Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Scrooge!

Christmas Past; Christmas Present; Christmas future; Oh my goodness! How sad!. I think  I might be on the point of conversion. I am mixed up.  I am besieged with Scrooge type symptoms.  However I am certainly not mean to the same level as that Dickensian character and genuinely want to retain the spirit of Christmas so that the occasion will in fact be joyous for everyone.  However, being in the queue at Lidl's store in Pembroke Dock this morning set me off on a thought process which got worse as the morning wore on. A lady ahead of me was reading the head of her Newspaper and was aghast to find that there was an important piece of advice within on how to make 'gravy' for the Christmas Dinner.  Being in the unpleasant mood I was in at the time, the lady actually helped to zap me out of it, and we had a few moments of fun, in which many other shopper/revellers joined in.  Having been making gravy for sometime past we both had a banter as to how ridiculous the build up to the season had been.  I am almost certain that ever since late August, Magazines in various issues of weekend newspapers  have been carrying advice on how to make a Christmas Dinner; Prepare the add ons, and drinks.  The conclusion on my part anyway is that there must be a very poor level of cooking skill amongst the masses if they have not yet mastered the trick of preparing a decent meal.  Just think for a moment of the numerous items of journalistic drivel you have seen in the last few weeks about the matter.  Proceeding onwards do not forget the TV Chefs who have had a field day with so called celebrities preparing the festive meal.  The fact that celebs cannot, or have not yet mastered the required skill is not surprising!.  Then of course we have had the benefit of each and every Supermarket and Food Processing company spending literally millions on TV adverts of how a Christmas dinner table should look like.  Heavens above, has anyone ever seen a dinner table cluttered to the absolute hilt with a stockpile of processed food.  There's no room for the knife and forks and plates. What is more stupid is that the adverts are probably already recorded or being scripted in readiness for Christmas 2015, and beyond.  The phrase"Are you ready for Christmas" has been ringing in the ears for months, and I am convinced that is the point when my blood pressure takes a turn for the worse, and my mood swings become more variable than the weather.  I may have said on previous occasion that I am not a Religious bigot, and I really stick by that.  Consequently the commercialisation of Christmas has become a real thorn in my side.  As Christians we are taught through the New Testament of the origins and meaning of the Christmas story. The Old Testament relates the development of the world through the prophets and the way they saw things  centuries ago.
Unfortunately as Christians we seem to have lost the ability of appreciating things as they used to be; what they have become; and be able to responsibly think ahead of what we need to do to make the future a stable world in which to live. Spare a thought for the reasons our military are currently engaged in 'peace keeping', 'stabilising disease', 'preventing/fighting terrorism'.  Even our homeland streets are under the watchful eye of our security/police services to ensure we are safe in our homes during this Christmas spree. Before I lose the plot completely to anyone reading this can I just say that I trust we can take a long breath, jump off the bus of commercial insanity, and settle to a more steady lifestyle.  The crushing of the Credit Card might be a good place to start 2015.  As for myself?
Let me assure you I am not Scrooge - I enjoy my time working for and giving to charities. I cherish the ability of being able to help in my community.  Above all, isn't it a thrill to be able to share time and giving amongst the family at all times, and especially at Christmas.  So to all my readers - Have a Wonderful Christmas Season, and may 2015 be a Happy and Prosperous Year.

By the way - I will not be voting UKIP.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Of Experts and Expertise

