Currants, Raisins And Peanuts.

Well here we are just past midday on Christmas Day.

The smells of lunch cooking are wafting up the stairs. Being at a loose end for a while I thought I would do a posting in the blog.

Now I will be the first to admit that I have not posted as much as I originally intended to do since starting this blog, but then again unexpected things have happened since the start of the year.

For example my mother has been in hospital three times since the middle of the year and is currently being assessed in a care home to see what her long term needs are regarding care. Sue and I are off to visit her later this afternoon and spend some time with her. How long will depend on the kind of mood she is in. This will be governed by for example how much she is enjoying this care home and if she likes any of the other residents. Today is the first time in 17 years that we have not all sat down together for Christmas lunch, plus she always comes over for the opening of the presents, so every things been a bit strange so far today and we will have to see how mum is coping with it all.

Overall it’s not been a good year really I suppose with lots of unexpected things happening and putting a few spanners in the works so to speak. But that’s life and we just have to get on with it.

One thing I have enjoyed this year has been reading a few blogs, some peoples postings inspire me and put my own trials and tribulations into perspective. I don’t intend to list all my favourite blogs as I am bound to forget one and that would never do. But there are perhaps six that I check on a daily basis for updates and look forward to reading any new posts.

I think only a brave person or perhaps stupid person would hazard a guess as to where we will all be in twelve months time and what we will be doing.

The title of this blog post sums up my year pretty well I think, and if you have not worked it out just take the first letter of each word and look at the resulting word. That sums up my year.

Enjoy the rest of the holiday season and I hope that 2014 will be a lot better for all of us.

Happy birthday to me……..

Well over the pond it’s thanksgiving and here it’s my birthday……

Nothing special planned, too many other things on at the moment, with my mother now out of hospital but still presenting some challenges.

But I thought what the hell let’s do a blog post and look back on a few highlights and perhaps lowlights as well. Or failing that just have a general waffle.

There have not been too many highlights in the last year to be honest, unless you count the Government informing me that my retirement age is now 66 and not 65! No perhaps thats more a lowlight.

I was reading the other day where a person wrote they had been to fifteen schools. I only went to three and they were all within walking distance of where I lived. I have previously posted about my time at school so I won’t dwell on that.

When I left school I worked in a factory for a short time, my father also worked there but not in the area I worked in. It was a paper conversion factory and made everything from cigarette paper to the corrugated paper that went in biscuit tins. Now I will freely admit I hated it, the reason being that the others I worked with were basically mostly lazy, they did the minimum they could get away with, and that’s not my style.

After a few months of that I went into retail where I stayed for almost 17 years, all with the same company. Generally that was enjoyable but as with any job it had it’s good days and it’s bad. Thankfully despite it being amongst other things a photographic retailer there are very few photographs of me at work, for which I am eternally grateful.

These days I work for myself, I like many others got to the stage where our skills made us expensive, so we were passed over for younger cheaper people, which in the long run is a false economy as skill and knowledge is everything. So I went self employed some 15 years ago, and I must admit I enjoy it, I will never be mega rich but at least what I do is for me and not an employer.  I do fancy looking at other markets and I am drawn to try and do something the other side of the Atlantic, that I will be seriously looking at in the next year or so, but it will depend on a number of factors.

So I hear you mutter what are the highlights he was going on about at the start. Well just to stop the moans lets list the most important one….

The biggest highlight of course was getting married to Sue, around 28 years ago if I remember correctly, I am lousy with dates, and to this day I still don’t know how she puts up with me. Here is a picture of the big day, the sun even shone. Some have said I looked shell shocked!!!!

Wedding001

I reckon they might just be right……..

I suppose that I should count every birthday as a big highlight, but I am not really into birthdays to be honest, it’s just a number as they say.

This is a rare picture of me in a terrible pullover with my father, I have many of his traits, both good and bad. I don’t think we were ever really close to be honest, looking back I think it’s because we were so alike and we often clashed because of it.

Me and Dad

There are so many things looking back that I would have liked us to do together, but for various reasons we rarely did anything together and if I am being honest then I deeply regret that.

My guide I suppose when I was young was my mother, and I have like I did with my father got a lot of her traits, hopefully the good ones.

