Saturday, 12 September 2020

Consent of the People

My daughter and son-in-law run a catering company. I have suggested that they start a cookery school and use our house as their educational establishment. I am going on the “How to open a bottle of wine course”. I would like a dozen or so friends to join me!

I can see that there will be mass disobedience if this new "rule of six" is not changed PDQ. I will be making plans and ignoring it. I am coming round to the viewpoint that life is for living. I don't mind wearing a face mask whilst out in shops on public transport etc. Yes large gatherings at raves, sporting events etc are potential "hotspots" for virus transmission. But to say that immediate family shouldn't meet is taking things too far. As The Declaration of Independence says, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The UK government is about to lose that consent.

It needn't have been this way but the rot started when government ministers - Robert Jenrick and advisors- Cummings flouted the rules and were defended for doing so. Even staunch Johnson fans that I have met are telling me that he is the worst Prime Minister in their living memory - which is 80+ years. Now we have the government saying that it will unilaterally changing international agreements that it freely entered into. If the government can break the law then so can the people.

I really do fear for the country

Sunday, 30 August 2020

A Winter's Friend

You know time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.  It seems like yesterday that I was young, just married, and embarking on my new life with my mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all those years went.  

I know that I lived them all.  I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams.   But, here it is... the winter of my life, and it catches me by surprise... How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go? I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those "older people" were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.  

But, here it friends are retired and getting grey... they move slower and I see an older person in myself now.   Some are in better and some worse shape than me... but, I see the great change... Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant...but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we'd be. 

Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day!  And taking a nap is not a treat anymore... it's mandatory!  Cause if I don't on my own free will... I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so... now I enter this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!!   But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I'm not sure how long it will last... this I know, that when it's over on this earth... it's over.   A new adventure will begin!

Yes, I have regrets.  There are things I wish I hadn't done... things I should have done, but indeed, there are also many things I'm happy to have done.   It's all in a lifetime.

So, if you're not in your winter yet... let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think.  So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life, please do it quickly!  Don't put things off too long!!  Life goes by quickly.  So, do what you can TODAY, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not!   

You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life... so, LIVE FOR TODAY and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember.. and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!!   

"Life" is a GIFT to you.  The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after.   Make it a fantastic one.   

Remember:  "It is Health that is real Wealth and not pieces of gold and silver."     

~Your kids are becoming you......but your grandchildren are perfect!  

~Going out is good.. coming home is even better!   

~You forget names... but it's OK, because other people forgot they even knew you!!! 

~You realize you're never going to be really good at anything.... especially golf.   

~The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do, but you really do care that you don't care to do them anymore.    

~You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed. It's called "pre-sleep."  

~You miss the days when everything worked with just an "ON" and "OFF" switch..  

~You tend to use more 4 letter words ... "what?"..."when?"...??? 

~Now that you can afford expensive jewellery, it's not safe to wear it anywhere.

~You notice everything they sell in stores is "sleeveless?!"   

~What used to be freckles are now liver spots.  

~Everybody whispers.   

~You have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet.... 2 of which you will never wear.   

~But "Old" is good in some things: 

Old Songs, Old movies ...

and best of all, our dear ...OLD FRIENDS!!

Stay well, "OLD FRIEND!"  


Saturday, 29 August 2020

What will the "new normal" be?

We are getting increasingly frantic panic calls from our beloved Prime Minister, Mr Johnson, that we should stop working from home and return to the office or else the world as we know it will die.

The question we should be asking is; "Is the old world worth saving"? As a pensioner the question of working from home or in the office is irrelevant - home is the office! Prior to my retirement some eight years ago I and many of my IBM colleagues were already working from home some days of the week. When I had to travel in for meetings either at the office or at a customers site I was usually able to arrange things so that I travelled outside of the rush hour. In fact IBM did not have enough office space for everyone to be in the office on a given day; I suspect that they were not alone in this.

I realise that I was fortunate in this, many people who work in shops, factories, cleaners, nurses, doctors, the police etc etc have no choice but to travel to work. But for others why commute?
I also know that somethings such as mentoring & training people are often best done face to face at least at first in order to build a rapport and understanding. It is not impossible to do this over Zoom but initial face to face meetings certainly help the process.
So the working form home movement has been around for quite a few years and was growing. The lockdown has accelerated the process and many do not want to return to the daily commute. Some will, justifiably, be worried about the risks of travelling although they want to return to the office, but others value the freedom and the quality of life that WAH can bring and want to continue doing so.
Yes it does affect those whose jobs were "servicing" the commuters, be it sandwich makers, dry cleaners, tailors, etc etc. But the move to work at home had started was growing, CV-19 simply accelerated it. A new paradigm was going to emerge, perhaps we should concentrate on determining what this should be rather than stop the tide rolling in.
Perhaps if all government ministers, including the PM, were forced to live at least an hours commute from Westminster they would be less keen on forcing others to the daily grind of the commute. After all the PM himself does work from home.

