Senior moments from early 2020

Our Christmas Rose which comes out in January. Going from strength to strength.


Our butcher has been away for a new year break. Dismayed, I reported to the Thursday coffee morning team. "It's shut," I said. Greg, was he being perverse, said "Do you mean closed?"
I get this a lot, see later, "No it's shut."

Now I'm confused - my dictionary says:
1. CLOSED not open.

(of a society or system) not communicating with or influenced by others.
limited to certain people; not open or available to all.
unwilling to accept new ideas.
2. (of a business) having ceased trading, especially for a short period.

1. SHUT move (something)
into position so as to block an opening; close.

2. fold or bring together the sides of (something) so as to close it.
3. prevent access
4. stop talking

Clearly the butcher was closed, and I was incorrect.
He's back. Spain.


So London's green elite are going to stop open-coal fires and wet log stoves. Good luck with that, especially up the top of Swaledale where they haven't seen a copper for years. A policeman's belt, full of stuff like tasers and nightsticks will now need a moisture meter.


Big Dave, my Scots pal from Barnsley, is forever questioning me, like Greg.
"I'll try and get some rugby on TV. Ah, no BT." I say.
"Try other channels." Says Dave.
"Yes, but rugby is on BT. Premiership anyway."
"What about BBC?"
"But rugby is on BT."
It needn't be this hard.


Did anyone catch Ian Wright on Desert Island Discs? Entertaining, amusing and endearing. His choice from Shawshank was illuminating. I hear it as a freedom song - the inmates stood listening to music from out there, outside the walls. Sure it's pleasant to listen to, but for me it's the association with the film that gives it meaning. Most music doesn't move me on its own, pleasing though the tunes often are. Our memories are close to the listening and hearing cortex and music from the movies I have seen is a special trigger. The latest is Don't Let the Old Man In from The Mule which is also a plea to use your time remaining well. Events and places also do it: Myfanwy and Aberfan, You'll Never Walk Alone and Liverpool, Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau and Cardiff all produce big lumps in the throat. Our choir pieces don't produce emotional moments, except funerals and weddings. Venues can sometimes do it: The Town Hall on Remembrance Sunday, York Minster, The Menin Gate, Auschwitz.
  So because of associations, I do get a lot out of music. Otherwise it's eight notes jostling for position, as the Morecambe Christmas quote has it, "I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order."


Back to Big Dave, in Seahouses on our Northumberland trip. Super coffee house with loads of ideas for a morning snack. I wanted a fried egg sandwich.
"Don't you want a roll?"
"No, a fried egg sandwich. It says it here on the menu."
"But ....." I'm not sure what Dave said then but it was in support of a roll.
The food arrived, but my sandwich was not two slices of bread, nor was it a roll. It was a rollwich. Like bread from a loaf, but shaped like a bun - a big bun at that, more bread than egg.
I discarded the top half and mostly got what I asked for.
Maybe a roll would have been okay.


The coast north of Newcastle is brilliant. Good weather helps. We've had five weekends to date, plus Whitley bay.


There's another coffee episode on the way.

Some more inspired old geezers trip off - this time to Northumberland

Now here is your more sophisticated punter, looking comfortable, surrounded as he is by artwork

Beaches. Sea and sand, sun and fun. Or, a terrace house on the main Alnmouth street. And in the front room, a Saturday-night-only restaurant. Scruffy top-knot Donald, front of house, and his wife cook Sue, hiding behind a screen and pinafore. A five course meal of petite portions. Six used tables next to the walls. An empty substantial diner in the middle, presumably reservable for large parties. Turn sideways and shuffle if you had to move. Talk in whispers if you didn't want your neighbour to overhear. Nets and other fishing paraphernalia cluttered the sidelines. One sitting, BYO. Kick-off around 7pm.
  Donald cuts down trees, but was a fisherman, hence soup, salmon pate, haddock and thick cheese sauce. Meat pie sourced by local son-in-law and chocolate completed the menu. Likes his whisky.
  The other beach came earlier in the day with the 6-nations and coffee in between. A bright and breezy walk to the Gallery. Converted school, full of paintings and sculpture and proper coffee. Top of the main street which was the straight of a capital 'D'. Shops, pubs and holiday cottage agents as well as Beaches.
  The curve swept down to the 9-hole golf course. Back at the bottom of the straight a picturesque row for hire overlooking sea and estuary. Turn left, follow the river, opposite the park the apartments where we first stayed (clic on link).
  A three hour drive up from Holmfirth, busy around Newcastle.
  Alnwick on Sunday was shut, apart from Barter Books which was excellent as usual (clic on link). Bought a book for coffee nerds. Seahouses on Monday.
  Great to see our friends from Edinburgh to celebrate both our wedding anniversaries.

History of coffee (2)

So by the 1700s the dominant area for coffee cultivation and export was the Yemen and the port of Mocha. The Dutch E India company saw an opportunity in the expansion of demand for coffee. As the Ottoman authorities tried to restrict the trade, so Amsterdam developed plantations in Java, a Dutch colony. In 1711 Holland had a coffee exchange. By 1720, 90% coffee going through the exchange came from Java rather than Mocha.

Coffee houses were alternative places to trade and meet outside universities, taking over from the taverns which were for intoxication. Around the Royal Exchange, there was a coffee house on every corner, specialising in areas of trade - Virginia, Baltic - or people's occupations - lawyers, stockbrokers, marine insurance. Gossip and information conferred a group and commercial advantage. For example Lloyds started their 'List' of shipping movements and coffee drinkers could get this information in advance of others. In the 1760s Johnathan's coffee house morphed into the Stock Exchange and Lloyds restricted its membership, becoming exclusive, in the 1780s.

Reading and writing grew in coffee houses. Dryden, Steele and Addison introduced periodical literature. Essays in a journal. There was satire, a sharpening of the wits and the whole standard of debate was raised. People were better informed and civil. The Tatler in 1709 and the Spectator in 1711 published the link between coffee houses and the periodicals. These publications thus gathered their news from the houses. For the first time people got to know stuff. Charles II tried to shut them down - how dare non-courtiers enter political debate about the country's future.

So arts, literature, politics and banking/insurance. Heady stuff as these heavyweights suggest in Wiki:

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) founded The Spectator with Steele in 1711. Both already contributed to The Tatler. Addison wrote essays, librettos and plays. Became MP and held government posts.
Richard Steele (1672-1729) Born in Dublin, writer and politician.
John Dryden (1631-1700) secured a pension for Addison to study and write whilst travelling Europe. Poet, literary critic and playwright. First Poet Laureate in 1668.

Johnathan's opened 1680. Posted prices of stocks and commodities - first systematic exchange of securities. Destroyed by fire 1748. Club of 150 brokers formed to trade stocks 1761, moving to their own building 1773 - New Johnathan's became the Stock Exchange and then London School of Economics.

Lloyd's List. One of the oldest continuously-running journals (1734-2013) and now digital. Shipping news.

Phew - goodness knows who else was involved - aristos no doubt - making their fortunes. Not for the likes of us.
I do like my breakfast coffees. As you can see I use weighing scales - sad or what?

Bringing us more up to date. Coffee (3) soon.