Image-14

This is mum taken a few years ago, she is now 86 and her health could be a lot better, in her mind she is fine and as sharp as ever, but she has trouble getting about and her long term care is a current worry, still we will sort it in the end no doubt. As she has become older she has become a clone of her own mother, she has selective hearing, bad eyesight and a heart of gold. She only lives over the road from us and she has been here for seventeen years, I am still not sure if we keep an eye on her or she keeps an eye on us…..

Right time to nip over and have a coffee with the old devil, remember with her some of my past birthdays and no doubt she will remind me that she still has my first pair of shoes, my first payslip and all my school reports, including the ones she always drags up from when I was about 5 that said I was a nice little dancer!!! Still mums are there to embariss children on a regular basis. Or so she occasionally tells me.

So Happy Birthday to me…………

 

Trundling towards the end of the year…..

Well here we are in November trundling towards the end of the year and just one week off my birthday.

I am sitting here in the office just idly messing about really and thinking about how the year has gone.

In all from my perspective I don’t think it’s gone too badly, some things I wanted to achieve I have failed to do but on the other hand I have achieved some unexpected stuff as well, so I guess the two about even themselves out in the end.

Little hiccups have occurred as well, such as my mothers two stays in hospital, all being well she should be home from the second one which has lasted seven weeks on Monday afternoon. One thing that has been noticeable has been that people my mother phones regularly to see how they are have made no or very little effort to find out as she is. My mother is very forgiving in this matter but I am not, I have a long memory. The old saying “Out of sight out of mind.” Springs into my head.

In all honesty I would have liked the business to have done a little better this year, but things are still tough for many people and things will eventually get better. Looking on the bright side the business owes no money to anybody and that’s a rare thing these days.

My book is coming along slowly, I am having one of my dips in enthuasiam at the moment, I have these in most things I do from time to time so we just sit it out and wait until I get back into it again. Both my blogs have been quiet this year as well, I have either not had the time or the will to write anything, hopefully this will change for the better next year, but at the moment I have lot’s of other more important things on my mind.

Blogs are funny things, many people pour their heart out typing stuff they would never normally say to people directly, they pour their heart out across our computer screens. That I will admit is not me I tend as now to just type what comes into my head. I am not a planner or an in-depth thinker it’s just not me. I just trundle along admiring the view I suppose, big plans and the like are just not me. I am generally happy with my lot, I mean why be miserable? Misery has never solved anything at all to my knowledge. Though I will admit to knowing a few that thrive on misery both that which affects themselves and that which affects others. I personally can’t see the point.

So there you have it, me trundling towards the end of the year via my birthday, the excitement for next thursday is building, not that I will do anything special, I never do. Age is just a number nothing more.

Right time for a drink I suppose so I can settle my brain after writing this…..

On your marks……Get set……Get into debt…..

Well it’s sneaking up once again, and the shops have their annual exercise in getting rid of over priced tat.

I am of course talking about Christmas, now I know it’s not yet even November but the fact remains that the retail industry is gearing up for it’s annual exercise in removing money that people haven’t got from their pockets in return for stuff they give to others who actually don’t want to receive it in the first place.

Now the one advantage of being an atheist is that generally this madness passes me by, mums annual present will be sorted by the wife. She will have asked mum weeks ago what she wants. But come christmas day she will still find it a surprise simply because she will have forgotten she had ever mentioned it. Which of course begs the question as to why Sue asks her in the first place, but that’s female logic for you.

When I was a mere youngster presents seemed much simpler, and we were happy whatever we got. There were no computers, at least none that would fit in the average house, nor were there mobile phones and computer games. Remembering back there was no peer pressure that I can recall where we had to have the same as or better than our friends got. These days children want the latest, the perceived best and of course the most expensive. They seem to have lost the appreciation that money does not grow on trees. Many families are suffering from the current economic problems and simply don’t have the money to spend on what their precious little snow flakes are demanding.

But children don’t appreciate that, they just want to out do present wise what their friends are getting. The sad fact is that their friends parents are probably as short of money as their own parents are. Its a vicious circle, and of course a slow slide to poverty. Without doubt it’s a tough time for many families and it’s also a time when people will go into debt they can’t afford to stop their offsprings thinking they don’t love them. It’s a shame that many children seem to think their parents love is directly related to how much money they spend on them.

