Forever young - home

Forever young

From Wikipedia - the second single released by Sir Rod from his Out of Order album in 1988. He wrote the song with two of his band members: guitarist Jim Cregan and keyboardist Kevin Savigar. The structure of the lyrics is very similar to a Dylan song of the same title. The two men agreed to participate in the ownership of the song and share Sir Rod’s royalties.
  Both songs are about hopes and fears for their children. This Dylan verse might also suggest a recipe for ageing well, a preparation for inevitable change which is manageable.
May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift 
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of change shift

The Sir Rod version is easier on the ear and has been a favourite of mine since the 1990s.
  Ageing has some benefits. You don’t have to look your best. You don’t have to speak, but when you do, you have permission to say more or less what you like. I’ve had a lifetime of saying the wrong things and it’s no better now. If your friends and relatives are still talking to you, they might fondly regard you as a grump (or in my case a legend - maybe). You might then have some wisdom to pass on if anyone is still listening.

This is a personal blog. I'm not selling anything other than myself - an inept older person who thinks he can write a bit. Use the search to find what you want. There are humorous senior moments, older role models and a plea for us all to stay mentally and physically active. Garden glimpses, family matters, from the archive, publishing/writing, sports, and my notebook. Otherwise the world is our limpet.

There is also a writing archive which needs some work - watch this space.
linked sites


Garden Glimpses

two squirrels


Dave's notebook

Exhaustion in lockdown. Peta Bee investigates, Times Jan 23rd. John Leach suggests this is an adaptation to not knowing - when it will end, what is really going on with variants, are the vaccines actually the answer? So to the suggestions -

* No lying in bed and no falling asleep in front of the TV. Guilty as charged. Even if it's only 9.00 pm, go to bed.

* Eat. Fresh and varied. 2 litres of fluid per day. Not too late for the evening meal (6-7 pm?). We try. And don't drink alcohol late at night. Yes spot on - try and have a 4 hour break before bed. Think about Vitamin D and iron supplements.

* Reframe goals. Maybe not possible to plan short term work, fitness and social goals. Have a go at something simple. Not so easy when I always make stuff more complicated or break off before finishing. 
    Two daily routines. (1) Regular schedule like mealtimes - coffee, coffee, lunch, coffee, beer o'clock, evening meal, chocolate (2) Plan to fill in those spaces - exercise, hobbies - yoga, writing or getting finances in order. Pilates? a Blog? phoning a friend, social events - zoom for example. This is best done as a partnership, otherwise another's expectations might get in the way. Smile and don't worry - try again the next day. 
    Sounds a bit busy to me and a bit contradictory - we struggle to plan short term and yet all these suggestions?

* Slow exercise. Fitness is not all about busting the machines. Slow jog or walk for 20 minutes three times a week. Don't sit around all day. Get up from that chair every 30 minutes and go for a little walk.

* Get outside early. The dark months really do suck.

* Relaxation. Setting aside a quiet time and this sounds great. Reducing 'the processing of non-essential information' and moving away from ruminative and negative thoughts. This I get but don't always do. It's simple, measurable and enjoyable (SMART goals; specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound). As long as you like, but I find 30 minutes a bit of stretch. I'm a Simon Barnes 'bottomless sit' person. Best in the garden. Let thoughts drift in and out. Tune into the periphery of the senses - sight and hearing. Having a breathing technique helps. It's mindlessness I'm after.

* Get scrubbed up each evening.

* Measure how you are doing. Improvement in tiredness is the overall goal. Otherwise Hmmm - how do you measure the simple things in life? Most of us will agree with most of this stuff. We must forgive ourselves if we struggle however. Having a go maybe is achievement enough, but keep having a go.

So summary. We have never been perfect. We try and not surprise each other with a walk or housework when we've planned something else. Beer o'clock finishes 6.30 pm. I write something every day. We could exercise more. I could sit in the garden more. The reframing goals is too hard - keep it simple and make it regular. Smile and don't worry - try again the next day or phone a friend. The childbride does.

The stoic dichotomy of control - 'The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control' — Epictetus. Discourses. II.5. 

When it will end, what is really going on with variants, are the vaccines actually the answer? Don't know - live with it. Compared to families with children of school age or any age come to that, we have it easy.

