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

Tale of three halves

This is a tribute to our relationship - 1947 to 2023 - 76 years.
Apologies if the reader doesn’t recall events quite like I have portrayed them, particularly the dates. Memory isn’t what it was and anyway I have selected the good bits, mostly.
I’ve divided it into three: growing up, growing apart and growing old. The rough and tumble of family life, leaving home and developing our lives, and finally becoming pals and confidants.

Growing up. I have covered these early years in detail elsewhere (family stories). My memory is dominated by arguments between Dad and Steve. Dad was an angry man. He had an invalidity pension from the army for duodenitis which produced bouts of misery. He returned from the war to a family dominated by women and children (Granny Addy, her 3 daughters and 5 grandchildren had supported each other whilst the men were working or away). He did actually return to his pre-war job, but soon left for the ‘electricity board’. Whilst both jobs were in accounts he had no qualifications. I think he must have felt hard done by.
        Steve was bright and in 1953 went to Huddersfield College where he joined the rapid stream (taking ‘O’ levels in 4 years as part of trying for Oxbridge). He and dad clashed. Dad was grumpy anyway but Steve couldn’t keep his mouth shut. So we all copped it. Mum’s recurring plea was “Oh, Reg”. We lived in rented housing just outside the town centre. Despite apparently not having much money, in 1953, Dad bought a house in the suburbs. The arguments continued. I lived at the bottom of the food chain. Dad was unforgiving of my slightest error. Steve referred to me as the cretin. I do have fond memories of family holidays, caravans and holiday camps at Filey and Scarborough. Christmas was also a period of respite.


Growing apart. Steve progressed to the sixth form, specialising in the sciences. His hobbies were jazz, classical music and astronomy. He became a snob and had a girlfriend. In fairness he followed rugby league. University then, another girlfriend. Not home as much. Still fighting with dad. Started smoking cigarettes around this time. Married Hazel. Job at the university. So he’d left home. Though we had a super family caravan holiday in The Lakes. Walking and drinking in pubs (I’d be about 15).
        I followed him to what was now New College (amalgamation of the old one with Dad’s Hillhouse ‘redcaps’) and we shared 2 years (1958-60). I also followed the sciences, (biology instead of maths). Not a happy time for me in third, fourth and fifth years. Every end-of-term report was a nightmare, after doing so well at the beginning. I looked up to Steve. Writing like him. Saying stuff he said. Even followed him to Liverpool. There was also divergence as I was heavily into rugby union and pop music. I married Sheila in 1972, just after leaving university.

        Dad mellowed as more grandchildren came along. We got by.

        So this was the period for establishing our families and careers. Didn’t see a lot of each other - family visits and gatherings though we did meet supporting rugby. We even went to Paris for an England-France RU match. Steve was a tad arrogant - he thought the Wembley cup final was a home fixture for Widnes RL (won the RL Challenge Cup 5 times between 1964-84). My perception of Steve then was of a solid family man and he remained so for the rest of his life. In 1980, we took Mum to The Wembley RL cup final Hull derby. Train there and back same day. Queen Mother in attendance. Hull KR won. Mum sat between us - proud doesn’t cut it.

New College

Paris International

        His university career had always been a mystery to me, though he did give hints in moments of self-reflection. There were other bits I learned during his first illness (Oboe), but no need to dwell on them. The names in the piece have been altered. I'm Dyce, short for Dyson, son of David (like Rebus and Morse). He recovered after a rocky few days on intensive care.

Growing old. Any differences of opinion had gone. Just 2 old farts with common baggage and interests. We became closer after Mum and Dad died. Sorting stuff out. Grieving together.

        There are many highlights: The Lords tour (Lords) , The Anfield tour (Anfield), narrow boating, a lazy session at The Baltic Fleet down on the Liverpool Docks (Baltic Fleet). I have to mention my role in helping with information about Steve’s life-changing and threatening medical conditions. Phone consultations which I christened Steve’s medical textbook.

