Sunday, January 13, 2019


INTO 2019.
Our Roz. 

On January 7th Roz went into St. Mary's Hospital, IW, for a double mastectomy performed by a team from Southampton: two surgeons worked simultaneously over some ninety minutes.
She recovered better than expected from the anaesthetic and, though sore, has felt well since and is now back in her own home under the care of a district nurse, of Mo, of kind friends, and of granddaughter Jess who is staying with her every night until full recovery. 
On the same basis, grandson Ellis is staying here with us.
I am just eternally grateful for the dedicated and skilled professionals who carry out such superlative work.
Suffice to say I have, over the past year, discovered I am nothing like as tough as I thought myself to be; a finding that has not escaped my Leader, who knows my every mood backwards. Well, even English boys of the nineteen thirties can't always hide their emotions. Sad though that we feel so guilty about showing them.
As mentioned elsewhere within these posts, I was a NHS employee for over three decades (1957 – 89), believed in it implicitly, often found fault with it, too easily fell out with snotty seniors, and thought then, as I still do, that politicians and shit top administration will eventually do away with any semblance of the wonderful public funded service it was meant to be.
We'll finish up following America again. Devil take the hindmost.
In the meantime, keep thanking the gods for all the wonderful doctors, nurses and administrative staff we still have left in Britain.
No final date for Roz to move here yet, but it should be before the month is out. Radiators are in (thanks, Dean, you're a good lad), carpeting is down and everything is ready.
Whether you know her or not, wish her good luck, eh?
To relax.
Relaxing while working, with the little music centre doing its stuff.
A long time favourite CD of mine, Lars Vogt playing Schumann's Piano Concerto, with the CBSO conducted by Simon (now Sir Simon) Rattle. Young Lars played it beautifully at Leeds in 1990 and I ordered and picked up the recording from Symphony Hall Gift Shop, Birmingham, on a day trip to a CBSO matinee (a sixtieth birthday present from Mo).
We can't manage trips of that sort anymore, but we enjoyed them while we could. I console myself with the thought that if I went now I'd probably have to listen, before the real music came on, to some modern cacophony that infuriated me.
Which reminds me: since Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 was taken over by Lauren Laverne (from the excellent Kirsty Young), people young enough to regard twentieth century music as ancient have become the fashionable castaways. Listening to a recent choice I sourly remarked to Mo: “If I was rowing towards a desert island and heard that one's music I'd turn right around and row away.”
(Yeah, I know. Miserable old sod.)
But, to be fair, 'that one' would probably turn right around and row away if he or she heard any of mine. 
Hunters and hunted.
We are being caught up by police procedural in the crop of old coppers' memoirs currently in evidence. My favourite to date has been Manhunt in which Martin Clunes (brilliantly underacting) plays real life DCI Colin Sutton of the Metropolitan Police, a man who plainly never overacted throughout his entire career and as a consequence was, without doubt, frequently dismissed by glib bullshitters of higher rank.
DCI Sutton's painstaking pursuit of the serial killer Levi Bellfield was shown on ITV over three nights and - even to one who normally eschews both literary and screen 'true detective' depictions - was mesmerising stuff. 
Can't say the same for Hunted or ex cop Peter Bleksley on Channel 4: my disenchantment with reality television has been diminished by neither.
For the fictional detective devotee two new series with the return of Father Brown (BBC1) played by Mark Williams, a watchable dose of dated hokum, and Grantchester (ITV) starring Robson Green and, apparently for the last time, James Norton: a feel good dose of sham 1950s for the oldies.
I watch both with frequent smiles and an occasional groan. Love the premise, see the flaws.
Thanks for your Christmas cards, all who sent them, and apologies to those who may have somehow been missed off our list. It came and went so fast.
All the best again for the New Year.
Mind how you go, and avoid picking up the phone to any number you don't recognize.


