Small and strange …


Let me get something out of the way. The title of this post is not a case of self deprecation. No, I’m talking about the world and how is connected by the internet.

A bit of background here. I was doing a search on eBay, for something I wanted to buy. I was not having much luck so I thought I would widen the search to pick up other online stores. I add my criteria into a web-search optimiser that I’m beta-testing and clicked on the ‘Go’ button. The search optimiser is similar to Windows 10 Cortana, and uses all the available search engines such as Bing, Google etc to maximise the search area. Anyway back to the main story. It only took a few seconds before the results were starting to show and some of them were not what I was expecting at all. I found the item I wanted and have ordered it, but that is not what is interesting here. There was about twenty or so links on each results page and I think it was on page four that the “interesting” thing happened I was reading the link descriptions when I spotted a name of a person I thought I knew from school. The link was to a Facebook(FB) page. I don’t click on FB links as they are often not genuine so I opened FB on my tablet and enter the persons name. When FB opened I was amazed at the face that was staring  back at me. Apart from a few grey hairs and the odd forehead line, the person was exactly how I was sure I remembered them. I ‘ummed’ and ‘arrghed’ for a couple of days before biting the bullet last night and sending them a message. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be in contact after all these years as I’ve not had a lot of luck with friends from my past. Within a couple of minutes the message was replied to and it was who I thought it was. We messaged back and forth for a good half hour talking about each other and the past, and are now friends on FB.

Now I come to the “Small and strange” part. I had a look through their photo’s and friends list (as you do) and was amazed that (bear with me here) some their friends had friends who were friends of mine! Not just FB friends, but actual real friends. I can never get my head around the fact that a local (real) friend is a friend of a friends friend, if that makes sense. It’s a bit like when I discovered that the son of my manager when I was at work, supports by youngest son with one of his activities. Really does make the world feel “Small and strange…”

A new year … new beginnings? Perhaps …


So, all those promises I made to myself about getting a part-time job within two months, turned out to be just bluff and bluster. Well …not really. I have been looking, but maybe not as hard as I could. At the moment, things are working out quite well and there is no urgency for me to supplement the pension I’m getting. Of course, that could all change. As R*** starts to increase his respite stays, income we get for him may (will) start to decrease and that’s when our financial situation will alter. But that’s in the future.

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Yet again, one of this years New Year Resolutions has been broken. I shall go into a little more detail here, if I may. K*** had wanted to watch the Robbie Williams new year show (I didn’t) and in the spirit of compromise, I gave in. My opinion …total rubbish … sexist and egotistical does not describe what we watched. Anyway, to cut a short story even shorter, we watched the London fireworks (fireworks on the TV don’t really work for me) and then K*** went to bed. I quickly changed channels to watch Jools Holland and his, now famous ‘Hootenanny Show’. Where is this taking us, I hear someone ask? Well, it was during a performance of Tilted by Christine And The Queens that I once again resolved to ‘post everyday‘ which I quickly modified to every two days. As the date of this post shows, that was a fail! It is now modified to ‘post more often‘, but even that may yet be modified.

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Now here’s a question for you. What do you use to write your blog posts? I know I’ve asked this before, but that was before I started with Windows 10. The reason I ask (again) is that I tried today to use the desktop WordPress app. It started okay, and I was able to write and my work was saved as a draft. But then the program crashed … repeatedly. It crashed so many times, that it became unusable in my opinion. So I’m back using the faithful Open Live Writer which works without any problems. Just wondering if anyone who uses the Windows 10 WordPress app have had similar problems.

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Wait a minute! Where does the “new beginnings” part of the title come in? I just thought it was a good sound bite!

Friends … real friends??


This is a bit of a rhetorical question I suppose, but are your FaceBook friends real? It is something I have started to think about recently. In fact as recently as 1 hour ago!

About a year ago, I came across someone I have known or been known to, for about 60 years. This person was a good friend of my parents and her daughter was a friend of mine. When we moved house in 1966 all contact was lost and it was through FaceBook that I was able to get back in contact again. We have chatted (the mother and me) on a number of occasions and it was good. However! The daughter seems to have dropped me from her friends list and I don’t know why. It has happened just recently, possibly in the last couple of weeks. It is this that makes me question the reality (if that’s the correct word) of FaceBook friends. The thing is though, I have friends from work, who are FB friends who still ‘appear’ to be friends. In fact, I have been chatting to two of them tonight. Now they may just be humouring me, I would not like to speculate on that, but from what they were saying, I get the impression that we are still friends.

Now, saying all that, I have myself just ‘unfriended’ (what a stupid word) a couple of people that I used to work with. They have not responded to any messages or posts and so I get the feeling that I’m just a number in their ‘friends’ list. I don’t want to be a number. Is that wrong?

‘Twas the night before etc etc…


Motifs download - December 10_colourWell, we have got as far as we can. Veg is prepared, table is set and the presents are scattered under the TV. ‘Under the TV’ I hear you question? We have a small fibre-optic tree, which is not really big enough to put the presents under. In the past we have done the real tree, in fact one year we even had a tree that we planted in the garden. But it died! So for the past 10 years or so, we have had the ‘small fibre-optic’ tree. I think though, it is time we sent this one to the great re-cycle plant. I have had to replace the bulb and the whole thing leans to one side. So I think it has passed it’s ‘Display Until’ date by a couple of years.

