Where’s It Been?


I gather the football is coming home. But, where has it been and why didn’t the neighbours throw it over the wall a long time ago. When we used to play football as kids and kick the ball over the wall; something that happened a lot. Either they threw it back with a shout of, “oi, don’t do that again.” Or, if they were out, we would nip round, scout out the neighbours house and run like the billy-oh to fetch our ball back.


So my question remains. Why has it taken so long for our neighbours to throw the ball back? Is it to do with Brexit? Now that we are leaving Europe have they decided there is no point hanging onto our ball any longer? Or is the ball so old and deflated that they think we might as well have it back?


Somebody please explain. I just don’t get all this singing. “Footballs coming home, it’s coming.” Where from? Why, How? While we are on the subject how do people know it’s coming back? Have our neighbours given us a heads up? Did the German’s say, “Vee have finished vith it now.” Or the Danes say, “pay us some geld and you can have your ball back?” Is it even up to them, haven’t those Italian’s got it? I’m sure I saw an ice cream seller singing, “just one balleto. Keep it for me.” Was he just teasing? Will he have a say in the matter?


Anyway, you know me, I would never step on any holy cows, nor tackle any thorny issues. I certainly wouldn’t upset any football fans. Football is far too important. One thing is obvious to me; the football is coming home, whatever that means. Watch out Italy, England are going to win on Sunday.

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Confused, you will be

I can be easily confused and moving to a new house may be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Wondering why? Let me explain: The lounge is going to be my temporary bedroom, but will then become a dining room and a music room (well Mary’s piano will be in it.) Our dining room, which is actually a kitchen/diner is going to become our lounge at one end and stay a kitchen at the other. Just as well, I don’t fancy Mary trying to cook food on the sofa or fry an egg on a coffee table, “extra soft-boiled eggs anyone?”. One of the bedrooms is going to be an upstairs sitting room (it has sea views). The garage will become a lift room, and also a computer room (my bedroom will be too small for my computer after the lift access is added). Don’t worry I haven’t returned to the 1960’s with room sized computers, I just mean my PC will be in that room.

Just imagine the confusion all this changing around will cause. The car won’t know where it is, we may well find it in the kitchen one day or sitting on the sofa reading a paper. Herbie rides again, here we come. I might lose Mary completely. Just imagine, Mary might say, “lunch is ready,” I will be sitting in my wheelchair in what was once the dining room, while Mary and my rapidly cooling lunch is somewhere else entirely. Or picture what could happen if a visitor calls around for coffee. Mary says, “take a seat in the lounge”, they glance around, decide on the appropriate room. Mary makes the drinks and starts searching. The drinks could be cold before they are found. Years could pass before we find our visitor covered in cobwebs and dust.

I’m thinking of labelling the house East Wing and West Wing; is that too ostentatious? At least that way we could say, “meet me in the West Wing lounge.” I’m making our house sound far larger and grander than it is. As I said to the butler the other day, “if I write this blog people will think we live in a mansion.” He laughed and said, “just wait till I tell that to the 2nd under maid.” I just wish we could find enough footmen for house. The gardeners are always complaining that 100 acres is too much for them to manage alone. We really have a very ordinary house.

A note for my readers from the US of A. We no longer live in Somerset, so this obviously isn’t true. It’s only true of every Brit who lives in that county, as is shown in every American Movie. The people of the south live in mansions. We now live Up North, and I wear a whippet and take a flat cap for a walk.

Anyway, I must go, the maid wants to set the fire in this room.

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Good Morning

Good morning from sunny Hartlepool, don’t check your weather forecasts, they are not always accurate. Besides, it was sunny, when we arrived. Hartlepool greeted us at the border, yes when we were getting our Southern passports stamped, with glorious sunshine. Actually on the subject of borders Teesside is a funny place. It technically doesn’t exist; by which I mean you never reach a sign that says you are entering Teesside. But you do get signs that tell you have many miles away it is. I wonder if it’s like a rainbow and if you find it there’s a pot of gold?

The county we live in is actually called Cleveland, unless you are entering the address on some systems, then it’s Durham. Anyway, back to arriving on Teesside, I mean in Hartlepool. The effort of that display of sunshine was a bit much and by lunchtime a few drop of rain made an appearance. But I maintain that is merely because we were in the car at The Headland waiting on the house keys. As an aside, The Headland has really changed since we were last here. Verrills Chip shop has an ice cream parlour at the side. What else are you expecting? The rain knew that we were staying in the car, had it seen us exit the car it would have stopped immediately. Because the moment the keys were available, mid-afternoon and we headed to our new house, the sun popped its head out again. Which was good as it meant we were dry and warm when our lovely new neighbours came out to say hello. God has blessed us with wonderful neighbours, just as he did in Wellington.

Now about the elephant in the room. A few of the comments on my previous brief post, suggested that it is cold up here. I don’t know what they mean, it is June after all. Let me make this absolutely clear for the naysayers: We did not go to the house the day after we owned it in a howling gale and heavy rain. Mary certainly did not struggle to stand up as she went around the back of our house to check on the plants. The plants were not huddling together shouting, “why did you bring us here? We’re southern plants, not hardy northerners.” Plus, we have not been glad of the heat being on full in the hotel. So, any thought of the cold up here is totally wrong. Besides, weather is up and down anywhere. The odd drop of temperature in June can happen in the south too. The forecast is for a balmy 17 degrees centigrade tomorrow. I might even take a layer off; I was finding the furs a bit heavy and I never liked smearing whale blubber over my skin. Actually, from our experience living here 11 years ago, this is unusual for June. I remember days in summer I could take my coat off. Not for later in the year though. But we do have a warm house to shelter in.

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Take Two

There seem to be so many re-runs I’ve decided now is the time to join in. Not because it saves on creativity; that’s why everyone else does it. No, my reason is that most of you have never been in my basement; metaphorically that is. You have not trawled my archives, looked through the back issues, read my history, asked about my past. To be honest I’m a bit hurt; don’t you care about me? But I will forgive you if you read this.

The following series of blogs carry a Government health warning:

Don’t operate heavy machinery while reading them.’

I feel that I must add that warning as one of my carers was reading one of my blogs while walking along the road; she walked into a lamp post. Just imagine what would have happened if she had been operating heavy machinery; it doesn’t bear thinking about. If you are wondering which post she was reading it was: “Not so public convenience.” Actually that blog should carry it’s own warning. In fact I think it does. My blogs are at: howcaring.com just in case you want to see why she walked into a lamp post.

Don’t expect a copy and paste of archived blogs. If you want them as they were, you’d still need to read the unadulterated version. These will be adulterated; that sounds as if I will be doing something illegal! In fact I’m not. These will be the all new, singing and dancing versions with added commentary. After all, I know what happened when I posted them. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but reading back into events with added commentary is even better.

For example, when I posted about elves in Amazon devices and how Amazon were going to take me to court and prove elves could not get into their Echo devices. It was only afterwards that I can look back at the spirited defence mounted on my behalf. Looking at those generous hearted comments, we can laugh at the folly of one person saying: “I don’t know much about elves.” When I pointed out it was a farce. Or appreciate the tongue in cheek fun of those who continued the serious debate about the rights and wrongs of Amazon suing me over the alleged elf infestation. All matters relating to the legal issues arising must be referred to my solicitors: Ms Ery Guts at May, Hew, Makemoney & Partners, 1 Gold Row, London.

