Just livin’ the dream

I used to work for a well known European airline, and I was there in the boom times. It was good!

We were all busy people rushing from room to room, in meetings , conference calls and so on. Whenever we were asked by visiting suppliers, partners and so on about how life was , the phrase bounced back to them was, ‘yes, just great , just livin’ the dream”.

And in reality this was true – we were busy , well paid people in a burgeoning economy and things looked good. Having said that, I am never really sure what that phrase, ‘living the dream really means’.

Then fast forward some years, and aviation is a different place, but then so is the whole of transportation, leisure industry, car manufacturing and a whole host of others.

However lets not dwell on that…much is written already, by those far more eloquent and informed than me.

But back to ‘living the dream’. I must admit I am actually quite fascinated by dreams…and the many explanations of why we have them and what they mean. Mine are normally quite staid affairs and usually just involve me being late…I am actually a very punctual person by nature so its perhaps just a bit of daytime real life fears translated into night-time reality.

Until now that is……recently I have just had two very, very strange dreams . One of them in a way doesn’t make a good story to recount in detail as it featured only people that I know or knew…but actually a very strange and bizarre mixture of old friends, old locations , present day family and events none of which are in reality ever connected with each other geographically or chronologically or in any way but with the assistance of my brain had then been beautifully woven together into an elaborate story, a set of emotions, connections, strange timelines and distorted geographies that had this been featured in a film, would have had the critics complaining that the script writer had no sense of reality or worse still was making use of narcotics or had suffered a severe bump on the head.

Normally the dreams I have if remembered at all just evaporate a day or so later once I have shared (or bored!) my friends and family with…”you’ll never guess, I had the most weird dream last night”. But this one is still slightly haunting me some days later as I really puzzle over the most bizarre links of people and events. I am very tempted to share some of the detail but perhaps I’ll keep it in case I ever consider screenwriting of weird movies as an alternate career.

The other dream that followed just one night later was actually much simpler in content. In this dream, I decided to photograph a police vehice and was promptly arrested. I hasten to add that I live in a country where that does not happen, and in fact you would need to steal the police vehicle for such a reaction to follow! In the dream I had bizarrely decided to photograph it because it had some unusual decals on the side…a bit like you might see on a Plumbers van, it advertised the location on the side, and seeing British Transport Police, Kirkcaldy , and yet I seemed to be in London, not Fife , Scotland at the time. It then appeared I decided to photograph this for my friend who lived in Kirkcaldy and show him a visiting police vehicle of his locale, doing a visit to London. Yes, I know this is all so weird, but its a dream don’t forget!

The dream then took on a more bizarre twist, that once I was handcuffed, the very amiable policemen decided that I was just a pleasant but misguided photographer, deleted the photo from my phone, but took pity on me and decided it still would be nice for my friend to see this, so promptly ripped the decals off the van and presented to me as a parting gift after un locking me. None of this makes any sense..other than that I do have a friend who lives in Kirkcaldy!

If anybody can explain any or all of this…please do let me know.

Since then dreams have returned to non-memorable trivia…just a few more missed trains and meetings.

Maybe I eat too much cheese?

Enjoying this blog, or just confused by the content?

Don’t worry, normal content will return soon after a relaxed and good sleep.

And then there were three…

People seem to like things in threes. People expect a third bit of bad luck after two disasters befall them. I am really not sure if I subscribe to that way of living myself, and would actually be more than content with just two bits of misfortune!

Footballers always want another goal after their first two so they can get a hat-trick if they get a third. And for those who are not followers of football (soccer) or possibly, polo or handball…the term may not mean anything to you.

This really weird term originated in cricket when a cricketer, Mr Stephenson won 3 wickets in a row and the crowd were so pleased with him, they took a collection for him and he bought a hat with the proceeds. Quite why he bought a hat rather than just a large round of drinks, history does not seem to say.

Get involved in any wager, and for the losing participant, if things aren’t going well, then a plea of ‘best of three’ is often called for in the hope of grasping success from the jaws of failure.