Monday, December 31, 2018


This is our mantlepiece.
Yes, our mantlepiece, temporary home to a handful of the Santa Claus collection that emerges here each year at Christmastime.
We no longer know why we bother.
Our children and grandchildren are well beyond the age when the Santa's Grotto look interested - let alone impressed - them, so I guess it has to be habit and, maybe, a roguish desire to prove that old age is not necessarily allied to wisdom.
I long ago shattered that supposition anyway.
A sometimes sad year.
Early in the year our friend Joan Keep died and a week before Christmas my late cousin Don Stanley's wife, Thelma, with whom I have maintained affable occasional telephone contact over the years, died in a Sheffield care home at the age of eighty five: she had been in increasingly poor health, so the news did not come as a shock, but I always liked her, will very much miss her, and commiserate with her lovely family.
All the very best for the future my dears.
I also miss
old pal Anonymous John who has had a troublesome year healthwise. Hope next year is vastly better for you, John.
And I have fingers crossed
for our brave, brave daughter Roz, who will enter hospital early in January for a double mastectomy and afterwards move, with our grandson, from Newport to take up home with us for a while. I don't pray but I do a lot of hoping.
On the bright side.
 The replacement of radiators apart (where are you, Dean?) there is only the carpeting - bedrooms and stairs - left to do and the upstairs accommodation will be ready for Roz and Ellis to move in. Our thanks again to Stuart (proprietor Stuart Boyd-Kerr Property Developments Limited), for installing the truly splendid en suite shower room (pictured above), and to Mick Birmingham (MGB Painting and Decorating) for breaking his 'quiet December' rule to plaster and decorate before Christmas the bedrooms, en suite, stairway pictured below, and hall of this sadly neglected former surgery.
What a relief.
I am not going to dwell on the paucity of decent tele over the festive season.
We did see and enjoy Agatha and the Truth of Murder, The ABC Murders, Clint Eastwood: A Life in Film, The Midnight Gang and The BFG. The old boys and girls tackling University Challenge were fun, too.
Hope your Christmas was good. All the best for New Year.

Friday, November 30, 2018


Don't tell me this country of ours really cares who drowns in The Channel. I don't think your average little Englander gives a toss how many desperate beings sink trying to get here, providing they sink without trace and don't wash up on our beaches.
Truth is, we live in an increasingly ruthless and uncaring world where devil take the hindmost has become the sad norm. It has given rise to an international upsurge in blinkered nationalism and, to those of us born before world war 2, ominously presages what could be the first world war of the twenty first century.
For the sake of humanity, all of you, wake up and bear in mind: it only takes one bonkers-in-the-head politician to press a button or elevated nutcase to say the wrong word!
Our Roz. Last chemo undergone with all the unpleasant after effects that follow. She's a gradely fighter. So far as future living arrangements are concerned, her en suite here is now underway thanks to...
Stuart the builder partner of our lovely hairdresser friend Maxine Boyd-kerr (we've been pals for over twenty years) who, although he knew Mo and I only through our lengthy friendship with Maxie, kindly stepped in to allay our fears that we would never be suitably adapted to accommodate Roz and Ellis when their removal time arrives.
We will now. He's doing a great job.
Blessyer, mate.
The Walking Dead
(SPOILER) This series reached the halfway mark and took another step in the direction of let's kill off all the limeys with the weird murder of British actor Tom Payne (above) who played Paul 'Jesus' Rovia.
He was, I fear, too good looking to last.
Long-time cast member Andrew Lincoln, another Brit, was spirited away a couple of weeks ago along with Pollyanna McIntosh, a Scottish actress who played the unpredictable 'trash queen,' but room has been left for the return of either or both of them.
The departure of these Brits can be no surprise to any viewer of The Talking Dead fronted by lively Chris Hardwick.
On a couple of occasions over the years he has griped (albeit in mock fun) “Why do we employ all these Brits? Our actors can't go over there and get jobs on Downton Abbey.”
Had I been close enough to give him a reply I would have said: “No, your actors just take over our West End theatres and finish up buying the bloody Downton Abbeys.”
C'est la vie.
Mind how you go. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018


My Leader. 
It was Maureen's birthday on Monday (she's the non-furry one in the picture with the cat Shadow). 
There were no expensive gifts and the weather wasn't great, but she had a nice little bunch of cards, the phone didn't stop ringing all day and there was much kindness and love and being visited. 
A happy day. 
The cat Shadow. 
Dear old Shadow (he's the furry one in the picture with Maureen) is around 22/23 years old now and, bless 'im, starts to act it. 
He sleeps more, miaows more and eats less. 
We have been together since the start of the century and have lauded and cursed each other in equal measure. His time in our company is clearly more important to him at present than ever before and he has been the most dedicated family cat ever to adopt us. If he kicks the bucket before I do a piece of my heart will go with him. Let's move on to something lighthearted. 
Our Jess. 
Granddaughter Jess, one of Maureen's birthday visitors, who recently moved into her own home in Ryde, celebrates her twenty third birthday next week and has asked whether her get-together might be held at our house.  
Answer: Yes, of course. 
It will be another happy day: Mo will see to that. 
In the meantime, lovely Jess has published the following on Facebook: 
Story - 
For my birthday this year I'm asking for donations to Stand Up To Cancer. As some/all of you know, my mum was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer which, to be honest, has been less than ideal. Luckily she's doing really well but it is important that research into all different types of cancer continues, so that survival rates can continue to improve. Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) brings together today's top scientists to collaborate. Our mission is to make every cancer patient a cancer survivor. Every little helps – thank you. 
Jess Daisy White - 14 November 2018. 
Facebook itself is among the early contributors. 
We couldn't be more proud of her or her mother. 
Our Roz
Roz has seen her consultant today and has been assured that, in her case, both breasts can be removed and restructured. This is the best news she has had since treatment began. 
She will be given her last session of chemo next week and the operation will take place early in January 2019. 
Your kind thoughts are much appreciated, nice people. 
That's all for now. 
I'll be back with the rest of the world next time