Let me not tell you too much before I give you the first re-run. There are those who wonder at the picture I use of myself on the Website and its tag line “Shall we get dressed now?” What better place to start than at the beginning and don’t worry I will avoid singing any Sound of Music songs as we Start at The Very Beginning, a very good place to start.

My first ever blog was:

“Shall we get in the bath now?”

“OK, shall we get in the bath now.” This was said by one of the two young ladies who were preparing my bath at a nursing home.

In case you’re wondering, and I know you are, nursing homes only have a couple of nurses at most. The rest of the carers are the same as in a standard care home. The two young ladies mentioned above were carers, not nurses. I don’t need two nurses to bath me. Although that does take me back to when I was 28 years old (The full story is in the blog “Ambulance Transport.”) I was in hospital with a severe electrical burn. Only one arm was working. A nurse, yes it was a nurse this time took me into the bathroom for a bath. She said; “shall we get undressed now?” I was too shocked and embarrassed to notice at the time. I just said I could manage fine.

Anyway back to the original blog. These two young ladies are probably tapping their feet by know waiting for an answer, much like you. So let’s hear my reply:

“Is there room for all three of us?” I asked innocently.

Can I just make an aside here. Yes, another one. There have been those who have suggested my comment may not have been innocent. I assure you, it was. After all, she did ask if we could all have a bath. The bath looked too small to me; perhaps I was wrong.

I had noticed over the previous few days that “we” was used by carers a lot. I guess it was to be encouraging or they just hadn’t thought of it. But once I zoned in on it, I realised that carers were asking to join me in the bath, in the shower and even in bed “shall we get into bed now?”.

Now you are just adding your own interpretations here. They only wanted to get into bed with me.

They were wanting to eat my food, wear my clothes, although I think my clothes may have been a little baggy on them, get into the sling before me and even sit in my wheelchair! “Shall we get into the wheelchair?” I suggested they might be heavy on my knee. There were a couple of them looked light enough.

When I got home from the nursing home, I was so focused on it I noticed my carers at home similarly wanted to eat my lunch “shall we eat now?” This seemed a little mean, I only have small portions; yes I’m big boned. Of course, once I pointed it out, they started to catch themselves saying ‘we’. 

The one that inspired the name of my site is, “shall we get dressed now?” Is probably the most common and one I have to bite my tongue not to respond to the most. Having pointed it out, one of my regular carers has become so aware of this that she will occasionally joke “We! Are going to get dressed now.” Waiting for my eyebrows to raise and then we both have a good laugh.

I had never noticed she was undressed either.

Then again it can be two ways. I’ve become much more aware of saying to Mary on her return, “We’ve tidied up.” Taking credit for the carers work. 

Language is such a funny thing; we say things without meaning to and of course it’s so easy to distort meaning. But it’s also important to be aware of what we are saying and why.

Since I wrote this blog it has had the biggest effect of all my blogs. It has been read world-wide and by a lot of people in the caring professions. I’m not boasting; just telling you how wonderful I am. Oh I see, I am boasting. A tutor at a teaching college in the USA contacted me after reading it and asked if I would mind her making some of my blog’s part of their course reading material; it’s a course teaching about Continuing Health Care. Of course, I said no, how dare you use my material for such a worthy purpose. OK, so I was honoured as this was the reason, I started writing the blog. I’m still waiting to be flown out first class as a visiting speaker. If you are reading this, I’m ready to go, bags are packed.

If you have carers or you are a carer, take note of that ‘We’ it is still used so much. I do realise why it’s used. The idea is to help people feel comfortable and included; it’s meant to be friendly. But I think you’ll agree that it sounds far too inclusive and far too friendly. Anyway shall ‘we’ finish this blog now?

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So Long, Farewell

To anyone who has not seen The Sound of Music, the title of this blog will be lost on you. Let me give you a fuller part of the song:

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night
I hate to go and leave this pretty sight
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu
Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu
So long, farewell, au revoir, auf wiedersehen
.

You can almost hear me singing it. What a treat. I was chatting to someone at the Creech Shed Cafe the other day. Having heard me speak online via YouTube during a Creech Baptist Church meeting, she can now hear my voice whenever she reads my blogs; poor lady. Perhaps you are with her in that, or you are now going to rush to YouTube (see below) and try and find that talk, just to hear me speak. Is that tumbleweed passing down Wellington High Street? I have been told that I have a very distinctive voice. There was somebody who used to say, “Hello Mike,” whenever I answered the phone. Perhaps I need to stop answering the phone, “Mike speaking.”

The reason for this blog, as I always have a reason, is to say goodbye to Wellington. Put those tissues away. Stop! Don’t jump off that cliff; life is still worth living. There is life after Mike. It may be a greyer and…. wait a minute, you don’t have to lose touch at all. I may be a million miles away, all the way up in the North East of England, but I will still share with you all. No, you had not got rid of me. I am still here by the wonders of social media.

We are moving to Hartlepool. I know, I also asked where it was when I was offered a job up there back in 2005. You all have no excuse; it has been in the news so much recently. But for anyone still puzzled; it’s in England. More specific than that?! OK, it is to the right of Durham and just below Newcastle. But whatever you do, don’t say that their accent is Jordy. They may sound the same to an untrained ear, but not to them.

Just like Scotland you can get your Mars bar deep fried in a chip shop there; why you would want to… The stotty buns, baps to me, are as big as dinner plates. My mum and her whole family come from the North East so it feels very cosy and warm; not literally of course, going back up there. On the subject of heat, when I first went up there in Winter 2005, I got out of the car, the North East wind slapped me round the chops and I got back in. I wouldn’t have minded so much but I hadn’t even been introduced to the wind; most rude of it.

Mind you, the local lads and lasses are obviously made of much stronger stuff than me. When I used to drive through the town centre to pick our sons up from the train station at night, we passed the Town centre clubs. All the lads and lasses were stood out in the icy winter winds in their summer wear. In fact, what they wore would be a bit chilly on a beach in Lanzarote. But they all looked happy enough.

Our new house is a beach front property. Given its location in Hartlepool, we will spend more time looking out at the impressive skies and waves. I am looking forward to writing while looking at the drama of it all. Best of all the house is accessible to start with and being made more so. We are moving from a house I can barely move in, to a home I will be able to fully access. I won’t know myself. Literally, I won’t know myself. I will see a bloke in the bathroom mirror and think; who’s that?

You may think I write for my own amusement a lot of people would miss me. Wait, I always tell people grammar is so important. Let me try that sentence again. You may think, “I write for my own amusement.” A lot of people would. Miss me? Language is so confusing. Someone on one of the disability sites said, that they were hanging around naked, instead of standing up transferring from their bed to their wheelchair. Wait bare and weight bear, confusing, eh?

So, my starting farewell, is really just a cheerio. I will be practicing extreme social distancing via my writing.

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If you want to hear me speak, in the flesh so to speak: https://youtu.be/7tyQ-BX1lpY

(I start speaking about 53 minutes into the meeting.)