Lockdown44 keep active

Walking from home - Upperthong, Hinchliffe Mill and along Bottoms Mill race. 
A dead log has fallen across the race and produced a dam with debris backing up behind it. 
Have any beavers been released here?

squirrel alert again

Keep active - boomercise

Times, Anna Maxted reports - staying fit for over 70s - 14 suggestions from Dr Pollock.

Be risk-aware not risk-averse - sounds like common sense, but 'phone a friend' if you plan to do something you haven't done for a while or never done.

Preventing frailty and falls - strength and balance exercises
                Lift weights
                Fitness regime
                Stand on one leg
                Men and pelvic floor - whatever next

Supplements - vitamin D is always a good idea in winter.

Eating - enjoy cooking and meals. Heaven protect us from all the diet fetishists. My favourite is bacon, fried eggs and black pudding. Closely followed by fish and chips. I could go on.

Social interaction - on my weekly trips to the shops I talk to anyone who will talk back. How strange is that for a grumpy old man?

Make more fuss when getting help from medics - no problem. I've made a career of being difficult with everyone, not just medics.

Medicines (checking the point with medics again) - I recently had my eye review at Acre Mills. No, I'm not going to bang on about ophthalmic services. The SHO who could be my granddaughter said I didn't need the pills and eye drops I'd been taking for the last 5 years. Her boss agreed. "If it all goes pear-shaped, will you see me quickly without all the tedious computer watchers getting in the way? "Yes" she said. It hasn't.

Scans and interventions - the stoic dichotomy - no need to chase stuff you can't or don't need to do anything about. I agree checking poo for blood is an exception. Polyps and early bowel cancer can be treated. The downside is sticking that tube up your bum. I have two T-shirts.

Dementia - yes, but what can you do? I regularly find myself in a room and can't remember why. 

I admit it's been a lifelong hobby, keeping fit. All I can suggest is try something, keep doing it and maybe do a bit more. A good walk a few times a week is a good start.

I think we are realising this covid job is a marathon.


Lockdown42a - senior moments or not?



dropped four pieces

more crack than pot, gorilla

rescue look no joints

Dave's winter pics - garden glimpses

Many photographers have great winter pics, so I went for something a bit different. A pile of stones becomes a little man with a hat on and folded arms. Perhaps other people can see something else?

Dave's notebook

Matthew Parris in the Times, 9th Jan. The man who is sitting on the bottom of your bed when you wake in the night or in the early morning. An image of the grim reaper perhaps. A personification of anxiety and preoccupation. Matthew cites Brexit, Covid and Trump as perhaps the major culprits. For younger people maybe, but not for me and my small circle of friends. I voted to stay in Europe. We have stuck to government advice and not ventured. Trump is an idiot running a banana republic - temporarily. I don't care, he will soon be out. Sincere thoughts for the bereaved families for whatever reason.

Worry about things you can do something about. I have enough dark thoughts and have no need of more.

The childbride is always even handed. Business men will worry. Mums with jobs and kids out of school will worry. How will the great relationship with the US fare? I still go with a stoic dichotomy of control. Decisions and behaviours are under our control, nothing much else. But people will still worry.


James Marriot's review 'Can't Even' by Anne Helen Peterson. Times January 9th. Millennials - apparently anyone born between 1981 and 1996. Today aged 25-40 if my maths are correct. I'm 73 and we, the middle classes, had it relatively easy in the 1960s - financial stability and improving living standards, unions strong and capitalism restrained. Era of free love. So different to our parents who lived through the inter-war years and the Great Depression with strict behaviour standards.
  Then the 1980s. Globalisation, financial crises, decline in unions. Reducing middle class security. 'The net worth of millennials is 20% lower than that of boomers at the same point of their lives.' The first generation since the Depression to be less well off than parents. Censoriousness originates from financial instability - looking for comfort in moral certainty. 'Me Too', 'Black Lives' and 'no-platforming'.
  So I can understand it and at bottom I'm for it. But I'm uncomfortable with it. I've never been perfect.
  Anne finishes with something that rings another uncomfortable bell. Quoting Claire Tomalin's memoire 'I used to think I was making individual choices, now, looking back, I see clearly that I was following trends and general patterns of behaviour that I was powerless to resist as a migrating bird or a salmon swimming upstream.'
  Mmm - discuss. I thought they were under our control, bugger.

