Dressed for radio?

When I was twenty something, a good friend of mine, a housemate at the time, encouraged me to be a bit more altruistic in life.

They were actually sounds words of advice, and even though she and I lost touch , (and as non stalker in the world of Facebook, I have no idea where she is or what she is doing …but hopefully not a ten year stretch in one of ‘her majesty’s hotels’ for fraud or embezzlement) . Actually, I very much doubt it, her generosity and love towards her fellow humans always put her in a good direction in life.

In the UK, we often refer to prisons as Her Majesty’s Hotels!

I am sure she has gone on to do great things and motivate many others. Thank you Julia.

My friend was a planet saver, volunteer, befriender and the all round good person that many of us hopefully aspire to be but trip up at early stages and often give up. From her, I actually got sound and simple advice….do things for others that you are good at as you will have a much greater chance of longevity and success than trying to be something that you are not.

My interest, and potential future career at the time was in radio/sound recording and although a ‘sliding doors ‘ moment took me in a different career direction, but that move was to come in later years.

As indeed will come later a blog post on my sliding doors moment!

So armed with my ‘expertise’ in sound recording I volunteered at the local Talking Newspaper for the blind. Every week, we would have some ‘professional’ readers come to our little studio, and they would grandly and eloquently read articles from the local paper. This would be recorded, edited and then using fast copy machines, we had to make a 100 or so copies onto tape cassettes, and put them in special mail packets addressed for each visually impaired recipient.

It wasn’t a highly skilled task, but I was happy to do it, I really enjoyed the company of my fellow ‘technical’ volunteers and the artistic panache of readers.

The readers were very much of a higher standing than us, the backroom people.

The location of this branch of the Talking Newspaper was in leafy and affluent Guildford in Surrey with its grand houses , and in that area, some were the size of small castles! So our professional readers were mainly made up of retired professionals in broadcast, stage or public speaking who were plentiful in this rather well heeled area.

I was particularly in awe of one of them..a retired BBC radio newsreader from the era of when they read the radio news wearing full dinner dress. He didn’t arrive quite so attired for our recording, but he still had that aura about him. One of his sons is now a well known UK TV and film actor and whenever I see him, I always think with fondness of his Dad.

Well life moves on , and I have done a few other voluntary things since then including a spell as a hospital radio presenter…but my dress style never quite matched that of my original mentor!

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Paper boy

As a teenager I had a few Saturday jobs, but my most favourite was in a pet shop. Happy days except when selling goldfish as the customer would always want the fish that swam like a torpedo and was impossible to catch in the tank.

I never was a paperboy back then..quite dissapointed that those roles never became free as I was happy to be up early in the morning and would have been happier still getting tips at the rate my friends in such roles achieved!

Somewhat surprisingly some 40 years later the career opportunity missing back then has arrived! As they say everything comes to he who waits. It’s a bit of a strange paper round I must admit…only one customer, very flexible on time, very nearby and always very generous with tips 😁

As you have probably surmised, I discovered that my elderly neighbour like ourselves enjoys the somewhat bulky weekend version of our regional newspaper and finds these sell out quickly and would often miss out.

So I now buy two every Saturday, and combine it with a visit next door which is a mutually enjoyable start to the weekend.

Sometimes it’s those small interactions in life that are the best …and never too late for a career change!

The biggest gift, the lowest price

This is not my first post about Parkrun, and normally I might be a little wary about focussing on this personal interest of mine too frequently ..but for this particular post..I make no apologies.

Parkrun, for those not in the know is a weekly timed run in literally hundreds of locations across the UK and beyond where those of every ability from first timer to experienced athlete can walk or run a 5k timed event in their local park and measure their personal progress week on week. It also has a huge band of volunteers and provides a unique opportunity for particiption and social interaction. Unlike a race which has only one winner, in this event everyone achieves from it.

My local Parkrun in Huddersfield, Yorkshire also from time to time acts as a platform for other organisations to spread the word on what they do. Yesterday my own running club were providing volunteers for the event

and we were joined by a group from Organ Donation who help promote this vital service.

This wasn’t a PR person doing a recruitment campaign..we were honoured to have several people with first hand experience of how life changing organ donation is.

We had the personal story of Lydia Beckett. Lydia shared with us how a literally life changing decision made by somebody else changed her life and that of her family.

Click on the hyperlink highlighted to read her story..but don’t just read it, please commit to being an organ donor and most importantly tell your family. The UK moves to an opt out system from 2020 so this means it is even more important to make your family aware of your wishes to ensure these are fulfilled.

The greatest gift anyone can give is life…I sincerely hope that none of you reading this will end life prematurely….but one day for all of us life will end, and before this happens we can commit ‘at no cost to us’ to give the greatest gift of all when our time is over.

If you only ever share or repost one of my blogs…please make it this one. Not for its artistic style, prose or any such reason, but that this one single action could change somebody’s life. See links to social media at the bottom of the page.

Your action in encouraging others to sign up could change a life. Now how wonderful a thing is that to be able to do today!

Click here for UK info.

I appreciate that many readers are from outside the UK, so please check on the internet for how you can pledge in your country.

Thanks for reading my blog…

All you need is love

As a child growing up in the 60’s and 70’s we really didn’t know much about recycling or indeed any kind of care for the planet.

Thanks to the Fab Four, we were told all you need is love, but they forgot to mention that we needed to love the planet as well as each other.

Back then, for anybody not already wearing a kaftan and burning incense, any hint of being too focused on the environment immediately cast you as a future hippy!

To put things a bit in perspective though consumerism was not at the pace of today partly because of the cost of things and just an attitude of mind. Britain then still had a ‘make do and mend’ culture even. It should be noted that Brit’s still had food rationing until 1954! so for my parents generation this was strongly etched in their memory and there really was not the sheer volume of consumer goods, clothing and food & drink purchasing that goes through the front doors of the average house on a daily basis today.

