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Sunday, December 28, 2014


It was an "interesting" Christmas. In the early morning of 22nd I arose to visit the loo. My left leg had a mind of its own & I had trouble with walking.  Previous experience said "stroke" So off I went to hospital courtesy of a gentleman driving an ambulance with "blues & twos"(as they say in the police) operating. What followed is really a re-run of my previous post  in 2012. (Since I cannot use my left arm/hand & typing is laboriously slow, I shall not enlarge on that post).

They  chucked me out of hospital after one night's stay with the usual bag of pills - they wanted to clear the beds over Christmas & I was happy to co-operate! A little more severe than the last, little use in left arm, hand & leg, but I am (staggeringly) ambulant & can see to myself - speech is slurred this time.

So my time is spent reading & I really must most thoroughly recommend "Do No Harm" by Henry Marsh, an eminent brain surgeon. Absolutely enthralling,  if not, perhaps, ideal to be reading after a brain misfunction! Marsh has great humility, humanity & supreme skills in his profession. It is a "must read".

Henry Marsh: Interview

So, apologies for failing to wish  blog readers a Happy Christmas (really was too engrossed elsewhere!) but a healthy, prosperous & peaceful 2015 to all.

Friday, December 05, 2014

When Dad was sworn Apprentice (but not in Lincolnshire!)

I was looking through some of my late father's old envelopes the other day and came across his apprenticeship correspondence. The actual deed of apprenticeship is far too long and flowery to show , but here is the initial letter (dated 10th January 1931) sent to his father, my grandfather, to kick off his employment. The rates of pay look laughable by today's standards, but today apprenticeships are few and far between. Many of today's youngsters who pay to spend 3 years at university and come out with a degree which is useless to them and the business world would be better off and more happy to have learnt a useful and remunerative craft or trade instead.
(Says he, who spent 3 years learning the blacksmith's trade)

My grandfather - my dad's father was a Rolls Royce chauffeur to a consultant surgeon (he was the first to drive a Rolls in Westmoreland in the early 1900's. He continued driving the surgeon's widow, long after his retirement age and was rewarded when she died with a car (Austin - not Rolls!) and the house he occupied.
Dad said he always wanted to do the same, but the old man insisted that he learn a useful trade first. He became a very skilled carpenter/joiner - a trade he followed all his life (he was still making furniture as a hobby the day before a heart attack carried him off). He spent the years of World War II in the Royal Engineers, re-building bridges, never saw an enemy combatant and never fired a shot in anger!

Ironically he never learnt to drive and rode a bicycle all his life. His day often consisted of cycling seven miles to the above employer's to arrive by 7.30am (in all weathers). If he was employed on a job away from the works, then he was expected to cycle on to that, too. He usually arrived home about 6.30pm in the evening. This was his working life until he retired about 1980.