Week 645

Sunday, 2nd May, 2021

Lovely, warm & sunny morning. Going to do some gardening – feeding the lawns which I cut yesterday, completing the hedge trimming and generally preparing plants for the summer. Going to do this before our walk later in the day.

I’ve got a couple more entries that involve College days so grit your teeth if you hate it and look away if it gets you down.

Tash in his Digs – 1970

There were a lot of Johns in my College intake. In 1951, I think it was the most popular First Name in the country. This young man was a John but popularly known as Tash – I don’t know why! What really struck me from this photo was how ‘old’ it looked. Frighteningly so. The curtains, the chair, the television and the calendar on the wall all scream another age. Who has a printed calendar nowadays? We use online, synchronised calendars

Tash front right 50 years on.

It is so hard to accept we change with age. Many of us are far too vain to expose ourselves to scrutiny. At least these old men were brave enough to do it. I have written before of my struggles against age. I always hated old men walking round with their mouths open looking vacant. In recent years, I have caught myself doing exactly that and have a campaign with myself to curb it not entirely successfully. If you catch me, hit me!

Monday, 3rd May, 2021

I have to go back up to Surrey this morning to help my sister-in-law with an IT problem. She is 84 and very wrinkly plus partially sighted but she fights to use modern technology more than many of her age. It is important not to let yourself fall behind. Fight to keep up. Giving in is decidedly aging. P went to the Blue Coat school in Oldham at a time when people generally had no conception of a computer at all. It is a steep learning curve and I applaud her for making the effort.

You hear of people who don’t even have email accounts. Can you believe that? I couldn’t cope without one. Actually, I’ve got three for different people. How do people buy things online if they don’t have an email to send a confirmation or invoice to? How do you do online banking, investing, reading an online newspaper, having a BBC account without an email?  You can’t even register an iPad without an email. All our televisions are online and surely you need an email to signup to Netflix and Spotify. How does anyone cope without one?

Admittedly, I have been involved in IT and computers for 40 years. My whole life is controlled by and recorded on them. I am a natural teacher and I cannot bear to see intelligent people failing to keep up with the technological world. A few days with me and they would be converted. It is one of the things that you must do before you die. In fact, it will prolong your life. Book Medical Appointments online, record them on your web calendar along with your hair dresser appointments. It gives you such control.

Being one of the 20 men (boys) in a college of around 600 women was quite a stressful experience but I survived it. The men, being in such a minority did develop a group identity and I was one of 5 Johns. 25% of the male intake were called John. I am in contact with some of them. My old friend, John Ridley, who held my head over the toilet that night I got drunk will always be on my contact list.

John Holden – 2019 – Morecambe

I haven’t seen John Coates for years now although he bought me an egg-coddler as a wedding present and I have never seen John Holden since 1972. I don’t think anyone has apart from John Ridley.

I don’t think I had one conversation with John Morris while I was at college but he was told of my political views by John Ridley and contacted me to discuss them. I have really enjoyed corresponding with him. He is an interesting man who has travelled all over Europe as an Education Adviser and has lots of interesting tales to tell.

John Morris with John Ridley – 2019

Received a Messenger contact from Peter Holgate at 7.00 this morning. I’m not sure why but he is trying to keep his spirits up.

He’s a sad kid! Actually, if I’m honest, we are all a bit sad at the loss of our youth. We just struggle to keep cheerful.

Tuesday, 4th May, 2021

Lovely, sunny, mild but breezy morning. Going to do some work outside, a walk and then time in the gym. Got to keep active. Might nip down to the beach to see a fairly rough sea crashing dramatically on the esplanade.

I wrote recently how much I enjoyed and was quite surprised to enjoy a 3 series drama called Keeping Faith. I casually watched Series 3, episode 1 and then realised it was important to watch from the start and I was so pleased I did. The narrative is gripping; the central character is compelling and I found the soundtrack quite obsessive. It reaches deep down inside me quite frighteningly.https://www.youtube.com/embed/7gzZEtiusO4?feature=oembed

Who has ever heard of Amy Wadge? I’ve captured my favourite songs and embedded them here for you to try out but they are all worth listening to and available on YouTube. You can even access it without an email address because you don’t need to register.https://www.youtube.com/embed/Gun6Jsmf7WQ?feature=oembed

I am not an actor. I can’t pretend to be someone else convincingly. I find it hard enough to play myself at times. I had to do subsidiary Drama as a concomitant of English Literature. Right from the start, I wasn’t comfortable with rolling around on a Drama Hall floor pretending to be imaginary animals, animated trees and reluctant lions. My strength and interest was in analysing text.

