New start

To those of you who followed this blog before – sorry I’ve been away for so long. It wasn’t intentional but one day lead to another and next thing I knew I was blogging entirely on Quercuscommunity.com and ignoring Sherwood Days. For those of you who have popped across from the other blog, welcome.

Fair warning, I tend to ramble, and I don’t have  a grand plan for reopening the blog. All I know so far is that I want to focus the other one a bit more by bringing some of the less focussed subject matter here.

I’m not really selling it am I?

For the moment I’ll leave things here, and start with a proper post tomorrow.

 

And another thing…

I went to the supermarket this morning on my way to work and by the time I came out I had eaten breakfast, bought bread and been told that a friend of mine had died. Last I heard the hospital was pleased with the way things were progressing, which just shows that you never can tell…

For once, words fail me.

2015 – two funerals already

It’s been a hectic month, starting with cooking two Christmas dinners on the farm, progressing to a serious chest infection and ending, last week, with my mother’s funeral.

It was the second funeral I’ve been to this year. The first was sad, a lady of 86 who embodied pretty much all that was good about old-fashioned values and being active in old age. I often used to look at her and compare her to my mum. She was much healthier and fitter, but in the end you can’t ignore the call.

I haven’t mentioned that to many people, but now it’s over I feel more like talking about it. If you don’t like sentiment you may not like me doing so, and if you don’t like levity in the face of death you may feel the same way. To be honest, this is a good way to talk about it, because I don’t have to endure people trying to be sympathetic or asking me how I am. It’s not that I’m not grateful for the concern but there’s no good answer.

She was 85, she was well-cared for, but she had Parkinson’s Disease and life wasn’t great. . For about six months before she died she was significantly worse each time I visited and a week before Christmas the doctor warned us she was slipping away. It was a release for her and it wasn’t a shock for us. Nobody wanted it to happen but it had to happen and it was about as good as it gets. It wasn’t the youngman’s death that Roger McGough wants, but for a lady of 85 “a curtains drawn by angels borne, ‘what a nice way to go’ death” is much more suitable.

I often say that I’d like to die of a massive heart attack whilst driving a coach load of tax inspectors along a winding cliff road with no safety barriers but actually I wouldn’t mind slipping quietly away surrounded by my family. There’s an ornate brass plaque in the church commemorating a man called Herbert Selwyn Scorer. I’ve been reading it for over forty years when I visit the church. I bet he’d have liked to slip away surrounded by his family at the age of 85. Instead he shuffled off this mortal coil at the age of 29 surrounded by the Prussian Guard.

My sister organised the funeral and did a tremendous job. At one point she was worried that there would just be half a dozen family and a few others, all clustered at the front of a cold, empty church.

In the end we had people travelling from as far as Lancashire, Surrey and Norfolk. Mum was 85, as I have said, and at that age you’ve outlived a considerable number of your friends and family, with others being too old to travel, so it was a good turnout. To prove this point, my sister had attended a funeral for Mum’s best friend in the same church just five weeks ago.

None of this, of course, is of any interest to my mother, but it was very important for my father. That’s what funerals are about really Although it’s important to pay respect to the deceased it’s also important that the survivors are able to feel good about saying goodbye in a suitable fashion.

Selfies

I took a few selfies this week because I need photographs for profiles. Unfortunately though I take a picture of myself, many of them seem to feature a complete stranger.

The pictures feature strange-shaped heads, bulbous noses, shifty expressions and a middle-aged man who looks like he didn’t sleep well.

The nose and head shape is (I hope) a problem of perspective. The shifty look is caused by squinting at the camera whilst attempting a three-quarter view. That just leaves the worn out middle-aged man. Sadly there is only one explanation for this…

No wonder so many people opt to be anonymous or use photos of film stars, and that’s before you take the unsuitable background into consideration.

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An article I was reading earlier in the week suggested that putting a face to the blog would get a better response. however, having frequently been told I have a great face for radio, I have to question the wisdom of this. Time will tell.

This one is seasonally adjusted, though probably not very useful come January.

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Celebrity? Modestly? How words change.