 

 

Hello, My Lovely

The phone rings and a pleasant female voice says cheerily: “Hello, my lovely, how are you this evening?” Either you have developed an amazing, magnetic personality, or they are trying to sell you something. I know which I plumped for. I was wrong, she was trying to sell me something:

“Have you got an electric and gas smart meter, my lovely?”

My response:

“What has that got to do with you?”

I can be as sharp as a new pin. My granny used to say I might hurt myself. But the lady on the phone had an answer, not a good one. It was obviously outside her script; it must be listed under ‘reply to all other questions.’

She said:

“I have a job my lovely, so I have to ask.”

What did I do:

1/ Say, “that’s OK my lovely, how can I help you?”

2/ Ask how she was doing?

3/ Lead her around the houses with a long chat?

4/ Hang up?

Anyone who said no.4 is right. Normally I just hang up when people say what company they are from and I don’t recognise it. She caught me out with such a strange question; I had to throw a question back first.

I know many of you will say, it’s just her job she was doing; don’t be rude by hanging up. But my answer to that is: I never asked her to phone, yes, it’s her job, but not a good one. Why should that company cold call people pressurising them to change energy company? Even if you think they have a right to do that; why use such underhand tactics? After all her opening question about smart meters was irrelevant. She was only asking about that to get a conversation going. Whether I had a smart meter or not was not her real question. What she wanted to know was, would I change to her utility company. I have deliberately missed the company name off this blog. There are many others that use this technique.

Then there are also many companies that employ people to actually lie on the phone. Companies that phone you and say: “I am calling about your accident Mr Nevin.” What accident, when? Or “This is Microsoft Technical and we have monitored a fault on your PC.” No, you haven’t. I hang up on all of these. I am not here to be lied to or cheated or robbed. I have no time to spend arguing with them; I just hang up. Now many companies like these use automated messages. There are also a whole new raft of automated phone messages giving dire warnings, that sound so real. Amazon, HMRC, etc. You just need to hang up.

Obviously, it’s up to you, you can have a long and fruitless conversation about your utilities, double glazing, insulation, solar panels or whatever; but I find it easier to just hang up and block the number. With the automated phone calls, unless it’s your GP surgery, or similar, telling you about an appointment; hang up. Even if it was genuine sounding, I would hold back on pressing on numbers, unless you are absolutely sure it is genuine.

As for the manned phone calls, feeling sorry for the person phoning, might just lead to you buying what you don’t need. They are not beyond emotional manipulation, after all what is all this, “hello lovely,” about, more and more of my cold calls start that way. They are trying to make you feel special, so that you are open to their sales patter. OK, my lovely?  

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Quick, Quick, Slow

In days of yore, when Blu-Ray was first invented. Actually, was it around in ‘days of yore’? Anyway, it was a long time ago, because I still had use of my legs. You’ve distracted me now, oh yes, Blu-Ray was newly invented, they took forever to start-up. I would turn it on, wait, not started yet, so I went upstairs to get something. Still not started, so I’d hoover around; I know, I was amazing. Then check the Blu-Ray, no, still not started, so I’d do a bit of washing up. I’m really a one off you know. Then back into the front room; cup of tea in hand. I’d made that after washing up; is my halo glowing? At last, the Blu-Ray symbol was coming onto the TV.

All this took my mind back to those early days of television; that I heard about from my great grandparents. Switching it on and waiting, the hum of valves warming up; so, I’m told. That exciting moment when we… they saw a dot of light appear in the centre of the screen and wavy lines formed on the screen. Then slowly, very slowly, oh so very slowly, a picture appeared. Black and white of course. Ah, those were the days; not days you would want back of course.

It all gets me wondering about the way things work. I will not fall into the trap of suggesting that elves have anything to do with the internal workings of televisions or Blu-Rays. I got myself in enough trouble suggesting that elves were messing around in Amazon Alexa devices. Once bitten and all that. Besides, I know that elves don’t like televisions or Blu-ray devices. Now if we were talking about fairies…

The real reason that things have become faster is technology of course. Faster processors, better operators, I mean operating systems. There are no little creatures inside pressing buttons. That’s all very last century. Now it’s all voice activated, biometric etc. You can’t have just any creature running your high-tech equipment; they would mess things up unless they were highly trained.

Why do you think Apple called their company after an apple? Steve Wozniak noticed every time he left an apple on his work bench overnight, in the morning a bite was missing. He mentioned that to Steve Jobs and the rest is history. I don’t need to explain why Raspberry Pi named their computers that. I do, oh, well they found that their OS’s would only work when fed Raspberry Pies. So, they came up with name. What are OS’s? Well, they are obviously not Operater Sprites, that would be silly.

You really are running off on a tangent. I wanted to talk about the rapid development in the Blu-Ray. What’s Blu-Ray old man, did you say? Are you suggesting that all disk technology, except maybe UHD is defunct? Well, I won’t admit to having a VCR in that case. If you think discs are old, you will not think much of tape. I have it for historical research and because I am waiting for the re-emergence of video tape. Just like vinyl records; it will come back. Purists will one day say: “You cannot experience video, unless you see it in poor definition, complete with lines and dots. It’s the fuzziness that makes it real.” My VCR will be worth a fortune and all those old video tapes you threw away will be like gold dust. Won’t you be kicking yourself then?

Look you’ve got me off on a tangent again. Rapid technological development. It’s all so fast I can hardly see it. One minute you have time to make a cup of tea while your TV starts, next minute your TV makes you a cup of tea; whatever next? A TV that you speak to? Oh, we already have that.

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The Wrong 50%

Have you noticed that percentages are broken? Today it was noted by the BBC weather app that there was a 43% chance of rain. I am looking out at the rain hammering down; I know the garden needs it. But my point is what happened to that 57% chance of no rain?

You see whenever I see a percentage about rain I think: “The BBC weather app is going to be right.” I believe it more than my own eyes. If I look at the app and it says 4% chance of rain, then I look out and there are a few drops of rain, I think: “I’m safe from rain, no coat needed.” After all, percentages are there for our protection and safety, I absolutely believe in them. If there is 94% chance it is going to be dry that is a certainty as far as I’m concerned. So when they are wrong; there is a big problem.

In fact, and here is my reason for the blog, even 50% is half/half. We should be able to go out safely with a 50% chance of rain. You are in doubt? Let me lay out the proof for you: If I had 100 chocolate treats and I gave 50 to you, then I put 50 around the room, you have half of my chocolate treats. Are you still with me, or have you started to salivate and head off to buy chocolates? Concentrate, this is important. I don’t just make things up you know. If I then said: “What are the chances of you finding those other 50 chocolate treats?” what would your answer be? Pretty good, eh? I think you’ll all agree with me that if you have half already, finding the other half, hidden around my room would be a cinch. I wouldn’t hide them in difficult places. Don’t you just marvel at my mathematical genius? I bet you wish I had been your maths teacher? Yes, I would have given out sweet treats and healthy treats too. OK, so the BBC weather app says 50% chance of rain, I have just convincingly demonstrated, I think, that this means there is little chance of rain. How come then, that on a day when there is only 43% chance of rain, I am looking out at rain? Percentages are broken.