Lockdownweek42 stay active

Two old farts sharing a moment

Stay Active

Recent piece in the Telegraph by Jan Etherington, 30th December - 'It's wrong to see older people as the collateral damage fo Covid'.
  Lucid and literate - main points:
  'Age creeps up on you as stealthily as a Japanese bullet train.'
  'Ageist attitudes have seeped into the national conversation.'
  'The elderly' a horrible word ... who should 'take their chance as their lives are over.'
  Prue Leith (80) didn't think the old should be prioritised because 'you want to save the person who's got a life ahead of them, not the person who's had a life.' Jan suggested along the lines of -  tell that to Tom Moore or David Attenborough, both older role models in their nineties plus and benighted. Prue accepted her vaccination.
  Jan's godmother recently died of Covid, aged 95.

What is elderly?

I agree that older person and older people are more pleasant names.

It is a fact that we do change as we age. Physically we wear out, predetermined by information contained on our DNA. So, the 4 - Ss. Strength, suppleness, stamina and skill. Most of us cannot shift pianos from 50-60s onwards. Stiffness similarly. Most of us gradually lose cardiovascular performance from even earlier than that. Skill is hard to define, but imbalance and clumsy fine movement follow changes in our peripheral nerve pathways.

There's a whole industry ready to help out and making lots of money. The clock won't go back, but making the best use of what you have is possible with benefits.
  Gyms, online exercises, pilates and so on don't suit everybody. I recommend have a go at something and do it regularly. The minimum is a stiff walk (sweaty and breathless) of 20/30 minutes up to 5 times a week. Gardening and golf, though laudable, don't count. Design your own stretches and balances. Further information from ageuk.

Anyone seen Clint Eastwood in The Mule? The theme tune is 'Don't Let the Old Man in' by Toby Keith, apologies for the gender bias.

"Many moons I have lived.
My body's weathered and worn.
Ask yourself how old would you be
If you didn't know the day you were born."

Can anyone help?

Sadly illness can dog us at any age. Many older people bounce back pretty well from acute illnesses. Even a hospital admission can be quite quick.

It's the multiple pathology and polypharmacy that's a bugger. Naturally reducing reserves are further compromised. Recovery from illness may need more time and patience. Learning to live with a new health or illness reality if full recovery is not possible. In the past these people were referred to as 'bed-blockers'. I hope this term is now extinct. One person's bed-blocker is another's second chance. Multidisciplinary rehabilitation - therapists, medics, social workers, community nurses. Forget the tribal agendas, work to what the person, patient or whatever they are called these days, want. This is the common purpose that binds the team.
Many older people, whatever their health, will thus have a future.

Don't let the covid in

many things we have done
some good and some bad
leave your troubles behind
enjoy the love that you have

stay true to yourself
keep as trim as you can
sing and dance a safe space
don't let the covid in

things have not changed
sit tight when you’re called
rules are still there for reasons
we must all get along


Lockdown40 wet cold sit

 Stay active - it's Christmas

Early Christmas present from the NHS - the other NHS. This has been deleted by the childbride on the grounds of being an insult to all those brilliant people who are trying to save lives.

Garden - moment for a sit 

The other granddad is a dab hand with the birding. So I went for a Simon Barnes' sit.

There is a bird there and it's black but not a blackbird
The other granddad says it's immature or female

The one that got away

I've got a lot to learn

Sitting again - December garden colours

The beds appear saturated. The bushes limp. Limited colour, new and old. Take care down the steps. I haven't cleared the leaves which can be slimy. It's cold, not simply temperature, but a state of mind. Wetness means cold. The 'Kop' on the deck has open flaps which are guarded by sheets. They absorb water and prevent wet soaking the 'Kop' contents. Thanks to the short infrequent sunny mornings, drainage and drying are permitted. Watch out for the steps on your way to the tenter field.
  The 'Kop' is a converted pub smoking area. Four legs, roof frame, green canopy and four cream sides. The name is S. African, but we've pinched it from Anfield. It contains our summer gear - al fresco dining and BBQ - and all-year-round beer-fridge. And anything else we haven't got room for including the cricketers who lurk, anxious for next season. I have an Indian batter recruit who needs a paint job.
  There is a hut at the bottom of the garden, beyond wood pergola and fence, overlooking the funeral parlour. Damp and protected by carpet which also needs frequent drainage. I dreamed of writing best sellers in glorious isolation. It's not going to happen. Just my family story and the blog. It contains chairs, desk, nearly knackered laptop, books, heater and weights.
  The pool is down there. A wood half-barrel. There are frogs which look ungainly but survive somehow and birds which sing and dive. A bench seat, rescued from Storthes Hall. An arbour.
  There are several places to sit. I haven't done them all, content with two. A director's chair no less. Amateur bins and camera. 20 minutes is my maximum in the cold wet afternoons.

