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!

Saturday, September 15, 2018


Jess Daisy White. 
Daryl, Jess and Roz left here for Hatfield on the ten in the morning ferry and got there in time for lunch.
The big day was a happy but very long one.
Graduation ceremony did not start until five in the afternoon and in excess of a couple of hundred awards were then conferred. By the time the following get-togethers and farewells were done it was a long, late, drive back to the Island.
They managed to board the midnight ferry.
Roz was shattered for a few days - she had not really been fit to travel at all - but has since made a good recovery.
More chemotherapy next week: she appreciates the necessity but is not looking forward to it.
Let's all be affronted.
They are at it again. If it's not unwell wishers niggling  about the oft inane utterances of expensively educated politicians (and I have some sympathy), it's the more readily offended of the fiddler on the roof clan (an otherwise lovely people without whom there would be no show business) demanding apology for perceived slights to their homeland/race/religion. 
Tell you what. Let's all be affronted.
Let's be internationally affronted enough to bring about the replacement of anyone in power who proves to be so far up themself that they become a danger to the entire world.
Wouldn't that be wonderful?
Stan Lee's Lucky Man starring James Nesbitt finished on Sky1. It was comic book stuff and nobody ended up having much luck.
Bodyguard on BBC1 continues apace.
 I don't have a Twitter account so knew nothing of the 'spoilers' story that followed the explosive ending to episode 4. Suffice it to say I am too old a viewer to believe Jed Mercurio has killed off Keeley Hawes (above), one of the two stars, when only two thirds of the way through the series.
I feel sure MI5 headed by Stuart Bowman, who has seamlessly slipped in from Versailles (complete with his two stock expressions - disapproval and pursed lip disapproval), has to be involved.
Otherwise I am convinced of nothing except that had any of the Special Branch officers I knew acted in the way DS David Budd (Richard Madden) does, he would have been quietly removed by his colleagues and put to pasture in a bungalow on Hayling Island.
A Discovery of Witches which has just started in the UK on Sky1, stars Teresa Palmer as Diana Bishop, an academic and reluctant witch.
Matthew Goode plays her vampire professor sidekick and the city of Oxford is as charming as ever. It all looks pretty good.
Until next time, hey presto!

Friday, August 31, 2018


In Personal Corner.