I don’t wish to continue blinding you all with my mathematical genius. As an aside, I failed maths at school. They were unable to see my natural abilities. The way I see it I was too advanced for them. Back to the sweet’s theory, I think.

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And if you must speak…

We have been practising our significant looks; this is going to be interesting to get over in writing. Have you noticed how so many people give you a look that means so much? That raised eyebrow, the lowered lip, the half-smile, both eyebrows up and mouth wide, pursed lips, sideways glance, licked lips etc. Some are really obvious, but others leave me clueless.

Greg and John on MasterChef; what you hadn’t realised we watch that? They are always giving each other very strange looks. But what do they mean? After a contestant has just shared their cooking passion, does their look mean: “No passion there.” or “Wow! I have never heard such passion.” or “Are you hungry too John?” or “Get off my toe.” or “Do I look good in this top?” Are we even meant to understand their look? Or is it just a teaser to frustrate us?

The trouble with significant looks is they can get you in trouble. I remember as a child one teacher looking at me expectant of an answer to his question? As if I should know what his look meant. What am I; a mind reader? Then, when I replied, “Are you alright?” For some inexplicable reason he considered that cheek, worthy of a trip to the headmaster. Why didn’t he just say; “Where is your homework?” That way at least my trip to the headmaster would have been justified. It wasn’t my fault that he looked at me as if he was in pain; nothing was ever my fault in my youth. Ah, those were the days.

The purpose of this blog is not to talk about my childhood or to find better excuses for lost homework; because obviously it was lost and not forgotten. I wanted to point out how much facial expressions are essential to human communication. I am sure that anyone who has looked at the profile picture I use for my ‘howcaring.com’ blog immediately realise it is an expression of shock/surprise. Mary thinks it makes me look stupid; but I am sure none of you think that? You do! I need to change it immediately. Another case of Mary being right. I have noticed that woman have an alarming tendency of often, I won’t say always, being right. I put it down to the fact that us men are far too practical and straightforward to bother with little details like getting things right all the time. For us, it is far more important to feel we are right, rather than actually being right.

There are a lot of women whose expressions I think I would fully understand at the moment; justification, long-suffering, disgust, horror, well you know what you’re feeling. Any men reading this have that shocked look on their faces; disbelief, betrayal, well hang on a second, before you jump to any conclusions. I am not saying that we men are actually wrong; we just know when it’s best to say that women are right. Now what do those facial expressions mean?

I am off course messing around, as usual. Although, no doubt, I will get some serious responses. My blogs are meant to explore ideas in a light hearted way. Are there a few raised eyebrows out there? Cross looks and pursed lips? Oh well, hopefully there are also a few smiles.

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Call Thames Valley

Watching ‘Call the Midwife’, yes I look away a lot. Not sure why I watch it really. I have realised that the writers were very clever. If they had called it ‘Nurse Jennifer’, then it would have ceased to make sense very quickly. By being broad they have enabled lots of changing characters. I noticed that they are even calling the voice over, which is Jennifer in her old age, or was, the voice of wisdom. The credits still say it’s Nurse Jennifer, it’s the reviewers who say its the voice of wisdom.

 

It got me thinking, if they had named ‘Morse’, ‘Call Thames Valley’, they need not have started a new series named ‘Lewis’. Just think how convenient that would have been. None of this explaining how Morse’s slow side-kick became a detective genius. Plus, they could have just carried on with detective Hathaway or any other likely person the public took a shine to. They really missed a trick there.

 

Of course, Agatha Christie understood, she called her ‘Poirot’ mysteries things like ‘The mysterious affair at Styles’. But ITV tripped up by calling their TV series ‘Poirot’, they left themselves no wiggle room to carry on after Poirot’s death. Just think, we could have had Hastings suddenly becoming a detective genius or Miss Lemon getting out from behind her desk and showing her sleuthing skills. Instead after Poirot’s death; the series ended. Not even a chance for Chief Inspector Japp to prove he wasn’t a hapless idiot and take over where Poirot left off.

 

What about Miss Marple? Her nephew was just waiting in the wings. That’s not even counting her various maids. She must have imparted so much knowledge to them; they can’t have just done the cleaning, surely. If only they had called it, ‘The St Mary Mead Mysteries’, who knows what delights we could have had. ‘Midsomer Murders’ knew what they were about, although strangely they still stuck with the Barnaby family; even though they had complete freedom. Poor old Troy, he could have shown his true colours.

 

I know what I shall do when I write a murder mystery. Actually, I have no plans to write one. I don’t know that I would even write a drama. I’m not sure why I watch them. Part way through, when I am holding back the tears; big boys don’t cry of course, I think: “why am I watching this?” That’s a good point, why do we put ourselves through dramas? I guess it’s cathartic; gets all those feelings of angst out. Plus, I suppose there is that feeling of relief we get that our life is not that bad. Is there also a bit of nosiness, people watching? Drama is always so popular though. Perhaps I need to re-think. My mind is fertile with ideas; no doubt one with come to full term soon. I am really watching far too much ‘Call the Midwife.’ Push!

 

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To Infinity and Beyond

I love the Buzz Lightyear’s call in Toy Story, “To infinity and beyond.” But what can be beyond infinity? Isn’t infinity by its very nature, unending? If I said that I was going to live forever; then you couldn’t ask me what will happen after that. There would be no, “after that”. As somebody said, “forever is a very long time.” Now that’s not true, is it? Forever, isn’t a time at all. Forever, is another way of saying infinite.

 

If you limit something, time, space, this blog; then it is not infinite. I can here you cheering that this blog isn’t infinite.

 

It used to be that people saw the universe as infinite. Then some clever scientists came up with the idea that space might be looped/bent back on itself in a doughnut shape; tasty. Actually, I am being deliberately difficult; not like me at all. Science has many opinions on whether the universe is infinite or not. Many of them state something like: ‘The Universe’ is made up of all the ‘matter’ thrown out by the ‘Big bang’ so it can only be as big as the furthest it has reached/expanded since ‘The big bang.’ Umm, fair enough. But I think us non-scientific folk, include all the ‘emptiness’ that this ‘matter’ is expanding into, when we talk about ‘The Universe.’ I think what most people mean by ‘The Universe’ is everything ‘out there’, not just the bit that matter has reached so far. After all, what we really mean when we say, is the Universe infinite? Is this: “Is there an end point out there? If it were physically possible for me to fly straight out at limitless speed, would I come to a wall, or an edge; would I go around in a circle and end up back where I started?” Really, we are like those first explorers who set out across the oceans asking: “Will I fall off the edge?” Fortunately, we don’t have cartographers, writing: “Here there be dragons,” on the edges of the map of the Universe. We leave that to the Sci-Fi writers. My map of the Universe has this written at the edges, “here there be ET.”

 

The incredible thing about the universe is the balance of it all. The perfect way in which forces operate. Gravity, light, heat, all the different types of radiation. The way these forces have shaped and enabled the complexity of the universe and the very life we live. Many scientists have become and remain Christians on the basis of the what they have discovered and observed.