        We went all over on the boat. Steve didn’t want to drive initially. However, I had an episode with the toilet one morning and he had to take over (we didn’t stop). Couldn’t keep him off the tiller then. Gave advice to all and sundry, telling them not to worry if they made a mistake. Trent and Mersey, Llangollen, The Oxford. A famous trip on The Thames to Abingdon when Louise and Steve saved a boat from crashing; with help from some local lads. We'd got mixed up with a regatta.

Baltic fleet

 2023 New Year event

And we had the final chapter in Durham (Durham). His second trip to intensive care.

Short pleasant weather window amongst some unpleasant stuff.
Time for brother Steve to bow out.
He had already gone.
But he would have the last breath.
Well we had switched him off.
We were all there,
Funny thing that last breath.


Changes in the weather

Breezy free swirly circling leaves
                                                     Rain-sodden grounded clumps                                                    
 Not a turn for the worse 

Successful ageing (2)

The author with his grandson

Initial article here -

And plenty other sites, including examples like Helen Mirren and Clint Eastwood. This can be overdone and we all now know the benefits of exercise, meditation, new experiences and keeping in touch with friends and family. It's now obvious we have equal amounts of despair and happiness, and we must tailor expectations to what we can do and don't worry if we don't make it. We know all this now, but easy to forget.

This week it's the turn of Suzy Walker and Sir Muir Gray, Telegraph 30th Jan 2024 - 'It's not healthy to act your age'. Getting fit is the prime consideration. 'Change your attitude to ageing.' How? Challenges like learning a language, becoming a volunteer, join a committee. I'm not personally keen on these. What about having positive ideas about ons's own ageing - how? Not a lot of answers.

A purpose? For me short pieces like haiku and a pic get me started. I've no great target. But these simple things, along with what (eg shopping, housework) has to be done, keeping up with social life and a hobby (singing) and I'm close to needing a rest. And I haven't exercised yet. "I'm good" must be the standard reply to health queries. What's gone is gone and tomorrow hasn't happened yet. When there is despair - let it drift away whilst you stay in the moment.

I came across thoughts on anxiety, mine. I frequently hear 'there's nothing for ageing'. Well there is that. But victimhood is not a good look either.

Get over yourself.

Christmas/New Year 2023/24

Bitterly cold moments
Honley Ladies at Huddersfield Market - I had to keep moving
Two squirrels short of food

Warmer moments
Scarborough: St Mary's, Freddie's spa tribute, New Year's walk
Filey Bay distillery (price of flagship up £5 so I didn't)


New year 2023-24 curation

Deepak Chopra - how to meditate, Times 6th Jan.

'Ask yourself why you don't meditate .... I got bored, I wasn't getting enough out of it, my life is too busy, I wish I could find the time,'

Meditation is not a quick fix - not a mental health pill.

Meditation returns you to a state you are supposed to be all the time - simple awareness; quiet undisturbed relaxed but alert.

'Sit down in a quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Sit comfortably, preferably in an upright posture. Take a few deep breaths, (centre your attention on the heart, maybe, but as long as there is attention to somethin

g, I think it's okay). 5-10 minutes to start. Don't rush back to activity. Repeat during the day.

[Reminds me of 'the sit' beloved of Simon Barnes. Stillness. Awareness of the senses, seeing and hearing. Let intrusive thoughts come and go. Keep coming back to the here and now.]

Steven Bartlett's rules for success, Telegraph 28th December. [flexible, practical, achievable]

Keep goals small and consistent and open-ended. No need to complete them.

Being fit is about consistency not intensity [for me exercise is always work in progress].

'Happiness is a direct result of managing expectations'. [Not many people know what happiness is. We probably have equal amounts of happy and unhappy, so words like fulfilment and contentment try to fill the gap. Melissa Twigg, Times, 30th December, introduces words like pleasure, enjoyment, satisfaction and meaning.]

I don't have an answer, but the discussion with yourself may help. Don't beat yourself up when the wheels come off.

So same old, but with latitude. Lets everyone give ourselves a break. 

It reminds myself of the school report quote 'He sets himself low expectations which he consistently fails to meet'.

Peta Bee again 13th Jan - ... why walking is the best way to get fit.