Where it's our family news: starting with Jess Daisy White who is currently back on the Island and living with mother Roz and brother Ellis.
Last Monday she and her mum went to Southampton to buy her graduation dress and in the above picture she can be seen wearing it. Gran (who took the photo) and Popsy (who has her permission to reproduce it here) are proud, fond and slightly in awe of her. She has done commendably well at the University of Hertfordshire, obtaining - alongside a MPharm - an award for best clinical student of her year. Right now she is working her pre reg. year at the pharmacy in East Cowes and continuing her studies, simultaneously proving to be a sympathetic, and much appreciated, applier of Roz's weekly inoculations. Roz, despite an unpleasant forty eight hours of bone pain and the departure in tufts of her remaining hair (she has now just about completely shaven it off), continues to radiate positivity.
Yesterday she went for her second chemo.
Next Tuesday she and Jess's dad, Daryl, will drive up to Hatfield with Jess for the graduation ceremony.
Back here in Ventnor our daughter-in-law, Pauline, and some of her artist friends put on their annual Inspired By Wight exhibition at the Botanical Gardens.
It was a delightful collection, well attended, and we enjoyed every minute of our visit to it.
My Leader and I plod along our disparate paths, she doing anything she can for family, friends, anybody; me currently concluding the revision of my book for children aged 9 to 99 (first undertaken in the 1970s) by adding more chapters relevant to the 21st century. Title is still The Badgers of Deep Wood: Mo likes it.
Well, it stops me joining a moped gang.
Oh, we were visited last week by Mo's nephew Phil and his wife, Julie, who came from Gosport early one morning and spent the day with us. Phil, who is making a slow but sure recovery from cancer (thank the gods and modern medicine), also brought me a present from his brother, Steve, of a little book called Beecham Stories, which I much enjoyed.
I always liked 'Tommy' Beecham (pictured) and thought of him as a musical version of my roguish Uncle Charlie.
They don't make 'em like that anymore.
Sky Arts. We have recently been 'discovering' those fine actors Ernest Borgnine, Gene Hackman, Leslie Howard, Lee Marvin and Richard Widmark again with this sympathetic biographical series. There are more that I must watch out for. Four of the above five started their film lives as 'baddies' and went on to become popular 'goodies.' That's acting.
The BBC Proms, modern music notwithstanding, was mostly good again this year. I particularly enjoyed the Budapest Festival Orchestra conducted by Ivan Fischer: their Hungarian 'gypsy' night had me feeling happily Brahms and Liszt (sorry).
I was initially less certain about the Grieg Piano Concerto, played with impressive hair by French-Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili, but it too was a resounding success. The Estonian Festival Orchestra, conducted by Paavo Jarvi, also performed Sibelius's Symphony No.5 in E Flat. Bit out of my zone.
Picnic At Hanging Rock on BBC2 was not to my taste either. 
I've never liked al fresco dining.
Bodyguard on BBC1 looks good so far. (SPOILER) Keeley Hawes plays ambitious Home Secretary Julie Montague and Richard Madden plays war torn DS David Budd, her protection officer.
Episode 2 has just gone by and already they are at it like knives.
In reality I have only known one Special Branch policeman good looking enough to be a television-type protection officer. He had (still has) a pretty little wife and far more sense than to have ever become involved in an impossible relationship with a female politician.
No, this is just excellently acted television twaddle.
I shall, of course, watch every episode right until the (doubtless bitter) end.
Enough now. Mind how you go.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Roz Barnden.
Current news of our Roz is that the lump in her breast was found to be a collection of small lumps for which a mastectomy will be required; armpit lymph nodes have also been effected.
Tests on her liver showed it to be clear.
She has been for her first session of chemotherapy and afterwards reported having her best night's sleep for weeks. To date she has experienced no adverse side effects that she has cared to mention, but she is now prone to bouts of tiredness.
She is determinedly upbeat.
We would expect nothing else. That is her.
We remain hopefully positive.
Our friends Ian and Jean - who have never met her - have told us she will be in their prayers, and other kind and reassuring words have come from kith and kin. People really can be nice.
I am at a loss to do more than proffer sincere thanks to all those who have so sincerely expressed concern: their goodwill does wonders.
Mo Barnden.
No picture of my Leader who right now has a shiner of a black eye and would welcome being pictured even less than usual.
How did it happen?
Well I wasn't responsible for it.
Proof of that denial is simple: I have not lately been treated at A&E or admitted to Casualty.
No, my dear girl (out of the goodness of her heart as usual) declined taking our Roz's dog-hair-infested car to a car wash as requested and, instead, brought it home to clean.
She made an impeccable job of it, too.
Then came the sponge too far.
When she had vacuum-cleaned it through she decided to wash the upholstery. She got a bucket of water, washed the front seats, turned to tackle the seat at the back, fell over the bucket and landed head first on the stony car park.
I was indoors making her a cup of tea and heard not a sound through the double glazing.
Derek next door became aware of her distress and came round to help.
Thank the lord for neighbours like that.
Fortunately she was not concussed (grazed temple) and suffered no damage to her eyes, but she does now have the pop star look when she goes out, even on overcast days, in dark sunglasses.
Enough said I think.
The Repair Shop (BBC2).
People take their ill-used/neglected/recently unearthed furniture/luggage/clocks etc. to a band of superb craftsmen who reassemble them for the people to come back and say “Wow!” about them.
It's an eye-opener and great fun.
Celebrity Eggheads (BBC2).
The holiday season off-piste quiz show where the hardest thing to answer is 'who are these celebrities?'
Proms Extra 2018 (BBC2).
Lovely Katie Derham is back to talk Proms with a weekly line-up of musical talent and to introduce a fascinating Chord of the Week session by piano maestro David Owen Norris.
Violinist Pekka Kuusisto is here again this year too (hurray!), has been on the programme, and on August 17th premieres a new violin concerto by Philip Venables. It will have to be bloody brilliant to match his rendering of the Tchaikovsky in 2016 or the hilarious encore. Now that's a hard act to follow.
The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco (ITV).
Those clever codebreaker women from Bletchley Park have been relocated to America, presumably in an attempt to resell the series over there. They're all good actors, but it is a bit formulaic, like those afternoon B pictures they show on Channel 5.
Oh, it will probably run forever now.
They usually do if I knock 'em.