And so on….

Anyway for me at the moment, I too have things happening in threes….

I have my own game of three parts going on at the moment just to indeed endorse that everything happens in three’s.

As I am reasonably tech savvy, by some co-incidence I have been requested by 3 completely independent individuals at this one time to help them migrate to a new internet solution.

What could possibly go wrong?

The first one went like clockwork, actually like Swiss clockwork!..router arrived on time, line enabled and all working like a dream.

The second has been the biggest fiasco ever and 10 days on still no connection, formal complaints raised and hours of my life gone…on hold to a contact centre!

The third one, well the jury is still out…maybe will be ok?

I know you can’t always expect all three to be perfect…ask Goldilocks that when she did porridge sampling at the three bears house, but even so, this just getting an internet connection, not putting a man on the moon, neurosurgery or writing a best selling novel.

Having said all of that, we do now take our telecoms in the home and all that it gives us totally for granted.

As a child in the 60’s I remember phone calls outside of my local area being treated as one off and expensive events. You had to ring the operator and tell them you wanted to make a trunk call to London for example (we lived in Glasgow). The operator in Glasgow would have to liaise with the London operator and join everything up and then call you back!

I can’t really recall the actual changeover some years later to what was then called STD calling (self dialled trunk calls) but thinking about it, it must have been a real revolution. And don’t forget this was still in the days of telegrams and businesses using telex…or even phoneboxes!

For anyone under the age of 50, you will probably now need to ask best friend google to explain these…..

My submarine is full of eels!

In the UK , this was a Bank Holiday weekend. We residents of course know exactly what that means, but to others in the world, whether native English speakers in North America, Australia, New Zealand etc. possibly not and to those who are speakers of English but for whom it is not their mother tongue, most definitely not. My european colleagues having just got over my use of the term annual leave when taking just a days holiday were perplexed when I started on about bank holidays!

So what is a bank holiday? Unlike just about any other country we in the uk don’t refer to national non working weekdays as public holidays, but as Bank Holidays. The term derived really from two sources…the holidays are of course days when banks and government offices are closed, but also back in 1871  John Lubbock first Baron of Avebury who was a scientific writer who studied ants and allegedly tried to teach his poodle to read. He however was also a banker and politician and he drafted the Bank Holiday Bill . This once it was law  created the original bank holidays.

We also very carefully schedule our bank holidays..a day off is much more useful if it can be on a Monday or a Friday and tagged on to make a long weekend. Hence the term Bank Holiday weekend..although ask a UK native about bank holiday weekends and they will usually mutter something about rain.

Uncannily many bank holidays seem to attract inclement weather and there is almost an expectation of it for our Late Summer Bank Holiday weekend, on the last Monday of August. Being a stoical nation, people will carry on as normal and still go to the beach and eat fish and chips or ice cream on the beach and then look miserable but resolute!

English is a congusing language, and we tend to use these idiosyncratic terms, desmite many of these never finding their way into a phrasebook. Perhaps that’s a good thing. Monty Python once did a sketch about a Hungarian Phrasebook that had ‘useful’ phrases for translation including “My submarine is full of eels”. Hmmm…and you thought Bank Holiday confusing!

Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard


Although my parents and teachers always told me they didn’t have favourites and favouritism is basically a bad thing,  I do break the rules when it comes to street names.   Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard is definitely top of my list.  Its actually a street in San Francisco, perhaps not surprisingly. 

Nobody has ever really been able to explain where the name derives from – I get the Beach Blanket bit. I could also almost accept the Boulevard part as well,  although as far as I can recollect,  it doesn’t really resemble  Boulevards as one thinks of them in Paris or Berlin i.e.  a wide street with majestic buildings, often trees and sometimes side carriageways.  Let’s not even start on the Babylon part…… but despite all that I love the name.  I believe there is a quite a famous stage show of the same name and also now a couple of restaurants in London as well also using that name.

