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Month: May, 2014

Goodbye yellow brick road

It’s a little funny (peculiar) how hearing one song can lead us to remember a place, time, person or event and that memory can bring joy or sadness. I was listening to my phone playlist, on shuffle, so I didn’t know what was coming next when Cilla Black came on, reminding me of my mam in happy times and sad. Thinking of my mam is nothing new as I remember, and miss, her terribly every day.

My mam was born, and raised, in Newcastle on Tyne, met my dad when he was doing his National Service with her brother in Hong Kong and Singapore. I was always close to mam and, in the late 70’s when I moved back to Scotland, I tried to see my mam at least once a week. Her death plagued me for a long time, because I was calling in to see her every Wednesday afternoon on my way home from College. The week she died I went over on the Tuesday morning, told her I was travelling to Basingstoke to pick up my daughter for the summer holidays and would be over to see her, with Sara, either Saturday or Sunday. I never saw her alive again. She died on the Wednesday of a massive heart attack.

When my latest mother-in-law was ill, I was reminded of all of this, the day before she passed I was at her bedside then more people arrived so I kissed her forehead and said that I was going but I’d call round the following day to spend some more time with her. The next morning, November 20th, my phone rang at 6a.m. and I knew she’d gone before I answered it.

All of this memory triggered by a Paul McCartney song, sung by Cilla, called Step Inside, Love. The mind is a strange thing though, isn’t it? We never really forget anything, and there can be so many different triggers for memories to suddenly burst out. Sights, sounds (including music but other sounds as well) smells, (bacon sizzling in a pan reminds me of Sunday morning breakfast, Kouros after shave reminds me of Paris) and even old photographs of places visited all act as triggers for memories, once they start it’s hard to stop them from taking you off on a Magical Mystery Tour of an Amazing Journey.

A reminder of how quickly time flies

When you start mixing with other children (mainly relatives and parents friends’ kids), 10 seems like an eternity away and 20 is ancient. Then when we make it to double figures, 3 seems terribly young to trail around following us, ancient is now 25.

When we hit our teens and the hormones really kick in we start to notice the visible differences between the sexes, at this age for a lad, girls of a certain age really look appealing and lust comes oozing out of our pores. This has to be dealt with in one of two ways, bumbling attempts to have sex, or you hear of a fierce rivalry with the school next door and join in.

In our 20’s, middle age starts at 40, by 50 you’re over the hill and the time before retirement makes you cynical. Before you can get over the hangover from turning 21 you’ve lost a decade and now you’re 30. Where did those 10 years go? But now you notice the years are passing by quicker and quicker, by now you’ve settled down and have children of your own.

40 comes around so quickly now and the children hit their teens. Unlike in our day, they stay around the house with games consoles and online competitors. Did we really help to create a generation of couch potatoes? Political correctness means it is now a criminal offence to hit a child under any circumstances. This, in my humble opinion, has led to the decline of respect shown to the older generation (now us) and those elderly people in our midst. For those of us who have turned 60 life seems to get harder every day. Walking around the house is a painful chore, going any further and we have to stop quite often to catch our breath.

Now we really can’t see the passage of time, years seem like days used to, you seem to be living in a glass bubble while the Earth rotates ever faster. Blink and now, in your 70’s things go noticeably wrong, knees and hips get replaced, your stomach has more than doubled in size since you turned 40, was that really only 30 years ago? Well no, you didn’t notice but you are now 75. Your children only call round to drop their kids off for a little while so they can be allowed to have some time to themselves. Your older grandchildren start calling round to make sure you’re okay and not too bored, now you sit back, relax and wonder why youth is wasted on the young. You turned 90 two years ago and next week you’ll be 93. Where is the time going. You notice that friends don’t call around and when you ask about Brian you find out he died 25 years ago. Now your mind is really coming into its own, you remember things from centuries ago but can’t remember why you walked into the kitchen five minutes ago.

You wonder where everyone has gone, as you slowly and peacefully feel your body relax, no pain, no panic, no reason to wonder. Your family call round to see what you’ve left, if anything at all. You’re better off out of it, as at last you can sleep.

It’s all down to my way of living

Have you ever had someone point out something completely off the wall that makes you think, Wow, or I never would’ve thought that way ever? I had that the other day, in our schools and workplaces women are told to cover up so they won’t distract the males. This is the left field bit (yes it was a woman commenting), this perpetuates the woman as weaker and leads to the perpetuity of the rape culture.