 

Those scientists who look at the universe and see random chance, remind me of those who would look at an iPad and say: “What an amazing thing, look how time and random chemical and physical reactions can produce really useful technology.” Of course, Apple might take exception to that viewpoint. Would anyone seriously argue that an iPad could come about randomly, even given millions of years for it to happen? Yet it is argued that a much more complex thing, a biological cell containing DNA (1 gram of DNA contains 215 million gigabytes of information), that’s much more data than contained in an iPad, came about by random chance. I find it as hard to believe that life in all its complexity is a chance accident. After all, would you think that your, house, phone, iPad, car, PC, office building, the infrastructure of our country or anything else man made came about by chance?

 

I have heard it suggested that an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of type writers could produce the works of Shakespeare. What utter rubbish; that could only work if it were monitored and every time the first few words of Shakespeare were randomly produced it was saved to one side. Then we wait for the next bit, a few million years later, add that etc. An intelligent brain would need to be involved. The reason such absurd suggestions are made is because they cannot be tested. I’ll make a challenge, a really easy one. This is not for something complex like Shakespeare or an iPad or a biological cell. Find me an Ikea white ceramic plate that has been randomly formed by chance anywhere in the known universe. With Ikea printed on it. Not the whole works of Shakespeare. Just a simple white plate, circular. If complex things can come about by chance, so can this. Think about it for a moment is it any more likely that life in all its complexity would spring spontaneously into life than a plate appears spontaneously? After all we only think life makes sense and is a natural thing to happen because it is here; we live it. But what is there about chemistry and physics that would make you see life as any more a natural progression than a plate, an iPad, a robot, a sock? I don’t see the logic beyond one very obvious reason; it is an explanation of this: ‘How did we come into existence?’ We know how iPad’s, socks, plates etc. came about, intelligent beings created them; us, well not me personally, but humans. But we fail to grasp that the much greater complexity of human life could possibly be by intelligent design. How ignorant and silly of me to suggest such a thing.

 

When science is able to create a single cell organism out of the chemicals that they say it sprang from spontaneously; I will take their argument seriously. I am not talking about taking things containing DNA and splicing them. I can build Lego models from blocks intelligently designed by others. I am talking of the base chemicals only. For those who don’t know, that cannot be done. There is no evidence to back the theory.

 

Don’t see me as anti-science; I am not. Science at its best is an exploration and understanding of the Universe God gave us. It enables us to harness the physical world, fight disease, and make life easier. At its worst it can destroy and contaminate. I am pro the best in science.

 

Well, it’s been a while since I last watched Toy Story. Maybe it’s time to strap on that firework and roller skate and shout: “To infinity and beyond.”

 

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Laugh and the World Cries with You

Some of you may get the impression that I watch a lot of films; wrong, I watch a lot of everything. I have just watched the series, ‘Genius’. No, it’s not about me, but that’s very kind of you to say. Remember Albert Einstein, relatives, I mean relatively, I mean relativity, well actually ‘the general theory of relativity’. Now you’re asking; it has something to do with the sun, gravity, time and a big white mesh that the sun sat in. There was lots of writing on blackboards, lectures, imaginary flashes of brilliance. It was all so wonderful. E=MC2, there you go, it’s all explained now. Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared; it’s all clear as day to me. If I understood correctly; can you doubt it? Mass and energy are the same thing and can be changed into each other. That makes perfect sense. Let me explain it all by the use of thought experiments, Einstein used these all the time. You just imagine things and I will explain really complicated physics to you; honest.

Picture the scene, a large flabby man sitting on the sofa watching TV. The doorbell rings; it’s the Pizza delivery. Suddenly the whole of his physical mass is converted into energy; the man springs from the sofa and dashes to the door. Before you can say, ‘deep pan with extra cheese’ he has paid, grabbed a beer and is back on his seat by the TV, almost at the speed of light; E=MC2. There has even been an increase in his mass; perhaps he picked up some extra energy on his trip around the house. Not convinced? Here’s another thought experiment. Imagine the scene, you’re probably getting good at this by now. It’s a beautiful sunny day, a family are enjoying a picnic. The children have finished eating and are running around. Mum and dad are lying on the picnic rug checking their social media on their phones; this is a typical family. A wasp lands on mum’s arm; she doesn’t notice. You thought she’d scream. It moves on, upset at the lack of response; just like you. Trying its luck on dads’ nose; there it finds success. The seeming inertia of his immobile mass, is instantly converted into screaming energy, as he leaps to his feet. We need to pause here for a moment. Because there is another of Einstein’s theories to look at; nuclear chain reactions. Don’t worry, all will become clear; you can put your exercise book away. Back to the family at the picnic. Not understanding why her husband leapt up in shock; mum joins the affray. Seeing their parents running around excitedly, the children don’t want to miss out on the fun. Soon all four are leaping and running around, screaming and batting their arms wildly. I don’t know what nuclear fission looks like close up; maybe like a family fighting off a wasp. But then again perhaps not, who can say? Will all the physicists among you please calm down; I am joking.

Is it time we looked at Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle? No, I don’t want you to rush off and get lost in my explanation and me not be able to find you.

You are all wondering why I called this blog, ‘Laugh and the world cries with you?’ So, am I, whatever came over me? I must have been having a bad day; or was there an idea floating around that just floated off? It does happen you know. Of course, there’s always the possibility that it started out as one thing and then changed into another at the speed of light squared. Or that laughter and tears are also the same thing just waiting to have the potential to turn into the other. I give up; why did I call it that? Anyway, I will be back with more lectures on physics and chemistry in the future; or the past, or present.

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It’s A Dog’s Life

Mary and I have been thinking about dogs’ names. No, we don’t have a dog. It’s an idea we had; more on that in a later blog. What’s in a name I hear you say. A dog by any other name would still smell like a dog. Ah! But would it?

We have been exercising our brains on this complex problem. I don’t want to be grandiose; but this blog may very well become The Kennel Clubs definitive guide to naming dogs.

Where do you start? I think we can immediately discount those stalwart standby’s Rover, Fido, Mutt, Dog, Hey You, Get Down. Now I know a lot of people like descriptive names: Scruffy, Patch, Fluffy, Ginger, Mopsie, Pepper, Rusty, Shadow etc. But I think we can go beyond that. There are of course character descriptions: Lucky, Chewy, Rascal, Messy, Poopy, hang on these are becoming a bit negative.

How about something that describes what we feel about our dog? Bestdogonthebeach, is that a bit of a mouthful? Do you think every dog will come running? Will the other owners get cross? While we are on the subject, we’d better not call it, Coffee, or you’ll get everyone placing orders with you. Mind you it’s always a thought to simplify things and just call the dog, Walkies; is that confusing? I bow to the dog training experts; what do you think? No? Perhaps I’d better avoid, Dindins for the same reason.

I do like the idea of a fancy name. If it’s a female dog, what about: Delilah; why, why, why? Or Dorothea? No? What about Clementine; I am going to avoid mentioning mountains or oranges. If its male what about good solid butch names like: Cornelius, Cedric, Lawrence, Percival or Tristan. Not masculine enough? There’s always, Pondus, that’s a weighty name. You could just shout: Butch. So long as no one takes offence.

