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.

Lockdown week 32

Dave's Notebook

In dispute with Ryanair. Small claims now complete. Simply waiting for their response. It's 12 months or so since we bought the plane tickets for Dinard, France. April this year when we were supposed to go and when they cancelled. They have offered us vouchers, but we stuck out for a refund.

We asked a local solicitor for assistance in completing the claim. The amount we were asking for was not large enough for them to be bothered. So we phoned a friend. Sorted in 60 seconds. Same solicitor turned us down when we wanted an advocate for Andrew, our autistic son. Very candidly said they didn't make any money from it.


Received an eye appointment this week, at Acre Mills, 12 months after the last one. The organisation in the waiting room was brilliant and I was seen immediately. Hope they learn something from Covid about how to run a clinic.

Saw an SHO. The consultant was in the next room. Between them they stopped my treatment, after several years. I'll be watching this space and hopeful I can keep watching.

I went for coffee in HRI, there being no coffee bar or pharmacy in Acre Mills and I needed eye lubricant. I was also waiting for the childbride, who hitherto could have spent a good 2 hours with her pal in Birkby waiting for me. "Americano please." "You want milk in that?" I did a double take, but I know, whilst not for the purist, Americano with milk is just about acceptable. "No thanks." So she poured milk in it anyway. Tasted okay. Can't blame Covid for that.


Oct 14th, I successfully completed a zoom presentation for Linlithgow rotary. Big Dave and Joan asked me to do it as he knew I was interested in the history of cricket. A fair amount of preparation and rehearsal. When the time came, it was like talking to myself. I suggested future speakers read their work. Otherwise seemed to go okay. I'd forgotten Gavin Hamilton (Yorkshire and Scotland) came from Linlithgow.


Captain four stripes came for a drink yesterday, with children. "The canaries are back," he shouts with his arms in the air. "I didn't know you'd lost them," says I. "Actually I didn't know you had canaries." "No you clot, the Canary Islands. We are flying there again." "Ah, of course."


We assume this event at Birks' funeral home was connected to Dignitas. It's a bit short, but you get the general idea.


Guess what Phillip Pullman, author of 'His Dark Materials', watches in the evening to relax - Bosch.


Looking at my diary around March onward. It was full of stuff: dates for travelling like France and Anglesey, Alnmouth and Scarborough, Edinburgh and Magic Weekend; choir dates, particularly London as well as concerts and rehearsals; family meets, anniversaries and so on.

April, May, June - blank.

July, August, September - dentist, flu jab, chiropodist, blood pressure clinic, pharmacy review, steroid shoulder injection that didn't happen, eye clinic (x2), Andrew's electric muscle test, H for 4-5 weekly diy haircut (I'm going to donate the proceeds to charity. At £5 a pop it's going to be a while.)

High point - Matthew, Suzuki son-in-law, got a promotion.

So it's all zoom: zoom pilates, zoom coffee meetings, zoom choir rehearsals, zoom Linlithgow talk.

It all goes to my major feeling about lockdown - it's robbing me of my time. I'm not sure what this moment is - philosophical or mystical or simply buck up and make a plan. 


Chris Hoy was Desert Island Disc guest this week. Grounded good guy. Mind you I've never heard a pompous ass on that show. 'Mr Blue Sky', ELO, was his first favourite. So what was the first song that got to you in some way? Well this was mine, 9 years of age.

Anne Shelton, 'Lay Down Your Arms'



Dave's Notebook 

in/outside toilet memories

We zoomed pals last Thursday eve. We are not going to see them, so why not.

Our host tells terrible jokes. He also mentioned falling off the toilet, trying to stand. From a Sheffield newsagent's family, he is never without reading material when visiting. Not sure which nerves got trapped in that awkward sitting position, but long enough to produce anaesthesia of prodigious proportions. No information on the fall, if it happened. The major unanswered question remains however ...


This prompted me to relate one of my toilet stories:

My granny lived in Hillhouse as part of a terrace that lined and defined a yard. 

Twenty-five metres away, at the bottom of the yard was a long narrow single storey building with six doors, each with its own keyhole. Behind grannie's front door was a nail from which hung neat hand-sized squares of newspaper. A small sewing bobbin and a key also hung there, on a loop of string. A candle too somehow suspended.

The newspaper served two purposes. Much like fish and chip wrapping. No one was ever in that dimly lit ice box down the yard long enough to get a numb bum.