I frequently make the remark - "Of course you realise I am an expert in everything - the problem is I am the only one who thinks it".  I get a few laughs because it is taken in good heart, and I don't mean it.  The greatest problem is that the world is full of experts to the extent that the true meaning of the word is rapidly being lost.  On the other hand the world is very quickly running out of people with expertise as we become daily more reliant on technology and machinery to perform some basic tasks. Sadly gone are the days of being  able to standby and watch an expert carpenter, builder, blacksmith, signwriter and many other skillful people  creating masterpieces of crafstmanship and who can rightfully be called experts. What has really brought this diatribe on is my perception of the hordes of experts I come across on my jaunts to rugby internationals, and the so called expert disection of the game in the bars and conversation in the workplace days after the event. The same applies to the pundits who chop up  every move, tackle and referee decision in so many of our games of whatever shape or size the ball, or event is. The downhill skier and ski jumper is an example to my mind where a great deal of expertise, and personal madness is a prerequisite. Taking a further example - what about a fighter pilot hurtling through the valleys of Mid Wales. The Lake District and the Highlands of Scotland at almost ground level where split second decisions are taken in regular training to gain expertise and become experts.   To continue  on the same theme, consider the expertise of the Surgeons who carry out such intricate surgical work whilst we are out cold having signed away our lives in the knowledge that we will be treated by an expert. The armchair experts who rant and rage about the performance of individual players on the sportsfield have little or no perception of the hurt that can be inflicted on individuals.  No thought is spared for the consequences and impact on the individuals confidence.  Obviously when a team effort depends on the expertise of individuals, results and expectations can quite properly be discussed. Character assasination is surely another matter.  In Wales this weekend we will enjoy an international rugby match with two teams doing their absolute best to win.  The standard and expectation for a good home result is high.  The standard and experitise of both teams should be about equal.  Statistically the experts are mainly opposition. Whatever, some 77,000 baying experts will descend on Cardiff a mixture of home and visiting supporters.  There will be millions of armchair experts many of whom will never have had the sniff of a blade of grass let alone put on a rugby shirt.  To all aspiring experts I have a simple request - forget it until you can really claim to be one - forget the rants on Facebook - enjoy the game - recognise the winners whoever they may be.  AND Finally if you are a Welsh Supporter - LEARN TO SING THE WELSH NATIONAL ANTHEM IN THE LANGUAGE OF HEAVEN - YOU WILL LOOK SO PATHETIC MIMING OR PRETENDING TO KNOW IT WHEN YOU COME UP ON THE BIG SCREEN -

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Some more reflecting

I quite often have a review of current affairs and situations whilst musing alone. Most often when the weather is indifferent, and not much else to do other than read the paper, listen to the Radio , watch the news, and not infrequently have a shot at history.  At school history was a great bore as we were expected to learn most of it from handouts. Some of these were handme downs from previous failures such as me. The overall GCE success rate was not very high either amongst the more determined of us.  The modern history of the time was WW1 and WW2 and sadly did not merit much attention as that was something I could have contributed to in abundance. So - as today saw the 11th hour of the 11th day pass by once more it was right to pause and spare a few thoughts. The rain cascaded from the heavens most of the morning as if to jog me into thoughts of what it must have been like in those trenches in Flanders and elsewhere.  Shelter in such short supply and battles raging all around!.  I managed a hearty breakfast, and lunch, and all the while it poured down determined to remind me again of what it must have been like 100 years ago.  My thoughts spread to WW2 and the unbelievable atrocities committed in the concentration camps in Europe, and the Prisoner of war camps in the far east.  How man could inflict such awful carnage on man defies any worthy explanation.  In war we British have not exactly come out unblemished either. As if to make the morning fill up with more sad reflection there were images of recent British casualties on Facebook, and on radio a programme highlighting the effects of combat stress.  During the years of the operations in Afghanistan I was, (as were so many others) moved to tears at the sight of repatriation of fallen at Brize Norton. All the while I used to make infrequent visits to the MOD websites in which were recorded the casualty figures.  These were quite often several weeks old. The statistics painted an awful picture of what was taking place.  Somehow,  deliberately or otherwise these figures were never openly discussed.  Passing some time with a member of 3 Rifles who had been seriously wounded brought home at first hand what the young men of today's military have to prepare for and sadly endure.  To have one's  bowell shot out and live the rest of life with a colostomy bag does not bear thinking about. True, believe me!.  Isn't it strange how we can all get lulled in to the "it will never happen to me" feeling.  Talking through the experience with my new found friend stirred something which has made me a very appreciative individual.  Reading this one might conclude that it is time for the men in white coats to pay me a visit.  Not at all, I champion everyone of these countrymen of ours. Imagine then last Saturday on my pilgrimage to the International Rugby match travelling by train.  Leaving Pembroke at nine o clock the train journey should have been uneventful.  The timing was perfect, no delays along the way and arrived at Cardiff on schedule.  The journey was however marred by the boarding of passengers along the route.  The sight of so called Rugby Experts, exponents of the game, boarding the train at various stations en route  armed to the teeth with packs of favourite lager/beer, and consumed in haste, so as to be properly tanked up prior to arrival in Cardiff was extreme.  All this before what used to be normal opening hours for pubs.  Indeed by the time we arrived at Bridgend the croaking Calon Lan of Max Boyce fame was reduced to an unidentifiable chorus of foul language, and discordant effort at singing.  Land of song by damned!. The raucous arrival in Cardiff was added to by a further element of the tanked up 'boyos' who bellowed their way through the streets of Cardiff to further the refuelling process. And so it went on,  even in the stadium where there were Royal Guests, and lots of other eminent Welsh VIP's.  The bellowing, and booing during the taking of place kicks was surely not the way to behave. It was a good game of Rugby. My return journey from Cardiff as far as Carmarthen was if anything worse than my outward.  By now, fuelled by the distress of having been beaten by the Australians again, (only just), plus the after match refuelling, things were pretty dire.  Cursing, shouting, and urinating between carriages, some questionable 'romantic' performances. All this happening openly in the presence of ladies, and children. It was supposed to be a family day out also.  Please believe me it was not pleasant, and on top most of these fuelled idiots had the temerity to complain about the cost of the match ticket!! Heaven help. So, here I have a contrast of situations. Bravery, and Sadness on the one part filled with Gratefulness for Sacrifice and Determination, and on the other Disgust for what we have allowed ourselves as a nation to degenerate into. A society where we are now tolerant of unimaginable behaviour.  I am not straight laced but surely sometime sooner rather  than later we will have a jolt to bring back some common sense.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Pas-times