If you really stop and think about it, she is absolutely right. Male kids should be told that all humans are beautiful in their own way, and women especially deserve to be treated as equals. I respect women completely and even if I saw a naked woman walking down the street rape would be furthest from my mind. In these days of warmth why should our females be expected to cover up? Men will often strip to the waist and some will dig out shorts, just to keep cool. Why can’t women do the same? Short skirts and skimpy tops are never an invitation to rape, they show women get just as hot as the rest of us. I have never subscribed to the view “Going out dressed like that, she was asking for it” if a woman says no, respect that, move on to another. There are lots of women who are feeling the heat but that doesn’t mean they are asking for sex.

I really like women, the way they look, the way they move, the style and grace of the female and, while I will look at a woman’s face in conversation, I admit I do look at other areas when passing by. Which red blooded heterosexual male wouldn’t? I will also defend a woman’s right to wear whatever she chooses without comment, without fear, and if she does fall foul of a male who violates her I will come down hard on the rapist, which is only fair. Too often we see rapists walking free after trial because they have utter contempt for the law, and women.

How often have we heard that sex was “consensual” and the bruises were the result of foreplay? It’s about time we gave women the power they deserve in such cases. Don’t make them face, in open court, the violator. Allow them to give their evidence from a separate room with audio only. Maybe then more cases of rape will be punished, more rapists will face jail time, and it might deter others from committing this crime.

Thank you for allowing me to bend your ear for so long. Take care, be vigilant, look out for someone, let’s do 1 act of random kindness today and every day. Take back our streets, our community, our lives, make this country Great once again.

Fame, makes it tough hard to follow

Here I am again, folks, this time around I thought I’d do something different, off the wall, crazy and completely unaided by chemicals. Why is science so focused these days? Because it all comes down to profit at the end of the day. What if…? Has been replaced by We need a cure for…! Science and scientists made some amazing discoveries in the past by using what if…? Would penicillin have been discovered if Fleming hadn’t made a mistake but watched to see what would happen if he left the experiment to develop? No I don’t think it would have. Edison discovered hundreds of ways to make light bulbs that didn’t work before anyone found the one that worked.

Science has, in the past, focused on what if, white light was believed to be pure and white until someone noticed the rainbow appearing from a prism when hit by white light. At first it was thought the colours were stored inside the prism until someone put this to the test. We see the world around us every day but, sadly, most of us never notice what goes on under our eyes. Have scientists and science becoming blinkered in the same way? What if one of the failures in the targeted research to find a cure for breast cancer, say, was allowed to develop to see what if, it may not prove to be a cure for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s?

Targeted research has it’s benefits but have we gone too far in the pursuit of profit to expand knowledge through experimentation. On a more positive note there is a research centre in the South of England where what if research is going to be carried out along side targeted research, hopefully the targeted will generate enough income to fund the what if side. It would be a sad waste if our search for why and what if failed now when it has given so much in the past to explain life and the way we function as well as giving us some amazing developments and cures along the way.

Is it any wonder

Well, here we all are, once again
I had an idea I wanted to convey
But now I’m here I’m lost for words
Just what the hell did I want to say?

Please don’t despair
Don’t wait or hesitate
Bad things happen and things get said
But through it all we’ve got us

If you think we’ve been apart too long
Pick up the phone and call after all
What’s the worst I can do? I won’t ever
Hang up on you, my baby girl, my blood

You know the number so please use it
At times like this you need a friend
I’m in your corner always, just waiting
For you to ask then I’ll step in to help you mend

Is there anybody out there?

Well, the world championship is over for another year, 17 days of snooker, especially at the standard achieved, will bring anyone to the point where they could sleep for a week. I have been so thrilled thinking Ronnie O’Sullivan could lift his third trophy in a row but what a tough player Mark Selby is, when he was down 10-5, I really thought there was no way back against Ronnie, however, he won the last 2 frames to be 10-7 overnight so I knew it was going to be a hard fought final 2 sessions.

Any road up, as the actress said to the bishop, it was close fought right to the end and Mark Selby has, at last, got his name on the triple crown. Good luck to him and Ronnie next season and I hope they both do well.

On a lighter note, I spent the last couple of weeks in Scotland, visiting family, for my 60th. My dad and both brothers pushed the boat out for me. I thanked them all at the time for making this one so special. I just wish I could get to see them all more often. My dad is beginning to look really frail so I will try to get up again soon. Now that my youngest brother has retired at 53 I really have no excuse.

Well that brings my tale fully up to date, more posts will follow over the next few days and weeks, especially as I have recovered from the past fortnight!