If it’s a cute and fluffy little dog, you might want a cute and fluffy little name. For a girl: Betsy, Koko, Lily, Lopsi, Mimi, Moxie, Muffin, Mya, Peaches, Pixie, Pingy, Suki, Qwinki or Twinki. For a boy: Alfie, Beau, Benji, Bubba, Bubzy, Chico, Milo, Yogi, Yiggzy. I can almost hear all the ahh’s, or was that No’s? Don’t blame me, I don’t just make these names up you know; well not all of them. I’m trying to give you a good range to choose from. You know me; or do you? I am nothing if I’m not thorough. Oh, perhaps I’m nothing after all.

There are those who make up names for their children. I’ve always thought that is very inventive and original. So why not do the same for dogs. After all, a name can be anything, a football team, a place, a thing. We were trying this out the other night while watching Masterchef on TV. Spaggi, Saucy, Roux, Crabby (that’s for the irritable dogs), Pumpkin, Truffle, Leek (no, they might get the wrong idea), Choccie, actually best keep off these names or it won’t just be the dog whose drooling.

Then you could always use initials: AK, BB, JJ, B, HB, this is becoming like a list of pencils. Or if you are a linguist, how about foreign names? I love it when in subtitled films they speak for ten minutes then the subtitle says one word like: ‘no.’ Have you noticed that most names have whole sentences as meaning? Which was around was it? Did the name summarise a meaning or did the word come first then someone thought, that’s far too short; let’s lengthen it. The point is that most names have meanings. So, you can have a simple name for your dog and it means a whole sentence. Maybe there is a name that means: ‘Best dog on the beach.’

Anyway, I digress. If you want you can use names from any language; I’ve included quite a few already; here are more: Adonis and Aphrodite, well I could stop there, job done; a couple of Greek gods. You want more? You’re hard to please. Bhasanta; it means shining one, good if your dog has a shining coat, or nose. Cherika; it means the moon, that’s a good one; everyone is always sending cards about loving to the moon and back. Now you can do it with your dog. How about Deun? Are there many saints among your dogs? Kuasa; that means strength and power. Have you got a bit of a rascal as a dog? How about: Qiyana; it means clever, crafty.

I’m sure that this journey in dog naming has caused any dog owners to wish they had waited; now you want to change your dog’s name. All future owners are set up and ready. The non-dog loving readers stopped at the beginning anyway; you didn’t? Well, now you know what all those shouted names mean. I have one last profound thought to leave you with. Whatever you call your dog, they don’t understand anyway. It’s the number of syllables, emphasis and gestures that count. Oops, sorry, you thought your dog understood English. I know because I pass so many people chatting away to their dogs:

“Be nice to the man, he doesn’t want you jumping at his wheelchair.”

After the dog returns to his owner, he looks up at her, probably thinking:

“I don’t know what she’s saying, but if I wag my tale, maybe I’ll get a treat. After all, I’ve been a good boy.”

We’ll all leave Rover to his thoughts as the sun sets in a glorious flaming red hue.

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Representation

 

I have noticed in films and series, an increasing number of disabled actors. Particularly wheelchair users. The trouble is, I have noticed something else, and as a full-time wheelchair user I feel I can say this, a number of them are very poor actors. It leads me to the conclusion that they are there to represent me; by me I mean disability generally. That is a big problem to me. As it is not working as it should.

 

I’ll give you a concrete example, the detective series Vera. It has a lady in a wheelchair, working in the office. She is the most wooden actor in the series. I cannot imagine they would have cast her in Vera unless she filled a need for a disabled actor. I can say that by comparing the calibre of the other actors they choose. I wouldn’t mind if she was a great ambassador for disabled people. But she always looks so dour and miserable. She doesn’t engage me, she’s not someone who you connect with. I am not blaming her; not everyone is a brilliant actor or good at connecting with people. She is just one of many average actors. She just happens to be disabled. That’s the problem, she is filling a role which I feel she is unsuitable for.

 

I am totally behind the idea of positive discrimination, where there is a lack of representation of any kind; gender, racial or disability. I understand that film makers will not want the hassle of employing disabled actors without a push. Adapting sets and facilities is costly and difficult; I know they require that push. What I am saying is that they need a better choice of actors. I can only assume this is where the problem lies.

 

What is needed is for a lot of disabled people to start training as actors. Ones with an aptitude for the vocation. Out of the way I’m coming through. No, I will spare you my thespian skills; or lack thereof. Acting it is like every other area in life, if the directors and producers have limited choice they will end up with a limited outcome.

 

I do want to be represented in films and television. That is a good thing, it’s great that the media is trying harder to represent people more equally from all areas of life. What you notice is that there are great actors from all walks of life, racial backgrounds and genders, but we have a long way to go in finding great disabled actors. There are a few; but too few.

 

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Fancy Names

Those who keep up with my blogs will remember that I wrote to the BBC to ask about becoming a MasterChef judge. Obviously, given my wide experience in eating they chose to take me up and we have been filming next year’s MasterChef during lockdown. I know, you won’t believe me, so you’ll just have to wait till the 2022 MasterChef: Nevin Goes Large. Then you will all know whether it’s true. You’ll see that they introduce me as, “Mike Nevin, blogger and food eating expert. He has travelled and eats daily.” I was quite proud of my preamble, “I’m looking for someone who can cook. I don’t mean out of a packet or tin.” Judging by Greg and John’s expressions, they liked it too.

 

Anyway, the reason I am writing this blog is that being on the panel of judges, gave me ideas. You see, if it wasn’t true where would these ideas come from? You can’t possibly imagine that I sit around at home making this stuff up?

 

I got to thinking about all those things in cooking that have fancy names but are really everyday items. In fact, I was speaking to the winner, who of course I cannot tell you anything about; I am sworn to secrecy. I am not allowed to tell you anything at all about the show, prior to broadcast; and I won’t. I’m not like Prue Leith.

 

Anyway, I was chatting to the winner and she was saying to me… wait, when I say she, I could of course mean he. Names like Alex are after all unisex. But as I have said she, I will continue with that, but remember I have not told you if Alex was male or female. Where was I? Alex, said she’s a teacher of English, and to her words are vital. I agree entirely and we had a very interesting chat about it between takes. I think the reason we got on is that Alex and I are both in our late 50’s, so we have similar childhood memories.

 

One of the words that Alex and I agreed was far too fancy was roux sauce. I was surprised at her comment on this as we had all been particularly impressed with her roux sauce in the quarter finals. It had been her duck with roux sauce and fondant potatoes that won it for her. But I suppose given her general skills, especially with sauces, she has a right to be critical though.

 

When the contestants were at CERN, feeding the scientists at the Hadron Accelerator, I got a few moments chatting with Alex between takes about other words. On the way back Jen was quite upset at being eliminated. I never really rated Jen’s chances anyway. I had been torn between her and Mark when we were deciding who to send home in the quarter finals anyway. Still, having Alex, Greg, Mark and Sarah in the semi-finals seemed the best outcome to me.

 

On the way back from filming the semi-finals in the restaurant in the Eifel Tower Alex and I agreed that cars should be re-named auto-voituriers. During the next days filming at Pinewood Studios on the set of the latest Bond movie, we discussed re-naming cameras. We came up with pellicoliamera.

