Tick Tock Tuesday (31 December 2019) – Abba

I thought I’d create a new challenge. It is a challenge primarily for me, because I’m new to this platform, and because you don’t really know me yet, nor I you. As my name suggests, I am recovering from a stroke, and I like to push myself in all kinds of little ways… including getting to know the Wonderful World of WordPress. Although this is something I will be doing, I invite you, if this idea takes your fancy, to play along with me and share with me some of your own selections.

My plan is: each Tuesday, until I run dry, I shall post some piece of art with which I have some connection – which has helped to mould me, which makes me tick. Okay, a piece of art is a bit vague – it might be a piece of music, a movie, a book, a painting, or ???? – so my phrasiology is deliberate. It might be anything – I will play this post by ear, so I’m not sure what I’ll think of each week. And, I’ll keep posting on the theme weekly until I run out of ideas.

My rules? Well, I’m not big on rules! My choice will be something with which I feel a connection. That’ll be the important thing, just having some kind of fleeting affection for something probably won’t be enough, unless I’m using my choice as an example of something bigger.

It will be one choice per week – I’m aware that long posts can be quite onerous to read, and I’m in no hurry to complete this so if I have two ideas, I’ll probably hold the second until the next week.

In that same vein, I’ve created this block as a Reusable Block, which I intend repeating for every post on this theme. The block ends with a full-width separator, so if you want to skip ahead each week it doesn’t really matter.

I probably won’t post any lyrics, or any kind of analysis – if you like my choice, the information will be out there for you. But I will try to briefly explain why I feel a connection to my choice, just to try and enhance readers’ understanding of what makes me tick.

I will tag my posts TTT and I will go looking for other posts with that tag. If you’d like to join in, please do the same, or comment, or pingback to this post, and feel free to reproduce my graphic. Lastly, I look forward to reading about what makes you tick.

Today seemed an opportune time to introduce ABBA. Would you believe that once upon a time, I joined the ABBA Fan Club? I must have been just twelve or thirteen, and I was probably only in it for a year before they split. I even had the hots for Frida (I later found out that she is only a year younger than my mum πŸ˜€). The only time, too, that I ever called myself a fan of anybody!

Lucky Sod! Bloody Musicians….

Looking back, ABBA’s music did not seek to change the world, but it is just pleasant to listen to, totally inoffensive. And, that has been recognised in recent years. It now seems to be cool to have liked ABBA. So I thought I’d find an appropriate song of theirs to bring in the New Year. And by the way, who’d believe this particular song is forty years old this year? This one comes from one of their last albums – Super Trouper. People (and bands) become a lot more interesting once a bit of water has passed under the bridge.

Happy New Year, everybody. I’m not planning to post again today, so I’ll see you in 2020! (hopefully)

Belt Up

I only started driving myself in the 1990s, so have always worn a seat belt. Wearing of (front) seat belts became compulsory in the UK in 1983. It was something that had been in the pipeline since the Labour government had been in power in the late Seventies, but, you know, it takes that kind of time to bring changes through the system.

In the early Eighties I was just entering my teens, just becoming aware of the news going on around me. Just becoming aware that Michael Foot, the leader of the UK’s Labour Party, was the devil incarnate!

Yes, that is what we were told at the time. As I grew older, I realised that the media barons had a lot to lose if Foot were ever elected, and that this might perhaps have influenced their stance. Especially as, in adult life, I read biographies, including about specific issues in more detail, and realised that things in real life were somewhat more complicated than made out by the tabloids.

I learned that Foot had actually opposed making seat-belts compulsory. Why? Was it not just common sense? After all, the statistics told us they were safer. So why would somebody oppose this common sense step?

Foot had no problem accepting all the evidence. He knew full well that drivers would be safer if they wore seat belts. So what was his problem? His problem was simple. It was that people could take all the evidence on board for themselves, then decide for themselves whether wearing seat belts was a good idea or not. That he – Foot – had no right to interfere in the process. So he opposed getting involved.

So, not as unreasonable as it first sounds. We’d wear seat belts anyway, in any case, just because we understood the safety aspects, surely? Foot’s issue was simply that the state should not be instructing people how to behave (or rather, that it should not instruct them when it wasm’t absolutely necessary), that they should be allowed to decide for themselves. Especially on this specific issue, where there aren’t really any knock-on effects – if you decide not to wear a belt, you’re only really putting yourself at risk.

And this tiny issue became a big fight inside the Labour Party at that time. A storm in a teacup? What do you think?

I’m obviously aware that seat belts add to our safety, but I don’t really think that seat belts are at all relevant here. The issue, to me, seems to be who decides what we do. Are we happy that politicians, the state, know best? Or do we think that we, as individuals, are big enough and sensible enough to decide things for ourselves? Whether to pay heed to/ignore the risks?