Awayday - Winscar

The secret is in the pockets - Raynaud's
Ice-cold Guinness helped and didn't
Very nice get together at Winscar

Random Covid thoughts

winter solstice

So there's new strain of Covid in town - Covid 19b maybe. No surprise. Every cell everywhere is reproducing themselves all the time. Loads of incorrect copies which don't survive. There is a chance that one copy which is wrong might however convey an advantage and survive. Bugger.
Next on the agenda will be vaccine escape. Then it will be like 'flu. New vaccines every year.

Interviewed on the wireless. Two youngsters with severely disfigured faces. New leases and commentless lives from wearing masks.

Also interviewed. British scientists being disarmingly frank. They have adapted to the need for speed. Publishing quickly online. Minimal peer review. Climbing down from British superiority - had to replicate European research when they should have simply accepted. Science and scientists are not in charge. Need to be humble, explain uncertainty, be more open, share with public. Graphs easily mislead, share again.
Huge bureaucracy, especially with funding. Easily bogged down rather than facilitate quick research.


Anyone see Idris and Macca? Did they overdo the shared working class origins? Otherwise great.

Signing off until 2021.


 It's Christmas, I think - stay active

And I have a new phone - recycled and so far it works.

Because of the pandemic, I have not been given a gp surgery appointment for an ear irrigation, formerly known as syringing. So an olive oil drop twice a week each ear. I recommend it.

Christmas messages

Thank you to everyone who has sent us seasonal words, greetings and best wishes.

I was a medic, but I've also made a good living as a grouch. Yes, I wish everyone well. I'm in awe of all those guys who have had to deal with difficulties over and above the pandemic, such as bereavements, medical events and associated interventions, especially if delayed. Respect.

Maybe the vaccines will be the answer. In the meantime, 'Don't Let the Covid in.' I'll spare you the musical version.

Brass Plays Christmas

Hade Edge at Compos

The other grandad

A bird enthusiast and podcaster. 

New Mill Male Voice Choir

Being a grouch, I'm not an enthusiastic Christmas lover. I don't go to church, so it's a winter break and feast for me which should last 2 days not 2 months. Easter is another and I'm a sort of fan of Lent with the theme of renewal. Lambs are nice and I can apologise to everyone.
On the other hand New Mill's 3 Christmas concerts are A-listed in the calendar, whether you go for the music or not. The 2017 schedule was as follows:

We could all use an afterglow

Rhythm of Life

Even a grouch has a sense of the seasons. I am researching my nineteenth century ancestors which is proving both a bit of a chore and a joy. And I am not going any further back. My great great great grandfather was a hand-loom weaver and his daughter-in-law's father (confusing) was one too and a farmer, which was normal then. Cowrakes, Lindley around the time of Waterloo (1815).
  So, only 2-3 generations from agricultural life, before industrialisation got underway. Nothing changed in those days. The population was static, no one went anywhere. The landowners ruled and my ancestors did as they were told. Or, did they? The W. Riding hand-loom weavers were a stroppy independent lot, up in the hills. Lindley would have been remote then. I guess places like the Holme Valley would be typical.
  So, it's in the genes, hurray. As is the sense of the seasons. Back then time was measured in seasons. The rhythms were slow, except when they were rioting or playing that unregulated game of ball accompanied by shin-poising. Honley versus Shat would have been a bloodbath. Also in the genes.
  So, in the later nineteenth century, when the factories were in full steam and the hand-loom weavers had been put out of business, how did we measure time? Easy, more money and leisure, the football, rugby and cricket seasons. When the daffs arrive, and the lambs. I knew it was the end of summer when Friday night saw mum and dad packing a suitcase. Saturday a Hanson's bus to a holiday camp in Scarborough for a week. Back to school and start again. 