 

Cooking for the US President on Air Force One at a social distance for the finals was a lot of fun to be part of. I was surprised how easily my wheelchair fitted on board. The President was very understanding when turbulence caused Mark to drop a salad in his lap. We had to eliminate him of course. Chatting to Alex later I was saying that the crème anglaise she made was an excellent custard. Greg and John had raved about it. All of which brought us around to thinking of more names for everyday items that are fancier. We did think of a few others, but I’m worried that if I tell you, I might let slip details about the show.

 

I’m so glad I got through this blog without giving anything away about MasterChef 2022. Greg and John seemed to think I couldn’t keep a secret; I showed them and the guest judges, Jamie Oliver and Thomas Keller.

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Fiction or Fact

Being long term ill gives me a lot of time to watch films. Mainly because there are hours on end when I lack the energy to move. Sometimes I just stare into space and think, my blogs are often the result of that thinking. I know, you wouldn’t believe any thought went into them, but there is, really. After my last blog which seems to have caused a little controversy, I must be careful. Maybe I should start all my blogs with, “this is the authors opinion and does not have to be taken seriously.” or something like that.

 

I get quite bored watching films and its only boredom that leads me to watch so many. They all have similar patterns and I never really enjoyed doing nothing anyway. Thinking is at least doing something. Unfortunately, exhaustion often prevents even that. So, film watching it is. I do realise many of you must be extremely jealous of me having hours to watch films. I am jealous of you having hours to actually ‘do’ real stuff.

 

I am not writing this as a poor me blog. I have plenty to be thankful about and I do not spend my days feeling miserable. On the contrary, I am very positive and upbeat about life. You only have to read my blogs to see that.

 

In my latest musings I realised something. Well actually it reminded me of my Open University teaching in creative writing. There are many different genres of films. Earth shattering, eh? Hang on in there, there is a bit more to come. I want to simplify all the genres down. There are only really two types of fiction, ones where you get a happy ending and ones where you don’t. Think about that for a moment. All those gritty dramas you have watched where they end with uncertainty or sadness. All those rom coms, action adventures, detective stories etc. where things end with some kind of resolution. Of course, these days that resolution may come after a 3- or 4-part film or miniseries; but it still comes. You notice I said ‘resolution’ not ‘happy ending’. Because that is today’s currency for films. Happy endings are so yesterday, aren’t they?

 

Even in a rom com you rarely get a ‘happy ever after’ ending, unless it’s tongue in cheek. But you do get ‘resolution’. The two main characters come together and agree to ‘ignore each other’s faults’ or ‘not get married’ and yet in some way stay together and love each other. Presumably until they get bored, rather than until death do they part. In part 2 of such films, we see the reality of this played out. Some films don’t even bother with the two ‘love birds’ getting together as a ‘resolution’ instead the two of them end up, loving from afar, or married but forever apart. It’s still seen as a ‘good’ resolution. Everyone feels satisfied at the end of the film; well, most people.

 

But why do film makers feel the need to put any hope at all into films? Surely our experience of life has taught us that life is hard and full of disappointment? Is it just so that we can escape into a fictional world where the evil guys are foiled and the good guys win? Are films just a cathartic expression of our inner need to see good triumph? Is it just a way to sell more tissues?

 

When we watch a film, it isn’t about whether we agree or disagree with the main characters. We don’t have to go along with their life choices. We can actually see them as criminal, disreputable, wrong, unpleasant, unlovable. But clever scripting leads us to identify with them. It’s about how we as viewers feel watching them. The writers and director create situations in which we start to see good in the characters or at least understand why they act as they do. As we identify with them, we care what happens to them; pass the tissues. They become important to us in some way. It is really crazy, but any character good, bad or ugly can become one we root for. The days of white hatted heroes are long gone. The days of hero and heroine are gone. Now we have a real mix up. I don’t know who the main characters are going to be. In fact, often the writers mix it up part way through just to confuse me.

 

Has anyone seen Frozen? Of course, you have. That is so brilliantly written. They mess around with viewers expectation of ‘happily ever after’ so cleverly. First the princess meets an obvious prince, but he is a villain, then we all think Sven must be the love of her life. Then just as she is running to him at the end, we see that sisterly love is the main theme. What a great twist. Well, if you haven’t watched Frozen, there is no need now. Of course, there is, for all the great songs and the humour.

 

On the subject of songs; one of the most powerful things used in films is music. Themes for particular characters or events can stir our emotions. If that theme is given words and those words are put into the mouths of several of the characters the effect can be very powerful indeed. I don’t just mean in musicals like Frozen.

 

Music gets in under our defences. It connects to a part of our emotions that seems unrelated to logic. Which means that you can feel moved over something which, if described, sounds simple. A group of people running (Chariots of Fire, Vangelis), a boxer (Rocky, Gonna Fly Now), a young man walking through an airport (The Graduate, The Sound of Silence), a woman sat on a beach (Beaches, Wind Beneath My Wings) etc. Obviously the background story leading up to the point builds emotional response. But as the music plays with or without singing our innards almost move and we fight back tears. Those of us men brought up when, ‘men don’t cry’ certainly don’t cry at movies. If you believe that…

 

The reason I am highlighting this is that we want life to have a resolution. Somewhere inside, we believe in justice and ‘happy endings.’ Our emotional and mental makeup seems to point us towards a desire for right, truth, justice, no I am not going to say The American Way; I am British. You see where I am coming from though? I tend to share what I am thinking and leave you to process it. I don’t see myself as a teacher. I’m just a thinker who shares his thoughts. Take it or leave it.

 

Is it that we like neatness? I know that when I watch a film it winds me up if they walk out of a house without closing the front door; so maybe that’s just me. Perhaps there is a mathematical part of our make up? Now I can’t be talking about me; I failed maths. The point I am trying to make is this: do we just want things to add up? Is it that resolution or a neat and tidy outcome feels right? Life isn’t like that; it’s messy and unfinished. So, films and books give us an outlet for a more perfect outcome. That’s my theory anyway and you are welcome to disagree.

 

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Who’s The Bald Guy In Front Of Me?

 

A few years ago, before I was in a wheelchair, I was queueing in a Post Office. As I stood in the queue, patiently waiting, I looked up at the CCTV monitor. There before me was a queue of bored looking people; well, the backs of their heads. I wasn’t quite in shot though, as all I could see was the man at the counter, taking an absolute age and holding us all up. A mother and her child waiting behind him, the child getting impatient. The child was not alone there. Then an old bald guy behind them. The strange thing was when I looked down, the mother and child were in front of me, but no old bald guy. He must have left the queue. I looked back up; he returned as if by magic. I looked down; he’d gone. Now call me very quick witted, I realised that ‘he’ was ‘me.’ But that didn’t make any sense. I look in the mirror every morning and I always saw a good head of hair. The CCTV monitor was lying, it showed a huge bald area on top. I nonchalantly put my hand on my head. Sure, enough I felt the reassuring touch of hair. It was only sometime later I realised that the hair I could feel was too fine and thin to actually be seen. Angles of view can alter your understanding. What felt like a good head of hair to me was virtually invisible on camera and made me look bald from above. How we look at things changes our perception of them.