As a young lad I was encouraged to learn countryside skills such as hunting, fishing, nature, craft, and a host of other little things to amuse oneself.  Learning how to make a whistle from a piece of a Sycamore sapling, especially in springtime when the sap was running.  That required a penknife which most young boys, and men carried daily with never a hint or threat of stabbing any one other than using it to skin a rabbit,  or gut a fish. My first fishing rod was literally a twig with some fine line, gut, hook and a worm.  The success rate was very low at first but perseverance and learning the craft of knowing where a trout might be lying waiting for some morsel to pass by soon produced results. More often than not a tiddler, and occasionally something big enough to take home and show the specimen before it was cooked.  Whatever was caught and taken home was never wasted.  Similarly, rabbits were in abundance and caught by trapping or snaring. Boxing day being a particularly good day for a catch. Again the same principle applied - whatever was caught was for the pot.  Such was the respect one had and learnt for natures produce.  Much later in my life hunting became a bad word to such an extent that learning countryside craft skills no longer exist.  Rabbits have more or less been eradicated by the introduction of myxomatosis, an awful disease to see.  On the other hand several species which had been tolerated and dealt with as pests as they ravaged the chicken runs, have now become protected, and there is a possibility in my view that they could very well become once again 'pests'.  Certainly the Grey Squirrel is having a pretty bad press for its traits of killing birds, and sapling trees and attacking the Red Squirrel.  Recently there has been a furore about the decline of the wild salmon in our rivers.  That, despite the high cost of being actually allowed to try and catch one.  There was once upon a time when my Great Grandfather and his mates caught salmon by fair means and foul to feed hungry mouths and even taking to smoking salmon in the large chimney spaces which every cottage had. The rivers and streams which once abounded with trout have been contaminated with slurry run off and pesticides.  Some streams have dried out through 'global warming'.  So it is said. Having seen virtually all the little pleasurable countryside tricks of the trade eroded I now find that there is yet another skill under attack.  I mean sea fishing.  I have been a rather infrequent sea angler for many years and enjoyed the many hours by the incoming tides waiting more often not in vain for that monster from the deep.  The same principle applied of taking what one caught for the pot.  Alas that now seems to be something which will be consigned to the deep along with the stock of equipment accumulated over many years. The Times Headline  "Anglers face EU limit of one sea bass per day".  Going on my experience of seeking out the elusive big bass at the rate of one a day is impossible.  Firstly because they are not around to catch every day of the year; and secondly when they are 'in season' the stocks simply do not exist. Take notice that the threat of reducing the anglers catch to one a day comes not from our illustrious mandarins, but from that other place - Brussels - yet again.  The poor sea angler of our shores does not stand a chance against the hordes of vessels which creep inshore under cover of darkness with navigation systems shut down to evade detection.  So one a day is now virtually one a year.  With the bulk of fishing  vessels trawling our grounds coming from the continent and catches being landed there daily it is not surprising that stocks of fish have depleted to dangerous levels.  So! here we have it once more, our traditions, our crafts, our basic way of  life is being determined by the gravy train in Brussels.  No wonder then that our yougsters prefer the xbox to a good walk and nature lesson in the country side and sea shore. UKIP?. Sorry I'm still a Tory.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