As with any favourites,  it is good too to have a second choice or backup…for me that street is Wych Elm Rise.

I haven’t really researched if there are multiple variants on this in different towns.  

This one is is in middle class, leafy Guildford in Surrey, England. Well one would expect Elm trees to feature in a leafy town!

Guildford gets many adjectives and descriptors. A town in the Stockbroker belt is one of them – the town certainly has more than its share of well heeled commuters at the station each morning heading to their city jobs on the train.


I realise that anyone not an native English speaker is probably now lost in a web of confusion with all these adjectives – ‘well heeled’? we could just say wealthy but the etymologists will show a link to good shoes being a sign of prosperity; leafy, we could just say nice streets with trees and so on.  But of course the English language at times is designed to confuse! 

 Only yesterday one of my very ‘English fluent’  German colleagues asked me why my ‘out of office message’ on my e-mail said I was taking a days annual leave.

To him that was a complete contradiction – I am  taking  a day off not a year off!

So back to Wych Elm Rise – why do I like that name?  I used to live on a road adjacent to it (called Warwicks Bench…but that’s another story)   and when giving a friend directions to find the house,  on hearing the Street name he was convinced I was giving him a crossword clue (14. Across.   Scottish origin tree on slope,  11 letters).


I could very easily do a top 10 of favourite street names, but for now I will just leave you with number 3.  Nothing at all cryptic or exotic about this one.  It is Hill Street in Glasgow (and I’m sure there are many other Hill Streets in the world)

I had to walk up this hill every day to go to  secondary school and it often vexed me that the great Victorian city planners of Glasgow (which unusually for a UK city is based on a grid system like so many US cities) couldn’t come up with anything more imaginative!

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I am so glad to be smart!

Before rushing off to the Smugness Police to report me for an incidence of extreme arrogance, please be assured I am talking about mobile phones and not my personal attributes of being a genius and master of much knowledge!

As it happens, and it might be a British thing, generally people are always reluctant to blow their own personal trumpet about their intelligence, so actually no risk I am doing this at all.

Taking this to extremes there was a song in the 1980’s by US ‘not many hits wonder’, Dean Friedman, ‘Lucky Star’ where he proudly sings to his ‘in song’ girlfriend, ” You can thank your lucky stars that we’re not as smart as we think we are”.

Why on earth would he say this? This confused me back then every time I heard it and more so now! It seems to have confused other people too as it even gets a mention in his Wikipedia entry!

Meantime back to me and Smart phones……… Why do I mention them? Well one of my millenial children commented today that they too had been part of the generation migrating from ‘brick’ phones to ‘Smart phones’ despite many people often wrongly assuming that this generation was born holding an iPhone.

Almost unimaginable now…going to a box to make a call

Its seems its a very regular barb thrown in their direction…’ you lot don’t know what life was like before all this technology’ etc. but actually they do😁

Why am I so glad to have a Smartphone ? I think it’s almost all to do with having the equivalent of an expensive SLR Nikon or Canon camera always in your hand or pocket…and always in auto mode. I can’t believe that back in the day when I regularly used real cameras I actually spent time adjusting shutter speeds or focal length to cope with light levels or movement.

Having a camera always with me in the days of real cameras (even pocket size digital ones, was a plan but never reality), but now I do have that ‘camera’ there and available to capture moments. For some of them, retrospectively I think….. why?

But the majority, are snapshots of life and allow one to reflect and enjoy.

Date and time stamping photos has also allowed us to compare years, seasons and in a way perhaps embrace and recognise the changing world around us even more.

Now that’s not to say that I don’t appreciate other features available on phones as well.

Google Maps directions has saved the day many a time for me…well that is once I have actually determined which direction the phone map is in compared to my direction of travel. Many a time I have been surprised when my 8 minutes walk destination seems to grow in remaining time rather than decrease!

New city?… buy a map
Or ask someone?

Any features I don’t like?

