Thursday, 5 January 2012

Our Year 2011


I’ve split this up a bit in the hope that I won’t bore people who have read some of it before. Just see if there any bits you want to read, then scroll to them and skip the rest. I hope that you find something that either amuses or interests you along the way.

It scrolls something like this… First of there’s my little plug. (I’m sorry, but I’ve got to do these things)… Then there’s our bit of news, mainly for relatives and friends… Then comes some of my adventures as published on the blog over the last few month: namely:- My appearance on the speed camera… Followed by; My Hols, life on a narrow-boat and a cruise liner… Followed by; An encounter with the Travelodge computer system… Followed by my normal blog



The big news for us is that Sylvia and Jon presented us with our fourth grandchild this year. The fourth for us, that is, this little girl is their firstborn. And so, a few weeks ago we went up the Rhondda Valley for a naming party. I’ve never been to a naming party before, so that was a first for me. We used to either have christenings or nothing in my day. But my day has long gone. Anyway, the naming party was good. All the better because Sylvia’s mam, dad and sister Rebecca and her boyfriend, Eriend, came over from Norway for the occasion. The British contingent was Liz and me, plus Diz and Dan, along with their two b… b… bairns, Charlie and Isobel. OK… only kidding. David was back at sea, Penny was working and Katie was in boarding school, so the Plymouth Gregorys couldn’t make it. But they were there in spirit and the baby was duly named Saga. Saga being the Norse goddess of poetry and music. She is also the daughter and drinking partner of Odin, so my sources tell me. All in all I reckon that’s a spot-on name for a little girl who came out of the blue. Saga’s mam and dad, Sylvia and Jon run a successful music producing business from their home in a Welsh miner’s cottage up there in the mountains at the top end of the Rhondda. We’re going up there on Christmas Eve to have a Norwegian style Christmas. Can’t be bad.

About a month later there was another get together. This one was in the Horse and Jockey pub, which is our “local.” The pub’s at the top of the Tumble Hill, overlooking Cardiff, and with views over the Bristol Channel. Liz and I walk up there for a tipple once or twice a week. This “do” was really a celebration of Liz’s 70th birthday, which happened in November. There was quite a gathering really. David was home from the sea this time, so the Gregorys made it up from Plymouth. That’s David, Penny, Katie and JJ, Katie’s boyfriend. Then there was Bill and Gill, Dan’s ma’ and pa’, up from Lee on Solent. Dan, Diz, Isobel and Charlie were there again. Sylvia, Jon and baby Saga were down from the Rhondda. And our friends Sally and Peter completed the set. It was good, we ate drank and were merry. What more can you ask?

 David has just completed a three year pre degree course in marine engineering and is back on the briny now. He’s a Chief ET on HMS Scott, a survey ship. But, for him, the highlight of his career came earlier in the year when he was in the Field Gun event in the Edinburgh Tattoo. He loves the Field Gun and has run for a few teams. On this occasion he was officially at the Tattoo as the trainer for HMS Raleigh’s team. But HMS Sultan’s team had injuries, so he ended up running for both Sultan and Raleigh. It was even more special for him because it was in his beloved Scotland. Penny’s in fine fettle, and works in a hospice in Plymouth. Katie’s done big time in the GCSE exams and has got her sights on the A levels now. She’s bright as a button that girl. She’s in to sport in a big way too. Apart from horse riding and dressage, she’s trained as a lifeguard and works in the school swimming pool for an hour before lessons every morning. But I would say that fencing is her speciality. Apart from fencing for her club in Plymouth, she is on the books for the Welsh Juniors and has fenced for Wales. That’s not bad, because she’s really English.

Diz and Dan still live in Cardiff, of course. They both work hard and play hard, and are into running. The pair of them ran a Half Marathon for charity the other week. Diz runs for miles after work and takes Dougal, their massive labradoodle with her for company. Charlie’s into it now. He sometimes runs with Diz and the dog and can do four miles no bother. That’s toned him up enough to represent his school in cross country races. Both Charlie and Isobel are into acting as well. They go to drama school every Saturday. We went to watch them in a professional presentation of Pinocchio the other week. Charlie’s been in a few professional productions, including The Blue Remembered Hills by Dennis Potter, which was very impressive. He’s also been in the Cardiff Gang Show for two years running, which is a highly respected production.

And so to us, Liz and me, what about us. Well I’ve tagged a couple of things on to the end of this letter, which you may find amusing. That includes a holiday on a narrow boat on the River Wey and a trip on a Cunarder up the Baltic. Apart from that, we’ve had a couple of trips up north. We were in Sheffield earlier in the year to watch Katie in a fencing competition. From there we nipped over the Pennines and dropped down into Manchester to visit my cousins up there. Then we went across to Beddgelert in North Wales to see another cousin. Then motored home through the centre of Wales, which is one of my favourite journeys. Then it was back up to Manchester again later in the year to support Sally, Liz’s friend, who was taking part in the Mastermind Series. Sally’s round will be shown in the New Year. She’s the lady who answers questions on The Women’s Institute.