SOME MORE REFLECTIONS

Over the last  couple of months having enjoyed the Great British Summer mostly lounging around the Pembrokeshire  County watching the world go by time has finally caught up and it is probably  good to sit back and put some thoughts together.  today for example I would normally have been the Church Organist in the Priory Church in Pembroke at 9.15am and then Organist in United Reform Church in Pembroke at 11am.  This of course leads to a double recipe of thoughts for the day from not totally opposing angles.   Sufficient to say that we sing from the same hymn sheets, we read; learn; digest  appropriate extracts from the Bible and those in attendance go away feeling a little more at ease within than when they arrived.  This is of course entirely personal to the individual and I would be the last to go thumping the Great Book to anyone, as I have fallen by the wayside so many times, to try and impress what a good boy I have been or even am would be absolutely hypocritical. Nonsense. None of us can.  However there have been some real up and down goings on within the community and the country since I last had a moan.  Scotland, by a majority decided that staying together was a better political place to be, than going it alone and having to fend for themselves in an unexplored jungle. A canny race the Scots, they know which side the bread is buttered. Nevertheless ever since the decision was declared there has been discord in the ranks and the political scene is, if you don't mind me saying, a bloody shambles.  Everything in the garden isn't so rosy in Wales either.  The mix up in Scotland has seen a surge in the rethinking of the National position amongst the Politicians with a renewal of the, can I say with tongue in cheek, a feeling that Home Rule could yet be round the corner.  There is the confusion in the Welsh Assembly over more devolution, poor education, poor health service, etc; etc.  Oh! and what about the state of the Local Authority in Pembrokeshire with slush funds being found to enable a quick exit by officials.  The situation is not much better in the adjoining County as well. Friends, there is worse to come, because the Welsh Assembly Government now wants to reduce the number of Local Authorities.  War is about to break out on that front because so many high paid officials and councillors will lose out!.  Now if we are expected to believe that there is going to be a root and branch sort out, we must believe that snowballs can survive in hell.  Moving to the centre of events in Westminster it seems to me that the population of this country of ours is totally confused as to where we are going to go.  I am a Tory.  At the moment I don't know why.  I cannot get my head around the notion that we can be governed by 'Career Politicians'.  They may very well have been to the Grand Universities of the land and have studied Confucius, Plato, Marx, and hundreds of others of grand ideas but they certainly have not been to the 'University of Life". Jones the Butcher in Newtown taught me that one!.  Judging by the way some of the grandest have frittered away our money; behaved themselves personally; and politically and ending in jail does not give me any confidence that we have the best process.  Moving to Europe where the biggest gravy train ever continues to roll along. Each day spilling fortunes into the pockets of the hordes administering the European Union whilst the most energetic part of the day is taken with sleeping and dining.  All this has been going on, whilst at the same time Europe and the Middle East is in chaos, our withdrawal from Afghanistan (Praise the Lord for that) is underway with mission incomplete (I am trying to be kind), but very very pleased that we are doing so. Well dear reader, you are probably thinking what the hell has brought this on.  I will tell you.  I passed many sporting grounds this morning on my way to Hospital.  No Priory or Tabernacle today for me.  The sports grounds were almost to capacity with children and parents goading the little ones into sporting combat.  The Priory, Tabernacle, and the other places of religion, could I say on reflection, were almost empty I can guaranteed.  Genesis, Exodus, Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John did not receive much of a hearing today. So what was good about today?  The National Health Service in Wales is not dying it is not in free fall.  It is working flat out.  A clinic arranged on a Sunday with truly professional caring staff and expert Doctors to take care of ME! and treat me to screen me and many others to prevent us from having bowel cancer.  They will be doing the same tomorrow and the dayafter.  It didn't hurt, it didn't cost me a penny.  I am so grateful to them all for their time and skill!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

