Inspired Dave Walker attends a beer festival at Holmfirth Civic Hall

Dave Walker of Shallilo-Foreveryoung pulls pints at a beer festival

A great opportunity for beer-drinking this last weekend (Feb 22/23). A lot to sample and so little time. Run by the Lions on behalf of Holmfirth Civic. Foreveryoung volunteered to pull pints and shift some chairs. And Friday evening I enjoyed the odd half listening to a young brass ensemble for the hard-of-hearing. They were good fun and also enjoyed a glass or two.
  My pulling partner was Pete Manning, a veteran of The Giants beerfest at the Masonic, near Greenhead Park as described here.
  Foreveryoung sponsored a barrel of blonde ale which is his current favourite, though the logo raised a few eyebrows. New granddaughters, Navy and Emily, who won't be attending beer festivals for a while. All the other sponsors were advertising their businesses.
  Unseasonable high winter temperatures, England lose to Wales, toothache suggests I will soon need the dentist. So an up-and-down sort of weekend. The beer was good however and I filled as many plastic bottles as I could on Sunday morning. Apparently what's left is all poured down the drain.

Inspired by coffee and trying to organise my life - David Walker at Shallilo-Foreveryoung thinks about time management

Just completed the National 3 peaks - approx 1996


Coffee and the neurochemistry of ageing. When I was working I found some of the medical scientific articles incomprehensible - I even struggled with the titles. Well it doesn't improve with age - the complexity of brain structure and neurochemistry has substantially increased whilst my abilities to analyse it all has gone in the opposite direction.
  Thankfully there are articles composed of words of one syllable such as this previous piece on the value of coffee in the older person. It suggests that caffeine helps clear nucleic acid breakdown products which can produce inflammation. I'm not altogether convinced, but hey why not? Everything helps. My recent reading suggests that caffeine resembles adenosine, the chemical that makes us feel tired, and blocks it. Something similar with dopamine, a happy chemical, so the levels of this stimulant increase. And norepinephrine, an energy chemical. So yes, more alert, engaged and fit.
  Neurochemicals exist for brief periods in minute quantities in the spaces between the ends of nerve cells when the cells are working. The cells group into a recognisable neuroanatomy, bits of which light up in a scanner when we are happy, sad or about to kill someone. The lit up bits sadly are not necessarily as recognisable - they cross party lines.
  I'm drinking Taylor's Brazilia just now. A middle roast with a good breakfast hit.


 The two latest grandchildren, weeks and months - Navy and Emily


Have you ever thought about writing an autobiography. Not a shocking blockbuster or hugely insightful lesson for all and sundry. Just something that makes a few notes about your life to pass on to grandchildren. Well, I've been writing cobblers since 1994, some of which is stored either in a notebook or the computer. My daughter, Louise, last Christmas, bought a designer book with a more formal family history in mind.
  This, on the face of it, might seem easy-ish. It can be pleasant, recalling happy or funny events. Quite the reverse for those, many in my case, events that didn't go so well. The family history itself can get you pretty grounded. I've traced mine back to the early 1800s and happy with that. The Walkers then lived in a small holding in Lindley with some crops, chickens, a mule and a loom in the front room. Normal for pre-industrial times. The Addy's, the other half, came from Shelley via Kirkburton. My earliest discovery worked as a railway porter and his son was a coalman who lived in Hillhouse - a bit more industrial, around 1850-1900.
  All well and good. Time-consuming, fulfilling and embarrassing. Then the childbride gets involved, "What you writing all that for? All the kids need are a few sentences." It is actually true, so there are now two versions - phew.
  Here are some other things to think about. Firstly time. Serious writers allocate a daily writing routine which is deliberately selfish and excludes everything and everyone else. It needs your nearest and dearest, the childbride 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.
  Secondly the headlines suggested in the book Louise 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.
  Thirdly duplication. Writing since 1990s, 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.
  Fourthly with pieces from different eras, there are different styles and voices. 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.
  Fifthly 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.
  Understandably many of us think we can't write. Much like the numbers who think they can't sing. Okay, there are equal amounts of pain and pleasure, but it is to be human to tell stories and make music.

It looks a bit like a relief map of the Himalayas, but it is actually my family tree.
Addys on the left, Walkers on the right. It's too big for the brief case so it has
to be folded.


Time management advice from Comfort Keepers. 

We are busy. Remember to age disgracefully. Sitting and watching TV with pipe and slippers is no longer an option. However we can get in a bit of a tuck trying to fit everything in.
Here are some tips:
(1) What are you trying to achieve at this life stage?
Erikson suggests acceptance that life has been useful and complete. Sure, but most older people think our lives are a bit more than that. Goals and achieving them are still about. What are they? They have to be in some way disgraceful.
(2) Make a list. The eternal step. We have lists for everything if we can remember where we put them.
(3) Arrange the list items in order of importance according to the goals.
(4) Write the new list down.
(5) Make a commitment - when are you going to do what? Write that down as well on a weekly planner. There are plenty of planning aids on the net.
(6) You may have to be a bit rigid about the things that are most important, but flexibility is also a must. How do you cope when the grandchildren arrive unexpectedly in the middle of your pet project?

Don't do it all at once, sleep on it.
It has everything to do with reinventing ourselves - remember David Bowie's take on ageing.
If you are pining for youth I think it produces a stereotypical old man because you only live in memory, you live in a place that doesn’t exist… I think ageing is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person you always should have been.
So my goals in no particular order - exercise (I don't do this for health reasons. It's always been there), writing the blog, trying to design a better blog and understand increasing traffic, helping out with housework and shopping, enjoying the companionship of the childbride and our family, watching documentaries and reading books which inform the blog, go somewhere for a sleepover once a month (eg Ramsbottom), sing, publishing for friends, drink beer, talk rubbish with friends, complete the two books I've started, walking, paying bills.
  These contribute to an overarching need to make sense of my rather small world, and my place in it. Remember Seamus Heaney "I write to set the darkness echoing." It's actually rhyme not write.