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


Daylight Saving Time will come back then and Seasonal Affective Disorder should sidle away. 
Now the confounded clocks have had to be put back again. I used to think the only people responsible for such nonsense were powerful shareholders in car battery firms. But batteries are more efficient nowadays - and many only replaceable from the firm that manufactured the car - so the cause of our clock tinkering this year, if media mouthpieces can be believed, is the former second string of scapegoats, Scottish farmers, who don't like the dark days. 
If that really is so, surely the sensible solution would be to make supermarkets pay the farmers fair wholesale prices for their produce, then the poor buggers would be able to afford electric light. 
I never welcome winter. When I retired from the NHS in 1989 we seriously contemplated moving to Scotland - land of one of my great grandfathers - and never looking back. We took a motoring holiday (I didn't mind all the driving in those days) and went on a recce up as far as Inverness. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Lovely country. Great people. But the weather! Until you have spent a wet weekend in Fort William you have no idea what rain off the Gulf Stream can be like. Incessant is the word. 
On the way up we ran into snow, too. It was April. By the time we got back home we were decided. Property wasn't selling well on the Island. Better stay put. It's a small place with the customary quota of small minds, but there are worse places to spend your retirement. 
Guess we made the right choice. 
All the family lives over here now. 
Our Roz. 
In conjunction with her treatment, Roz has been gifted a couple of head warmers which, the weather not being north of Watford weather, she tends to forget to wear. Shame. I think she looks good in both of them and particularly so in the one pictured above.
Tomorrow she is back for another chemotherapy session. Had a bad reaction after the last two. 
We can only hope for a better outcome this time.
Andrew Lincoln is leaving The Walking Dead (Fox). The next episode will be his last and it seems likely that this will be the last series as such. 
John Simm in Strangers finally found out all he wanted to know about his murdered wife. 
Good acting all round but the entire story could have been fitted into three episodes and by the time we reached the eighth I didn't care who did what or why. 
The Ghan (BBC Four) was a very long, and apparently very expensive, train ride from Adelaide to Darwin. We quite enjoyed the soporific ambience, but why anybody would pay close on 3000 Australian dollars to spend 54 hours studying scrubland is way beyond me. 
Ah well. To each his own.
Sleep well. I did after this.