More contemplation

Quite surprising to find that not having been a very enthusiastic blogger in the past that I now  find myself having  the opportunity to look at life in a more open and positive way and share some past times.  The use of the medium is causing much dismay with lady of the house who has no inclination whatsoever to partake or even learn to use the machinery  to such an extent that observing me and our grandchildren especially entertaining ourselves with the magic of technology generates unsurpassed wrath.  A situation which I understand is not uncommon in the wider world of domestic bliss.  Even as I write this, steam pours out  grandsons, one in Portsmouth, and the other here with me (albeit in an adjoining room), are engaged in a war of attrition with some unknown foreign power on their x boxes.  Frightening to believe that warfare now and in the future is and will be controlled by military powers sitting at x boxes. Since my last effort at blogging there has been much to mull over in the head.  Finding myself being drawn daily towards my roots in St Clears the hub of access to the western delights of Wales little things long lost in the darkness of my brain come leaping out.  The wartime activity around the build up to D Day had been dormant until I was jogged into recalling the thousands of soldiers marching about the locality heading towards Pendine and onwards to Normandy.  There was also the instance of what we called a bulldozer owned by the Americans being used to clear the roads from snowfall, so that must have been wintertime or a late spring.  There was also a great deal of gossip about a young lady who had become dare I say interested in a 'yank' who it seems had camped overnight en route to France.  Apparently the village population increased by one.  The date and year is lost for ever.  My father was a most laid back sort of chap always willing to oblige any call for help even down to digging graves at short notice.  Gave him a hand to complete the job on many occasions totally unaware of the grieving that was happening with the bereaved.  It became a sort of routine task which had to be done never mind the weather.  A bit of gardening here and there; general building here and there; anything of help was never a problem for him.  A heavy pipe smoker of Ringers Superfine there was considerable dismay if there was a shortage on a Sunday when the suppliers were closed, or worse still out of stock and a need to descend to using Franklin as a substitute.  The nerve ends could become quite edgy.  One kept out of the way.  Being of the age that lends itself to reminiscence, these thought of yesteryear crop up from all manner of situations.  As an example.  I took our grandson on his first trip to sea on a ferry to Ireland  (a there and back trip) for a fiver.  Excellent value. Even there, having the time to look observe and inwardly digest, the  huge difference of attitudes of people now against those of my younger years is truly amazing.  One could not avoid overhearing the foul mouthed conversations of adults with such young children in their midst belching forth from alcohol fuelled women.  One claimed to have 'got rid of him at last' by allegedly jettisoning her husbands ashes over the side into the Irish Sea.  It was probably just an attempt at a joke, but the accompanying cursing left much to be not proud of being Welsh or British.  On the other hand the crew of the ferry mostly European was in direct contrast, politeness and well mannered personified.  What are we coming to?.  I did not grow up with anything approaching a silver spoon in the mouth but I am so relieved to have had the benefit of a disciplined background.  The Magistrates Court in the village sat monthly.  The most heinous  offence was riding a bike without lights. A bit of drunkenness, driving without care.  The latter usually resulting from a crash on Blue Boar Square.  A Mr R Harries caused quite a stir by murdering his uncle and aunt and burying them in a kale field. Scotland Yard under the leadership of Det Superintendent Capstick sorted it out, but not before a huge hue and cry to get local people involved in a massive search of the locality.  Having rambled around a little with this entry I need to take a breather and build up a head of steam towards the next effort.  I hope it makes a bit of sense. If not it has given me some satisfaction of looking back and comparing should I say 'progress'?.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Feeling like a swinger

I suppose there are many meanings to the word 'swinger'.  One that springs to mind does not apply to self.  Having been swinging for some 25 years or more without much success, even paid money to get advice on the finer points of how to become a member of that groupie bunch of swingers, I think I might have at long last been accepted into their exclusive midst.  I started swinging with some very experienced swingers when I lived in Newtown a deep part of Wales.  They were a mixed bunch with various attributes. Some of them kept their swinging very private. Others were more open about their activities hoping to spread the word so to speak. Involving the fairer sex in this art of swinging became something of a hazardous pastime as a nod and wink was often totally misconstrued.  Within the confines of this exclusive group of swingers I met with some very interesting people who became lifetime friends and it is with some confidence that I can confidently reveal that my persistence and often clandestine practice of swinging has been exposed.  I am not in the doghouse. Lady of the house is quite happy, and wishes me to continue with the practice.  Praise be for such a liberal thinking partner. She had no interest whatsoever in being a swinger.  Thanks to the effort of Rob Ryder, and the you tube contribution of Leadbetter I have managed three victories in the art of ancient swinging, and reduced a handicap of high proportions significantly.  A new dawn until the swing is infected by some unknown gremlin which befalls many swingers who think like I do at the the moment that the holy grail has been found. No such luck!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Remembrance