I suppose my bit of news is the dog bite. Well it wasn’t so much a bite as a stab. I was playing with Ulf, Jon and Sylv’s dog, when one of his teeth went into my arm. It was my fault. I was winding the dog up and I came off worse. I should have known better. He’s a big animal and he’s got “Form.” He’s put Jon in hospital twice. Once with a broken rib and once with DVT. Anyway, I didn’t think twice about this stab. I’ve lived with dog bites since I was kid. So I ignored it. But it got worse. So I ignored it more. Like you do. But it got even worse. Like bites do. By Saturday night it was getting sore and very red and drawing a road map up my arm. But the doctor’s was closed. So Liz took me to A&E at the local Hospital. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in A&E in a British City on a Saturday night. But it’s worth a visit. Swallow a fishbone or poke a finger in your eye, just to give yourself a treat. It’s better than anything you see on tele. Ten o’clock on a Saturday night is when all the drunks start dismantling each another, men and women. Then the police and para medics throw them on the conveyor belt and ship them off to A&E. They’re all there, hanging on to their broken bits and shackled to policemen. I won’t criticise. I’ve been there…

One Christmas Eve, back in my youth. I arrived home paralytic and fell asleep on the settee with a lit cigarette in my hand. I woke up on Christmas morning with the settee, carpet and sideboard on fire. To cut a long story short, I eventually wandered up to the bedroom and woke my parents. ”Merry Christmas,” I wished them, “there’s been a bit of damage.” In the end my father drove me to Manchester A&E because my bottom resembled a couple of kilos of blistered liver. That was my first experience of the pantomime. I was the healthiest there. They were all in bits and pieces, singing carols. And the bloke singing the loudest had stepped in front of a bus and left the imprint of his body on the radiator. And nothing’s changed…

Anyway, the dog bite… By teatime on Sunday I’m queuing on a trolley outside the operating theatre with a team of anaesthetists round me. I’m supposed to be having a local anaesthetic while they fix my arm. “Can you feel that?” says this guy. “Yes’” I tell him. “What?” he wants to know. “You pinched my arm,” I say. “We’ll have to give him another dose,” he tells his mate. So they do. This happens three or four times. Then they say, “Time’s up. It’s your slot. You’ve got to go in. We’ll have to put you to sleep.” That’s how I ended up with umpteen times more nerve block in my arm than necessary. They said it was supposed to wear off in six hours and I would get my feeling back. But it didn’t. By the next morning there was no sensation at all. When I was in bed it was like there was no arm attachedl. But when I got up to go to the toilet I could see it, with the knuckles trailing along the ground. I was panicking a bit. I thought I was changing into a chimpanzee. When I tried to pick it up it was ton weight and slithered out of my grip. I reckon most of your weight is in you right arm. When I was having a pee I wedged it on top of the cistern but it slithered off and fell on the floor. The doctor said they had pumped so much stuff in it was still going more dead instead of coming round.

In the end it came back to life and they sent me home with a packet of antibiotics. But now the good arm started swelling up.  It started going funny colours where they had put the saline drip in. It got really bad in the end. I thought,  “Aye aye; just my luck. They’ve given me one of those special diseases they breed in the hospital.” So I went to the local quack for a second opinion. He said  the hospital antibiotics weren’t working, and gave me a replacement set. They didn’t work either. When I went back to the hospital to get signed off, I asked them which set of antibiotics should I stay on. They took a look at the box the doctor gave me and said, “What are these for?” I said, “My good arm.” And they said, “These are for kidneys, not arms.”

So that, as they say, was that.

Merry Christmas and Good Health and Contentment to all who pass by.



The Speed Camera


Motoring, hmm… I got done for speeding the other week. I was doing 79mph on a motorway with a 70mph limit.
OK, so it was a fair cop.
But the government is considering putting the speed limit up to 80mph in the near future. Better still, I have it on good authority that most police forces ignore anyone doing under 80mph.
Some people might think that the person who decided to prosecute me, for doing less that 80, is a bit of a git…. I couldn’t possibly comment.

Normally, if you are caught speeding, you get fined £60 and 3 points on your licence. But nowadays they have this new thing where you can either pay the fine and get the points or opt to pay £85 and go on a Speed Awareness course – to be ‘Educated.’ I opted for the course.
Some people might think that ‘Educating’ those who have strayed off the path of righteousness sounds a bit North Korean… I couldn’t possibly comment.

That brings me to the point. The penalty for speeding is £60 and a black mark on your soul. But if you opt to be ‘Educated’ and cough-up £85, your soul is unblemished.
Some people might think that by slipping the hierarchy an extra £25 your licence gets protected… I couldn’t possibly comment.

Talking of motoring, reminds me… The car park in our local supermarket used to be easy on the eye. All the bays were bordered by bushes and greenery and stuff.
Then a committee of wise men decided that the shrubs were harbouring rats, so they cut them down. You can’t argue with that.

But they’ve got half a dozen recycling skips in that same car park. Very environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, these skips don’t get emptied often enough. But the bold recycling addicts are not put off by that. They just keep piling their new rubbish on top of the old rubbish to form a rubbish waterfall and river. The whole area looks like a Chinese landfill site.

Guess what? The bush-rats moved across to the skips.

In retaliation, the wise men put down rat poison. So, instead of bush-rats and skip-rats we have dead-rats. Like this one…


Some people might think that the wise men are tackling the wrong rodents… I couldn’t possibly comment.