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I’m not, and I think I may have mentioned this (probably every year) a huge fan of Christmas. I hate what it has become. When I was a child, Christmas was an  amazing time of the year. It was about Christmas Carols, families, pantomime. We never, ever were asked ‘What do you want for Christmas?” XMAS PUDWe got what we were given and were happy about that. We had, what had become a traditional Christmas dinner. Turkey, roast potatoes, carrots, sprouts (ugh) sage and onion stuffing and what seemed like, gallons of gravy. If you could manage it, Christmas pudding followed and in our house we always had custard, not brandy sauce, we were just kids after all. Afterwards, we would watch the Queen, then settle down to watch a variety show.

Now what do we get? It’s called ‘Christmas Lunch’ and although the Turkey is still there, we now see things like Kaletts on the menu. The stuffing has changed to ‘Chestnut and Chive’. Christmas pudding now comes in many flavours, even as an ice-cream. In some places, it is not even served and we get some kind of overpriced chocolate mousse that bears no resemblance to Christmas, apart from the picture of a red candle on the packaging.

I don’t want to get started on television, but … why do we need to see programs that are on everyday? I mean the ‘soaps’ of course? Do we really need to see ‘bumper’ editions of EastEnders/Coronation Street/Emmerdale? Really! Is it also necessary to have ‘Christmas Specials’ of reality shows? I mean come on, Strictly Come Dancing has only just finished and we are treated to the Christmas Special.

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Music. Now there is another cause for a rant. We were at my sister-in-laws for a family get together on Thursday. When we arrived, the TV was on and tuned to one of the many music channels. It was playing the ‘MTV Top 40 Christmas songs”. This in itself is not such a bad thing. It had reached number 5, and they were of course songs from the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, which everybody knows and supposedly loves. This of course finished after they had played the number 1, Band-Aid’s “Do they know It’s Christmas?” A very popular and catchy song at the time and still is relevant today. We were then treated to a few adverts before the next program … ‘MTV Top 20 All Time Christmas Hits.’ I will allow you only one guess what was at number 1.

Tonight, we watched the Christmas Carol service from Kings College, Oxford … do I need to say anymore?

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So now, all I have to say is a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year to all who read this.

Christmas memory …


Let me get one thing clear from the very start … I don’t like Christmas much!  I’m not going to get into the ‘why’s and wherefores’ in this post, but I thought I would share a childhood memory of Christmas.

This morning, I was scanning through my weekly round up of posts when I read this post by teleportingweena which prompted me to put something down.

Now, I’m going back to the early to late 1960’s. As I remember, Leeds had three main department stores in the city centre. These were Woolworths, Lewis’s and Schofield’s. Woolworths was the everyday store for everyone. If you moved up a class (for want of a better word) you went to Lewis’s. On the other hand Scofield’s was for richer or more pretentious person. But at Christmas, Lewis’s was the place to go.

The whole Christmas experience started around the third week in November. Bonfire night was in the past and people were beginning to think about Christmas. The third Thursday in November was the day! It was the day Father Christmas came to town. At just after 7pm on that night, everyone in the neighbourhood assembled on one of the main roads into the centre of Leeds, awaiting the arrival. By 7:30 it was all over. Father Christmas (never seemed to remember him being called Santa) had arrived in Leeds. The assembled crowd had seen a fleeting glance of the big man as his sleigh, mounted on the back of a truck motored past. Everyone cheered and waved. Christmas was nearly here.

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NB: Regular readers may notice a slight departure from the usual ‘grumpy’ tone of my posts. This may not last!

Labels … and other things


To be more precise … clothing labels. Wash-care labels, sizing labels and any other label that is on the inside of the clothes. Why do they always seem to have sharp edges and corners? It maybe the type of clothes I buy, cost , make, whatever, but I always have to remove the label before I wear them. If I don’t, then they scratch and boy does that scratch irritate. I think this the reason my youngest son R***, who is Autistic, cuts out the label from every item of clothing he has. The difference between us is where I cut out the label with a few (not so mild) expletives and hurl them in the general direction of the waste bin, he carefully stores each one in a mug on his computer desk. Last count he had over two hundred. We dare not throw them out.

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Now, talking about R***, his room at home has, and I may have mentioned this previously, a laptop, a TV (now new) a Sky box, a DVD player, a CD/Cassette player, and until yesterday morning a faulty VHS video player. It’s been faulty for about six to eight months, maybe more and had an old VHS tape stuck inside. He tend to want to use it when the Sky connection fails. But it does not work. We had in the other bedroom a further five players that had been given to us when his previous player broke back in November 2014. A friend heard about his breaking and kindly let us have all the ones she had. There were no guarantees with them, but one of them did actually work. The issue with that was no handset. Without the handset, there was no tracking and without tracking, the tapes were unwatchable.

The failure of his TV and his weeks respite gave us a great opportunity to remove the VHS player and hope that he either did not realise it or did not care about it. They are now stored, for the foreseeable future in the garage. As with the labels, we dare not throw them out!