Be safe and happy.


Stay active - Take off


On the BBC website this week from Rebecca Seales, 'Letters to kids: why it's a good time to write to your children.'

Apparently the pain and privation of the pandemic has stimulated writing. Personal stuff which could give future generations insight into their ancestors has been especially popular. It's a touch more than recording memories and events. Expressing feelings and exposing other material previously hidden from view. This sounds a bit like bibliotherapy; writing as a means of getting your stuff out so you can have a good look and try and make some sense of it, or not. Why not? 

Many of these pieces of writing are being collected by the Sociology department, Swansea University, for a project entitled 'Corona Diaries'. I've tried to track down this research online and failed.

I recently picked up 'Writing your life story,' by Philip Oke from a genealogy festival. A comprehensive guide to how to do it. Having written for thirty years, pieces everywhere, it's time I got my act together and maybe family stories is an organising principle. But, when writing for myself, I rarely stick to the point, always on a sidetrack.

Oke refers to autobiography, memoir, diary, journal, family history.

I have had a look at family lives - as a result of a present I received from my daughter. I wrote the following introduction.

'This last Christmas gone or maybe for my birthday when granny and I were 70 years of age, your mum and dad gave me a book to write to you about me, so you would have a record of things that could so easily get forgotten. 
The book is called ‘Dear Grandad: from you to me - journal of a lifetime’
Please look after it, for yourself, and for any other grandchildren. 
  There have been a few problems. First is time. Serious writers allocate a daily writing routine which is deliberately selfish and excludes everything and everyone else. It needs your nearest and dearest, granny in my case, to agree. Broadly speaking she does let me get on with it, but things do creep in - like shopping and housework and social time. But as she says “That’s life”. So the project is taking a long time, especially as I like to keep up with my personal blog, but even that is an uphill struggle.
  Second the headlines suggested in the book your mum and dad gave me. They seem to be in the wrong order. For example, the family trees come after my first memories. To make a coherent story, I have arranged the articles in chronological order.
  Third duplication. Writing since 1990, I have a lot of archive material. It can get a bit muddled up. At best it is duplication, which can be no bad thing in a large piece of work. Bill Bryson tells us that no less a writer than Shakespeare made a fine mess of keeping his plays in some sort of order.
  Fourth with pieces from different eras, there are different styles and voices. Factual stuff about family trees and history take on a matter of fact feel. Describing emotional events such as a funeral or illness. Or the pains of growing - either leaving home yourself or watching your own children leave home or struggling with getting old. All these have a different tone.
  Fifth there could be problems with my memory - so a proportion of the writing could be inaccurate, though pieces written nearer 1990 are likely to be more valid than the recent ones.'

More complications, I am currently working on family members from the nineteenth century - the hand-loom weaver, the stoker and the railway porter. These cannot be memories - they are stories of how I imagine they fitted in with local events and national themes.

Oke does mention assistance - it's a thought, I still have a fighting fund.

A commitment? It's a purpose, a hobby, a record .....

It's already been at least a year and more. I'm 73 now.

Family matters


How do they know stuff and behave beyond 
their years?

Lockdown week37

Stay active

 Bottomless sit

Little Anne from pilates tries to recruit me to 'mindful' sessions. They are not for me. Mindless sessions are more to my taste though there is overlap. Sit for long enough and the birds will come, much as Simon Barnes experiences on his wild walks, here or in Africa. Otters and deer are more his thing. Bull finches are more mine. 

Increasing awareness of peripheral vision is mindful I think. Don't forget the plastic bag, to prevent a damp bum. Try to remember your bins and a stick.

Simon Barnes, 'Rewild Yourself', Simon and Schuster. 

Pilates and Zumba

time sit wonder breathe                                               

blue sky high white cloud cold feet                            

bull finch drinks

Christmas decoration

The forget-me-not bottles are everywhere, even in the Black Country. Arthur is my man.

And a cool present for lots, a vaccine. Any antivaxxers out there? Remember small pox - no you can't because it is no longer out there. Because of vaccination. If it's safe, it's safe.

From the archive

Black Country museum 2014

The pub was Andrew's favourite obviously.