Had the huge privilege yesterday of attending a Commemorative service under the direction of the British Legion at St Mary's Church St Clears and led by the Rev Canon Brian Witt.  I also had the privilege under the guidance of the Branch of The British Legion of wearing my Grandfathers medals awarded for his effort in the Great War.  Sadly he never had the honour of wearing them himself as he was killed.  Nevertheless his memory remains with us.  Fitting therefore that my sister was able to be with me and we shared in the poignant moments of the service, at the same time reflecting on the hard times our grandmother must have endured in bringing up her two sons as a widow, and the terrible depression which followed.  In death they were reunited and rest peacefully in the cemetery in Pwlltrap St Clears.  Today the press is full of historic items of the outbreak of the WW1.  It was supposed to have been a war to end all wars. Strange but true the roll call of the fallen at our War Memorial included men from our village of St Clears who had died in Egypt, Gaza, Gallipoli, and Europe.  How bizarre to reflect on the facts of WW1 and simultaneously having to appreciate the human slaughter still taking place in those very theatres of war now!. We dream on of the days when "War will be no more" and I suspect that I will not be around to see that happen. The certainty is that my 'War' will one day be no more.  I do not want to cynical about this as in one sense there should be a celebration also of thanksgiving for those who laid down their lives for me.  I reap the benefits of their sacrifices through the wonderful life I was given and  the thrill of having a family full of good health, experiencing some really good  times.  So thank you everyone of you brave men for the life you gave me, and especially Joseph Thomas REES, Died of Wounds, 27th May 1918.  Well done good and faithful servant.



Sunday, 3 August 2014

Reflecting past times

The last two weeks have been very rewarding in many respects.  Having made contact with contacts from long ago - circa 1943 onwards - I see how important it is to occasionally dig up the old roots.  Having always had a very soft spot for my widowed grandmother who passed on at the age of 70 in 1965 it was fitting that I should commence digging in my native village of St Clears.  It has changed a  great deal from when I left in 1959.  I have to say that the by-pass brought immense advantages, so much so that one can actually park up, stroll around, do some very worthwhile shopping, have a pint, and especially those 'fish and chips'.  Visiting my grandmother in the cemetery I realised that it was high time her headstone was revamped along with those of her mother and father, and sisters.  Indeed so many of her family rest there that the visit became quite nostalgic - one might say just like old times visiting them. So became my reflections on the good old days.  Living as we did without any form of transport, going to junior school was a one and a half mile hike each way , through all weathers even the snowdrifts of 1947.  My first schooldays I was accompanied by the then deputy head mistress Miss Thomas. On the way at 8am and returning by 4.15pm.  Lunch in school was not the most excellent of culinary experiences.  Mostly stewed beef.  One needed to have mastered the art of chewing as what was presented as beef must have been on the hoof since the time of Noah.  Not eating it meant one went hungry or raised the wrath of the cook Mrs Saer.  It was war time after all and a shortage of nice things coupled with rationing.  On top of the beef one had Roly Poly stodge; semolina with half a spoon of jam to make it look a shade of pink; Macaroni, and occasionally a piece of fruit.  School routine was very routine - first thing morning prayers followed by endless tables, learning to read and write and that awful arithmetic. I could do most things with ease.  Sums as we called them was a nightmare.  writing was not much better except that I enjoyed doing English with a pencil.  Being left handed, when it came to ink and  nib was much more of a nightmare.  Making such a mess with my left hand moving to the right over wet ink the school authorities decided to tie my left hand and and make  me write with the other.  I haven't been right ever since.  Totally confused.  Today it would be child abuse I suppose.  I am very content being Left handed.  I can write with both hands simultaneously, individually, even mirror write, not that it it is of any use.  Using tools is no problem except a hammer.  Playing the piano/organ is no problem.  I started playing piano when I was seven.  I had been competing in local eisteddfodau singing and reciting since I was four, so mother decided I should do more, so Piano lessons and they lasted until I was seventeen when beer fags and girls took over. A nice combination not necessarily in that order.  I eventually settled for one woman, dropped the fags long ago, not so much of the beers as I used to, but Piano still rests high on the agenda.  Gone off beam a little there so returning to the forties - they were hard times for everyone. My uncle came back from somewhere in Italy in March 1946.   He came home by train and all the family greeted him in St Clears Railway Station.  It was a very nice reunion as I recall, obviously been away a longtime.  My grandmother was particularly relieved as she reflected on the loss of my grandfather in 1918.  Uncle owned a motorbike and one of the early experiences following his return from war was to take me sitting astride the petrol tank of his  motorbike to the barber for my first official haircut.  I was curly haired until that day when the barber Mr Thomas, who could do only one style gave me a short back and sides.  Must have thought I was a boy soldier.  Whatever that style remains very much to this day, even in the sixties I couldn't grow my hair like most of my friends, as by then I was a Police Officer and short back and sides was the order of the day.  Returning to reflect on the forties  I have to agree that by and large they were very happy times despite the austerity of post war problems.  As a family we were never really short of anything.  There was the occasional bit of black market activity in making butter, or sharing the ration with a neighbour in need in return for a bit of this and that.  Trout in the rivers were abundant, rabbit roasted, boiled, stewed, or stuffed was a delicacy.  Even the occasional chicken well past her egg laying days was a treat.  Clothing was a bit of a problem, apart from Sunday best.  Everything had to be patched up where holes appeared until they became threadbare and daylight shone through everything one wore. Really good old days.  I will reflect some more on another occasion.  Today I am going to reflect on the commencement of World War One and wear my Grandfathers medals to remember the sacrifices of those brave men and women who fought, died, became disabled, and who are no more, for it is One Hundred years to the day that it all went so terribly wrong.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

