Week 703

Sunday, 12th June, 2022

Lovely warm day of sunshine and cloud. Felt strong on my walk after a couple of days when I had a mental struggle to complete. Kevin has sourced the CDs of our greatest ‘triumph’ – a 1971/72 ITV drama series called Villains starring Bob Hoskins, Paul Eddington and Me … with a bit part for my friend, Kevin.

Unfortunately, Kevin has videoed the video from a TV on his phone. Not the best reproduction but it will do. Lots of Riponites have contacted me since I posted it.

Apart from the standard exercise, this is quite a lazy day. I am reflective, thinking about my youth after seeing my fresh face at the age of 20. It is frightening how the time has gone. I reflect on lost opportunities, on time and distance, on connections and on things still to achieve. Keep going you old fool!

I wrote recently how shocked we were by the current valuation of our house. It has increased by £250,000 in 5 years. The housing market is hot to over heating and the local newspaper’s assessment was published at the weekend. You always take a risk with new-build property in new areas. The last couple of moves we’ve made have been lucky in the extreme.

Monday, 13th June, 2022

My 1975 edition – £1.25

In 1975, I was completing the first year of my OU Degree. One element of that first-year was a crash course in Philosophy. I was introduced to Cartesian Dualism, most famously defended by René Descartes in the first half of the 17th Century as he argued that there are two kinds of foundation: mental and physical. This philosophy states that the mental can exist outside of the body, and the body cannot think. It is generally known as the Mind-Body Problem.

I found that Philosophy – the development of ideas and concepts behind language – was an exciting form of approaching the world. It led me to go on to a Master’s Degree in the History of Political Ideas. I could feel myself growing as a person as I did the reading and the writing. I was in my 20s with a whole life ahead of me.

In my 70s, I am wrestling with the Mind-Body Problem on a different level. Now, 50 years on, it is the Being-Doing Problem. Retirement is a state of being. It is not an activity in itself. I regularly get up in the morning and realise I am retired; I have nothing which has to be done only options for things I could do if I so choose. When I was working, the idea of being free to choose was something of a luxury to be dreamed of. In retirement, the idea of having purpose is so often missing. I am a man in search of a purpose.

One of the purposes that many people fall upon in retirement is investigating the fabric of their lives by relocating past in present. I have found some sense of purpose by reconnecting with friends and acquaintances from earlier segments of my life. It forces us to reassess how we ‘played’ it, how it played us and formed our current condition. Maybe I am more self-reflective than most and too much for my own good. Perhaps my earlier life has made me that way.

Phil Bennet in his pomp!

In an earlier life, I ‘knew’ all these people in the photo above. I idolised them even though they were Welsh rugby players. I even had to play in Bleddyn Williams rugby boots. The man carrying the ball – Phil Bennett – was a magician on the rugby field. Unbelievable skill with a side step that we had to copy. This week, he died aged 73 .. aged just 73!! If this was me I would have just 2 years left. My mind screams, Impossible! My body says, Who knows?

Tuesday, 14th June, 2022

Gloriously hot & sunny day in prospect. The garden is a hive of industry as our electrician, a lad we have used a number of times and like very much arrived at 8.00 am and got started. He is running cable around the perimeter fence and installing 7 adjustable down lighters. These will be linked to our remote, online Hive hub so that the lighting can be controlled from my phone or tablet anywhere in the world.

This work is being done before the contractors move in to replace the lawns with synthetic grass which will be a bit of an adjustment but will make life a lot easier as we get back into travel more.

“Well met by moonlight …”

Mind you, won’t need much lighting in the garden tonight as the full moon beams down from a clear sky. This was the Marina last night on a warm, calm evening.

Lovely and warm day of clear blue sky and sunshine. We reached 25C/77F with much more predicted for the rest of the week. Did a three hour walk alone. So much time to contemplate ..

You’ll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in fields of gold

The fields of Littlehampton and the village of Angmering both remind me so much of my childhood, of the village of Repton where I grew up. I was desperate to leave its suffocation and yet I have come full circle back to agriculture and community.

Wednesday, 15th June, 2022

Half way through June already and only a week away from the Longest Day and the downward slope towards Winter. Today is absolutely wonderful with 28C/82F of glorious sunshine throughout. Very hot walk and everything else is happening outside in the garden. This is my sort of weather and the next three days are forecast to get increasingly hotter towards 32C/90F. Will feel like a cool day in Greece!

Talking about Greece, we are just finishing a huge stock of ‘All day’ sun tan lotion. Actually, you can’t really buy it any more because opinion is that it doesn’t do what it claims and needs to be applied numerous times each day. I must admit, I am very bad about using it at all unless I am pinned down by my wife and have it applied. Spending so much time outside these days that I’ve agreed to be smothered … on my face.

Can you imagine the lack of moral principle and the lack of humanity of those exporting their Refugee responsibilities to a country like Rwanda – a country that locks people up who disagree with and speak out against its government?