Yes of course. My phone persistently asks me to review Dave’s Guitar tuition studio! I don’t go there. I have never even seen the place. I don’t own a guitar, but it seems I regularly walk past it, and Google is convinced I am taking lessons.

Thankfully I don’t seem to be regularly walking past anywhere of a less acceptable line of business…otherwise I might have some detailed explaining to do at home!

Hope you are enjoying the blog….

Whoops….

My last post ‘Exceedingly good cakes ‘ jumped the gun and landed in many inboxes before, err, it was baked!

It was inadvertently published with a very confusing, garbled and incorrect ending! If you wish to be demystified , go to the blog site to see the corrected version.

Head now bowed in shame….

I will try harder

I will try harder

I will try harder

I will try harder

Exceedingly good cakes……..

If you live or have loved in the UK, (or possibly ex pat communities such as Dubai or the Spanish costas) , you will know that Mr Kipling bakes exceedingly good cakes! Not just because the advertising ‘strapline’ says this, but because they really are.

Mr Kipling alas is not a real baker but a fictitious baker invented in the UK in the 1960’s to support the evolving supermarkets.

Cakes had historically always been sold from small independent cakes shops or bakeries and Mr Kipling was devised by Rank Hovis McDougal, a large UK Miller and baker to create a brand for the supermarket shelves.

The reason for mentioning Mr Kipling is French Fancies!

I am not really one for lists of favourites…but I do have a league table of five various food inventions that are worthy of mention. At no. 5. Triple chocolate chip cookies – a slightly soft chocolate flavoured cookie featuring bits of white chocolate and milk chocolate. An amazing chocolate triple triumph.

No. 4 is Pork crackling (with apologies to all vegetarians) mmm, it might be 11pm but I could eat some now; ranking number 3, are baked crisps (for those in North America by crisps, we mean potato chips…whereas in the uk, chips are what you would call French Fries. Which in France are of course are just called Fried potatoes….and so on….. Anyway I have digressed…at number 2 has to be any cake containing marzipan… Battenburg and Simnel cake are two noble examples but far ahead, leading the no. 1 ranking…are French Fancies…..by Mr Kipling. The name has a slight hint of risque , or double-entendre but in reality it’s just a small cake. Albeit very nice being sponge cloth a fondant cream top and coated with soft icing. The whole thing is about 30% sugar!

I learnt only today that a special Christmas version of this is produced with frosted, sparky icing. It might only be March now…but I am getting excited already and look forward to introducing these into my life.

In recent weeks, for some bizarre reason I have had an immense craving for these…were it not for the fact I am male, and also aged well beyond pregnancy age, I would have been so convinced I was pregnant and showing signs of extreme food obsessions…

Have a good week…….

Your musical taste is not important to us…

We are all too familiar with the ‘on hold’ message when calling a contact centre is to be told ‘your call is important to us, and we apologise for the delay etc.’


Well that might well be the case but my choice of music most certainly is not a big issue for them. A fairly recent call to my credit card company gave me the opportunity to listen to Divine Comedy’s   …The Pop Singers fear of the pollen count!! I have now listened and listened to these lyrics with some detailed scrutiny but after much analysis,  I really can’t find any relevance to financial services at all. It is however one of these tunes that once in your head will never leave it, at all, ever!!!!

Similar in takeover as is The Lighthouse family’s Ocean Drive .

The Divine comedy actually specialise in somewhat bizarre lyrics and a focus in subjects as part of their musical song writing  and composing efforts. One of their equally left field charting successes was a song “The National Express” based on a UK bus company offering inter city travel.

It’s worth a listen on you tube if only to reassure yourself that not buying it, when it came out was the right thing to do!

Here for your delight is a sample of the lyrics!….

Take the National Express when your life’s in a mess
It’ll make you smile
All human life is here
From the feeble old dear to the screaming child…

Hmmmmm………..

However….. all this has now changed.

This last week I was on hold again in a call but this time, the ‘voice’  in charge gave me a chance to select and plan the music’. It did trouble me that this might mean I might be in for a  ‘long haul’….Anyway, great to be in the musical driving seat!!!