Who Won The Week? (29 December 2019)

Okay, last week I posted what I consider to be a serious post under a flippant title, in response to Fandango’s Who Won The Week post. Today, Fandango is preparing himslf for surgery – I hope it goes well, buddy – but I wanted to write a post about something I observed this last week. I am, at least, publishing under the correct title this week. I wish I had a greater imagination, but this one is about the environment, again.

Those of you who read my posts will not be surprised to hear that I am a republican. Small R. I don’t have much time for anything hereditary, and certainly anybody who wants to represent us should be elected.

But our monarchy really lucked out when Elizabeth II arrived. Despite numerous scandals surrounding her family, she has remained stoic over the years. There was a wobble when Princess Di died, but she recovered nicely. Even recently, when her son has been dogged by allegations that he raped an under-age girl, she has an uncanny knack of doing the right thing. Or, at least, of not being seen, when she does the wrong thing.

The queen bases herself in any of four homes. I think. It may be more, it is not something I really follow. Most of the time, she could be in any of them, and her movements between them are not made public, for obvious reasons. She could be using any means of transport that she likes to travel between them, without the rest of us being any the wiser.

However, being British, being the monarchy, one or two of her trips are tradition, and widely publicised, for consumption by an insatiable media. One such example is her annual summer vacation to Balmoral in Scotland. Another is her Christmas getaway to Sandringham in Norfolk, where she went this week. Sandringham is on the east coast and up, maybe 100 miles (give or take) from her London pad.

Forever savvy, even at the age of 93, this week she rather publicly took the train. I don’t think it was a special royal train either – I don’t think there is a royal train any more. Although unlike many commuters, I doubt she had to stand for the journey. Short of climbing onto her pushbike, trains are one of the friendliest ways to travel, as they just might be powered by renewable electricity.

So while I’m not the biggest fan of our monarchy, I will quite happily give the monarch herself credit where it is due.

Contrast this with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke is slightly older, at 98, and actually lives in a retired state on the Sandringham Estate already.

By some unfortunate coincidence, the poor old Duke of Edinburgh was admitted to a hospital in London earlier this week. As far as the media were told, this was almost routine, which may or may not have been true. For that 100-mile trip, the Duke flew, in an RAF Westland Wessex helicopter. Some of us might have heard a whisper that flying is not a particularly friendly way of travelling around, especially one of those old gas-guzzling machines. The Wessex is itself approaching retirement.

I am glad that the Duke was obviously well enough to be discharged from hospital on Christmas Eve, and was able to join his wife in Norfolk for Christmas. I hope they had a wonderful time. For the journey from London back out to Sandringham, he again flew in a Wessex helicopter, courtesy of our armed forces.

Many of us might be charitable to the guy – he has unlimited resources, he has taken anything he has wanted his whole life, without any real regard for the consequences, and is perhaps too old to change now? I prefer to think that a guy of his age should know better, without some idiot like me highlighting his behaviour in a blog post. Even if he is satisfied that he will see out his own days withot being affected personally by climate changes, another of the Duke’s great-grandchildren was boorn to great fanfare in 2019. Will they be so lucky?

Sorry, did I say winner?

If you take this post as an anti-royal post, thank you for reading but that was not my intention. If you take this as an anti-flying-unless-absolutely-necessary post, I hit the spot.

Different People

I am just back from a night out. We spent the night in a hotel, only ten miles down the road, after going out for a meal last night. I wasn’t sure how I’d be for an internet connection but in the end it turned out okay, and I posted my Song Lyric Sunday choice a few hours ago. It was quite weird, though, because the one thing I couldn’t do was to listen to anything, because I didn’t want to wake my sleeping wife. But I’ve just got home and caught up with a half-dozen other people’s choices. As it happens, most everyone picked the same song as me.

Did I ever mention that my wife sang in a choir? It is no great shakes, we call them community choirs in the UK, somebody organises it, and the same-ish group of people turn up each week to practise. Then, they do performances etc. on top of the practising. I think my wife’s choir, there are probably forty or so of them. There was no audition to get in – as long as someone pays their subs each week, everybody is welcome! Consequently the choir is not very good, but my wife enjoys it. It is all very secular, and actually the person running the choir can make a decent living from it. It is not really any different to here – we all pay our subs to WordPress, and thereafter we enjoy life on here, and it is the same for my wife.

Last night was their annual award ceremony. There weren’t particularly any awards – I think there might have been one for the person who looks like they most deserve an award, but in general an excuse for a drunken night out. It was held in a local hotel in Salisbury, and my wife asked if I’d like to go with her, as a treat.

I’m full of self-control these days, so had one pint of beer, then water. You know how you generally avoid places at christmastime because the quality drops? Because they’re catering for so many people, there’s always another customer around the corner, so they tend not to care whether you’re happy with your experience or not? Well, this was a pleasant surprise. It was mainly traditional christmas fare. My wife chose a cut of beef (she avoids turkey for that exact reason – it is usually not very good) and I stayed veggie. We both enjoyed a delicious three-course meal, followed by a very comfortable stay at the hotel. So, hats off to the White Hart in Salisbury.