 

More than once I have looked at something from a distance and been convinced that what I was seeing was one thing only to realise it was something else once it was closer. Once as a young man I was convinced that I was seeing the end of a beach, with a rock promontory. On reaching it, I found it was just a rock formation sticking out onto the beach part way down with another half mile of beach beyond. What seemed like an ending was only a part way point.  I find that many situations can be like this. Limited or distorted information leads us to conclude one thing when a closer, different angled or a more detailed view changes our understanding. The point is that accurate and full information can prevent us from jumping to wrong conclusions. We live in an age of misinformation, half-truths and outright lies. This is more apt now than it has ever been.

 

They say that history is written by the victors. Not surprising therefore that our view of the history of our own countries is biased. I was watching ‘The Last Kingdom’ and I was struck by one theme in it. That Alfred wrote down the ‘history’ or at least his interpretation of it, for his times. We form our opinion of him and his times based on things largely written at his command. There are other sources, but a lot came from him.

 

If the ‘history’ of the times we live in now were mainly recorded by our government and those in power (I deliberately separate those) how would they differ from the masses of opposing views recorded in the press, the media and online? How does your opinion and the governments vary? The less ‘viewpoints’ there are, the narrower the focus, the more one sided the interpretation.

 

With all the false information on social media how do we find truth? Surely, we have to look at many sources and weigh them? Common sense would say that the more different and widespread sources agree the more likely that is truth. If something is widely reported but ‘does not ring true’ we probably are wise to treat it with scepticism. We seem to have an inbuilt sense of truth. That may sound like nonsense, but think about it. When you hear news items some things just don’t sound right. Others seem to chime within you. It’s that I am talking about. The reason we throw out conspiracy theories isn’t because we think the pedlars of them are unhinged, or because we hold to the ‘incompetence theory of history’ but because they just don’t chime with us, they don’t feel right. But if we hear about corruption of people in power, that rings true. If we hear about hidden torture or people being imprisoned for their beliefs, that rings true. We just seem to know when we are hearing truth.

 

Obviously, I just knew I wasn’t bald; hang on that disproves my own theory. There are always a few glitches in any idea; but you see where I am coming from? The main point I am really making is to be wise in your processing of news and information. Remember that perspective effects our understanding. Look for different sources. If it doesn’t sound true, maybe it isn’t. Check and cross check. Look at things from wider and different angles. In an age of misinformation, we can still find the truth.

 

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Word Games

Someone pointed out that with the word “Queue”, the letter ‘Q’ does all the work and the rest of the letters silently “queue” behind it. This got me thinking, are there other words where some of the letters are similarly work shy? “Tea” for instance, the ‘e’ and ‘a’ could be off having a cuppa or a quick bite they certainly are not working, ‘T’ is doing all the heavy lifting. The same goes for the other “Tee”, the two ee’s are probably off playing golf, they most certainly cannot be heard; not a peep. As for “Oh!” Do you think the shock of the word itself has caused the ‘h’ to hide? Where is it? I can’t hear it. “Bee” is another one, the two ee’s must be suffering anaphylactic shock after a sting; are they in hospital? Or have they some other excuse for keeping quiet. It really is not an acceptable excuse for doing nothing.

But there are many other letters in the English language that don’t pull their weight. Letters that are working part time or not at all. Let’s face it, English is full of them. We hear a lot about ‘people’ who are workshy, but what about all these lazy letters? Isn’t it time we had a clamp down, a purge, a clean up of the English language? It’s just not good enough. ‘Enough’, hold on a second, what’s the ‘o’ up to in keeping quiet? Then what about that gh, pretending to be an ‘f’?! I told you English is very messed up.

I say remove all these lazy letters. Since when do we need two letters to do the job of one. That is just making jobs for the boys. If we did that in a factory there would be a public outcry; but I hear no fuss when it happens in words; look what is that second ‘p’ up to in ‘happens’? In fact while we are at it let’s clean up the English language and only use letters and letter combinations that make sense. Who told an “s” it sounded like a “z”? What an imposter. While we are at it since when did an “e” sound like an “i” or a “ph” sound like an “f”? I already mentioned ‘gh’ sometimes pretending it’s an ‘f’. What’s wrong with this language?

Enuf is enuf, no mor slakers, no mor rubish. From this point on I wil not tolerat it any mor. If it haz no sownd, it can go. Ware wud we b if we let it continu? Just think of al the paper we wil sav. Haz it got 2 l’s? No, nothing haz any mor. Haz it got 2 of any leter, no! Huray, we al cry. Kidz can at larst spel. Az for grama we wil simplify that 2. No mor plu perfect, past participuls, definit anythings. Inglish languag wil b ez to lurn. Lak grama not make hard understand, ez now, me tel u how clever, lurning much simpl now. Ez now very gud. U agre?

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Reverse Tardis

Why is it that packing into cardboard boxes is like using a reverse Tardis? I am sure you all remember Dr Who? His Tardis was bigger on the inside than the outside. Well cardboard packing boxes must be smaller on the inside than the outside, because they hold almost nothing. You must have experienced it? You are packing up a shelf or a cupboard. It doesn’t have much on it, so you get a large box and start packing. In a few minutes the box is overflowing and you have only emptied half the shelf. What is going on? Is there a rift in the space-time continuum within every cardboard box? Does the very process of packing, cause a rip in the fabric of space? Do objects grow in size when they come into contact with cardboard? Do our eyes get fooled by squares and oblongs? Do cardboard boxes shrink when they come into contact with any contents?

I am thinking that there needs to be a solution. It is not acceptable. We cannot go on trying to pack into ever shrinking boxes. The very fabric of space and time is at threat. Our sanity, indeed our ability to make sensible judgements is at stake. I don’t think it would be too great a statement to say that the universe itself is in peril.

There must be a way forward. After all Dr Who overcame it with his Tardis. Surely if he, with an old Police Box, could solve the problem of time and space, can’t we do the same. I used to watch Dr Who when it was still black and white. If he could overcome such a huge problem on such a tiny budget, so can we.

Just think, if we do not overcome this problem, we will be left trying to pack up our houses into an unreasonably large number of boxes. How can one bookshelf take 2 or 3 boxes! That is ludicrous, we must be able to reduce that number. As for a kitchen, well all I can say is that if the contents can fit in a few drawers and cupboards then it does not need 10 to 15 boxes to pack it. Are you with me on this? I can almost hear the moving firms cheering me on. Or is that the very fabric of space-time splitting.

But I hear you ask, where do we start? That is a good question. I always think the best place is at the beginning. How did Dr Who do it? He chose an ordinary object that looked small on the outside, but was actually big on the inside. Obviously cardboard boxes do not work. I think we have established that. It’s also best if we don’t copy Dr Who. Besides I am not sure where I would buy an old Police Box.

I think we are progressing, don’t you? We have ruled out what will not work and now we can concentrate on the best way forward. It can’t be that difficult to come up with the right thing. Any ideas? OK, I am thinking hard. Not a cardboard box. Not a Police Box. I’ve got it… No that won’t work. Quantum physics isn’t as easy as I was hoping.

Perhaps we’ll stick with boxes for now and come back to this later. It’s a definite problem that needs fixing though. There’s a Nobel Prize in this for someone.

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