When I worked in retail we had a period where by law you had to pay a 10% deposit for anything you bought on credit, actually remembering back some luxury items required something like a 33% deposit up front. The theory behind this was of course if you couldn’t afford the deposit then neither could you afford the monthly payments that followed. Agreements were for a fixed period of 6-12-18-24 or in some cases 36 months. But in all cases you knew exactly what the monthly payments were  and for how long together with knowing exactly at the end how much you would be paying. Bad debts weren’t that common as credit checks were quite extensive and you had to show you had the ability to pay.

Now the company I worked for had publicly said many times that if the need for a deposit was removed then bad debt would shoot through the roof. The were proved right because that’s exactly what happened when the legal requirement for a deposit was dropped.

These days you will not have a fixed term agreement you will pay by using a credit card, typically at a very high overall interest rate. I have seen people get a credit card with say a £2500 credit limit. They then assume they have that amount in their pocket to spend, where more accurately they have the ability to accumulate that amount of debit, but because they can spend it they look on it as cash and it is of course far from that.

So spend wisely this christmas, it’s still no fun to be paying off the debts you accumulate this christmas when the next one comes around. Remember if you have cash in your pocket or bank account you have it to spend, if it’s in neither of those places then it’s not money your spending but it’s debt your accumulating.

 

City of no hope and no glory

For the first time in it must be two years I ventured into the city centre.

I came out depressed to be honest.

There were people just sitting about on the floor leaning back against shop fronts, there was litter blowing around. An old chap begging whilst playing an old accordion. To misquote a comedians well known phrase he played the right notes but in the wrong order.

People were just wandering about with no aim. It could best be described as moving unemployment.

The faces showed no hope and no expectations.

We walked through the major shopping centre. Now when I first moved here to Peterborough 28 years ago it was a lovely centre, well kept, all the shop units full and  busy even mid week with shoppers.

What a change now, it’s full of display tat, and stalls scattered about that make it look like more of an indoor market than a shopping centre. It’s lost it’s sparkle. People were sitting on the cold marble seats looking depressed downtrodden and bored.

There are boarded up shop units, with information painted on them giving details about the centre, in I think the vain hope you will not notice they are empty. There was a Sky TV stand with a couple of men on plying the benefits of satellite TV, to be honest they looked as though they would be more at home selling dodgy second hand cars on a bit of waste land.

The bus station where we caught the bus out was no better, yet more people sitting about not even waiting for buses, rubbish on the floor and a couple of security guards who looked more dodgy than the people they were keeping an eye on.

Peterborough city centre has changed, the council have just spent money on covering much of it with free WI-FI. Looking at the place I can think of many other ways the money could have been better spent.

As I said at the start it was a depressing experience.

It’s getting later earlier.

Well as we trundle through Autumn it is as I always say getting later earlier. Or in simple terms the nights are drawing in.

There is a nip in the air in the mornings and shops will soon have their Christmas stock on display and greatly inflated prices so they can sell the tat that remains unsold in the January sales at what appears to be a low price but in reality is about what the tat is really worth.

I must admit I like the dark nights, where I live looks better in the dark, hot sunny days merely remind us that the rubbish bins that sit outside most houses are only emptied once every two weeks.

The one nice thing about autumn are the days where the sun shines, the autumn colours are really nice for photography, they lend themselves nicely to creative images.

No doubt when the clocks go back an hour at the end of October, there will be the normal comments on children in danger going to school in the dark. Actually adults are more in danger if only from the little darlings taking their bikes to school and riding on the paths without lights or reflective jackets. But it would not be Britain if we did not have something to moan about.

Plus of course we will soon have Christmas shopping to look forward to, that time of year when we buy people we don’t like stuff they don’t want and try to buy them something better than they bought us last year as if to say “Up Yours!! I can afford it. Then we have the thrill of sending Christmas cards to people who we never normally think about for the rest of the year. We wish them Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, when in reality we could not give a stuff as to what kind of Christmas and New Year they have.

Just think of the upcoming excitement over autumn and for that matter winter. No wonder any animal with sense will try and sleep through it all!