It’s funny because I generally consider myself quite reserved, quite introvert, and many people who sing in choirs are quite extrovert. Many people who sing in this choir are very extrovert! So I had a very interesting time just observing people. Lots of them did not have a great deal to say, but they said it loudly in any case. So it was fun just to see how these people behaved toward each other, although I was a bit of a fish out of water. My wife is not particularly extrovert – if she was, we wouldn’t have ended up together – but she has made friends there, there are some people with whom she gets on very well and she enjoys the overall experience. Insmuch as I had anything to do with anything, I encouraged her to join the choir because especially after the stroke, I didn’t want her world just to revolve around me. We didn’t really know how anything would turn out at that stage, as it happens I can now live perfectly independently anyway.

I met a lovely old boy there who was eighty-one. Apparently he had once worked professionally in showbiz, but of course was retired now and just sang in his local choir because he enjoyed the craic. I ended up sitting next to him for dinner and we found lots to chat about.

We got to the end of the meal and the woman who runs the show started making a speech. I’m not much sure what it was about – I’d just had a meal, plus is was a good hour past my normal bedtime in any case, so had but one thing on my mind! But my wife seemed to be happy, and to generally have had a good time.

I come with so much baggage these days, when I go away somewhere I always forget at least one thing. This time, I remembered all my meds, nut forgot my testing kit. Never mind, with just the one night away, I survived just on gut instinct. I can understand why a lot of people don’t bother going away. At least at home, I have everything I need, I know where it all is, I don’t have to worry about an unfamiliar bath, say, where the grab-rails might not be where I need them to be, or where there might not be grab-rails at all. Am I just getting old?

Song LyricSunday (29 December 2019) – Crazy

Last week, Jim Adams (NewEpicAuthor, A Unique Title For Me) set a theme of Christmas (my choice). This week, just the one-word theme of crazy.

I hope you all had a decent holiday. A lot of people here take time off between Christmas and New Year, so there is still something of a party atmosphere at this time of year. My poor old wife was working Friday, and again next Tuesday, I suppose when you’re a nurse, it comes with the territory.

With such an open prompt, I’m just going to go straight in today and present another song from my youth. And, who can forget Prince? His music was enjoyable, but I must admit he never quite became a favourite of mine – while I’m happy to call somebody whatever name they wish to be called, when they change their name repeatedly, I’m left unimpressed. But certainly the music from his Purple Rain era was just pleasant pop.

In fact, Purple Rain was the first I ever heard of Prince, although it was his sixth album. I guess a combination of my own lack of awareness, and that music was not quite global at that time. The album contained several hits, and so today I present the song Let’s Go Crazy.

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called “life”

Electric word, life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else,
The afterworld

A world of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night

So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
You know the one, Dr. Everything’ll-Be-Alright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby

Cause in this life
Things are much harder than in the afterworld
In this life,
You’re on your own

And if the elevator tries to bring you down
Go crazy (Punch a higher floor!)


If you don’t like
The world you’re living in
Take a look around
At least you got friends

You see I called my old lady
For a friendly word
She picked up the phone
Dropped it on the floor
(Ah-s ah-s) is all I heard

Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?
Oh, no lets go!

Let’s go crazy
Let’s get nuts
Let’s look for the purple banana
Until they put us in the truck, let’s go!

We’re all excited
But we don’t know why
Maybe it’s cause
We’re all gonna die

And when we do (When we do)
What’s it all for (What’s it all for)
You better live now
Before the grim reaper come knocking on your door

Tell me, are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?
Oh, no let’s go!

Let’s go crazy
Let’s get nuts
Look for the purple banana
Until they put us in the truck, let’s go!

C’mon baby
Let’s get nuts!

Let’s go crazy!

Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?
Oh, no let’s go!
Go (Go crazy)

I said let’s go crazy (go crazy)
Let’s go (Let’s go!)
Go (Let’s go!)

Dr. Everything’ll-Be-Alright
Will make everything go wrong
Pills and thrills and daffodils will kill
Hang tough children

He’s comin’
He’s comin’

Take me away!


Clothing (Fandango’s Friday Flashback)

We have just had christmas (least said about that, the better) but fortunately Fandango is trying to keep things vaguely normal by publishing his usual prompts, including his Friday Flashback.

I dug out a post today from two years ago, where I try to explain the difficulties I had putting on clothing. I’ll let you read the post for yourselves, but two years later, I still ecognise all the things that I write about in the post, but obviously with two more years practise…

Incidentally, this post turned into a one-of-two post, the other was written a day later. If you can stomach it, you can find that second post here.