It is almost beyond belief that they will go to such lengths with our money and yet, nothing really surprises us any more. I talk on a regular basis to John R., Kevin, Julie, David Roberts and John Morris and each one of them is appalled by the shame UK is being brought to. I know we are all of a similar age but we are not alone. Friends and relatives I speak to across the generational divide are equally appalled and ashamed. These people have to go. Boris Johnson’s own chosen Ethics Adviser has resigned tonight. Who can be surprised?

Thursday, 16th June, 2022

Summer days continue. Wonderfully hot and sunny throughout the day and the walk was very sweaty. Every year at these times, we rehearse our arguments for having air-conditioning installed in the bedrooms at least. Fortunately we have an electrician working in the garden again today installing the lights and sockets. We were discussing our dilemma with him while he worked. He suggested considering ceiling fans again. We had them in Greece and combined them with lights but we have low ceilings here and I could envisage getting up in the night and being decapitated by the fan blades.

Out of the discussion came the information that things had moved on in the last 5 years or so and there were excellent closed fan/lighting units available. These units only cost about £150.00 each with 4-speed fans, 3 different lighting shades and remote control. I’ve ordered a couple to start us off and see how good they are. The electrician will be back next week to install them

Just 11 years ago today, we were in Athens for Pauline to have her hair cut. We had left the island for 3 days. Suddenly, it became apparent that our retirement plans might not work as we had intended. There was rioting on the streets outside the Parliament within view of our hotel. The Greek government was under pressure. All would not remain calm and tranquil. Just 4 years later, we had sold up and gone before we lost everything we had invested. A project that we had started in 2000, finished prematurely in 2014. Such a pity but now we look outward and upward.

The lights looked reasonable on the hot and sultry evening at the back of the house. Can’t believe that lawn will soon be dug up and replaced.

Might have to re-adjust our plans to go North. There is so much to do and so many people to see. We had been intending to go in October but it will probably have to be earlier. Everything has to be fitted in.

Friday, 17th June, 2022

17/6/1980 – 8.30 am

Hot, hot, hot … almost like a mild, Greek Summer’s day. 28C/83F and lovely for a long walk.

On this day each year, I feel lucky to be alive and breathing never mind able to walk. Exactly 42 years ago today, as I reiterate each year, we were driving our brand new, pageant blue mini to work at 8.00 am when some idiot crossed the road in his old works car and cut our mini in two parts. I was pronounced dead by the ambulance crew but, fortunately, they gave me a chance and revived me. But for that lucky occurrence, I would have missed the past 42 years of experiences.

Went out early to Sainsbury’s in Littlehampton. We wandered round just piling up our trolley with everything we wanted and somethings we certainly didn’t need. Spending £100.00 in 15 minutes without a care until we started to drive home and a headline I read this morning from the MEN/Oldham Times came back to me …

Far too late I felt the juxtaposition of that stark fact set against my activity and, as I did, Frances O’Grady, retiring Head of the TUC was being interviewed on the radio and she asked for this song to be played:

It’s been a long
A long time coming
But I know a change gonna come
Oh, yes it will

A Change Is Gonna Come – Song by Sam Cooke (1964)

I know I am a soppy, old man but I couldn’t hold back the tears. Much good it would do anyone but there was nothing I could do about it either.

And when you sit back and consider the theme of this devastating song and then compare its sentiments with the naked and vile racism of the BBC Question Time audience in Newcastle this week who had just one message for the government: We don’t want any more migrants coming to UK and we want to get rid of those who are here already. You realise that it’s going to continue to be a long time coming even now ….

Saturday, 18th June, 2022

Very strange day. At 7.00 am we had 22C/70F and high humidity. By mid day, it was 28C/83F and like a sauna. Our walk was rather sweaty. As the afternoon developed, we kept the heat but alternated between sunny spells and huge rain drops sporadically hitting the patio and almost immediately evaporating.

Former Brighton Pier

All of this is such a contrast with yesterday which was incredibly hot but with clear, blue skies and strong sun. The south coast was packed with sunbathers and beach lovers.

These are days when the Piers are popular. To the left is the former, burned out wreck of Brighton Pier still languishing in the crystal waters of the seaside. My sister, Cathy and her husband Laurie who live about 5 miles away posted photos of their trip to our local, Worthing Pier which has undergone extensive refurbishment in the past couple of years. The central café/restaurant looks really good again. Life seems to be treating them well and they both look very happy.

Haven’t been on the pier for ages now. In fact, it is a strange but we both said this morning that we had almost forgotten that we lived by the sea at all. We have hardly walked on the beach at all recently. Other things seem to be dominating our time.

Looking for flights to Tampa, Florida for the 3 months end of October to mid January. We are allowed 90 days in USA on our ESTA Visa. The difference between Business Class and Premium Economy is £2,200/£7,400.

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