Val Folb – Top Right

The Drama teacher was a 30-something, rather scatty and scruffy young woman who always looked like she had just got up. Soon after we left, she married an air force officer from nearby RAF Topcliffe and moved away. I understand she is still alive although her husband died quite a while ago of cancer. She got us to put on our own productions for the end of course. Most selected a piece from an established play. I, of course, in my arrogance, wrote my own on the subject of Sentimentality. It was a typically pretentious teenager piece which I would cringe at now.

Lovely down at the beach this morning …

Unfortunately, it was low tide when we got down to the beach but had a lovely walk for an hour in wonderful sunshine.

Wednesday, 5th May, 2021

Absolutely beautiful, warm morning again after wall-to-wall sunshine yesterday. Watched a good game at Man. City last night after they had scraped snow from the pitch at Maine Road. I support United but wanted City to win last night and they were excellent.

Manchester City last night.

The sunshine makes me want to walk. Actually, I will drop my wife at the supermarket and then set off for my own walk in the sunshine. No clothes to be returned today. The past few days seem to have hit a rich seam for her. The bank account lists:

… and that’s just this month. She’s also looking for a new, Garmin smartwatch so we are going to Currys/PCWorld this morning.

Actually, I’ve got a couple more day’s entries of College photos to store. Today I am focussing on girls/women. Of course, throughout the 3 years, I was fairly saintly and really didn’t get to know many of these girls at all. As a result, I am struggling to name them. Maybe others can. For example, I visited the Cottages once or twice in 1972 but haven’t got a clue who this is.

This woman/girl was definitely in Cottages and called Annette. I can half recognise her face:

Annette & Husband

The Sports Teams are largely a mystery to me. In the first cricket photo, I can name just 5 girls:

FR/L-R:   Linda /  ?? / Julie / Liz / ??
BR/L-R:   ?? / ?? / Anne / Frances?? / ?? / ?? / ?? /

In the second photo I can only name 4:

FR/L-R:   ?? /  Linda / Julie / ?? / ??
BR/L-R:   ?? /  Chris / ?? / ?? / Liz

This posting is a bit niche but I hope some people will appreciate it. It’s always nice to reminisce occasionally. 

The memory box stabbed me with a 9-year-old memory this morning as it featured these photos from 2012:

We had already been in our Greek house for a month and enjoyed Greek Easter celebrations. The weather had been wonderful and we had completely repainted the outside of our house until it was a blinding, Cycladic white. It needed doing every 3 or 4 years because of the strength of the sun. Happy days!

Thursday, 6th May, 2021

In our house, I have nothing to do with spending money only saving and investing it. Total control of spending was handed over to my wife on Day-1 of our marriage. Money really doesn’t worry me. I wanted her to feel secure in the event of something happening to me. I am confident that I will always have enough for what I want to do. When she first rescued me from the Brothel, I had 3 or 4 uncashed monthly salary cheques in a draw. I really didn’t need them. We have joint accounts but my wife does all the monitoring of them. I set targets for our savings and investments. I do the research and preparation. I know which investments will pay what over which timescale. Pauline micro-manages the current account recording every single outgoing daily on an accountancy software program just as her mother did on scraps of paper for years.

Latest arrivals
Reckless Spending!

Retiring, inheriting, paying off the mortgage, selling the Greek house have combined to make us feel totally relaxed. It is a lovely feeling and one within which I can happily hand over all responsibility. So, the list of shops I posted yesterday that purchases have been made from recently was nothing other than a casual observation.

I had two, new pairs of trainers ordered for me. They arrived yesterday and they are fine. They’re trainers. When I went to store them in my shoe cupboard, I found I had three new pairs already there unopened. I won’t need any for years now. Note to feet: don’t change size!

Just to make her smile, I left an accusatory symbol of her reckless spending on the stairs this morning. She was completely unashamed and unapologetic about them. Apparently, they were bargains. I will be 80 before I have outworn them. Will I still be running? You can be absolutely sure I will. I will not give in until I drop!

Three years ago, there was a lot of excitement amongst the Ripon alumni. York St John University invited past students of Ripon who graduated before 1980 to apply to have their Certificates upgraded to Honorary Degrees. The excitement generated was so great, it bordered on the orgasmic. Arrangements were made months in advance. Wardrobes were co-ordinated, gowns & mortars booked and meals arranged. I didn’t go. I didn’t need an honorary degree and I didn’t want to be spooked by ghosts of my past. Little did I know.

Graduation Day – 2018

These young things without a care in the world thought they could carry the Common Room furniture, paintings and standard lamps out onto the lawns and have their pictures taken. Oh, how we laughed!

High Jinx – 1972

Now they are aged and world weary. They will all have seen, countered and survived life’s problems. I have been fascinated to hear about some of them. Not one of us escapes them. And although I’m broken, I am still breathing…

50th Anniversary Celebrations

2019 saw the 50th anniversary of our year’s entrance to the college. I was abroad but was sent some photos of the day.