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Day Out

 Had a good and interesting day (Wednesday), Julia and I went to see the Andy Warhol exhibition at Tate Modern. Journey there on the train was ok, not many people and 90%+ were wearing masks. We arrived somewhat early, even members need timed tickets, although they are free. As it was hot we thought that we would wait by having a pint in the Founders Arms on the embankment between Blackfriars Bridge and the Tate. In all the years I have been going along that stretch of the Thames I have never seen this pub so empty.

We must have seen about ten river buses go past as we supped our drinks and if they had 100 people on board (between them all) I would be surprised. Business for those folk who operate them is dire.
The exhibition was very good and one of the advantages of the current lockdown/social distancing is that you can really see the art as the crowds are no longer there. 

Great for us but not so good for the Tate. We had a good Turkish late lunch, a shame that the restaurant was so empty although a big thank you to the Chancellor for saving me £20.
The sad thing was seeing one the exhibits, Pink Race Riot(Red Race Riot) made in 1963 - it could have been made yesterday. We do not seem to have progressed in the past 37 years. Shame on us all.


 Am I the only one upset and annoyed at the change in meaning of the word "Staycation"? It used to mean not going away overnight on holiday but staying at home and doing day trips from home every day. Now it seems to mean not going abroad, according to the statistics about 50% of the UK population took their holiday in the UK every year prior to COVID. Most went away overnight so it was not a staycation. I know that the meaning of words does change over time but I see no need for this change and it confuses this GOM (Grumpy Old Man) if nobody else.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Spreading False Information

Maxine Peake has been censured and Rebecca Long-Bailey has lost her political position over false stories that they perpetuated over the training of US police by the Israeli Secret Service. Basically they did not check the facts of what they posted/reposted in social media. I suspect that we have all been guilty of this. If we see something that agrees with our own world view/belief system/prejudices we will often republish without question; whereas if it is something that we disagree with we will tend to check it to prove it false or simply disregard it. 

Then of course there are the 'facts/quotes' that we all use everyday which are simply not true, much as we would like them to be true. "Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words" is a saying that is often used and prefaced by 'as St Francis of Assisi said'. However this saying has never been found in any of his writings. St Francis did call for his brothers to practise what they preach, that is do not say one thing and then do another. (I suspect that we have all been guilty of doing this at some time).
“I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” is said to have come from Voltaire. It is not from Voltaire, the 18th-century philosopher, but it was a paraphrase from a biographer named Evelyn Beatrice Hall of what she thought Voltaire was thinking. So Voltaire never said one of 'his' most famous quotes.

This can then lead us onto the discussion of is there such a thing as objective truth? There are objective facts, the earth is spinning on its axis, but are there objective truths or does truth depend on our world view?

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Thoughts on Statues

 I realise that I speak from a position of white privilege but some of the BLM protestors seem to be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Someone like Colston, a slave trader, has no place in being honoured in any way. Yes slave trading was legal at that time, but it resulted in many men and women dying in appalling circumstances at sea and thrown overboard. These are crimes against humanity,. Whether the statue should have been removed in the manner that it was is debatable, but it should have been removed many years ago. 
But other people that they are protesting about, Robert Peel is one example did nothing wrong to the best of my knowledge. Peel's "crime" is that his father delayed an anti-slavery bill. To the best of my knowledge that was nothing to do with Robert Peel, yet he is being vilified. 
Henry Tate is coming in for some stick and there are some calls for the Tate Gallery to be renamed. Yet Henry Tate was not born until 1819, the slave trade was abolished in England in 1807. He started out as a grocer and eventually sold up and bought into a sugar refinery in 1859, slavery in the West Indies was abolished in 1833. So although he was involved with sugar refining it was not until 25 years or so after slavery was illegal. So this is why I believe that some people think that too much fuss is being over statues, particularly when there are40 million plus in forms of modern slavery.  An Indian friend of mind has pointed out to me, rather wryly, that three of the worst  offenders, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh once formed part of the British Empire.  
When we move to times closer to home the picture becomes murkier. Sadiq Khan a couple of years ago unveiled a statue of Millicent Fawcett the suffragette; yet judged by modern standards she was racist - should her statue come down? The are others such as Baden-Powell who are also being pilloried, I do not know enough about him to make any sort of comment but I think that you catch my drift. Slaver traders of any sort should not have any sort of honour, but some of the others that are being vilified biggest crime is being born when they were. A lot of the English upper class treated the "lower orders' of any colour , white. black, blue etc appallingly, it was the way they were brought up. It is not right and hopefully things have improved although to hear some politicians speak they are by no means perfect.