So very sorry to disappoint you….

I have been watching a lot of The Crown on Netflix recently, but it seems to be a never completed task as no sooner do I get to the end of one series, another comes out. Like painting the Forth bridge. You no sooner finish than you have to start again.

Forth bridge

For those not from the UK, the Forth bridge is a steel railway bridge across the Forth of Forth in Scotland that is renowned for its need for continuous maintenance!

Although The Crown is intended to be fictional in terms of detailed content, the fact that the characters are real people, and the political and social events portrayed also match historical fact, it’s of course quite hard to believe that much of what is presented does not match reality. There have been many eyebrow raising revelations already. For most a quick Google search validates at least the rumour, if not the truth. So quite a number of revised opinions about various political and royal figures is now the state of things.

So why am I sorry to dissapoint? I am not considering writing memoirs at this stage in my life , and no, this is not a deluded rhetorical protest of ‘but surely you are not old enough’ nor is it the reverse. Actually age perception is a funny thing in my family and particularly in late departed mother who lived well past her eighties . From about the age of 60 when having the suggestion of replacing an item of furniture or investing in a new appliance would always say…’ no need for that, it will see me out’. I am glad to say she was very wrong and outlived most of these things as we knew she would.

No, quite simply nothing I could put in memoirs, or even a daily diary. I have no exciting revelations…not a single forgotten romance with a princess, no hidden trips to visit foreign leaders of state and no newspaper headline splashes of a hedonistic lifestyle.

But don’t despair…a recent chance family conversation about a Wallace & Gromit train track game played many years ago by our then school age children gave rise to a throw away comment of ‘would you have liked to be a train driver Dad?’ . Much to everyone’s surprise, I revealed that at age 13 I had actually driven a train! Back then, before I discovered girls I had discovered trains and on a spotting visit to local railway yards to get train numbers I was invited by a friendly train driver to have a go at driving a locomotive. Back in the early 1970’s it seems that Health & Safety , or indeed protection of children from adults hadn’t really been at the top of the agenda.

For the avoidance of doubt I neither crashed the locomotive nor was I subject to anything inappropriate!

The kindly driver will have long since retired and will be driving trains in the sky, but anyway I will maintain a degree of anonymity about when and where.

Catch of the day?

My teenage years are some time ago now, but as far as I can recall, none of my girlfriends mothers ever said, ‘ wow he is such a catch’…or of they did it was certainly kept from my by said girlfriend(s) of the time. Egos in teenage boys are never something to be encouraged I believe.

No, this is about fish….well actually a little bit about fish and in fact anything that people think is something worth you having or trying.

We are located in a semi rural area and in these ‘new times’ we live in, we have like many others been trying to support local businesses, avoid travel, shop for others etc. One of the places we have been frequenting is our local fish shop – the proprietor knows his fish, and in fact not just his fish but the actual origin of it and in some cases the providers of it. Considering that we live in the very middle of England, we are about 70 miles away from our nearest fishing port that is quite a feat but that doesn’t faze him.

Ok, there is probably a bit of salesmanship in this, but actually the quality is great and he does know the provenance, and more importantly will discuss how to prepare it, and based on preferences shared with him he gives suggestions on what we may like and so on.

So that is all well and good on fish, and actually we have independent butchers that will do the same…and also a couple of small artisan bakers that do wonderful bread that you can see and smell it being prepared behind them . That all great and for those nostalgic of the past it is a return to how our grandparents generation would have done their food shopping in the pre-supermarket era.

Good food for our physical well being is good news of course, but food for the mind is needed too which leads me to our local bookshop. I have mentioned them in passing, really just because they have a name for the shop that just says it as it is….. ‘Read’ ! One of the great things about this little shop, is that although its little, they not only have a lot of books in a small space but they do have an an impressive knowledge of the style, content, plot and readability of so many of the works of fiction on the shelves.

Ask them for something with just a few parameters and they come up with some ideas and personal reviews. So far , they haven’t failed to please and in fact have introduced me to some new authors.

What’s not to like about that! There is a series of TV ads running in the UK at the moment from Google encouraging you to use and review your local traders; American Express have done similar campaigns in the past where they reward their customers when using independent businesses…ok the cynics out there may say this is just PR for these organisations…it may be but if it helps keep these local businesses alive, then surely that is to the good.

