Pilates - Me and Gillian kiss and make up. The NHS makes a cock-up

My grumpiness got the better of me, but Gillian forgave me following a gift of a duck biscuit

Gillian and Carol (not present) played a practical joke on me during pilates at the Civic Hall. I gave them one of my withering looks which I immediately regretted because I'd given up grumpiness for Lent. It's not yet Good Friday so what's going to happen goodness knows. In the short term Gilian enjoyed the duck biscuit from the baker's and we are now on speaking terms at least.


Peter recently enjoyed NHS hospitality for 6 hours waiting for a 5 minute drainage procedure

Peter has had knee replacements which may need to be replaced. As a precaution the medics said let's check there is no infection before going any further. 
Loads of pre-op advice in a brochure including general anaesthetic and epidural. He thought his procedure was similar to an injection so this advice was a little worrying.
11.15am start from Honley - HRI for midday.
He's not sure where he went but presumably a day case area.
A bloke came to see him, "I'm your anaesthetist". "Oh are you?" It dawned on both of them pretty quickly that a general anaesthetic for knee drainage was a tad OTT.
Pete hasn't said what time his next visitor arrived, but somewhere between midday and 5 o'clock a nice lady said "It's the left ear isn't it?" The reply is unpublishable.
Started to get ready from 5 o'clock onward, in for 5.54, out by 6. Some bloke showed him a 10 ml sample in a bottle, "That's from your knee". Looked okay to Pete.
Home for 7pm.

Brian Cox - Human Universe - still crazy

Brian Cox is a good communicator, even if we can only glimpse some of the cosmological complexity. It is broadly optimistic about the human condition if we spend on learning.

Written with Andrew Cohen        2014, Harper Collins, p242, £8.99

For me, as a scanner of text, Brian's detail was largely incomprehensible. Like Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, the numbers are unbelievably colossal or minute. No sizes in Cosmology or Particle Physics are everyday - a pint, smidge or a teaspoon, though you could get squillions of particles in each. However there were plenty of accessible conclusions and great quotes, for example 'What is a human being? Objectively, nothing of consequence ... I don't understand it. Nobody does, but it makes me smile.'
  Apparently the natural world is orderly and simple. A small set of laws covers everything, as Clive tried to explain to me one Sunday between Aida and Nabucco. Brian concedes the outcomes are rather complex. The journey of life has been precarious, from the first multicellular organisms to the birth of farming, the development of writing and the first man on the moon. Brian is a cricket fan. The 42 laws of the game were written down in 1788, yet no two matches are alike. Simple framework and complex outcomes.
  The single episode beginning, give or take a billion years or so, reminds us of Genesis, the biblical one. Human origins in The Rift Valley, S. Africa is a Garden of Eden moment. There are plenty of historical figures who got involved with religion and the stars, often not doing so well, Giordano Bruno being one of the most famous. In 1600, he denied the divinity of Jesus at the same time as believing the universe to be infinite with lots of habitable worlds. Burnt at the stake for his honesty.
  Hazardous episodes occurred during the making of the TV series, Siberia and serious diving to the sea bed for instance.
  There is no God debate in the book. Brian does venture into politics, mostly about the funding of Research and Development and, crucially, Education. And they could be funded by Wayne Rooney’s salary. On the one hand we are looking at nuclear fusion for cheap unlimited energy and on the other we are still killing each other.

  Brian writes ‘Science and reason make the darkness visible,’ explaining the multiverse and our place in it.
  Seamus Heaney writes to explore himself, ‘I rhyme/To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.’

Buxton - the childbride's birthday - March 2018

The childbride's birthday trip which was sunny one day and a blizzard the next

An overnight stay at a posh hotel. The Palace - 1868. Described as a tired by some. We went on an offer and were well looked after, though the mass catering resembled a holiday camp at times, especially as the dining room is ginormous. Everyone had left by the time the shot above was taken. I'm a veteran of several Butlin's trips, so on this occasion I do know what I'm talking about. The breakfast coffee was to die for - had I drunk more than one sip I would've. Quick, let's go to Nero's.
 At the other end of the scale - Hargreaves Tea Rooms. Genteel spot with display cabinets full of crockery and bronze busts of The Queen and Prince Phillip. Black and white pictures of former Buxton glories.
  The Crescent is finally being renovated. Isn't the dome brilliant, even in snow?
  No concert at the Opera House this time - boo.
  It snowed, a lot. A blizzard to be precise.
  Scrivener's, with a view through the window of snowy Higher Buxton. A great book shop on 5 levels. Nooks and crannies, odd staircases, little seats in corners to rest and read. I was again overwhelmed by choice, and hadn't the energy to browse. The proprietor told us she nearly bought Holmfirth's Daisy Lea. I don't know why she didn't, though I think she told us.
  Very brief look at expensive clothing clobber in Potter's window of Little Dribbling fame.
  The childbride was chuffed with her birthday trip and gifts.
  We came back via Chesterfield. Holme Moss was shut.