Beer was decent, though the outside toilet took a bit of getting used to.

Andrew is going steady with someone from his flats - Clara. Haven't seen him for 5 weeks.

Anyone remember this?

A year in the life - New Mill Male Voice Choir

Organisations have fixed calendar points. Things to work to. Five year plans that are underpinned by monthly meetings and weekly deadlines. Like music, there is rhythm. New Mill Male Voice Choir is no different. Our overarching rhythm lasts twelve months. It is not a business rhythm, being more in tune with the seasons; the ebb and flow of brown leaves, grey skies, crisp dews and fields of rape seed oil, from which we come up for air every month or so to breathe in the heady atmosphere of performance. Or, prosaically, we leave the shelter of New Mill Club to sing in a concert.

Our current fixed points are Christmas, January, Spring Bank, and the Summer break, peaking a the October Town Hall concert with star guests. We have other engagements when we ourselves are the guests. Mostly fund-raisers, these concerts can recur but many do not.

 Christmas is a convenient start. Our annual pilgrimage to Christ Church is an opportunity for the New Mill community to join with their male voice choir in a mix of popular and seasonal musical items. We can all then decant to New Mill Club for eats, drinks and some pretty decent informal singing. That’s shorthand for choir members doing their ‘turns’. These are men who can remember their words and just love the adulation of the mob. It’s our Christmas party.

Almost since our inception we have guested in December at Low Moor, Bradford, once Allied Colloids and now BASF. Our members who spent their working lives with the company provided the original link which, despite the inevitable losses with time, feels to get firmer each year. We usually sing at nearby Holy Trinity, but due to structural issues last year, we had to switch to the works canteen. We share the stage with local primary schools so the audience is substantial, and it’s still pretty good after the calls for bedtime. Anyway, these young choirs give our musical director an excuse to wear a silly outfit. There are two lady vicars, jolly and serious, and there always used to be a bloke from the company who sang Home Sweet Home.

The stuff is all over the place - pdf to another format

Though not a regular competition choir, a recent addition to our touring schedule is the Cornwall International Male Voice Choral Festival, where contesting is shared with more relaxed gigs in great venues such as Tate St Ives and the Eden Project, accompanied by blue cloudless skies and light breezes. Incidentally and proudly, previous forays into competition (2009/10/11) resulted in two wins and a second at the Don Valley festival. 

After the summer break, the lull before the storm, comes the mighty Huddersfield Town Hall concert. Since 2000, firstly every two years, and now every year, we invite a star to share the platform with us. Sir Willard White, Aled Jones, Julian Lloyd-Webber and Alison Balsom have all played and sung with us. Groups also come. Morriston Orpheus, a top Welsh choir, is a high standard to compare yourself against. We gave a poignant welcome to The Band of the Yorkshire Regiment at a time of national and local grief following deaths in The Middle East. Young Opera Venture were simply a delight to help out with the chorus in Bizet’s Carmen.

Our other concerts when we are guests often produce great moments in brilliant venues: Royal Albert Hall, Cardiff Arms Park, York Minster, Sheffield Cathedral, Elland Road, Fountains Abbey, Blackpool Winter Gardens, Scarborough Spa and our own Huddersfield Town Hall. And raising not inconsiderable sums for worthy causes. The Winter Gardens concert was for 2500 ladies of Inner Wheel. The Arms Park was full - well Shirley Bassey was the star guest.

Now forget all the adrenaline and fireworks of the Town Hall. Underneath all the froth of the great venues and star guests, down amongst the muck and bullets is the weekly rehearsal in New Mill Club. You can set your watch by it. Two hours of super coaching to sing in harmony and to perform. Two hours away from your normal duties in the company of Musical Director Allan Brierley and Pianist Emma Binns. Everyone grafts. Drinks and food follow and the bonds continue to grow. We are so lucky to have New Mill Club; a powerful factor supporting the closely knit choir. This weekly foundation is the fuel for those ultimate moments of performance.

Another important factor in our choir fellowship is illustrated by Andy’s piece below. The diversity of member’s jobs and interests is considerable. So strong in some cases, small groups actually want to meet between rehearsals to pursue their passions. A final thought about choir health. Our committee meets monthly; a bit of a headache which they gladly suffer to enable the choir to function at the basic level; essential stuff if we are to thrive and triumph on the concert platform. Behind the broad sweeping movements of the seasons there is a steady beat. All those beats count.