All as expected…..

Well the Apple Support Communities are full of tales of woe with the updates, this was to be expected. But reading through some posts on the community and elsewhere the prime problem seems to be lack of patience.

It was a foregone conclusion it would be slow, the world and their wife are no doubt trying to upgrade.

One poster wanted to backtrack to the previous version because they did not like the icons, strewth!! There have been enough pictures online and in magazines showing what the icons would be like, it’s not as though people upgrading are diving into the dark.

Now I will admit, despite saying I would wait, I haven’t. I have upgraded both the iPad and the iPhone 5. I must say I am pleased with both, the downloads were slow but painless as was the auto install. My one concern is if battery life will be affected, I will have a good play tomorrow and see what the battery life is like compared to running the previous IOS.

Still looking on the bright side it gives me something to play with for the next day or so as I take a stroll up the learning curve.

 

On your marks…… Get set…… Hang on until later…….

Today sees the release of IOS7 for the iPad, iPhone and iPod devices.

Now with all the hype thats been going on at times reaching frenzied levels, it’s almost like a second coming of somebody important.

Now call me old fashioned, or even call me a boring old fart, but I honestly can’t see why the trend these days is to have a big presentation to launch something. I mean contrary to what some of these companies would have us believe these are not life changing events.

But you watch there will be millions of people all over the globe, crouched over their device awaiting the update to become available, and as soon as it is they will want to update. Then the servers will do an electronic version of saying “Blimey!!!!” and then struggle to keep up with the demand. Twitter and Facebook will be full of tales of woe of slow downloads, problems both real and imagined. Apple will be vilified for the problems and the anti Apple geeks will be dancing for joy round their Windows and Android devices, wailing and chanting praise to the unknown God of the Internet.

In the UK it’s expected that the updates will be available from about 6pm onwards, that’s 10am Pacific time, and after the Apple bods have had their first Caffeine fix of the day and put the electronic world to rights round the water coolers and urinals.

My advice for what it’s worth is to hang on a day or so until the mad rush has died down and any problems with the process have been found and hopefully sorted.

Come tomorrow the electronic press will be full of tales of problems, possible broken machines and the possible news that because of perceived problems Apple is on it’s way down the crapper, this perceived event has been reported more times than a curry has made a trip down the said crapper in a diarrhoea clinic. This of course won’t happen and come a week or so’s time most people will have upgraded and be wondering what the fuss was all about.

So settle back and wait for the electronic scrum to start…. Get the booze and the popcorn in and visit your favourite computer news site. It could be a long morning, afternoon or night depending on where in the world you are.

 

It’s that time of year

First thing this morning we had lovely sunshine, also a cool breeze though just to remind us autumn is on the way.

Now at just after 1.30pm we have steady rain, it’s gone cold and I am debating wether or not to put the heating on.

It’s that time of year when your not sure if you should take a coat or not, and judging by a few people who walked past the house on their way to work first thing if the rain keeps on then they will be slightly damp on the way home.

A person I know says that here in England we don’t have weather we have samples, and judging by today she is spot on.

Now one of the advantages of working from home is that we don’t have to commute to work in the cold and the rain, I can just sit here in the office and watch the weather go by me.

When I used to commute irrespective of the distance bad weather used to put a dampener on the whole day, and when I worked in an enclosed shopping centre I could go into the centre in the morning glad to be out of the cold and the rain, then after wrapping up to come home I could walk out of the centre and into bright sunshine. It was all very confusing.

So I will continue to sit here in the office and watch it all flow past……..

It’s a hard life working from home.

Just two words…..

There are two words which in my humble opinion are amongst the most important in any language and they are “Thank You.”

However, they seem to be falling out of use more and more, even basic manners seem to be flying out of the window, I mean is it just too hard to utter those two words to somebody?

I always thank people where appropriate, to me it’s just basic good manners. But time and time again I deal with people or see people dealing with others where they just don’t say thank you.

Before anybody lays the blame at the feet of any specific generation I must point out that this inability encompasses all ages, neither the old nor the young escape inclusion in this lack of manners scenario. Oh no some older people have the ability to be rude without really trying down to a fine art.

So the next time you’re out and about you just see how many times people fail to say thank you.