It's replaced coffee as the elixir. Anxiety, back pain, strength of bone and muscles, enhance flexibility and prolonging your life. Wow. Add nasal breathing, silence, weighted vest or rucksack, intermittent power intervals and it's a double wow.

Some late curation

Em's latest effort with classmates and teacher

Joe Pinkstone - Telegraph 31st Oct - Get angry if you want to get the job done

Anger boosts performance on difficult tasks, not easy ones. Unsurprisingly, life is not solely about the pursuit of happiness and overall positive emotions. What we really need is an emotional mix including negatives - Prof Heather Lynch. The harder the task the stronger the anger the more success.

Charlotte Lytton - Times 4th Nov - How to tackle the winter blues.

Get outside first thing in a morning - exposure to bright light first thing improves people with SAD and lowers the likelihood of psychiatric conditions.
Take vitamin D until March - 10 mag per day
Get a light box??
Keep exercising - releases dopamine and endorphins to lift the mood.
Make plans: don't hibernate. Even when you don't feel like it.

Rachel Carlyle - Times 4th Nov - Can music really help to boost your brain?

Listening to music releases dopamine and serotonin, the body's antidepressants. Particularly music that produce chill and spine-tingles. Chilled-out music also makes you more creative by encouraging new neural connections.
Bittersweet and moving music, not relaxing, best for pain, strength of ibuprofen, 
The key is to engage the parasympathetic system which can also be achieved in second phase of a 4:6 breathing pattern or 6 breaths per minute. 5 minutes a day for anxiety, as good as meditation
Avoid vocals to help sleep.
Music we like most, best for keeping brain younger, especially music from our youth. Good for dementia.


Durham - late autumn sun

Deep blue cloudless sky
Dominant grey stone cathedral
Smooth tree-lined calm reflective river Wear
Bubbling fast-flowing restless weirs
Narrow winding streets, open squares

Short pleasant weather window amongst some unpleasant
Time for brother Steve to bow out


He had already gone
But he would have the last breath
Well we had switched him off
We were all there
Funny thing that last breath


dostadning (death dealing) - Swedish tidying up before you die

 curation -  The Times - Oct 14th

Margaret Magnusson talks to Alice Thomson

Death dealing - tidying affairs and clutter before you die. Supposedly a fun thing and start early. Don't expect everything to be sorted out by your kids: they will be upset enough. So get rid of useless items before you leave the stage. While you still have the energy. And celebrate what they meant to you. Pass stuff on to people who would benefit and appreciate it. Otherwise trash or charity shops. 

    Start with clothes then photos and other personal items. Organise the finances. Talk to the family.

    Don't complain and do what you enjoy. Ailments and disappointments are boring.

Time and Tide - Scarborough Oct 2023


Scarborough sun and smiles
strollers surfers dogs clock cafe people
the day after Babet

We were warned tot to go.
Not only a visit to the clock but the Filey distillery as well. Went by no.12 service bus round a few villages - Cayton, Muston, Grisethorpe and Hunmanby. There's a stained glass place somewhere there which we will try and find again. Good food at the whisky spot. And it would be churlish not to buy a bottle of 'Flagship'.

Garden glimpses (7) Robinia - vision of colour soon to fall

  autumn wind in the trees

breathy whisper in the leaves

 hearable spite the breeze

Can it be true? - Two mature ladies and one older gent win the latest floodlit tournament.

Then....... suddenly, amongst the descending mist and gloom, appeared a ghostly figure who unleashed yet another winning boule .......

Old skill metal balls
Twilight cheeky phantoms win
Laugh less stern more future

old skill new marbles
twilight mature singers win
enjoy more tomorrows

                                              qui est-ce


More curation for the blip - The Times Sept 23rd 2023

 It's all about faith, but not the religious kind.

         * Walking over Helvellyn - nature notes - Melissa Harrison.

The challenge of hill walking - '...  a landscape resistant to human influence provides a kind of bellicosity, a refusal to feel impotent, diminished or small. Yet it's exactly that feeling that I seek out in high places. I find it deeply relieving to be reminded of the insignificance of my part in this vast, ancient and astonishing world.'