Bill Bryson - Little Dribbling

Bill Bryson - The Road to Little Dribbling - a travel book about places in England, such as Dover, Bournemouth, Norfolk and The Lake District
2015, Doubleday, 384pp, £20

Much of this book is about revisiting places where Bill has lived or been before. So opportunities to bemoan change. For example the disbanding of Bournemouth Sinfonietta in 1999 as a result of difficulty raising funds from local sources. I remember listening to them in Manchester around 1978 and I agree a sad loss. Losing the odd shop I'm less concerned about.
 The best bits are the biographies: of people, graves, memorials, houses and areas. There is Mary Shelley, Frederic Leighton the painter, Lyndhurst village, Oliver Heaviside, Avebury and so on.
  I enjoyed his take on places we have been: Wolvercote north of Oxford, N. Norfolk coast, Buxton, Woodstock and Blenheim, Ironbridge, Dover and the Brochs of Glenelg.
  Bill likes museums, the British Countryside and The National Trust. Lots he doesn't like. Town planners and government projects come in for some stick as do lots of people, from dog-walkers who don't pick up poo to those who don't do grammar like what he does. Some I found amusing, some I didn't.      
  A couple of points. Roger Bannister had two pacemakers for his 4 minute mile - Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway. Blenheim has two tours. The one downstairs takes in rooms, tapestries and the library and is informative, especially on the Cromwell and Churchill histories. The Vanderbilt connection lead to a lot of development, and was welcome. Sadly a loveless marriage to the 9th Duke.
  We have just returned from Buxton where we looked in Potter's window, a shop Bill liked because of the names of things. We didn't venture in when we saw the price of a shirt for more than £60.
  Overall, Bill likes us and where we live, 'Britain is infinite. There isn't anywhere in the world with more to look at in a smaller space - nowhere that has a greater record of interesting and worthwhile productivity over a longer period at a higher level. No wonder my trip didn't feel complete. I could never see it all.'
  We are blessed and blighted by choice. From Google hits to crime fiction. From interesting places to computer software. It's about clarity and focus. For me it helps to have personal meaning. Flying to Thailand or Vietnam leaves me cold. Seeing a hand loom in use on Lewis and listening to an Irish band in Galway means much more.

Emily is now term i.e. no longer premature

Emily has just been sick on grandad, but hey does  he care?

Completely unrelated. Another of my buying errors this week - decaffeinated coffee grounds.
I'm mixing them with some Darkwoods which has been left in the grinder too long.

Not having a great coffee time at the moment.

Some more older people in Lent

Here we are about to open the batting, our combined ages more than the opposition total. I think it was Helmsley
Greg and I opening the batting. Greg has given up alcohol for Lent. Despite advanced arthritis in one knee, he is a passionate gardener. Enjoys his sport, including Rugby League, which some folk might think is unusual for a southerner with a strong Union pedigree. I struggle to keep track of everyone in his families. He might too. He loves them all.
  I had a telephone conversation with him recently.
  He asked, "Did I see you driving up Blackmoorfoot Road this morning?"
  "No. I went to Halifax to see my new granddaughter."
  "Oh. Must have been someone else. I was off to Specsavers."
  "Sounds like you need them."
  "Maybe. I was going for a hearing test.”
 I met him a week later for coffee in Scufflers. Still abstemious, but thinking about it. I tried to recall with him my grumpy pilates moment. He said yes I was - so not letting me off the hook. The childbride suggests chocolates.

Jane, Greg's partner from a previous family, joined us. The question of our new arrival came up. 'Oh, what is it?" she asked. We looked askance. The rest of the table looked elsewhere. "What sort of a dog is it?" Charlie, the daughter of their union filled the silence, "It's their latest grandchild, mum".


I have to include Barbara Hoskins who has become a gay icon at the age of 91.
Clic on this link for a Radio 5 Clip.


We had been to watch Huddersfield and Sale and then came back for the Calcutta Cup. My team lost twiceBob is a fellow baritone. You are not with him long before you realise he is from north of the border, Glasgow to be exact, and a former West of Scotland rugby man. His thing in life was pumps, but as I know nothing about them I won't go there. He had a great early life in The West Indies and S. Africa. I presume his dad was a missionary. Returning home and a family man, he spent holidays and weekends sailing the west Scottish coast.

What's his thing in life now? Planes. Model ones of which he has several. Where does he put them all? I imagine them popping out from behind cupboard doors and curtains. He also has a wonderful time writing letters, to the press and local MP, about everything that is wrong, especially the government of the day.

Pumps, planes and politics.
Scotland won the Calcutta Cup.

A week later and I'm still not talking about English rugby. Bob tells me his grandchildren collected wool off the hilltop fields during their recent visit. They stuffed it into the holes of Bob's bird boxes in his back garden, keeping a watchful eye for nesting activity. Well they saw it - the birds flew into the boxes, grabbed the wool in their beaks and flew away.