                                                  Caravanners, sun-tanners, ex-pats and gym rats,

Heavy drinkers, heavy thinkers, trumpet players, sooth- sayers,

Organic bakers, micky-takers, runners and joggers, gardeners and loggers,

Teachers and preachers, straight talkers, fell walkers, Writers, right-wingers, folk singers, old swingers, Dropouts and artists, sculptors, conductors,

Ballroom prancers, Morris dancers, computer geeks and techno freaks,

Lawyers, accountants, political wets, the hunting, shooting and fishing sets ...

Andy Johnston

Lockdown week36


Earnshaw's Fencing, Midgeley

There's a new man in town and he's Indian.
Could be a challenge?

Honley and surrounds. Nice day, nice company, nice place.

The blog has supporters. I met Steve Flynn in the Coop carpark on Saturday morning on his way to the post office, not the coffee shop obviously. He is one. Listening to my supporters I get a range of criticism.
    "A bit deep this week." Robert Coombes on the benefits of Simon Barnes, sitting in nature (don't forget plastic bag).
    "A bit light." Clive Hetherington who once said he wrote a blog.

Balance then. Nuance maybe. So to some philosophy. Not easy. You might think philosophers had a comforting word or two for a pandemic?


A philosopher. German. I cannot claim to understand much of the language of philosophy. I even struggle spelling this guy's name. Alain de Botton 'The Consolations of Philosophy' tries to simplify stuff, but I'm not so sure.

One chapter is entitled 'Consolation for Difficulties'. Will it help during the pandemic? Something about happiness is not about gaining pleasure or avoiding pain. They live side by side, presumably in an uneasy balance and imbalance. They feed off each other, supporting and undermining. De Botton himself writes 'The most fulfilling projects appeared inseparable from a degree of torment, the sources of our greatest joys lying awkwardly close to those of our greatest pains.'

The pandemic is massive. I'm embarrassed by how few serious awkward moments we've had compared with bereaved families and people who have lost their livelihoods. What is the amount of hunger out there? I suspect there is an iceberg of unrecognised anxiety and depression. I forgot to mention all the youngsters. These are part of many 'normal' lives in 'normal' times, but the pandemic has amplified both the number and the severity. I don't think Nietsche has much to help except how we deal with our bit of the crisis will veer from brilliant to something else.

Time has become my greatest concern. The pandemic has stolen a precious slice of my time left. Yet it has resulted in a lot of free time, particularly now the garden does not need a lot of work. Time to reflect and to deal with intrusive thoughts. Events, random and unexpected, take up time. Writing blogs takes time. In older age there is a lot of behind and not much in front. Little forward planning and a vast amount of forgetting. Best stay in the present.

Victoria Springs from our knackered balcony


French. I'm now down to the quote, 'A virtuous ordinary life, striving for wisdom but never far from folly, is achievement enough.'
This does make me wonder. In these good words there seems to another question, as in what is virtue? The answer, 'behaviour showing high moral standards.' Then it's what are morals? Aristotle defines moral virtue as a disposition to behave in the right manner and as a mean between extremes of deficiency and excess, which are vices. We learn moral virtue primarily through habit and practice rather than through reasoning and instruction. Another attempt at answering the question, 'Morals are the prevailing standards of behavior that enable people to live cooperatively in groups. Moral refers to what societies sanction as right and acceptable. Most people tend to act morally and follow societal guidelines.'

Right and acceptable must be different depending where you live and in what era. There is more than a hint of the average in these words. What of excellence? Disaster must be its eternal partner. The nurses, doctors, researchers, everybody except us live way beyond the ordinary life. Whither Boris?

Mind you it has been said behind every great sportsman there is a tragedy and behind every great wealth there is a crime.


Greek. He has a happiness acquisition list.