Anyway, I am off to read my book now….. Happy Sunday

Seattle, London or Glasgow?

We seem to live in a world of measurement and accolades and we all are constantly asked by friends, families, surveys and even in job interviews to list our top three’s.

Top three skills, top three achievements are likely questions from a poor quality job interviewer struggling for questions to ask.

Tell me your three favourite places is a sure fire way for well travelled friends to trump your Scarborough , Skegness and Southend with their Malibou, Mauritius and Miami.

As a child, I remember ‘occasional visitor Auntie’ s and Uncle’s’ who would on various visits to our home would repeatedly ask me to list my top three subjects at school. Perhaps in the hope that one day one I would stun them and the assembled family with my answers and reel off English, Mathematics Religious studies rather than the usual respone of ‘er, dunno…let me think, woodwork ‘.

I also once had a slightly scary girlfriend who asked me to rank the top three meals that she cooked me. As her repertoire was actually extremely limited, and in reality really only consisted of about three dishes, thus was a challenging question.

It was a test of my diplomatic skills (that could probably have secured me a peace keeping role at the United Nations had I wanted it) , as really none of the said items were really likely to be on anybody’s list! Her cooking skills evidently had yet to peak at that tender age of 21. She did however have encyclopedic knowledge of the Bay City rollers…the 1970’s answer to Take That or Boyzone!

Much more recently in life in a random conversation with a stranger on a train, I was asked for my top 3 films. We were obviously generationally divided as my top 3 drew a blank from my fellow traveller and the look he gave me suggested that he thought I had just made up at least some of the names. Likewise when it was his turn, I tried to nod knowingly but I think my face said it all and I too drew a blank on his.

However as I have a wide demographic reading this blog, I will take the risk and share it here.

In reverse order…number 3 is Sleepless in Seattle , in second place Gregory’s Girl and in first place Sliding Doors. In some ways all very different films with their locations of trendy Seattle, 1980’s Glasgow and a Notting Hill ‘esqe’ London backdrop for Sliding Doors. But in some ways they are all similar films in their ‘feel good, people are kind, and life can be good to you’ kind of sentiment.

I know everyone wants to get different things from films…to be excited, to be scared, to be amazed, to be inspired and so on…..so from these three, probably not a tick in these boxes then….but to watch the final credits and feel positive about people, these truly are winners.

Enjoying this blog…I hope so!

Please share………..

Happy Valentine’s day!

Valentine’s day I know triggers many emotions ranging from hope, disappointment, cynascism, indifference and probably a whole raft of others too.Many of us have probably experienced all or some of these depending on our range of life experience i.e. how old we are!In my early teens a Valentine’s card (or extremely rarely ….cards plural!) would arrive, anonymous of course and then detective work that Agatha Christie would have been proud of then commenced…handwriting analysis, postmarks, even steaming off stamps to look for clues underneath the stamps (none were ever found!) , questioning of likely suspects, interrogation of friends of the suspects and so on.Sometimes when the sender was identified it was a disappointment, at other times perhaps a kindly gesture sent by my sister…or a just an unanswered mystery, decades later.Later in life…….I remember at about age 19 I had a girlfriend who would send me two valentines cards…although both were anonymous, the first card was more her style and I was confidently able to determine it was from her and put it on display and thank her for it. The second was sent as a test…to see if I admitted to her I had received another card! I hasten to add she and I parted company fairly quickly after that….and she probably went on to have a successful career working for a ‘honey trap service’…Yes they do exist, I hadn’t realised until I saw a TV documentary about them a short while ago!Later in life when it’s husband to wife and wife to husband cards, although the mystery goes, it’s still an opportunity to recognise that person is the one you have chosen as life partner.Having said that, in the same way as the Animal Welfare TV advertising of the 1970’s used to remind us that ‘A dog is for life, not for Christmas’ , the same applies here too. Why have a specific day to tell someone you love them? Do it every day..maybe not in words but in gestures, actions or kindness.It’s a bit like my pet hate of New Year resolutions….if you decide you want to make a change or take a new direction, why wait for some fireworks……or a new calendar to arrive before you do it.In the words of Nike….just Do It.Anyway, I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s day and happen that it is all you want it to be.