If all else fails, read the instructions ……

As Canadian Singer Songwriter Avril Livigne puts it’s……Why does life have to be So Complicated?

I don’t actually mean complex relationship problems, issues relating to world peace or solving scientific mysteries or even working out what does the Colonel use in KFC to give it’s unique flavour?

No, I mean really simple stuff. My father in law is in his eighties and asked if I would call round to help him with his new telephone for the house they have recently downsized to. Ok 20 years too late, but that’s a different story.

Anyway this simple land line telephone is anything but. It seems that there is no such thing as just buying something with the features you need but you have to get a load of other stuff . This land line phone can be paired with his mobile (cell phone) to intercept his calls, it can act as a baby monitor, it can be an intercom and numerous other things he really doesn’t want.


So what’s the big deal…well the big thing is that the phone has a terrifying 40 page instruction manual which he felt he should read, but he got lost at Bluetooth pairing. He was concerned this may be some kind of dating feature his wife (my mother-in-law) may not approve of.

Anyway, I have got him up and running on the features he needs!

So Technology makers…give some thought to the fact that not everyone actually wants everything…they perhaps just want what they want!

Our elder generation in a way just want to enjoy life without unnecessary complexity.

Although we all try to stay young in mind in heart and spirit, for us that same day will come at some time in our life.

Having just looked in the mirror and seen a few grey hairs, perhaps my time is faster approaching than I thought!

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A monk, a policeman, Darth Vader, a pilot, oh yes and Two Fairies and many more……

I was travelling on a suburban train in Germany early on Thursday evening. It normally looks just like this.Without really paying much attention to my fellow passengers initially…….. then I looked up and saw that in my carriage was a Franciscan monk, a nun, Darth Vader, two policemen, a pilot, a selection of fairies, an elf and some more people whose ‘uniform of occupation’ baffled me but I assumed they worked in ‘entertainment’ of some shape or form. I was slightly troubled by the monk swigging from a beer bottle and the nun applying more make up. Being one of only one or two ‘normally’ attired individuals, somewhat ironically I felt out of place and the object of attention rather than them!Yes, its carnival time in Germany…only really celebrated in a few cities such as Cologne (yes, they really do it big time!!!!) and nearby Dusseldorf where although the celebrations are big, they don’t quite match near neighbour along the Rhine. You really don’t go out that day to have fun unless you are suitably attired in fancy dress.I am a very regular traveler in Germany for both work reasons and also socially with having family there, but I realised this was the first time I have been there for Carnival weekend.Ok, its not quite the Mardi Gras of Rio but Germans do know how to have fun and use the opportunities that avail themselves. In the same way that Oktoberfest starts in September and not October, celebrations of Carnival start way in advance of the last day prior to Lent starting.In the Uk we too do something that day, but in a very low key way.For those not familiar with UK customs, on this same day we have Pancake Tuesday (also called Shrove Tuesday – Shrove derives from the old English word Shrive which is to obtain absolution for ones sin, hence the tradition to be Shriven before the start of Lent)Anyway, yes, we eat pancakes. For the vast majority of the population, it is the one and only day of the year when we will have a pancake. I can hear the horror now from our US and Canadian cousins who have these as a regular part of breakfast fayre and from our French cousins , likewise ‘desolee’ that a Crepe never passes our lips from one end of the year to the next.So why eat pancakes then – the tradition being that eggs, flour, fat and sugar were being used up before the fasting that took place in Lent.Oh and being the UK, some further traditions have evolved such as races with people tossing pancakes in frying pans as they run….well, why not?Happy Pancake day to everybody!Enjoying this blog or bemused by this blog? Please subscribe and share on Social Media.Please also feel free to comment if you feel so inclined.As is very evident, this blog has no particular theme other than thoughts or observations what would otherwise only get shared with ‘captive’ listeners such as the supermarket cashier, or my more polite and tolerant family and friends.