Mister Bump

I was reading the blog of a friend of a friend, who was talking about how she dresses and makes herself up. She, too, has a dodgy dominant side, just like me. It put the idea into my head of writing about my own restrictions, so here goes:

When I think of a lot of things, we use our left and right hands to oppose each other, for example when opening a jar. Because I effectively have no functioning left hand, there is nothing to oppose the right. This comes into play when dressing too – you can imagine doing up the zip on my coat is a problem. If you can’t imagine, try it!

Other things where I miss two hands working independently of each other are things like tying a tie, or shoelaces. Further, because this has been an issue since the stroke itself, I now feel that…

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Fandango’s Provocative Question (25 December 2019)

I wrote the other day about how the apps on my phone hardly ever change. One other thing which doesn’t change are the tabs which open with the web browser on my computer. I’ve kinda got into the habit of firing up a browser just as soon as I am able.

The tabs are:

  • The BBC News Web Site. I’m actually quite sceptical of the stories that the BBC do and don’t publish, and certainly my main news feeds come from other sources, but the Beeb is probably the online resource I will hit first.
  • Google Calendar. Hell, I’m a busy guy! (despite posting on Christmas Day)
  • Flickr – a relic from my former life. I actually have over 7,000 photos up there, but I’ve published probably fewer than 20 since the stroke. Just as the stroke hit, I was considering upgrading my already-obsolete SLR, but just one of several things which have been put on hold while I have higher spending priorities.
  • Ebay – I use it maybe 10 times per year for low-value purposes. Again, I used to use it more often.
  • Facebook – I have an account, I have contacts, but Facebook has become very limited because of the rudeness and abuse which goes along with it.
  • WordPress. The command console. Only recently. It used to be Blogger. Just a handy way of getting to my blog if I feel like writing something. Plus, of course, WordPress offers this whole world of interaction over and above just writing posts.

and these tabs have remained unchanged for years.

For years, too, I have been aware of emojis. Just a few of them. Happy smiley, wink smiley, sad face, laughing face, just as keyboard combinations. For years, to get a smiley, I would type :, then -, then ). How could a qwerty keyboard manage anything different?

On Facebook first, I noticed funny symbols appearing. Flags, hearts – red and blue – how the hell does somebody type a British flag???? I saw them too when I moved to WordPress, and became aware that there was this whole alphabet of emojis.

But whilst I am now aware that they exist, the bad news is that apart from a half-dozen obvious ones, I haven’t got a clue what any of them mean! I mean, I have a brain and I can guess that when somebody types a blue heart, it is some non-romantic symbol of affection, but that’s just my assumption, which makes sense to me. I bloody hope so, or I have sent (and received!) some very dodgy messages!

So in the last few months, I have found another web page to load every time: http://getemoji.com/. I think this came from Twitter themselves, who invented the emoji language.

Now, a brilliant thing about this site is that it not only has every emoji which I can just copy and paste, but it has them at twice their normal size, so I can actually tell the difference. In what they look like, at least. In terms of what they mean, I still don’t have a clue. What does πŸ˜„ mean, that’s different to πŸ˜†?

The other thing is that because GetEmoji displays emojis at twice their normal size, when they then halve their size in WordPress, say, and I am well-and-truly stuffed. They all look the same! So, not only do I not understand what the difference might be, but I can’t even see a bloody difference!

Fandango’s Provocative Question today asks if we over-use emojis. Not this cookie! Nor you, if you want me to be able to follow your posts!

There are two useful ones, at least πŸ–•πŸ» πŸ˜† πŸ–•πŸ» πŸ˜† πŸ–•πŸ».

Enjoying the calm before the storm.

The Big Chill

Christmas Day has not become special yet, although the rest of the house has just started moving so I shall have to write this quickly. I got up at my normal time, performed my normal startup routine, and even checked for any overnight activity on WordPress.

I turned on the tv and caught the weather forecast. It was quite clear last night – I wonder if the Santa-spotters had any joy? – so it was quite chilly overnight and it looks bright out this morning. Usual weather, at this time of the year, is grey. Dreary. Possibly some rain. We have days where it doesn’t seem to get light.

The UK is a small country, but it does have high-lands. We call them mountains. By world-standards, they are modest but they can be deadly if you get caught out. These areas get snow, so might, I suppose, have a White Christmas. For the rest of the UK, our general temperature rises over the years mean that it is a long time since there has been a White Christmas. My personal memory of snow was once, as a child in Liverpool. Sixties or seventies.

This year, for example, because the night was clear, the weatherman says that the closest we would have got is a touch of frost in various parts, as we awoke this morning.

My image shows one of London’s Frost Fairs, which were held at various times until the nineteenth century, when the River Thames in central London froze solid, the painting is by Thomas Wyke and this post was written in response to Fandango’s One-word Challenge (FOWC) – frost.