But even so, when things were no longer required the end was simple…they were put in the dustbin.

So now for me as an adult of the 2000’s or a Baby Boomer we see today’s environmentally focused life style for a chance to try to put right the mistakes of our generation.

Monday was a UK public holiday with uncharacteristiclly good weather resulting in numerous garden projects, clearing of garages etc. ready for a symbolic restart of the academic and work year now that summer is nearly over.

The following day, I went to the tip (….now called the household waste recycling centre)….there were 26 cars in the queue ahead of me!

Back home, in addition to what had gone to the tip, as declutter frenzy further consumed our house, we had a box full of goods for the local food bank, bags of clothes for the charity shop and some items that we knew family and friends would use.

But are we really getting the point? …if we bought less, wasted less and shared more, we really could change the world.

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Carpe Diem

To the non Latin speaker, this is probably a fancy fish restaurant in a trendy part of town, but to those who have learnt a few such useful phrases of this ancient language, it of course means seize the day. To regular readers of my blog, I am a big exponent of grab it while you can…for anything in life ….as we never know what’s around the corner in terms of health, opportunity or just ‘stuff’ that can throw a wobble into life.

What is ‘it’?…’it’ is doing things that enriches your life and hopefully others as well….and that doesn’t always involve spending money. Unless you live in a hermits cabin, generally there are things out there in the world that are waiting for you! Be that volunteering, walking around in your countryside or city, trying new foods, feeding the ducks,or just engaging with different people.

I do realise I am very fortunate in that I have a job that takes me to different places (..and not many people have that opportunity) This week work took me to the UAE and it gave me the opportunity to catch up with a friend and former colleague recently relocated and living there. Now if I had to nominate a role model for my philosophy of life….. it is her! She is already one of the most well travelled people I know, and in this new geographic position she can weekend in India, take a short trip to Nepal or even get to the Far East…which becomes not so far east anymore! From updates I have already had when she first moved it seems she really is grabbing every opportunity not just to travel, but to explore the new city she lives in, make new friends and that’s four legged as well as two legged as she has found a dogs home that wants volunteer walkers! So already now she has just about every weekend and holidays allocated to something new. Anyway we managed to find time to meet up between work and her travels. So research was done to find somewhere new to go. Where did we find ourselves? …on Happiness Street…which I think says it all!

Blooming lovely…if you can wait until 2020

The RHS or Royal Horticultural Society creates an image of an aged botanist, carefully crafting a selected rose for an ancient vase in a royal palace.

You could be forgiven for thinking this and to those of us resident in the UK the prefix royal will often create an assumption of exclusive, high end and certainly not cool or leading edge.

Yes their origins go back to 1804 when John Wedgewood son of the Pottery industrialist Joshua Wedgewood called together a meeting of like minded people in Hatchards bookshop and things got moving from that.

You can sort of see the connection..often this pottery had beautifully hand painted flowers on them.

But old and stuffy… well think again…

The RHS for sure have not been on a trailblazing expansion rampage of creating new facilities and experiences in the style of Walt Disney or Lego…but when they do something new, they sure do it right.

They literally only have a handful of gardens in the country – Wisley in Surrey, Harlow Carr in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, Risemoor in Devon and Hyde Hall in Essex. Five gardens and a few annual flowers shows each year may not seem like a stellar performance but sometimes in life it really is about quality, not quantity. I am perhaps being a little unkind here…their flower shows are amazing…Chelsea Flower Show, Tatton Park and Cardiff are all sold out events, but you get my point.

However, on the horizon is another. For years the RHS have been looking for a suitable location in the North West of England and they really have struck gold with this next one.

RHS Bridgewater is in the grounds of the ruined Worsley Hall and truly is going to be a jewel in the crown. Not just for the sheer scale and the restoration of magnificent gardens but for it’s inclusiveness and breadth of opportunities for local people to be involved. And that will extend to those on the fringes of society. Yes, this garden is located in leafy affluent Worsley but is located near enough to the more challenged parts of the wider Manchester area.

Sometimes things do take time to be nurtured but when they bloom, they will amaze. I feel sure this will do that and more. 2020 will be worth waiting for.

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TGIS

Thank God it’s Saturday has never quite had the notoriety of its better known cousin TGIF. TGIF gets a restaurant chain with staff sporting wacky badges and steaks garnished with Jack Daniels bourbon. In the UK even a TV show every Friday with equally ‘outside the box’ entertainment shared a similar name.

However for a huge raft of, well , every age group, the rallying cry is ..yes! it’s Saturday, and Parkrun day. If you are not familiar, Google it, but in essence it’s a free run every Saturday in 100’s of locations across the UK and beyond, attracting 500 or more to each event. So what is the big deal – yes, a chance for a timed run with like minded people, but the bonus value of these events is the volunteering to make it happen in terms of organisation and marshaling that this requires and attracts. And actually for many participants they will dip in and out to do both. The principle being if you take in life, it’s important to give as well. But like a ‘buy one, get one free’ retail offer that also pays loyalty points, it can go one better . There is a newly formed UK voluntary group called GoodGym . Basically a group of runners who run to a venue be that a school, community group, care home, wildlife reserve etc. and then do some volunteering and then run back! And today’s location they have run to…. the venue of my local Parkrun! , They will do the run, a bit of a tidy up in the park and then home…well actually via the cafe for a bacon sarnie and a tea! Now how good is that!

Volunteering sometimes gives a bad vibe as it is perhaps interpreted as giving something up, rather than giving something back! A Mum with 5 children was recently interviewed on TV and asked how does she share her love among the children..her answer I don’t divide it, I multiply it! I rest my case.