         * Space Odyssey - Leading ac - Dust and rock extracted from an asteroid are a precious scientific resource (the trip to Bennu 2011-2023).

'The mission is not only an immense achievement in itself, by yielding information on the existence of conditions for life, it makes humanity more at home in the inconceivable al vastness of the universe.'

       I feel exactly this watching and listening to Brian Cox - it's too hard to explain, just switch him on and try and grasp a light year or two.

Curation for the blip - mostly The Times newspaper this last weekend.- Sept 16th

* Am I the only one with mild paranoia?

Matthew Parris - For good Darwinian reasons something within all of us keeps a wary eye out for the false friends, concealed danger, for persons unknown who are trying to compromise us, poison us, steal our secrets or undermine our security.

This seems slightly over the top, a bit serious for individual suspiciousness. But it's about.

* Dominic Sandbrook - 'the country is broken' - Declinism - apparently we've been here before on several occasions, often following a good spell of Tory government, such as 'you've never had it so good' Harold Macmillan in the 60s and John Major in the 90s. John Smith in 1993 said there was no suprise that hotels were falling into the sea (a Scarborough reference). Today I think broken is global, but there is no need panic. We've won two world wars, live longer healthier lives and have more opportunities.

* Professor Arthur C. Brookes, renowned social scientist who's baseline mood defaults to gloom and anxiety. He has pioneered a course on 'Leadership and Happiness' which worked for him. Natural positive and negative settings exist together in various proportions. High doses of both is the mad scientist, two lows is a judge, otherwise cheerleaders and poets. They are present in family, friends, work and faith and comprise enjoyment, satisfaction (accomplishing goals) and purpose (a sense of direction). Faith is not religious, but more a recognition of our place in a much bigger picture than ourselves. Social media and the pandemic have reduced human connection (eye to eye, touch). He goes on to detail some tactics, but they have mostly been covered in pieces dealing with successful ageing.

So, a bit of 'same old'. Don't expect to be happy all the time. Live with unhappiness, it can be a source of energy. Think of it as work in progress.

This oldie has a blip - Sept 2023

 A blip meaning a flare in anxiety and a downturn in mood. No photographs because I couldn't be bothered, despite successful visits to Butlins, Skegness with the family and Bridlington with the choir.

It's been on its way since lockdown 2022. Difficulty reading for pleasure, poor concentration and not enjoying much other than beer. 

Erickson suggests over 65 is a time for reflection 'if we see our lives as unproductive, feel guilt about our past, or feel that we did not accomplish our life goals, we become dissatisfied with life and develop despair, often leading to depression and hopelessness.'

... 'feelings of fear and dread about their mortality.'

Late life is thus characterized by both satisfaction and despair that must be balanced.

All very well, but it's more complex. I have lived with anxiety/high funtioning and generalised (described alsewhere) for ever. An angry father back from the war, a bright older brother. I did well on reflection. Good at sports, very good at medicine and always open to new learning and experience. Grumpiness and mild paranoia kept me solidly on the ground. So professionally reasonable and socially inept - I've lived with this and it's okay now, not at the time. Try to live in the present, enjoy nature and take exercise, keep friends close and have a hobby (singing) are all part of my lifestyle and went well, up until earlier this year.

So what's gone wrong? Lockdown I've mentioned. A mild covid episode. Hernia surgery left me with a lower abdomen resembling a ploughed field. It has also changed the signals for when I need the loo. My 75th birthday came and went - geriatric now and aware of things wearing out. When things go wrong it's tiresome and time-consuming to put right, for instance losing the internet on my so-called smart TV. There is a background feeling of most things being broken - natural disasters, climate change, AI, racial injustice, cost of living, wars. Some call resulting tiredness and lack of motivation a spiritual PTSD. Everyone seems to be getting on with their lives whilst I'm 'In the sidings' to quote Louis Killen. And finally an alcoholic son with dreadful behaviour - not all the time.