A Sunday Musing

The last year has been one long series of ups and downs.  Domestically speaking probably one of the most distressing I have experienced.  Death and dying has been a major part of the year both domestically and the wide world.  Thankfully my offspring and their springlets are doing nicely so there is very little to be, dare I say, 'worried about'.  Extended relationships do not fare so well and it is a long on going process of insecurity for the future which leaves me in a state of melancholy rather than despair or misery.  On the contrary.  Taking each day as it comes, and dealing with all manner of problems and close connection with the possible onset of dementia with a dear one keeps one active, positive, and indeed very determined.  So have I turned a corner and found God?.  No he has always been there.  I believe that contemplating personal issues and their potential are a positive way forward.  I recall in my younger days of experiencing a 'failure'.  It was a bad day, especially as I felt beaten in to a place I had never been and didn't want to go again.  And, so it was.  From that day to this very moment as I contemplate once more looking at 'failure' I have not reached the depths of where I was all those years ago ever.  There is so much 'failure' surrounding the world and community at large that any little problems I may be experiencing are insignificant. My grandfather, shot in WW1 left a wife and two small children who were brought up by their widowed mother to be pillars of the community despite the 'failure' of Politicians to organise a better society.  No easy handouts for any of them. No acts of violence, no jealousy, no malingering, but grinding on with each day ready for the next which was passed to me  thankfully. So, contemplating 'failure' on a large scale I reflect on the 'failure' of successive governments of all political persuasions to generate a Peace.  We frequently hear   of the expression of 'peace time' being that part of my life from 1945 onwards. Or Chamberlain waving his historical piece of paper pronouncing 'peace in our time'. What utter rubbish.  All we seem to have done is to create huge debts in preparing for war every day. I am not a Pacifist, and clearly understand the necessity of being prepared, and to appreciate the need of defence of my country as a prime function of Government, and without any hesitation appreciating the bravery of everyone of our volunteers who are there for us.  However 'failure' in the search of Peace is leaving us in a very precarious situation.  The Middle East; Asia; Pacific Rim; South America; Europe; Africa
and America. With every new day we are witnessing and experiencing 'failure'.  NATO, and UN are great talking shops and great examples of 'failure'. The last week alone has seen massacre in many parts of the world.  Politicians jetting here there and everywhere to talking shops, threatening sanctions for this and that dodging the issues in case they might upset someone along the way.  Terrible scenes of carnage in the Middle East have met with dismay whilst innocents have died, and all the while diplomacy is buried in 'failure''  The most dreadful event has to be the destruction of the Malaysian Airlines airliner. The 'failure' to grasp the enormity of what has happened by those responsible and an admission of guilt of the obvious surely demonstrates the decline of human standards to a new depth.  Unimaginable. The ducking and diving goes on and I guess we all feel deeply for those defenceless souls who paid a very heavy price for 'failure'.  I listened intently to a passage of scripture this morning.  I will leave the reader to find it - ROMANS 12 v9-end.

To close on a lighter note my cabbages have suffered 'failure' - consumed by the cabbage root fly.    Oh well -