50th Anniversary Celebrations

Few of these people have met for 50 long years and are suddenly converging on their past. It is a hard concept to struggle with. I wonder how they related to each other.

Friday, 7th May, 2021

Sometimes life can feel so optimistic. At the age of 70, it is important to have new challenges to look forward to. I am beginning to see my way forward to setting some new goals. Fitness and weight loss are high on the agenda. I’m really punishing myself at the moment. Just one, small meal mid-afternoon and about 30% more exercise. I’ve gone through the hard part when mind and body fight to adjust and am in the sweet spot of actually enjoying it. It’s going to be a very energetic Summer.

Angmering Bluebell Wood Yesterday

Went out to vote twice yesterday. The first time, the queues were so long, we turned back. On each occasion, we walked. It was about a 15 mins walk each way and, until recently, I wouldn’t have considered doing anything other than driving. Now, I can’t believe I did that. Walking was so enjoyable. I’m now covering about 200 miles per month. My smart watch and phone app set the targets. I am a sucker for targets. I have to meet/beat them. Sad really, isn’t it?

Pre-cut / Post-cut – the only difference £100 and the sunshine in the kitchen

This morning, my wife is having her first haircut for 6 months. She has got so used to longer hair that she has decided not to have much off. Still, it will make her feel better. My attempts to reunite her with friends from her London College have worked out spectacularly. She exchanges almost daily emails with Blondie aka Christine who was her best friend at college and will soon be arranging to meet all three girls who live close together in Milton Keynes. I’m really pleased for her. At least my research works sometimes.

Before her appointment, we walked on the promenade. The Worthing ‘Eye’ is back up for the Season.

While Pauline was in the hairdressers, I was having a wonderful time in the sunshine pacing the totally empty rooftop of the multi-story car park overlooking the sea. Suddenly, a car park worker appeared in High Vis. jacket and approached me very cautiously.

Are you alright, Sir? he asked.
I’m absolutely fine, I replied.
Only, he said, we’ve been monitoring you on the cameras for the past 20 mins and we were a bit worried about you.
Why?
We thought you might be thinking of jumping.

I was so touched that I gave him a hug. Bet they’ve got that on camera as well. I know I look desperate and, probably, I am but it would have taken something to get me scaling the barriers if I wanted to die. I don’t.

I have so much to live for. The reasons to live seem to increase every day. Might be a bit depressed about the Hartlepool byelection and the fact even some intelligent people think Boris Johnson is doing a good job but jumping to one’s death is on another level!

Saturday, 8th May, 2021

What a wonderful morning. The world has changed! It is pouring with rain – quite a rare event. At 6.30 am, the lights are on in the kitchen for the first time for weeks. Water is bouncing down on the patio and Breakfast is liquid too. I am losing weight rapidly and looking to the future. It was a lovely day yesterday and they will get increasingly better now. The Summer is coming. The rain is just an intermediate but necessary stage.

A Coign of Advantage’ – 1895 — Lawrence Alma Tadema

I wrote a few weeks ago about the artwork I had in past houses and how it hadn’t seemed appropriate in more modern homes. Before the pre-Raphaelite period moved into the radical edge of James Whistler it had dissipated into the indulgence of Lawrence Alma Tadema and Frederick Lord Leighton and the walls of our house depicted that.

Flaming June – 1895 – Frederick Lord Leighton

Gradually, we moved a number of pictures to our Greek home. Ultimately, everything went to the Hospice in Worthing. I’m not scared of doing away with the old and starting afresh. To get what one wants, sometimes breaking things is the only way. It can be a strength and a weakness.

The Bigger Picture – David Hockney

So it was that our next two properties have had blank, white walls for a decade. Having lived in galleried walls for so long, it has been quite a release. However, we are edging towards something new. I don’t know if you like Hockney because for a long time I didn’t.

The Arrival of Spring – Hockney’s new exhibition

However, over this decade of purity at home, Hockney has been working his way into my consciousness. This is especially significant because he has refused to accept his age and, unlike many wrinklies, now works exclusively with his iPad to create his pictures. For that reason, the larger ‘canvasses’ are constructed of panels from the screen of an iPad.

Hockney, in his 80s, now lives in Normandy and he has spent the pandemic creating scores of pictures. He has a new exhibition of this latest work in London which I’ll have to visit. Something else to look forward to.

My dear friends in Greater Manchester will be pleased to know that not only did Andy Burnham retain his Mayoralty by a proportion of 4-1 against his nearest challenger but Labour retained control of the majority of councils across the borough. They held on to power in Rochdale, Bury, Oldham, Salford, Tameside, Trafford , Manchester and Wigan. The people of GM are eminently sensible of course.

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