Everyday stuff can also be huge things to achieve. Best example is driving, brought on by more and more bigger cars which take up more and more parking spaces. The garden is hard work, ivy especially. Doing the budget, getting a will (third), keeping up with photos and writing take a big effort when I'd rather be solving the crossword. Reading still difficult otherwise. Helping out, housework and cooking.

Keep up with the recommendations. I have another - do things in small bite pieces and pat your back when it's done.

The tides might be a helpful metaphor - regular ebb and flow. At worst flood tide is cataclysmic and all hope is lost during the ebb. Yet the daily recurrence provides another chance, just as good, coming soon.

And, there are a lot of people a lot worse off.

Awayday/week Alnmouth Aug 2023


Our third or fourth time, Judith's first. I thought I knew where the apartment was, but wrong. So, visit the PO and get on the phone, number from the main street agency or so we thought. Wrong again, wrong holiday agency. No wonder no one we asked knew where it was. Until someone was helpful. We'd to say sorry to ourselves for the blunder and to the staff that couldn't help.

Left the car at the apartment - everywhere by bus. Timetables could be confusing, so Lindisfarne was a no-no. Otherwise quite relaxing along rural agricultural and coastal routes.

We walked locally a couple of times. Took in the gallery and the golf club for a coffee as well as the pub. A 7-miler finished with great fish and chips from The Hope and Anchor.



Another small village and harbour. Busy but not a lot to do other than visit Dunstanburgh castle and 
The Jolly Fisherman (fish and chip van in the car park). Robinson's smokery opposite.


Congested lunch. More hungry starlings.
But, if you don't like cars, dogs or sight-seeing boat trips, don't go to Seahouses.


Very busy. Barter Books full. White Swan empty. Memories of looking for Tourist Info in the theatre and asking for train times from the stage staff. Lunch at The Market Tavern - great mackerel and chicken liver pate platter.

A brilliant part of the world.


A couple of odd things, then Em's very own flower - Aug 2023

Who put the dog with specs on my shed door?

This older acrobat juggled for us in Uppermill.

Series of em's sunflower - it's a cracker

Honey Juniors guard of honour at 'Town' match

 All excited as the coach tries to herd them into the stadium.
Town legend 'Boothy' has a kind word - he still lives in Honley.
Then chaos back to their seats - up and down to toilet and cafe.
Matthew and myself were supporting Jenson.
Moment pre-match when standing along with the teams (Town and Leicester).
Vardy was a sub.
Only decent shot of the game was the decider. We lost.
I'm not sure if any of the boys watched it.


Garden glimpses (5) - august 2023

          It started as a seed in a small plastic pot. Germinated on Lou's kitchen window and look at it now. Nurtured well and strong thankfully. Not quite twice Em's height.


From Bob Carrick's flying club pal -  a fair crop. Still green.
Simon Barnes curation - originally a Mexico plant, with an Aztec name. A fruit (like peppers, cucumber and green beans) in the nightshade family like potatoes. Around 1500, came to Europe with Cortez more as an ornament. Porugese traders introduced it to India and China.
Heinz started ketchup in 1876, with sugar and vinegar.
Subject of a Gershwin song 'Let's call the whole thing off.'

assorted plants



Three Towers - a weekend in the borders

The borders ?is/are a largely rural district of SE Scotland, between Northumberland and Edinburgh.
Famous for abbeys and rugby clubs. Proud of their textile history.

1. Waterloo monument - early 19th century, marks the battle.

200 metres above Teviotdale. You can climb it for a fee..

Surrounded by woodland and green undergrowth - brambles, ferns, laurel, nettle, buttercups.

Stunning view.

BBQ - single pot with a block of charcoal in the bottom. Convenient and portable. No controls.

2. Monteath Mausoleum - built 1864 to commemorate the general who is actually interred in Glasgow.

Another great view.

                                                                      buck moon

                        3. Smailholm - The Pringle family weren't taking any chances when they built a tower house to keep out the notorious Border Reivers: it's got 2.5m thick walls.

between Jedburgh and Kelso

roadworks portaloo traffic lights
when you gotta go
you gotta go