I’ve just been reading “Celebrity Couples who live surprisingly modest lives” and been left spluttering with so many things that need saying and not enough mouths.

Disclaimer: If you click the above link and find yourself lost for words, infuriated or wasting your life on trivia, don’t blame me, blame the internet and the tempting array of links it offers as you log in to your email.

For one thing, how can a couple be a “celebrity couple” if I haven’t heard of them? I admit that I’m not the man most likely to be up to date on all this celebrity stuff and I’ll concede that some of the couples may be well known though unknown to me. However, I’ll ask people to concede that simply being known isn’t the same as being a “celebrity”, which needs a sprinkle of glamour to make it true.

I’ll make a quick sidestep here to show my thinking.. “I’m a Celebrity…Get me out of here!” consistently features people who aren’t celebrities and in any right-thinking society would be prosecuted for fraud if not for being terribly irritating TV. They have just announced a winner – Carl Fogarty. He’s a good bloke and deserves to be called a celebrity after all he’s done. Second place went to someone who came second in the X-Factor. Not really the same is it?

Same goes for Fogarty’s MBE. He wins four World Superbike Championships, Isle of Man TTs and loads of other stuff, risking death on the way round. He gets an MBE. If he’d won a couple of Olympic Golds, risking a pulled hamstring, he’d have been given a knighthood.

Such is the strange and arcane way of the British Honours System.

Anyway, back to the “celebrity” couples. Their modest lifestyles include saving money in the bank (sensible, but then they do have  alot of it), using money-off vouchers (just plain miserly) and living in homes worth only $1,000,000 (or $2,000,000 in one case – how modest!). Best of all is Kate and Wills, our favourite Royals. It seems their modest lifestyle includes doing their own shopping instead of getting a royal retainer to do it for them. What sort of world do we live in where doing your own shopping is considered out of the ordinary?

And yes, I’m not famous, don’t have an MBE and live less than modestly due to having no money. It may well make me jealous. But does it make me wrong?

 

One extreme to another

Fresh on the heels of my journey into Rugby League, and Outlaws’ fund-raising surge, I managed a trip to the other extreme. No, not Rugby Union, far more extreme than that. Flower arranging.

It was an accident, honestly. I’ve been asked to buy some baskets for making up Christmas presents and the best place to get them in Nottingham turns out to be the biggest floristry supplier I’ve ever seen. OK, it’s also the only one I’ve ever seen.

Even if it wasn’t I’m not going to admit it.

You can get something called a thorn stripper for…(allow tension to build)…stripping thorns. I love tools. I’m generally not good at using them, apart from the Birmingham Screwdriver, but I love looking at them, though I’m no longer allowed to buy them.

It’s a whole new world for me, including competitive flower arranging, which got me thinking.

If I’d persuaded my sons to take on floristry instead of rugby would we have bypassed.the multiply broken noses and various other injuries, or would they still have got them in defending their choice of hobby?

 

It’s started

On a slightly damp, grey morning the walk started. Silly to have expected anything else in November. All the usual suspects were there, as were a number of fashion faux pas. Is it OK to say faux pas in a Rugby League post? Come to think of it, is it OK to say faux pas anywhere apart from The Tatler?

George Orwell is my guide on this – Rule 5 says no, but Rule 6 probably allows it when you think of the alternative phrase in my mind.

 

More thoughts of beards

Prompted to action by thoughts of beards I found my finger hovering over the website of the British Beard Club. A few formalities later and I am now a member. and now have a badge as well as a beard.

It won’t make a big difference to my life – I’m not suddenly going to become sociable and attend meetings or become a real ale aficionado, which seems to be a feature of membership. Nor, after my recent experiment with moustache wax, am I likely to make much of an impact on the competition circuit. I have managed to produce a reluctantly curling  moustache, but until I can get both sides to curl in the same direction I fear I’m destined for ridicule rather than competitive success.

However, I have been using my beard oil and comb more regularly so I’m looking tidier.