My brother and I were flummoxed by a singular fact however. Behind grannie's door there was only ever one match.


Now another one from Dave Whalley.

The outside loo never seemed to be a problem to us, though in the later years many of the houses on the street took council grants to turn the back bedroom into a bathroom with toilet. We never took the opportunity. That was my bedroom which had a plumbed bath in it which Dad had boxed round for privacy. We preferred to keep things as they were and were quite happy with the situation until Grandma died and Mum and Dad decided to move.


My main memories of the outside loo were going over at night with a candle or torch - the candle was more romantic ... and warmer! I don't recall it feeling spooky but whilst sitting there the imagination could run riot and the tiny room became a ship at sea or a cabin in the forest. I often had to be called back for staying out too long. It also provided garaging for my much-loved scooter, tucked at the side – we had no other outside storage. 


As far back as my memory goes we used toilet rolls - Mum was quite fussy, but my other grandma who lived at the other side of Sheffield (nearer Sheffield United's ground) used old copies of the Radio Times, which nicely tore into two to hang on a piece of string at the back of the door. Always something interesting to read there.


A final memory which ties in nicely with the toilet theme. There were huge crowds at the Wednesday Ground in those days and often the fans threw toilet rolls onto the pitch. I shall never forget the day of a really big match when one rained into our yard over the roof - much appreciated.


Again on this theme, we have a lovely book that we've had for years called 'Temples of Convenience and Chambers of Delight' by Lucinda Lambton. Very interesting and beautifully illustrated and available for loan to anyone interested.


Em's chocolate cake

We had Em to stay for the first time.


Lockdown reading

I should coco (or is it coacoa?). No it's cocoa.
Wiki defines this as 'Rhyming slang for I should think so or I should say so. Used sarcastically so the literal translation is I should think not.' So there.

No offence to Jack Reacher but he's about my level at the minute.

Awayday - Ramsden res


Met Barry Garside on our walk yesterday. Still with Bolsterstone, but no zoom rehearsal. Both his daughters are in France, one hoping to get married soon. He's 77 and doesn't look any different to the Llandudno days, playing 'rabbits' in the Snowden.

Bob McCartney and his wife passed us lunching al fresco at the Pickled thing, is it pheasant? Tom and Pippa dropped by in the van, but he was hijacked by some guy, so I didn't get chance to speak.

Dorian is exploring a video event - watch the website for more.

The training day at Mrs Sunderland is still on apparently - 'The Armed Man' with Tom Meredith.

John Cross, author of 'The Curate and the King's Coin' is out digging again in Outlane. A roman road. Whatever floats your boat. The sheep are taking an interest in him.


Carol Kain posted a recording of 'Abide with Me' from the RL Challenge Cup final last weekend.

This video is my tribute to the hymn and what it has meant to my family.

Lockdown week30

Dave's Notebook

Town 1 - Forest 0 

Castleford 19 - Fartown 31



Garden glimpses

It's been a slow week for gardening and curation. We were supposed to be visiting Anglesey, but that fell through. Used the time to learn how to put slides on zoom, not too successfully as yet, but more or less ready for my talk to Big Dave and Joan's rotary group in Linlithgow. Cricket and textiles during the industrial revolution. Dave's choice. End-to-end stuff.

The cricketers are shaping up. Difficult to get them to pose properly. The garden is a bit overgrown just now, but the cosmos and robinia are good. And the wall has reappeared. Haven't seen the frogs for a week. Em keeps getting in the act.

So all that was 2-3 weeks ago. A whole load of weather a whole load of Boris later I'm not in the best of humours. The talk is done however - strange experience on zoom.


Awayday in Scarborough

Different views of the Spa

Different views of the Grand


iime is Scarborough time and I can't be bothered to redo the caption in indesign.

Difficult to say anything constructive. Time for some rhubarb therapy - stay in the dark and expect some manure regularly.


Don’t let the covid in
It’s got some living to do
Can’t leave it up to it
It’s knocking on our door

Wise men have known all along
That one day this would come
Rules are there for reasons
Don’t let the covid in

Many moons we have lived
Our bodies weathered and worn
It’s not just our age that concerns
Our frailty makes it so hard

Some things may have changed
Sit tight when you’re called
Rules are still there for reasons
We must all get along

When he rides up on his horse
And you feel the cold winter chill
Look out your window and smile
Don’t let the covid in