Wednesday, 31 March 2010


I have so little to do (believe that and you'll believe anything!) that I have recently joined a photo club - nothing too serious. We're really just a bunch of 'Happy Snappers'.

Every couple of months we are to have a competition. The first of these has just completed. The competition title for the photos was 'Winter wonders and Christmas memories.'

I submitted three photos in all and this was the one which did best, coming 3rd overall out of 68:

I called the photo 'Galaxies' because I felt that it looked like a view of outer space but it is actually a shot of the frozen surface of a canal which people have thrown snowballs onto.

I'm pleased with my effort but being very competitive, I'm hoping to do better next time.

What's that you say? You don't understand how come it didn't win? Well since you mention it, me neither.

Sunday, 28 March 2010


There have been a number of awful cases in America and also in Germany of shootings taking place at schools and colleges. There were usually fatalities - after all, schools don't expect this sort of event to happen and the cowards who perpetrate the crime are picking on a very soft target. There are many instances where teachers were the first to be shot as they tried to protect their students.

Thankfully, England has tended to escape such horrific events and long may this continue. Consider then the school near Worcester which presumably thinking that their students had missed out on all the excitement, recently staged the shooting of one of their popular teachers without warning the pupils that it was only make believe.

Not surprisingly, several students were traumatised by the experience. It wasn't until some 10 minutes after the mock shooting that staff began to announce that it was a sham and the 'dead' teacher arose unharmed.

The Head Teacher has now apologised for the 'prank'. Oh good - that's alright then. What's next on the curriculum? A spoof 9/11?

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


My dear wife once had a friend who had OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). This dreadful condition can manifest itself in many different ways. In her case, the poor lady would leave her house to go to work then having locked the door and started off, had to return home to check whether she had turned off the lights. She would leave again but would then return to check whether she had left a tap running. She would continue to return home 3 or 4 times to check various items before she could finally depart albeit in a nervous state still wondering whether she had left her home safe. She had the same problem again when leaving work to go home.

Thankfully my aforementioned spouse does not have this awful condition and yet often, when we leave home, as we are driving out of the road she will suddenly shriek 'Go back! I've forgotten my sunglasses / gloves / purse / lip balm'. You get the picture.

The neighbours must be getting so used to this phenomenon that I can imagine them timing how many seconds it will be before they see us return and my wife run frantically back into the house.

Well yesterday, it happened again but with a twist. We had been driving for almost two whole minutes when the call came 'Go back! My earrings don't match!' It transpired that she had been uncertain which pair to wear so had inserted one of each in order to solicit my opinion. Of course, she had then totally forgotten about them.

Clearly she is suffering from OED - Odd Earring Disorder.

Sunday, 21 March 2010


There is a debate going on at present about the reporting of the deaths of our brave soldiers in Afghanistan.

Some people are annoyed when the front page news is about a 'football hero' like David Beckham suffering an injury on the pitch which will probably prevent him playing in the world cup. The argument goes that our front line troops are the true heroes and it is their injuries and deaths which should fill the front page.

It may be very sad for Cheryl Cole that her marriage has broken down but 'we can wait until page 5 to read about it'. Her story should not push our fallen soldiers off the front page is the opinion of many.

When my future son-in-law was out fighting in Afghanistan, my family and I were living a daily nightmare as we heard the daily news and learned of the casualties. Thankfully, he and most of his comrades have returned safely. So I know the anguish of the families whose sons and daughters are fighting for their country. I can only imagine the pain of those families whose children do not return.

Whether you agree with the war or not, there is no question that our soldiers, not our sportsmen, are the true heroes. Their bravery is not in doubt. I agree with those who feel that our soldiers deaths in combat are tragic and newsworthy.

However, I disagree that their deaths are front page news. Reports of their deaths will not sell papers and should no more be on the front page than the obituary column should be. So let us continue to have flashy stories on the front page which will entice people to buy the papers - then those readers will encounter the news of our fallen heroes as they turn the pages within.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


Just when I thought I'd heard everything, I discover that pupils in Glasgow are being given lessons in how to sleep. This was never on the curriculum in my day and I'm willing to bet that the same goes for you.

Mind you, the few lessons I had in Latin used to have a wonderfully somnolent effect until the Latin master nicknamed 'Archie' hurled the board rubber at you - and let me tell you, his aim was deadly.

The pupils in question are teenagers. Now my memory isn't what it was but I do remember clearly the many hours which I spent in my bed in a totally comatose state during my teens. I also remember my own children following suit having apparently inherited this happy hibernation ability.