Thursday, October 18, 2018


Change is lurking round the corner.
                            Publish your passions, your way
             Create a unique and beautiful blog. It’s easy and free.
Another SOB story. After all my boring threats and abortive attempts to update the layout of this delightful - but unmistakeably yesteryear - blog format, Google Blog seemed to have taken the initiative with the above message which, together with the odd news that I had 'signed out' of my old blog, invited me to create a new one: the invitation being so arranged that I was unable to access the 'new post' page of said old blog. Is there no limit to their cunning? 
I am scribbling this post on Open Office Writer and hoping that the computer lifeboat captain will contact me when my latest save our blog (SOB) story reaches him. 
If it does, the status quo will probably prevail.*
Pauline and Neil. 
Our daughter-in-law and son celebrated their twenty fifth wedding anniversary on Tuesday. Doesn't seem possible but nothing does when you get to our age. 
Mo bought them a congratulations card weeks ago.
Forgot to post it. I was no help. I only remember our anniversary because it comes five days before my birthday (and I only remember that because folk ring and ask what present I shall be saying I don't want). 
Anniversary card, containing apologies and belated congrats, gone now. 
Perhaps we should have a suitably amended version of that message put by for Christmas use. 
Our Roz. 
Roz (on the left of picture with me, her sister Jac and brother Neil) last week underwent a chemo session on two successive days and suffered the not unexpected after-effects. 
Her house in Newport IW has been sold and we are adapting the accommodation here with a view to giving her some breathing space with us for a while.
Mo continues to do all she can for her and we stay buoyant. 
Though I normally eschew mockumentaries that seem designed to provide footloose thespians and risible reality show 'celebrities' with freeby holidays, I somehow avoid associating them with 
Joanna Lumley, whose Joanna Lumley's Silk Road Adventure (ITV) has seen Ms. Lumley breathlessly swanning across magical lands like Kyrgyzstan. 
Her sojourn at a camp on the southern shore of Lake Issyk Kul provided the following remarks about the super tent with lavatory and shower room (and signs that it was still somebody's home) allocated to her: 
“I think somebody is living here. I'm inconveniencing them. I've thrown them out. I don't mind doing that. I'm rich and important...” 
It was so gloriously Patsy and tongue-in-cheek that only the most determined anti Lumleyite would believe she meant it. I certainly didn't. 
Though, when it comes to important, Joanna Lumley is the only person I've ever known have a Wightlink ferry brought back for her when she was seconds late to catch it at Ryde Pier. 
From what I recall, she had an appointment at 10 Downing Street so they called back the departing ferry. Yep, she actually is that important. 
No more to say except that 
Ben Fogle, whose New Lives in the Wild (Chanel 5) has also been a firm favourite, was charming, non-judgemental and prepared to muck in with everybody he encountered in this recent series. I gather he concluded it all by climbing Everest. 
Well done. 
In real life (as we few who are not celebrities think of it) Mr. Fogle and his family are every bit as charming. Some time ago when Roz was walking the dog Buddy here on the island, a pair of little girls ran up from behind her to ask if they could stroke him: their parents quickly caught up, apologised for the children's exuberance, gained ready permission for them to make the requested fuss of Buddy (not something to which he is at all averse) and quite made the day for Roz and a blissfully happy dog. 
That family was, of course, the lovely Fogle family. Ignore scandal seekers, there's not much wrong with Ben. He's one of the good guys. 

*As you will have gathered, the computer lifeboat captain duly obliged. Hence the status quo. Thanks again, Neil. 
Google willing, see me later.

Sunday, September 30, 2018


My Leader and I.
Celebrated our fifty sixth wedding anniversary this month (this gloriously inept selfie - curse technology - was taken today).
On the day there were four cards on our mantelpiece. One from each other, one from friends Sheila and John (married the year after us) and one from friends Jean and Ian (married two years after us).
I think we all got hitched in September: it had something to do with trying to beat that group of governmental gangsters the Inland Revenue.
We never did. (See PAYE.)
Truth is you need expensive lawyers, costly accountants, friends in parliament, and £billions in offshore bank accounts, to successfully avoid taxation. Working people cannot escape the enforcers of the state's legalized extortion.
Just don't tell me they shouldn't want to.
Birthday month.
My eighty eighth birthday drifted by in a blessing of bright sunshine and, from a variety of nice people, more expressions of love and goodwill than I ever expected. Thank you, my dears. Mo, who writes the majority of our cards to friends and relatives nowadays, mentioned early on that September is far and away the busiest of her months for sending them.
I thought about it for a second or two, then said: “I think most of us born that month were somebody's Christmas present, love.” 
She liked that.
Family health.
Roz had her third session of chemotherapy, suffered the expected side effects, plus the pain of a pulled muscle, and has been far from well.
Jess has had a heavy cold and spent the week with her father to avoid endangering her mother's delicate health condition; she went home only to give Roz the daily injection. I believe she is back full time now.
Son Neil, too, had a stinker of a cold.
No matter how good the weather is, it's autumn and it's the UK and you can't escape cold germs.
They're a bit like the Inland Revenue.
 Killing Eve (BBC1) which we saw as a box set (it is still showing weekly), had us decidedly quizzical from beginning to end.
Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer and Co. are splendid and I believe there is another series on the way. I shan't be waiting too eagerly, but better that than another crap reality show.
The Great British Bake Off 2018
Channel 4 deserves one of the few hand shakes I would proffer to reality television.
This series features the customary cast of self-satisfied overseers and quaking contestants. It apparently took place in last summer's heatwave, too.
What's not to like?
Mystery Road (BBC4) has a strong cast and outback locations. Other than that it does nothing whatsoever for the Australian tourist industry.
Bodyguard (BBC1). So I was wrong.
Jed Mercurio did kill off Keeley Hawes two thirds of the way through the series. I hope she was paid for all six episodes.
I thought the thumb-taped-to-bomb bit was the comedy session of the year.
D'you think the idea might be adapted to use on those tiresome buggers who spend hours a day texting on their mobile phones? 
Don't text me about it now.
Next month, perhaps.
Till then, drive carefully - without texting!