The list is too long and I don't manage all of it. You will have to guess the priority order.


Serious uninspired senior moment. The childbride was working at the bus station - tombola for Forget-Me-Not children's hospice. "Pick us up at quarter to four." "Will do," says I.
  I waited outside the train station for two hours before returning home. She caught the bus. We met up eventually around 6 o'clock. No one died.

Inspired choice - David Walker at Foreveryoung visits Ramsbottom's 'Eagle and Child'

You don't expect Ramsbottom to be anything really, apart from being Albert's surname ('There's a famous seaside place called Blackpool that's noted for fresh air and fun. And Mr. And Mrs. Ramsbottom went there with young Albert, their son'). But the Eagle and Child is a haven, and it is in Ramsbottom. The name comes from the old european legend of an unharmed male child discovered in an eagle's nest and subsequently raised by the rescuer. During the industrial era, the district, sited on the river Irwell which flows to Salford and Manchester, was a cotton town. Now it is residential, presumably a dormitory for Manchester workers. A bloke spoke to me as I loitered on a downtown pavement. He would be in his forties, born there, returning for a look around. He said he could no longer afford the local house prices. The roads are very busy, feeding Bolton and other Lancashire towns. The bloke said that the mayor was investigating the possibility of opening up the E Lancs Railway as a metro. The shops are a mixture of antique, charity and upmarket ladies' fashion. Plenty of pubs, bars and places to eat, including the Eagle and Child.
  We arrived at 1.30pm, met by Calam, a very civil young bearded man. "We've no one called David booked in for lunch." "No. We're booked in for a room." "Oh right. Bit confusing, these Davids." The penny didn't drop. "I'll go and see when your room will be ready."
  Couple of beers and a quick snack later, the front door opened, and in walked Big Dave and Joan, our friends from Edinburgh. Hence Calam's confusion. It also clicked with us why they had said, several times, that they were unable to meet us in Alnwick a month later. Brilliant to see them, joining us for our anniversary. I must have mentioned the 2 nights for 1 deal in the Times over the phone.
  Everything about the place had style. Five beds. Ours overlooked the Irwell Valley which in turn is overlooked by the Robert Peel monument on the opposite hill. A Bury man, he founded the police and became an MP and PM. 
  The pub was always a coaching inn, and also an overnight stop for prisoners in transit from Strangeways to Carlisle jail. Evidence of this remains in the cellars. It is very popular with the eating and drinking public, weekends for leisure couples, weekdays for more distant business overnighters.

The pub is run as a social enterprise and is connected with several voluntary projects. The staff are all young and most are on some sort of development programme. Calam is learning about wine. One of the barmen is on the autistic spectrum. Others have been rehabilitating offenders. The pub keeps chickens in the garden. Emily served breakfast and let them out. She wasn't phased by the varying number of birds. The kids are obviously happy working there. It's a supportive community which they find hard to leave. Presumably not as a result of being chained up.

Levanter is a tapas bar, booked for us by Calam. Not expensive, compared to the prices we paid over the recent Christmas period. No beer. I'm not sure what the huge trumpet is about. When you look at it from the side, it is actually a large jug. The Mannings get everywhere.

Anniversary celebrations in the pub restaurant and by the fireside. I don't know what Sheila is doing whilst Calam looks on, with a Mrs Overall pose.

The centre of Bury is typical tired northern town. The market is fantastic, even though it was only half open. Here we are, enjoying an amazing pork buttie with stuffing. Found a black pudding stall and bought a piece of white as well. 
  It used to be "On the whole I would rather be in the Mute Swan" after our excellent weekend in Hampton Court for the RU World Cup semifinals. Now it's the Eagle and Child. Just an hour away and as welcoming as welcoming can be. Great for a retired couple who don't travel far. An inspired choice. And how good was Joan and Big Dave's visit.

Matthew Parris - disgraceful ageing. Review by David Walker, Foreveryoung

Posted by David Walker 1.2.2019

On the death of Diana Anthill, Matthew, in a Times article, reflects on his feelings about his own age (70). I think he is saying that he was very correct in what he said in his younger life - about politics and sex and he welcomes the gradual freedom from this that comes with age. He summarises Scots philosopher David Hume - it is necessary to separate daily life as it must be lived and the world of our thoughts, though he doesn't say who decides how we must live. He celebrates a list of people who thrived well into old age: Monet, Rembrandt, Titian, Ronald Reagan, Darwin, Bertrand Russell, Diogenes, Marie Curie, Tolstoy.
  He explores the notion of 'not caring what you say' as you age; it's not clear whether the members of his list didn't care either, but his final example, Jenny Joseph, was certainly feisty. 'Bless them all, growing old disgracefully'.
  I have some concern with the consequences of this because it may overlap with grumpiness which may not be acceptable and hurt certain people. 'To hell with it' you might say. I need to make a conscious effort to stay the right side of the overlap and often fail.
  My favourite disgraceful ageing poem is from Roger McGough.

Let me die a youngman's death
not a clean and inbetween
the sheets holywater death
not a famous-last-words
peaceful out of breath death

When I'm 73
and in constant good tumour
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an allnight party

Or when I'm 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber's chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
and give me a short back and insides

Or when I'm 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one

Let me die a youngman's death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not a curtains drawn by angels borne
'what a nice way to go' death