Can you imagine the lessons? "Now children, I want you all to lie down on the floor and stick your thumbs in your mouths. Did you remember to bring your favourite teddy in?"

Can you also imagine what they will be teaching next after how to sleep? "Hurry up Jones, you'll be late for your cornflake eating class. Well done Smith for passing your 'how to sit in a chair without slouching' exam"

As you will have noticed, my gasted is totally flabbered.

Sunday, 14 March 2010


The old ones are the best...

Dear Alfie,

I hope this finds you well. Thank you so much for my Mother's day card. I think it might have been steamed open because there was no money inside.

Please note our new address. Your Dad heard that most accidents occur within five miles of home so we thought we better move.

Thank you so much for the lovely scarf you sent me for my birthday. I had to change it for a new one because it was too tight. It's no fun being 40 I can tell you. I am determined never to be 40 ever again.

Your brother is doing really well now he's joined the army. He's only been a soldier for two weeks and they've promoted him to Court Marshall already.

I had to go to the Doctor's about my stomach pains yesterday. He asked me if I'd ever been incontinent so I told him about the two times we went to France. I don't understand why he'd wan't to know about our holidays abroad though.

Well I better go - do write back if you can.

Sorry Alfie but I meant to put a £20 note in with this letter but sealed the envelope before I remembered.

Lots of love
Mum x

Sunday, 7 March 2010


Jack was sitting in his usual seat by the window where he could see the garden. He knew it was Monday because it was sausages for lunch. They always had sausages on Mondays. Jack was 92 years old and was popular with the staff because he was always very polite. He was quiet and didn't cause them any trouble. He just sat in his chair looking out of the window.

Now it was Tuesday. Ham salad on Tuesdays. Jack gazed out at the lawn where the gardener was busy mowing the grass. It was nearly four years since Jack had had a visitor. That was his daughter Kate who he had outlived since she died aged 63.

Wednesday was Cottage Pie. Jack looked at the empty chair next to him. No-one had sat in that chair since Arthur died last year but it wasn't as if Jack missed Arthur's conversation. Arthur was never able to speak following a stroke years earlier. Jack watched the birds feeding on the worms outside.

Thursday. Beef stew. Jack dozed a little and the staff kept quiet so he wouldn't wake.

Friday and fish pie. Jack was surprised when a lady came and sat by him. She explained that she was here to visit her father but that he was having a bed bath so she needed to wait around for a while. Jack smiled as she spoke to him but didn't speak. He rarely did. The lady told him her name was Linda. She'd brought her Dad his copy of RAF news, a magazine about the Royal Air Force for, as she explained, her father used to be an airman.

She asked Jack if he had served in the second world war and she saw the sparkle which appeared in his eyes as he began to tell her how he had trained as a spitfire pilot until an eye problem meant that he couldn't fly again. He went on to relate how he left the RAF and joined the navy in 1940 and used to go on convoy duty to Newfoundland and to Russia. His eyes watered a little as he spoke of the time when the ship he served on had been torpedoed and though he had survived, many of his comrades had drowned around him.

Linda listened with growing fascination and saw the pride in his eyes as he continued his tales and spoke of some of the successes they had had in sinking German vessels. By now, Linda's father was ready and she said farewell to Jack but reflected on how privileged she felt to have heard Jack's exploits.

As she left, Jack turned to look outside at the rain.

The moral? Just because a book is dusty, doesn't mean it isn't worth taking down from the shelf and reading.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


To my amazement, I still encounter people who choose not to embrace e-mail and who continue to doggedly use snail-mail. I heard one such person remark that in their opinion, e-mails were for those people who can't be bothered to use the telephone.

I would take issue with that. In the first place, sending an e-mail is free compared to making a phone call. Much more importantly though, a phone call is so intrusive.

There I am, right in the middle of cutting my fingernails when the blessed phone rings. Is this the call to tell me of my long lost relative who sadly died but left me a fortune in his will? Nope. It's that firm who call me roughly every 2 weeks and ask to speak to the person who used to live here over 4 years ago. You can imagine how polite I am as I explain their error for the 382nd time.

The wondrous thing about e-mails is that I can deal with them when I have the time and inclination to do so. Of course the phone has it's place. (Mine is just to the right of the TV). It's primary purpose is to contact someone from whom you need an immediate answer - such as when you're cheating during a quiz.

One of the ways I while my time away is by teaching ladies of advancing years how to use their computers. I recently bestowed the power of e-mails onto an 83 year old who is now e-mailing away with her numerous grandchildren.

As she said to me yesterday (in an e-mail) 'I feel rather proud of myself'. I just feel a warm glow.