That’s always been the problem with my beard.- tidiness. It’s OK for a bit after I trim it, starting off fairly sleek and modestly pointed. At that point I like to think I look rather like an Elizabethan sea dog, though a little older, fatter and balder.  A couple of months later it’s fuller and more bristly and I’m starting to look like the skipper of a tramp steamer. Shortly after that it gets a spurt on and overnight I find myself looking like I sleep in the woods…

I’ve left it to see if it will get even longer but it seems to settle at that level. I can scare children, but I will never play for ZZ Top.

The trouble is that despite all my good intention I always seem powerless to reverse the process, as both my appearance and character deteriorate until my wife puts her foot down.

Until now. With beard comb in one hand and almond-based beard balm in the other I am now taking back my life.  The I can feel a self-help book coming on – Zen and the Art of Beard Maintenance anyone? How I raised myself from Failure to Success by Beard Trimming?

The Beauty of Blogging

Paperwork today, following up from two meetings yesterday. Also an email teaching me how to suck eggs.

Does glumness radiate from my words?

It’s certainly radiating from my person. That and homicidalness. I just checked the weband it isn’t a word. The word given as an alternative is homicidality, which seems a little neater but, on checking, isn’t a word either.

Now, I have a choice here. I could carry on, as I meant to do and say “Paperwork and meetings don’t bring out the best in me…”

But I’ve had another idea.

Back to my last sentence and start again, the new thought being more attractive than the old one.

“The word given as an alternative is homicidality, which seems a little neater but, on checking, isn’t a word either.”

Actually, that’s wrong.

It definitely is a word because it’s a string of letters that can be pronounced (though if I was writing this in Xhosa we could dispense with the pronunciation element of the definition, as we could for Klingon and Welsh). That fits my definition of a word. It fitted Shakespeare’s definition of a word too. It was easier for him of course, there were more words to be invented and no dictionaries. Today, if it isn’t in a dictionary it isn’t a word. On the other hand, all new words have to start by not being in dictionaries.

Now I’m glum, given to homicidal thoughts and perplexed about the nature of language.

I’m glum because I don’t like paperwork. Regular readers will know that. You need paperwork to run a country but you don’t need it to run a small business, unless you are a small business producing used paper. Governments and tax men disagree but that’s due to a lack of proper potty training rather than me being wrong.

My perplexity has already been explained. That just leaves the urge to violence, and I’m already finding that is reducing. There’s something about words, even made up words, that I find calming. And that is why the title of this piece is the Beauty of Blogging. 

Even when I have little to say, I find myself becoming calm. It’s like being in Church and though the language is less mellifluous there is no requirement to be nice to your neighbour.

 

Calculations

Thinking of my life, as I seem to have been doing yesterday. I began to calculate how long I have left to achieve something.

If I live to be as old as my parents and grandparents I have 30 years left. That probably isn’t going to happen because they are fitter than me, with lots of fresh food and walking to work, where I have relied on processed food and a car for most of my life. Let’s say I have 22 years left. That’s half a lifetime for  D. H. Lawrence, or an entire lifetime for my great-uncle(see below).

It seems like a long time, and for anyone in their twenties reading this it is a long time. For those of us with a few more years under our belts, it’s not long at all.  The last 22 years have passed without me really noticing, in fact I have found myself mentally ticking weeks off lately rather than trying to fill them with activity.

If my calculation is correct I have 1,144 weeks left to me. It seems a lot, but allowing for the fact that a considerable part of it will be passed in watching TV, snoozing in a chair and stuck in meetings it isn’t as much as you think.

The main problem isn’t so much the time I have left but what to do to fill it. I don’t really want to invade France and I don’t have the vision to be a great novelist.  I do have a few ambitions but they are getting less pressing as time goes on. Should be the other way round when you think about it, I should be getting more eager to do things as time goes by. It’s a bit like the Roger  McGough line in The Way Things Are – “No, old people do not walk slowly because they have plenty of time.”

I’m going to have to put some thought into this.

Elephants have it easier. according to a TV programme I’m watching right now – as they wear out a set of teeth they grow replacements. They have six sets then they starve to death. I’m not sure if they count them or not but if humans worked on that principle planning for the future would be easier. And dental hygiene would be a more popular activity.