time and place which seems almost unequalled.
And yet it was one of Thomas's very first poems. By this date (1914) he had had an unsuccessful career as a journalist and literary critic and was in a profound depression. He had been befriended by a fellow depressive, the American poet Robert Frost and was in fact on the train journey to meet him at Frost's home near Ledbury, Gloucestershire. Because of that meeting Thomas's poetry blossomed.
It was a short blossoming. The first world war started a few months later. He was 37, married with 3 children but insisted on enlisting although he would have been exempt at the time. In 1917 he was killed on the first day of the Battle of Arras..
I wonder if he felt that the England he had so perfectly captured in "Adlestrop" was in danger and he had to do his bit in its defence? Perhaps a fitting meditation as the first World War is remembered now on its centenary.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
We have a local link to him in that the very first amateur performance of one of his plays occurred at Surrenden Manor, Pluckley (burnt down in 1952).
In the Folger Library in Washington is the handwritten adaption of two of his plays which were performed at Surrenden in 1623.
Sir Edward Dering put together the two parts of Henry IV for this private performance at his home. He paid the local rector to write out the play and laid out the princely sum of 17 shillings and eight pence "for heads of hair and beards", which were presumably wigs and false beards for Falstaff, et al.
So our local claim to literary fame is not just limited to H.E. Bates' "The Darling Buds of May" TV series, which was filmed nearby (and is also a quotation from a Shakespeare sonnet).
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Well - I finally had to buy a new PC to overcome problems.
I have had a week of trauma trying to get to terms with my new PC, which runs on Windows 8.1. Trouble with "8" is that it is dual configured for this modern age so that you can "swipe or pinch" all the apps if you have that kind of machine face (I haven't, still stroking my mouse). Luckily (when you know how) you can also access the traditional "desktop" which we all know and are experienced in using. I went back to the PC store and bought a book on the 8.1 system which is helping me a lot and showing me how very simple something is, which has been causing me frustration, if only I had KNOWN how to do it. But I am getting there - slowly.
All my various devices like printers and scanner loaded on this new PC OK, as did all my various programmes on disk such as my photographic applications. Would you believe that the only one which would not load was my disk for Microsoft Office Professional (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc). I tried to put it on but got the message that Microsoft Windows 8.1 will not support it, so please buy a new one from us for £300! (the b*****ds!). They are so cynical - continuous updates to perfectly good programmes, just to keep us buying their products. So I took advice and loaded instead a completely free programme called "Open Office", which does most of the stuff that Microsoft's "Office" does and enables me to load and use all my existing Office files.
So - we are getting there folks. I sometimes wonder if it is all worth it!