(1) A hut (I would add a comfy seat, warm clothing, a plastic bag - Simon Barnes recipe for calming the restless mind. Out in nature of course. I have cultivated sitting anywhere)

(2) Friends

(3) To avoid superiors, patronisation, infighting and competition - anyone following Roderick Williams and 'British History in Ten Operas'? Peter Grimes written by Benjamin Britten. 1945 - end of WW2 and the decline of the empire. Set in beautiful Suffolk coastal village. Peter Grimes is a fisherman, flawed, uncertain, often in the wrong, an outsider who struggles to get along with others. He loses two apprentices whilst fishing. The villagers try him and he commits suicide. Rod tells us it's about exposing the life beneath - how can an individual be different? Britten and his partner were gay and conscientious objectors. What of today? Being different is a reason for national and international movements. Conflict and bullying by the villagers has been replaced by internet disagreement and 'cancelling'. 
I recommend the radio4 podcast. Art follows life. 

(4) Thought - seems a given, but I've had enough philosophy for one day.

(5) A reincarnation of Giovanni Bellini's Madonna - must be good.


Happiness may be difficult to attain. The obstacles are not primarily financial - Phillip Green and his Mrs. eat your hearts out.

Avoiding superiors and 'superior' people I recommend so I don't come into contact with patronising people. The rest goes without saying - best retire to the hut and sit in the present.



Posted by 

The sound will need a tweak. I did it several times and then lost the will.

Canal, rail and road in this latest Jenson Bancroft brio track. I'm not sure they all existed together in quite this manner, so a bit of poetic/romantic license. It was about freight and in the 1850s when my kin the hand-loom weaver was in his pomp, it was changing to rail from barge. The raw wool would have been locally sourced. The final cloth would have been taken by the middle man/merchant/clothier to the market where buyers would place their orders. The cheaper cloth was made up into garments locally. Higher quality cloth, worsted, was in demand nationally and internationally. The canal and rail networks would thus have had their textile role. The waterway through line to Lancashire, via Standedge, was completed 
in 1811. Otherwise the Aire and Calder Navigation. By 1830, Huddersfield was integral to a complex canal network. The Lancs and Yorks railway, opened 1847, was the only coast to coast route just then. 
  Made in Huddersfield was the designer label of the time.

Meltham Park

Spot the Almondbury Casual. A social Sunday afternoon cricket team formed in the 1950s. The early membership looks like the captains of the textile industry and their suppliers, at leisure. Along with hockey, golf, rugby union and soccer. I have been bruised quite a bit for likening them to the middle classes that emerged in the late nineteenth century. No need to rehearse this. They did have rules and meetings where minutes were taken. Plenty of golfers and public school men. Sons, other relatives, workmates, wives and spectators played, some excellent cricketers, others making up the numbers. For the majority, it was completely unserious. Sadly today's youngsters do not have an interest in travelling to a country house for a non-competitive game of cricket. For further information about the casuals, clic here.
Angela Sewell reminds us of happy times with the Casuals. Quite right. Can I also say that many guys got an opportunity to play when they weren't regular cricketers. Availability was key, not ability.

The men are made of concrete and the makeover was done with acrylic paints.

Lockdown week33/34

Dave's Notebook.

Boris - more U-turns and changes of mind. Trump is a poor loser and and crazy. We are just getting on with it. Possible opportunities to complete some unfinished business. Not during the first lockdown because we were enjoying ourselves in the garden too much. I really could do with cleaning up all the mess on my computer and being clear what I use it for. Hmm ...


I used to do clinics in Dewsbury when captain four stripes was still training in SW Spain - ah heady days, in Spain that is. The Dewsbury muslim ladies wore masks. I had to engage seriously with their eyes. Very powerful, and credit to them. Same thing now in shops and the playgrounds. I don't sense power though, I simply don't recognise people I know very well. A bit like the elderly lady who went to the supermarket with her husband - all masked up. Did the shopping, came home. Took masks off, wrong husband.


Two videos from Forgetmenot Team Sheila. Bottle decorations.


Keith Barnes U3A sent us this (music appreciation group). 
It's not getting any longer either with this 
so-and-so pandemic.


See the new post about hand-loom weavers as an antidote to my more normal chatty blog. It asks some questions in the end - worthy of comments.

Poignant 'Festival of Remembrance' and 'Remembrance Sunday'. 11.00am, I stood outside on the deck. A bugle played somewhere down in Holmfirth.

I've just twigged that the pictures and succinct bits of text on the posts of the BBC website are enough. Clic and there is more information, but you already know what it's about.